The issues addressed are:
- To what extent is an understanding of what is involved in being an outstanding school fully articulated and shared?
- What are the implications of the criteria used by Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills), the agency responsible for the inspection of schools in England,
- as part of its inspection framework to judge schools as outstanding?
- What are the common features of leadership, organisation and culture which help good schools in their journey towards categorisation as outstanding?
- What is the story of those schools which have moved to the next level and what are the obstacles facing those schools still on the journey?
- What kinds of support (including collaboration with other schools) are most effective in achieving the transformation?
- How best can knowledge and practice of the journey from good to outstanding be shared, transferred or created anew in a variety of contexts?
The research took place in spring and summer 2010, a period which saw a change of government in the UK and subsequent changes in education policy. The policy change which bears down most obviously on this piece of work has been the decision to offer all schools in England judged by Ofsted to be outstanding the opportunity to apply for academy status. This status brings with it a number of freedoms, together with an uncoupling from local authority control.