We also offer external quality reviews that can be used to validate the education schools offer, or to prepare them for official inspections.
Effective school self-evaluation
Enabling school leaders to assess for themselves how well their institution is performing is fundamental to our approach to educational improvement. A particularly popular aspect of our training involves classroom observation. It gives senior teachers and department leaders time to practice and become more proficient at sitting in lessons, observing the teaching and learning, and judging how good it is. They then learn to use that analysis to drive demonstrable self-improvement.
As well as the quality of teaching, there might also be issues around the management team, or perhaps students' behaviour. Whatever the issue we look to develop a comprehensive plan for improvement with the school and support it through the process. This is done in a sustainable way so the school is able to continue making progress once our consultants leave. Equally, if a long-term partnership is needed to deal with multiple, complex issues, we will stay engaged to ensure improvement is sustained.
Schools that are confident in their ability to evaluate themselves can still welcome independent external verification of their high standards, perhaps as a preparation for a formal inspection.
We have developed the Quality Mark based on our years of experience undertaking formal inspections in the UK and overseas, and using similar rigorous checks. As well as learners' outcomes, we assess the culture, climate and ethos of the school, its environment, staffing and resources and its interaction with the community. A successful outcome entitles the school to display our Quality Mark symbol.
A quality review can also benefit schools that are facing mandated inspections, especially if they are vulnerable or under severe pressure to demonstrate a capacity to improve. We work with them on a full diagnostic assessment then provide targeted, specific support to address the issues that have been highlighted. We also develop a comprehensive improvement plan with them, coaching them through the process.
Collaborative quality reviews
We have developed an innovative model of school self-evaluation in which parents and school leaders working in sub-committees are an integral part of the review. This has proved to be a very powerful resource, particularly in the context of turning around failing schools.
These collaborative teams devise the quality statements, the criteria and the expected standards to be relevant to local circumstances, then learn to use them for self-assessment. There are two main goals: to provide the school with an accurate sense of its current strengths and areas for improvement, and to build capacity within the school for continuous, self-aware change.
The review team will incorporate evidence from all those with a stake in the school. We will then support the team and the school leaders in effectively sharing the findings with the wider school community, so people are clear about what they need to do and have a strong evidence base on which to plan improvements.
We have extensive experience stretching over more than 20 years of providing educational inspection services in countries around the world. Our long familiarity with the systems and procedures is one side of the coin. The other is a breadth of experience that puts everything into an all-round perspective on education, and not hide-bound by the inspection process. Our consultants are also involved in training teachers and in leadership and management giving them a fresh perspective.
Underlining our credentials, we are a UK government-approved inspectorate for British Schools Overseas, supplying British inspectors and recruiting locally to build capacity. This is in keeping with our guiding principle of creating inherently strong and sustainable education systems.
Schools have a duty to account for their spending by evaluating all their work and providing evidence of the difference that it has made to children's educational progress.
We know that children do not get taller by constantly being measured. Nevertheless external agencies have legitimate calls on a flow of information – and head teachers need it for their own planning purposes. There is no point continuing to invest in a particular learning scheme and training the staff to deliver it to the children if it is not enhancing their education.
Our consultants work with school staff on extracting the impact evidence that they need. This might involve quantitative data from internal or external tests, or qualitative information gleaned from talking to children about their own perceptions of how an approach has contributed to their progress and their self-esteem. We might suggest extending that process to parents by convening a focus group to discuss how they feel their children have been affected.
As countries' economic fortunes evolve, industries shift and families move with them this can leave districts with an over-capacity in their education facilities.
Through our comprehensive expertise in evaluation, development and project management, we can help to rationalise the available resources to maximum effect.
We look at all the facilities a school has to offer. This includes the curriculum and leadership of the school as well as the actual buildings. We evaluate and rate them, then advise the owners on how to rationalise what they have at their disposal – which ones should be closed and which should be kept open.