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Course costs are based on 15 participants

This course can be tailored to your individual requirements

Inspection skills training for headteachers and all senior leaders

Essential, rigorous three-day course; ensure skillful monitoring, evaluation and diagnosis; drive continual improvement; articulate well-reasoned, credible judgements

This course is unique to PBM. It is well-established, up-to-date, and has a lengthy and successful track record of helping headteachers and other senior leaders sharpen their evaluation skills and extend their capacity to monitor and improve their schools. It provides participants with a broad knowledge of the inspection process and fosters those indispensable skills for gathering pertinent data efficiently and then making unequivocal judgements. By the end of the course, participants are able to analyse school information to identify strengths and weaknesses in performance, check the accuracy of assessment data and judgements about progress through rapid and rigorous work sampling, and then diagnose causal factors through effective observation of teaching. Each participant receives a workbook packed with exemplar material, templates and resources that can be immediately used on return to school.

Course Overview

Based on the common inspection framework and the school inspection handbook, supported by the extensive knowledge and experience of the tutors, and continually updated to include relevant national developments, the three-day course helps senior leaders develop inspection and evaluation skills. The course covers most aspects of school self-evaluation and provides examples of good and outstanding practice.

The course lasts three days and is a mix of direct tuition and skill based learning involving tasks, case study materials, and homework (optional). The practical activities are mainly completed in groups of two or three participants so that thoughts and evaluations can be shared and compared. Each day has five hours of tuition, divided into four blocks of 1.25 hours.

Course Objectives

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the inspection process.
  • Learn to synthesise, as well as analyse, and form sound professional judgements.
  • Use probing audit, evaluation, and inspection trails (learning walks) to diagnose strengths, weaknesses, and priorities for improvement.
  • Make accurate and credible judgements from a wide range of evidence.
  • Sharpen data analysis and progress tracking skills (including RAISE online and other school performance data).
  • Develop effective quality assurance systems to monitor the implementation of school policies and strategies.
  • Accurate and effective classroom observation.
  • Develop succinct writing and communication skills leading to concise summary documentation.
  • Scrutinise pupils work competently.
  • Create relevant plans for improvement.

Aimed at

Headteachers, deputy headteachers, and senior managers in primary and secondary Schools.

Detailed course outline and session time table

Day 1

Session 1

Making judgements

  • So What?
  • The key judgements
  • The precision of language
  • Context of the school
  • Writing that communicates effectively: self-evaluation records
  • The self-evaluation genre
  • Interpreting data
  • Collating data

Session 2


  • Criterion referenced descriptors
  • Creating criterion-referenced assessment milestones
  • Fine-tuning embedded knowledge
  • Fine-tuning
  • Best-fit using milestones
  • Using the National Curriculum attainment targets

Session 3

Making sense of numbers

  • Evaluation
  • Making judgements
  • Using confidence intervals to evaluate outcomes
  • Evaluating attainment and achievement
  • Drilling into group performance

Session 4

Work sampling

  • The purpose of work sampling
  • Main procedures
  • Choosing the victims
  • Next steps analysis
  • Looking for patterns, creating a hypothesis
  • Sampling mathematics in the classroom

Day 2

Session 5

Tracking progress using thresholds

  • Visual mapping
  • Annual progress using other measures
  • Cohort value-added
  • Transition from one key stage to the next
  • After levels: using points
  • Cohort value-added
  • Using in-school summative assessment: evaluating key stage progress

Session 6

Classroom observation

  • Why classroom?
  • Uses of observation
  • Methodology
  • Profiling based on a range of evidence
  • Profiling teaching impact using school progress data
  • Characteristics of effective learning

Session 7

Classroom observation

  • Before observing
  • The purpose of the lesson
  • Telling evidence: the knowledge demonstrated by the pupils
  • Checking accuracy through work sampling

Session 8

Classroom observation

  • Teachers’ use of feedback
  • Grappling with knowledge
  • Feedback from inspectors
  • Feeding back to teachers
  • Feedback considerations

Day 3

Session 9

Evaluating personal development

  • Relevant and available data
  • Quantifying and measuring outcomes
  • Data from discussions: devising relevant questions
  • Survey questions
  • Listening to views
  • Are attitudes and behaviour helping or hindering progress?

Session 10

Evaluating personal development

  • Attitudes to school: evidencing the pupils’ views
  • Evidence from a learning walk
  • Attendance, absence and exclusion
  • Surveys and questionnaires
  • Parents’ questionnaire

Session 11

Evaluating personal development

  • Collating evidence: personal development, behaviour and welfare
  • Completing a summary record
  • Techniques for writing the summary record

Session 12

School improvement

  • Integrating self-evaluation with improvement and strategic planning
  • Model improvement plan

As part of our quality assurance policy, and to ensure courses are always up to date, we reserve the right to update, alter and improve courses without prior notice in order to encompass any emerging changes in legislation, framework, or government guidance.

