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Celebrating exceptional education

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Alex Galvin, SSAT Senior Education Lead, writes…

The team at SSAT are in the privileged position of visiting a large number of schools every year. We know that despite the very real challenges that schools are currently facing, day in day out, schools up and down the country are doing extraordinary things. We are proud to celebrate the work of the exceptional professionals we meet through our Educational Outcomes Awards, the Teaching Awards and now through the Framework for Exceptional Education.

We began work on the Framework for Exceptional Education (FfEE) a couple of years ago. We worked with Leading Edge schools and drew on the experiences of our 30-year history to provide a fresh perspective on what exceptional education looks like. We wanted to produce a framework that went beyond statutory measures, providing a principled approach to school improvement, supported with self-review and action planning.

The Framework for Exceptional Education is freely available to all SSAT member schools. Over the last year, we have been delighted to accredit 36 Leading Edge schools as ‘transforming’ in particular strands of the network. Indeed, a number of these schools have now been recognised as ‘transforming’ in several different strands – a huge credit to the work that they are doing. Each accredited school has been peer reviewed by another Leading Edge school and visited by a moderator.

Participants have been using FfEE in a number of ways to support conversations in their school. Here are a few of the ideas we have seen so far:

  • Ask members of your leadership team/your middle leaders to complete the self-review process for the whole school individually. How far are your judgements similar or different? Why?
  • Ask middle leaders to complete the self-review process with their department. Use their feedback to support CPD planning and whole-school self-evaluation.
  • Use the framework across your MAT to explore strengths and areas for development across the different schools. Use this to plan cross-MAT learning opportunities.
  • Use FfEE with your governors – engage them in the self-review process and structure visits that enable them to review and feed back on practice in a particular strand.
  • Build FfEE into your action planning and school development plan.
  • Use feedback from your peer review and your Leading Edge visit to evidence the quality of your practice in a particular area.

Schools using the framework have found that it provides an invaluable tool for self-review and action planning. A senior leader from Bodmin College commented: ’the (FfEE) process has given us inspiration and allowed us to critically question our school leadership.’ Similarly, Vyners School headteacher James Heale describes it as ’an excellent tool for supporting our continued self-evaluation and school improvement.’ They add: ’It is aspirational and challenging, and as a result has directly impacted on the quality of strategic discussions at senior and middle leader level as well as with governors. At last we have a school-led measure that moves beyond what Ofsted deem to be outstanding.’

SSAT Leading Edge network schools are hosting two events in early July, exclusively for Leading Edge members, which will share the work of schools accredited for ‘transforming’ practice within the framework. Full details of the London Exceptional Education event and the Manchester Exceptional Education event. The opportunity to become accredited in the framework is available as part of Leading Edge membership – find out more about the Leading Edge network here.


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