Will a behaviour consultant help your school get through an OFSTED inspection?

April 22, 2017

At the start of the year I wrote about my experience of Behaviour Consultants. Although I have known of decent people doing this job, there has been a real problem with bad advice from consultants and many teachers shared examples of this with me.

However, just recently an opportunity came up to compare directly what a behaviour consultant had said when working with a school with what OFSTED said. A school inspected in January 2017, had been featured in a blog written (in part) by a very high profile behaviour consultant in February 2015. Because this deals with a school that’s just been rated “inadequate” in almost all respects, I’m not going to link to my sources as I normally would, so as to avoid school shaming. I also, obviously, cannot be sure who is right or wrong in their judgements. However, I do want to show how a behaviour consultant’s perspective might differ from an inspector’s.

From the blog:

Great Leadership:

….The key difference between the schools I work with is leadership. Their senior leaders’ approach to whole staff INSET tells you all you need to know about their commitment to CPD. Some open their policy and practice to scrutiny. They allow you to do a proper job. A root and branch review with carefully tailored live training. They follow it with flexible blended training that meets the different needs of individuals. They plan CPD that is a drip feed of consistent messages, sustainable and effective. This sounds like a utopian dream right? Like a button you could press and everything is alright…

There is something incredible when everyone comes together and is able to speak freely and honestly in live training. To genuinely reflect on policy, practice. To identify how things need to be sharpened. To squeeze the consistency where it is most effective to loosen the reigns where it is not. Last week at <school name> was a perfect example of this. The Head was one of the first seated in the hall, other senior and middle leaders dotted around. No big speeches, no ‘see me laters’ no ‘Captain’s table’. The lines of hierarchy are deliberately put on hold. Egos left at the door, one staff, one purpose.

From the OFSTED report:

From the blog:

[consultant’s nickname]’s Scale of Consistency:

We played [consultant’s nickname]’s Scale of Consistency’ and allowed everyone to reflect on how far they had come, what was working and where the next steps are. The questions reminded everyone of the keystone habits all staff have been working on, those we first agreed at the start of the project some months before

….This was embedding the good stuff and keeping on with the simple consistent agreements made in blood. We checked the consistency and our agreement with questions that were tailored to the school and to the moment:

On a scale of 1 -10 (1 being ‘Bare Madness’ and 10 being ‘The Shizzle’) how consistent is your:

  1. Meet, greet and handshake.
  2. Use of the 3 rules ‘Ready, Respectful, Safe.’
  3. Own behaviour.
  4. Use of Positive Notes Home and Positive Phone Calls.
  5. Use of planned scripted interventions.
  6. Seating plan.
  7. Use of routines to focus on learning attitudes and behaviours.

Staff were asked to identify where they felt they were on the scale and then ask someone who was higher up what more they could be doing. I stood back to watch the enthusiasm with which they shared ideas and encouraged one another. There were no hidden agenda’s, no negativity, no blame. We also reflected back to colleagues some fantastic responses to the student survey on behaviour. Key statistics reported;

  • 98% of students now knew the rules and the consequences.
  • 82 % felt that behaviour had improved.

From the OFSTED report:

From the blog:


…the staff were then challenged to clarify the consistent classroom steps for poor behaviour. …. It was very clear that although practice had shifted dramatically on a whole school level, there is still work to be done to tighten consistent responses at the classroom level. We talked about defining routines for individual classes, teaching behaviour and pursuing those routines one by one, relentlessly.

The behaviour at [school’s initials] have [sic] improved so dramatically in the past year and staff are to be applauded for their efforts. When I first visited the referral room, it was full with a queue of students lining up outside the door. On this day of training, there was just one child in the referral room, yesterday there had been none.

This is a whole school approach, every adult singing from the same song sheet, led by the vision of an excellent Head [head’s name] and driven by the determination of all adults to create a school where excellent behaviour is normalized. And it is working brilliantly.

From the OFSTED report:


I’m not intending to have a go at individuals here, I don’t know how well the school went on to follow that consultant’s advice in the significant length of time between the blog and the inspection, and I’m the last person on earth to claim that an OFSTED report must be right. But the leadership at this school hired an outsider to lead on behaviour; an outsider who came in, said everything was now going great and praised the head and, one assumes, was paid handsomely for their contribution. I think anyone can see why this might not result in sustained improvement.

I would argue that, more than anything, great behaviour comes from great culture. Unless you are very lucky and have the world’s least challenging intake, you only get that where school leaders make that culture happen. If you are a school leader, and want to spend money on improving behaviour, start by spending it on visiting schools in disadvantaged areas that, nevertheless, have great behaviour and see how they do it. I bet there isn’t one school in the country with great behaviour that got there through employing consultants.



  1. How can great leadership be getting someone else in to do the hard work? What that says to me is the leader(s) have no idea where to go. And so they are not leading, but following someone else.
    Consultants are actually useful 1) to avoid conflict of interest issues, 2) to attempt to reassure people that the proposed plan isn’t just the leader’s whim but that the madness is shared by others, and 3) in specific technical fields outside the main scope of the organisation where an expert has specific knowledge.
    Our school hired an engineer to report on potential methods to drain our fields, and that was money well spent compared to our guessing, even though it wasn’t cheap. We got some specialist help with our publications (website, newsletter etc). That’s what consultants are for.

  2. […] Will a behaviour consultant help your school get through an Ofsted inspection, by Andrew […]

  3. Reblogged this on The Echo Chamber.

  4. […] Will a behaviour consultant help your school get through an OFSTED inspection? […]

  5. […] how best to use the time allocated for Continuing Professional Development (CPD) with some schools conspicuously getting it wrong and no easy answers as to who gets it right. One tendency that I have noticed, which I consider to […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: