School Improvement Strategy


Monitoring and Risk Assessment


Maintained Schools

Each maintained school will be categorised, using common language, clear criteria and clarity about the support and challenge package that accompanies it. This process ensures that resources are used to support the right schools. The categories can be summarised as:

  • Light Touch: Good and outstanding schools with no known concerns
  • Light Touch +: Schools judged as good or outstanding but recognized that capacity to provide external support may be limited, perhaps due to a new Headteacher or temporary staffing issues, or specific targeted support is needed
  • Support and Challenge: Schools judged by Ofsted to require improvement (RI); schools judged as good or outstanding identified as vulnerable to a decline in Ofsted grading; schools where analysis of performance data places them at serious risk of decline
  • Support and Challenge +: Schools judged by Ofsted to be inadequate or likely to be judged by Ofsted as inadequate at the next inspection or where there are serious and significant other concerns.

We believe that the prime responsibility for knowing a school well is with school leaders and therefore we have amended our School Improvement Strategy to adopt a more risk- based approach, particularly in light of the current circumstances schools are working under. 

As such, the process and means of categorising schools now incorporates a range of risks in a self- evaluation process which will enable us to identify with Heads both vulnerabilities in individual schools, and to identify wider Surrey issues which will need to be addressed at a county- wide strategic level. 


Please request the Key Support Needs Assessment (KSNA) for completion via

  • There are 8 risk areas: safeguarding; governance; school leadership; staffing; quality of education; behaviour and attitudes; finance and estates;
  • For each area, Heads are asked to identify the likelihood of a risk occurring in their school in its particular circumstances and context. The responses are then automatically ‘ragged’
  • Heads are then asked to consider what interventions have been implemented to mitigate the risk in their school.
  • It is this self- evaluation score which will be used to determine a school’s overall vulnerability;

This information will be used to determine whether schools need to be identified as either Support and Challenge or Light Touch. In this way we will ensure all schools receive the support and challenge they need to develop and improve.

In order to provide external validation and bench marking of the self-assessment process, a number of system leaders/NLEs will work alongside Heads with the Key Support Needs Assessment (KSNA) in approximately one third of schools. The schools will be determined randomly.

If  this would be useful to your school, please contact to arrange for a visit.

A school may move category at any time during an academic year leading to an increase or decrease in funded support. In this event the school will be informed in writing.







Senior leaders from SAfE will meet at least annually with representatives of all multi-academy trusts and standalone academies. Where a trust has at least one school identified as meeting the criteria for challenge and support they will meet with the representative termly.

Academies have also been invited to complete a Key Support Needs Assessment in order to contribute to generating robust insights into real areas of strengths and room for improvement in the educational landscape across Surrey and will help schools assist each other in improving performance and driving towards equity and excellence for all.

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other."

John F Kennedy


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