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SEF 2012How and why of self evaluation.

SEF Replacement

The formal Self Evaluation Form has been discontinued and schools have 3 options

  • Continue with the old SEF format
  • Create your own SEF format
  • Use the new Ofsted inspection framework to scaffold Self Evaluation.
  • There were a number of reasons why the old Self Evaluation Form was abandoned - It was too prescriptive and did not necessarily meet the needs of a particular school - some areas were irrelevant some were omitted. It was bureacratic, costly and consumed masses of resources for what was often seen as a 'must do' task without benefits, but it did organise evaluation into logical and related areas.

    What is the relationship between school self-evaluation and inspection?

    The recently published Ofsted Inspection Framework 2012 states "Self-evaluation is now well established in schools, providing the basis for planning for development and improvement. Inspection takes account of, and contributes to, a school's self-evaluation. Schools may present a written summary of their self-evaluation to inspectors."

    The purpose of Self Evaluation

    The main purpose of Self Evaluation is to identify areas of success and failure where good practice can be shared and failure addressed. However Ofsted recently published that Inspectors will expect to use a summary of a school's self-evaluation in a form chosen by the school. Ofsted have further said that they use inspections and self evaluation as a way of promoting rigour in the way that schools evaluate their own performance, thereby enhancing their capacity to improve.

    The SEF Dilemma

    School leadership has a new and pressing dilemma - to construct their own SEF and risk an inspectors adverse judgement by failing to evaluate sufficiently or be too detailed and burn too much precious leadership resource. The main problem is setting the depth of evaluation with confidence and certainty - How can school leadership be certain? And what are the individual and school consequences of failing to effectively self evaluate? To (mis)quote Donald Rumsfeld 'there are too many unknown unknowns'.

    The solution

    There is a simple, elegant and effective solution to this dilemma - use the criteria deployed in the new 2012 Ofsted Inspection Framework to determine what needs to be evaluated. In doing this you will be using best practice and meeting external demands.

    An integrated approach

    There is significant overlap between the new SEF and the new 2012 Ofsted Inspection Framework - preparation for one can be preparation for both whilst demonstrating effective Quality of Leadership.

    Our developers work closely with clients to really get to know the crux of their requirements.

    Contact us

    We'd love to talk to you about your self evaluation ambitions. Our systems are installed in many schools and are used daily to drive school improvement - its our expertise. Get in touch with our team.

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"This is good news. It will result in more self evaluation and more meaningful self evaluation, a process which is at the heart of school improvement."

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, on the decision to 'ditch' the SEF


"Self-evaluation will continue to remain an important focus within the key judgment of leadership and management in the new Ofsted framework. Inspectors will be expecting schools to provide a summary of the outcomes of their self-evaluation prior to an inspection and it is vital that schools give an accurate and rigorous account in order to achieve good or outstanding grades."

Specialist Schools and Academies Trust website