All QA Reviews to be virtual until February half-term

7 December 2020

We have now heard from the Prime Minister which of the new more stringent tiers areas will be placed in. Sadly, news that many of our schools and reviewers across the North, Midlands, Bristol and Kent will find themselves in tier 3 - added to predictions of a post-Christmas surge in cases - means that all our Quality Assurance Reviews until February half term will now be virtual.

As you can imagine, with more than 1,000 reviewers due to go out on reviews from County Durham to Cornwall between January and June next year, this is a major scheduling operation. At the moment we are planning for reviews from spring 2 to go ahead as per schools’ preferences for virtual or face-to-face. However, we will be monitoring the situation closely and will let schools and reviewers scheduled for spring 2 know by early February if these too will need to be virtual.

I know that some schools will be disappointed but the unanimous view of our practitioner QAR task and finish group, when they met at the end of November, was that it is the only responsible and practicable approach to protect the wellbeing of those in our schools and communities, and our Lead Reviewers, and to guarantee a high-quality review experience for all involved. 

The good news is that at the same meeting the QAR task and finish group was able to review the positive evaluations emerging from last month’s virtual Leadership QAR pilots in primary, secondary and special schools. Feedback from host schools revealed that they particularly appreciated the opportunity to involve more middle leaders, parents and governors in the review process. 

Reviewers were surprised by the extent to which they were able to get a “feel” for the school over Zoom, and found the process developmental and enjoyable. Reports captured well-triangulated and agreed evidence of schools’ WWWs and EBIs and provided insights that will enable the schools to move forward. 

Our pilot reviewers and host schools also provided valuable feedback on how we can improve our guidance and the review agenda templates. These are now being updated to allow more time for building social capital among review teams, and for professional dialogue, reflection and the crafting of WWWs and EBIs to take place over the course of the review.

Documentation for the vLQAR is available on our website in the members’ area here (login required).