An inspector calls…

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In most school settings there will be a time where someone will come in from outside to judge the quality of the educational experience you are offering and the progress your pupils are making as a result.  If these reviews or inspections are to go well, there needs to be a joined-up view of your school’s strengths and areas for growth. Leaders at all levels need to be speaking with one voice, with confidence and surety.

That’s the goal. The trouble is that many leaders inevitably find such situations pretty stressful. Interviews with inspectors can be daunting and often very competent leaders can perform below par in such situations. One way to help with this is to use a simple framework to help you organise and rehearse your thinking. The model below shows one way this can be organised. You may want to adapt this to suit your setting or context.

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Many of the schools I have worked with over the last few years have used JEFI or something similar and found it a useful way of reducing the risk of that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ moment that can so easily happen during a review or inspection interview. Some schools have even created the opportunity for staff to practise such interviews with one another. The simple template below is an example of how minimal preparation can help staff with this. If staff fill in just two or three bullets in each box, schools I have worked with have been struck by how this approach can bring alignment and confidence to what leaders are saying to reviewers.

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But there is an important health warning here. I am not advocating that inspection becomes the focus for a school and its activities. Rather, using a simple framework like JEFI can create a confidence that reduces stress and worry and create a sense of preparedness without inspection becoming a dominating feature of a school’s culture and climate.

This blog is based on an extract from my book, Leadership Matters, which can be ordered here.

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