Not Another Audit: A School Leader's Perspective

It became a bit of a running joke* in my settings. The phone would ring and as I’d be handed the call I’d think to myself, “Who wants a piece of me now?” 

I don’t think two weeks went by without someone else knocking at the door, ready to audit an area of one of my schools. From safeguarding advisors to the fire brigade, you name them, we had them. I’ll admit that at the time, it very much felt like a test, but that was more my perspective on it rather than how the process actually went.

What I fail to mention is that I was partial to an audit myself.

Not only did an audit tell me and the team what was working, what wasn’t quite there, and what was simply ineffective, but it submerged me into an area of my school. It gave me the time, opportunity and focus to delve deep and explore the intricacies and complexities of my settings.

 Of course, doing an audit isn’t the end of the process, and what follows is usually more jobs added to the extensive to-do list and another action plan to create. But it’s not about ‘doing it for Ofsted’, the local authority, or anyone else who cared to come and check out what we were up to. It was about our journey to keep striving forward for ourselves, our pupils and our community.

For me, an audit was usually a good starting point, as it meant looking, listening and being in and around my schools with a particular purpose in mind. We'll explore the process further in this blog as well as all the individual audit resources available from Honeyguide. They're all contained in this full pack too:

Why are audits useful?

For some (like me), the mere thought of an external assessment can be enough to send even the most experienced of educators into a state of panic. But what if I told you that not all audits are created equal? That many can actually be beneficial to your school's improvement journey?

Let me explain.

The key is to approach audits with a positive outlook rather than viewing them as burdensome or another paper-pushing exercise. Try to see them as an opportunity for growth and development.

Think of an audit as a chance to gain valuable feedback and insight into your school's strengths and weaknesses. It's an opportunity to reflect on your current practices and identify areas for improvement. Most importantly, it's a chance to create an action plan that will help you to achieve your goals.


How do you make sure that your audit is a positive experience?

Audits don’t only need to be conducted by people external to your school. While there is certainly a place for an advisor or trust leader to come in and go through your processes and procedures with you, it can actually be really beneficial to do this for yourself with your team. 

Below are some of our tips for making the audit process feel positive:

Be proactive

Don't wait for an audit to be scheduled before you start thinking about improvement. Take a proactive approach and start identifying areas for improvement now. This will not only help you to be better prepared for an audit, but it will also improve your school's performance in the long term.

A leadership and management audit can help with this, especially if you're unsure of your strengths and weaknesses currently.

Embrace feedback

Feedback, both positive and negative, is an essential part of the audit process. Embrace it, learn from it, and use it to inform your school's improvement plan.

And there are some situations, such as a mental health and wellbeing audit, where hearing feedback is crucial to understanding the views of all stakeholders. This will allow you to help make your school an even better place to be.



Involve your team

Your team is your greatest asset when it comes to improvement. Involve them in the audit process and use their knowledge and expertise to inform your school's improvement planning going forward.

For example, when auditing the curriculum and quality of education, valuable insights can come from subject leaders and the monitoring work they do. Why not involve aspiring middle and senior leaders in the audit process too? It's great development for them to work alongside more experienced colleagues.

Don't forget the positives!

While audits are designed to identify areas for improvement, don't forget to celebrate your school's successes. Recognising and celebrating achievements can be a powerful motivator for continued improvement.


What audits do we have to help?

We put our heads together to think about the audits that were most useful in our settings and we then asked you the same thing. From this, we compiled a list of audits that many felt were a priority when on their school improvement journey.

We’ve created audits and accompanying action plans in the following areas, in line with the Ofsted framework:

Leadership and Management

Quality of Education

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Behaviour and Attitudes

Personal Development

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion




In addition, we’ve also compiled an Audit, Website Compliance and Recruitment Pack. It includes all eight audits above as well as information on website compliance, the single central record and recruitment processes. In this pack, we've also included templates to support your ongoing work, including:

  • Policy Tracker
  • Website Compliance Checklist
  • Single Central Record Checklist
  • Safer Recruitment Checklist
  • Pre-employment Checklist


    Whether you’re playing the role of auditor or being audited, let’s help you to feel confident and prepared.

    As always, we’re here to lead beside you.


    *Q - Why did the auditor cross the road?

    A - To get to the other side of the audit!


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