What does the role of a School Improvement Officer involve?

I’ve been in this role for two years and I am from Derby.  The role focuses on working with head teachers and other school leaders to provide support and challenge for school improvement.

As part of my role I conduct independent analysis of school GCSE and A-Level performance and I also work with the special schools in Derby. I regularly have conversations with the school leaders to make certain they have identified the strengths and weaknesses of the school and they are planning activities to address the weaknesses while maintaining the strengths.

Linked to this I do training with the governing bodies so they can understand the outcomes of their school and whether they are doing well or not. I also look at other areas outside the examination results, so for instance I would look at attendance of the children, in terms of whether there are any particular groups of children who seem to be attending more often or less often. I will check to see if there any particular patterns emerging.

I also work on teaching and learning, so what schools need to be confident about is that when leaders are making judgements about what’s good and what’s not so good in the classroom they need to be confident they are accurate and they are consistent with every other school in the city.

On request I conduct safeguarding reviews of schools, using similar frameworks to Ofsted to find out whether the children and staff know what to do in different situations; so are they legally compliant but more important than that are they alert to difficulties children may be having.

We do training with head teachers, for example last year we did training on safeguarding so they could do their own review. We did training on how to evaluate behaviour in your own school.  We help get schools ready for Ofsted visits as we know what happens with Ofsted inspections and we can focus on certain aspects of the school and where there is room for improvement.

What’s the most rewarding part of the job?

Working with people, I am a retired secondary head teacher and I’ve always liked working with people, whether they are young people or adults. The great thing about this job is you can help them to learn and develop so they can be the best they can be and the schools can be the best they can be.

What is the most challenging aspect of the role?

It would be time management and fitting all the visits in. November can be pretty frantic.

What is the next stage in terms of exam results?

Quite a lot of analysis goes on to get a sense of how schools are performing. Until you have the national picture, you don’t know whether things have gone up or down.  We start to analyse if there are any schools we need to be concerned about or any schools we need to celebrate.

It’s completely new this year with GCSE results marking so it will be quite challenging as you can’t make as comparisons with previous years.

Are you still passionate about the role?

I love the role and working in education. I love having a small part in influencing the lives of young people. Even now it’s nice to still have something to do with it. The other thing is I’m a Derby girl, I was born in Derby, I’ve always been in Derby and I want Derby to do well.