Inquiry to investigate school improvement


An inquiry by school leaders into how education professionals can take a greater role in improving our education system has been unveiled.

The investigation will consider the role of central government and inspection and accountability, as well as school governance, Teaching Schools and CPD.

The inquiry is entitled “What does a self-improving school-led system look like? A blueprint for the future” and is to be led by the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).

It will specifically consider the progress the government has made towards “system leadership” – which ASCL defines as heads and school leaders who work across several schools to bring about improvement. 

It would like to see this practice “accelerated and widened to all schools”.

The work will culminate in a “blueprint” being published ahead of next May’s General Election, and the investigation will include a public consultation.

ASCL’s general secretary Brian Lightman unveiled the plans at last week’s Inspiring Leaders conference in Birmingham.

He said: “I believe that up until now we have been dabbling in system leadership. It is now time for the profession to take charge as we move into the next phase. 

“This inquiry will bring together views from a whole range of stakeholders about how we define, once and for all, what a self-improving system looks like, and how we make it happen in practice.”

ASCL represents more than 18,000 secondary school and college leaders and Mr Lightman warned that the investigation would ask difficult questions of Ofsted, England’s schools inspectorate.

He continued: “As we take this significant step towards defining a self-improving system, it is important that we give careful consideration to the constraints. A question many school leaders may ask is whether Ofsted, in particular, is contributing to or hindering further improvement.”

He added: “There may be a more strategic, less operational, role for government – specifically to remove obstacles and create the conditions for a self-improving system. 

“This would involve a commitment from politicians to re-calibrate their relationship with the profession. These are questions that we are asking as part of the inquiry.”? 

Interested parties have been invited to respond to the consultation document by July 25. For a copy of the consultation, email


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