10 Commandments: Your School Self-Evaluation Form (SEF)

Have one! I know, it’s not compulsory, but …!


1. BE HONEST… Effective leaders are open about both the strengths and the areas for improvement and use the process of self-evaluation to inform improvement planning.

2. BE CONCISE… Keep it sharp and crisp. Your SEF is a summary and is the distillation of all the information you have gleaned from your monitoring and evaluation. Avoid reproducing information, including data, that can be found elsewhere (e.g. Analyse School Performance - ASP). The sharper your SEF, the more likely you will be able to use it as an improvement tool and communicate it clearly to a range of stakeholders.

3. INVOLVE KEY STAKEHOLDERS in the process of self-evaluation and agree the judgements made. Have a clear, single ‘voice’ running through the whole document; if you ask leaders to contribute to sections provide a clear template and house style.

4. BE ACCURATE... Ensure your evaluation is accurate and informed by a range of internal and external evidence that is valid, reliable and quantified where appropriate. You will need to have effective processes in place for engaging with stakeholders and seeking their views on a regular basis.

5. BE EVALUATIVE, NOT DESCRIPTIVE… By definition the self-evaluation should be evaluative and provide evidence of the impact of the provision. Resist the urge to be too descriptive!

6. BE CONSISTENT… Ensure judgements are consistent and that there are no contradictions with the document e.g. the judgement of teaching over time should reflect the quality of outcomes for pupils. Make sure that the judgements in your SEF properly triangulate with other key evidence. If pupil outcomes “Requires Improvement” are you really able to state that leadership is outstanding?

7. ORGANISE WITH CLARITY... If you are writing your school self-evaluation using Ofsted criteria, make clear Ofsted-based judgements for each section with the key supporting evidence. Split the criteria into specific sub-headings as per the Framework e.g. judge attendance separately within pupil behaviour, safety and welfare; governance within leadership and management.

8.WHAT NEEDS IMPROVING FURTHER..? Include “Even better if…”/”To further improve we need to…” in each of your sections to demonstrate aspiration and to signpost future action and support school improvement planning. If you are using Ofsted gradings and are near the cusp, it’s worth identifying from the grade above what the school needs to achieve to improve further.

9. SHARE KEY MESSAGES from the school self-evaluation document with key members of the community to ensure that everyone knows the strengths of the school, areas for improvement and the contribution they make to the judgements made. Sharing the school self-evaluation raises everyone’s awareness in relation to their role in the success of the school and their contribution to future success. Think about how you will communicate your judgements (if you wish to) to different audiences: pupils, parents, teachers, senior leaders, governors, Ofsted, LA, etc. Is the same document able to serve all audiences?

10. UPDATE REGULARLY… at least once a year and include information about the impact of actions taken on learners. You may decide to update the self –evaluation towards the end of the academic year to inform the next year’s improvement planning or you may update key sections at specific points during the year to fit in with monitoring and evaluation cycles. The SEF is for school leaders and stakeholders to have a current evaluation of how well the school is doing and what it should do to improve further. So, how current is yours?