Tutor information and feedback

This course will be delieverd by 1 of 2 highly experienced tutors.

Bruce McAlpine

has managed the Company for 18 years. He writes and develops training materials and tutors many of the courses. He was a full-time lead inspector for thirteen years. Before becoming an inspector, he taught in infant, primary and middle schools and was a headteacher for seventeen years. His specialist areas include English, mathematics, art, the Foundation Stage, educational management, special educational needs, and English as an additional language.


is an experienced headteacher, trainer, and consultant and he is also a serving inspector. He has an outstanding track record with the company and his courses are well received. In addition to his current headship and his role as an inspector, Paul works as a Learning Consultant and is involved in providing leadership training packages.
During his teaching career, Paul has provided in-service training to primary schools. Before becoming a deputy headteacher of a large primary school Paul was also a Strategic Manager of Teaching and Learning, a role which involved working with colleagues developing pedagogical expertise and know-how.
All of Paul’s previous headships have been in schools in challenging social contexts. He has led his previous school out of the category that it was placed in at the time of his appointment. It was judged as good at the last inspection. During the four OFSTED and HMI visits he has been praised for his dynamism and vision as a leader.
Paul specialises in providing training and consultancy focusing on all aspects of school self evaluation; data analysis, pupil premium and middle and subject leadership.
We reserve the right to substitute the advertised tutor for another appropriately experienced tutor.

Course feedback

“The best Headteacher training event I have attended in a very long time- relevant and enjoyable”.
“Just to say that I thought the Ofsted Inspection Skills training was excellent ... I was unsure whether I could afford 3 whole days out of school but I'm glad that I did as I learnt a lot”.
“I wondered if you would be kind enough to pass on a sincere note of thanks to Bruce McAlpine. I attended his 3 day course in May of this year and worked hard to implement many of the suggestions, especially the multifilter trackers for subjects. At the end of June we were given an outstanding judgement by Ofsted! This is in no small measure due to the superb training I received on the course. As a result, I am now supporting not only my school, but also another local school in difficulty- this is because of the skills gained from the course- many thanks again,”
“Outstanding- by far the best course I have been on since started teaching- this should be included as part of NPQH! Thank you!”.
“Clarity and coverage- more useful than I’ve ever experienced in 14 years of headship. Thank you!”.
“Clear, concise, logical, reference based guidance….best course and material I have experienced, possibly ever!”
“The best training I have attended as a headteacher- Everything was useful. I am really looking forward to cascading it to my SLT. Exactly what we needed at this point in our school development. Thank you I will use you again. Please e-mail future courses.”
I attended the 3 day ‘Inspection Skills For Headteachers’ course in January 2014 as we were due an Ofsted Inspection at any time and I wanted to ensure our school was as ready as we could be, and that I was ready, too! This course covered everything you should know as you prepare for inspection, but made the (previously) daunting prospect really straightforward and uncomplicated. What I found especially helpful was how to present what you know you are doing well in a format Ofsted can easily understand and not have to go searching for. Things like the school self-evaluation, pupil case studies and data were presented so clearly, we just couldn't go wrong! I knew we were at least a 'Good' school, and probably borderline 'Outstanding'. The course helped me to highlight our strengths and to make clear what we were doing to address any areas that weren't so strong. I am delighted to say we got 'Outstanding' in every area of the Ofsted report and it is without a doubt that this course gave me the knowledge, skills and confidence to present the school in the best way we could. Thank you.
An excellent 3 days - thank you
Resources, up to date knowledge, so much to take back to school with us
Bruce's ability to turn participants input into meaningful and relevant reflections for all.
The services were excellent. Thank you for making me feel so welcome
Very easy to engage. Knowledgeable trainer - very easy to listen to and take in
Clarity of training - really focused. Networking with other professionals.
Real clarity with regards to precision, school QA, self eval and improvement planning, insightful delivery
Quality of content and delivery, also very responsive to new draft framework.
Up to date - chance to discuss and network.
Relevance, detail, process
Clear materials backed up by clear training (or the other way round!) The best, focussed and useful training I have been on for a long time. Thank you very much
The tutors clear delivery, very knowledgeable. Answered questions thoroughly with examples
knowledge of official procedures from a wide range of experiences and viewpoints teacher/head/inspector - good balance.
Up to date knowledge of the tutor
Knowledge of up to date info/triangulation of all info
All clear and relevant. Both tutors responded well to participants questions but maintained pace and focus.
Relevance to current practice.
Wealth of knowledge of the instructor/tutor.
Personalisation to questions and individual needs. Data analysis / what to expect in an inspection / focused monitoring of subjects - hypothesis etc Tutors presentation style and adaptation to each member of the group. Specific examples, opportunities to practise skills and advice CLARITY and coherence.
Bruce's knowledge base and experience
Expert advice, in-depth experience of tutor.
Bruce was extremely informative throughout.
Quality of training materials (video/printed); the section on summary records was particularly useful.
Comprehensive and in depth knowledge of the inspection process.

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