Ofsted’s blog: South East region focuses on disadvantage

New regional director Chris Russell launches an initiative with school leaders and improvers 


I’m really pleased to have taken on the post of Regional Director, South East. As a former inspector in the region I know well the challenges it faces, in particular with regards to disadvantaged learners.

In order to tackle this we brought inspectors and school leaders together to look at what more we can do, or do differently, to boost outcomes in the South East. And we will be supporting leaders in that work.

School improvers representing local authorities, multi-academy trusts, the Diocese, the Teaching Schools Council and individual schools met at an initial event in London on the 16 September and we looked at the work of four local schools that offer good provision for their disadvantaged pupils.

We asked questions. What were the common features of these schools? How can we encourage more schools to make a greater impact on outcomes for disadvantaged pupils?

It was agreed that the Common Inspection Framework, and the areas it focuses on, can act as a powerful tool for improvement, not only on inspection, but also as an evaluation mechanism.

This was a very positive meeting and the beginning of a collaboration to bring about positive change.

The first steps are to produce materials such as webinars and Power Point presentations that can be used with, and by, school leaders to help stimulate their work in boosting disadvantaged pupils’ outcomes. We will be developing all materials with input from those working on the front line. This is not new guidance or a new tool for inspection; it’s about using the tools we’ve already got to make greater impact.

Inspectors and school leaders will be pooling their knowledge with a common aim – to support accurate school evaluation and improvement planning to reduce the gap between disadvantaged pupils and others.

I look forward to working closely with key stakeholders to raise standards and attainment for children and learners across the South East. We’re in the early stages of this journey, but I’m extremely positive about this alliance. I’d encourage all those working in schools to really focus on this issue and please do get in touch (Siobhan Ritchie, 03000 131 407, siobhan.ritchie@ofsted.gov.uk) if you want to be involved in future events or take advantage of the resources we’re producing.