Top Tips for Writing your Self-Evaluation

Top Tips for Writing your Self-Evaluation

Self-evaluations are closely guarded documents and headteachers rarely see any apart from their own.

So here are some top tips to bear in mind when writing or updating your self-evaluation based on what I have found is fairly typical in many self-evaluations, regardless of the format used.

School Context

Quite often this is data from IDSR copied into the document. Things like the number of pupils on roll, disadvantaged, SEND, etc. This is fine, but because this information is available elsewhere, for example, in IDSR, it can be useful to consider the ‘so what?’. After all, it is a ‘self-evaluation’ document, so this section can be evaluative too.

For example, if the number on roll has grown considerably and rapidly, what have been the ramifications, and how has it been managed? If SEND is increasing, what has been implemented to meet these needs? Just a sentence after certain noticeable pieces of data can be useful as reflection and show leaders’ responses to circumstances.

Behaviour and Attitudes

Quite often, attitudes to learning are not mentioned sufficiently in this section of a self-evaluation. There is often information about conduct, the politeness of the children, how the school is praised for behaviour after a school trip or by visitors to the school and the fact that lessons are not disrupted. All good stuff. However, I’ve visited schools where the attitudes to learning, the learning behaviour of the children, were a real strength. And this had not really been acknowledged in the self-evaluation apart from perhaps a brief sentence. Many schools have focused on attitudes to learning since the pandemic, and it is often embedded and impacts learning. So, make sure it is recognised and evaluated.


In this section, there is usually a lot of information about the most recent SATs results, explaining the strengths and any dips, especially if outcomes were significantly low. (It’s noticeable that if attainment has risen, it can often be 'the start of a trend' whereas if attainment was low, it is a 'cohort-related dip’…) Anyway, what is written usually concentrates on historical outcomes with scant regard for current cohorts. It’s a balancing act; putting what the school knows about current cohorts in the light of historic outcomes. In effect, proving the strong attainment for a cohort last year really was the start of a trend because information for several current cohorts supports the improvement of attainment across the school.

Additional Impact Information

The other information often missing from the Impact section concerns subjects other than English and maths. Most schools are still developing or further refining summative assessment in non-core subjects, but as soon as some information is available, what is it telling the school, and how is the school acting on this? This can be summarised in the self-evaluation. But at the moment, it is rare to find this. And, of course, by its omission, the implication is that leaders either do not have the information or, if they do, they are not using the information to improve outcomes.

Hopefully, these observations and suggestions will be helpful and can improve self-evaluation as part of the school improvement cycle. This is not just to tick a box for certain visitors but also to ensure a school's strengths are recognised by any audience, whether SLT, governors, or anyone involved in school improvement and accountability.

Who knows? You might even show yours to another headteacher…


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