Leadership in 'outstanding' schools

Understand what makes leadership Ofsted ‘outstanding’. Based on extracts from recent 'outstanding' reports, find suggested actions to help strengthen your leadership in key areas.

Last reviewed on 22 June 2022
School types: All · School phases: All
Ref: 1622
  1. What the grade descriptors say
  2. Provide focused and effective professional development
  3. Prioritise training to help staff develop their subject knowledge 
  4. Manage any staff workload issues swiftly
  5. Support your staff in their wellbeing
  6. See Ofsted reports from 'outstanding' schools

What the grade descriptors say

To be 'outstanding' in leadership and management, your school must:

  • Meet all the 'good' criteria in leadership and management securely and consistently (for the 'good' criteria, see below paragraph 329 in the School Inspection Handbook)
  • Have "exceptional" leadership and management

Additionally, as leaders you must:

  • Make sure that teachers receive focused and highly effective professional development so their subject, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge consistently builds and develops over time, and this consistently translates into improvements in the teaching of the curriculum
  • Make sure that highly effective and meaningful engagement takes place with staff at all levels, and that issues are identified. When issues are identified, in particular about workload, consistently deal with them appropriately and quickly
  • Receive consistent reports from staff on high levels of support for wellbeing issues

Below are 4 key themes based on these grade descriptors. Find suggested