When Ofsted come around it’s the dream of every school to get an outstanding rating that will set them apart as a provider of education. As with most professions and organisations, those that offer the best to their consumers share a number of traits that gives them an operational edge. For schools, you might be forgiven for thinking that financing is a prime contributor to performance but good or outstanding establishments are found as much in deprived areas where funding is limited as they are in more prosperous regions.

Making it personal

Large class sizes needn’t be a barrier to effective learning and with better ways of monitoring and tailoring learning for individuals, the schools that make the cut are the ones that treat their pupils as individuals. That means understanding their capabilities and personal situation and helping them to go beyond the norm to achieve more than they would think possible.

Creating aspiration

Aspiration is one of those words that is used without always being understood properly. Creating aspiration in an individual who hasn’t been given much chance over their life time or doesn’t see the point of education, is not an easy thing to do. Again, it comes from the school’s choice to make learning personal but also employing the right teachers and having the right curriculum in place.

Effective monitoring and assessment

You cannot get a rating from Ofsted if you do not regularly monitor and assess students. More importantly, you cannot develop an informed and responsive curriculum if you do not know how your pupils are reacting to it. Some people will complain that we test our children far too much, and perhaps we do, but monitoring and assessment is much further reaching than a simple SAT exam.

Quality teaching

You have to have quality teachers in place who buy into what the school is trying to do and who are committed to bringing all pupils on the educational journey that has been developed. That commitment comes from a sense of worth and the enjoyment that is achieved in raising the educational levels of the school. It is also backed up nowadays with the innovative use of technology which means that lessons can be more engaging and create a platform for better understanding.

A challenging curriculum

Any curriculum has to be challenging without being wildly outside the capability of the pupils. It should challenge the high achievers but also stimulate the ones who find learning a little more difficult. Finding the right balance is a key factor in outstanding schools.

Embracing technology

The impact of technology on education cannot be underestimated and has allowed for better monitoring of student progress as well as providing new and more intriguing ways to present classes. It allows pupils to communicate with others, develop skills independently of the classroom and nurtures a philosophy of lifelong learning and continuing development.

Working with parents

Finally, the schools that get rated outstanding by Ofsted also have a close interaction with parents opening up the administration and decision making so that everyone becomes a valued stakeholder in pushing the educational framework forward.