the role of school accountability Christine Gilbert

Towards a self-improving system: the
role of school accountability
Christine Gilbert
3 October, 2012
School accountability
How should the accountability system
evolve to support a more autonomous,
diverse and self-improving system?
Leading change today
‘This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose
recognised by yourself as a mighty one….I rejoice in life for its
own sake
Life is no brief candle-to me it’s a splendid torch which I have
got hold of for the moment and I want it to burn as brightly as
possible before handing it on to future generations.’
History of accountability
 Autonomy held in check by accountability
 Public accountability: the 3 pillars
 A greater role for school-led accountability
 The importance of information
Change necessary?
Under the last government, accountability was all about
accountability upwards, either to the local authority or to
the Department. We believe that accountability should
also be downwards to the community and to individual
parents, and that is why we have published far more data
than ever before about the performance of schools.
Gove, 2012
A broader view of accountability
4 key relationships
2 key approaches
 Pupils, parents &
community: moral
 Colleagues: professional
 Employer/ government:
 The market: market
 Accounting for quality:
 Accounting for
improvement: formative
Using collaboration to support
The power of collective capacity is that it enables ordinary
people to accomplish extraordinary things -for two reasons.
One is that knowledge about effective practice becomes more
widely available and accessible on a daily basis. The second
reason is more powerful still-working together generates
commitment. Moral purpose, when it stares you in the face
through students and your peers working together to make
lives and society better, is palpable, indeed virtually irresistible.
Accountability within schools
 Making moral accountability to children collective
 Strengthening professional accountability
 Building strong professional communities where peer learning is
 An emphasis on classroom observation and related development
 Good self-evaluation: pupils, parents, the local community,
professionals, governors
 The continuing importance of data
Accountability across schools
 School to school support
 Peer review
 Joint practice development
What's needed for effective
The will
Experience of what good looks like
Some training
Peer engagement at all levels
An agreed plan: audit of need; programme of development
rooted in practice; monitoring and evaluation
 Skills of reflection, enquiry, coaching
 Trust and confidence
Characteristics of this sort of
 Moral accountability to children and young
people beyond the school
 Openness and trust between colleagues and a
strong accountability to each other
 High expectations and an uncompromising
approach to quality
Towards school led accountability: the
role of the governing body
 The importance of governing bodies in
supporting accountability
 Do the governance models in federations and
chains have system significance?
 The development of NLGs.
 Untapped potential?
Towards schools led accountability:
the role of Ofsted?
 The importance of Ofsted's support for a improving
 The contribution of the inspection framework
 Greater recognition of the role played both by school
to school support and joint practice development
 Recognising the value of high calibre self evaluation
involving external scrutiny by peers
Towards school-led accountability:
schools leading locally
 The need for a ‘middle-tier’?
 How best to enable cross school collaboration,
particularly for those least likely to engage in such
 Support across (and beyond) federations, chains,
a range of alliances , clusters and networks
 The importance of data
School=led accountability
 What more could be done to establish a
school-led system to complement the
public accountability framework?
 What are the future issues for school
accountability in a self-improving system?
Moving forward
Better is possible. It does not take genius. It takes
diligence. It takes moral clarity. It takes ingenuity.
And above all, it takes a willingness to try.
Atul Gawande, Better: a surgeon’s notes on
performance, 2007

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