Obtaining meaningful input and value through external school quality accreditation

Posted by Tribal Group

Olympic Academy is a primary school in Wellingborough looking to meet the needs of their whole school community, irrespective of context or situation. The school has been on a significant journey since its 2018 transfer to the Lion Academy Trust, but its ethos of ensuring children receive a level of education that is good or better every day has not changed. The latest step on that journey has been its participation in, and subsequent awarding of, the Quality Mark accreditation. Here, Joanna Sawford, Assistant Head, explains what it has meant for the school, and the value they have gleaned from their involvement.

Olympic Academy participated in the Quality Mark accreditation for the first time this year (2022), having recognised the kudos attached to the award and acknowledged how the process was a worthwhile endeavour due to its well-known rigour. Other external accreditation processes were viewed to simply be box-ticking exercises, which would not contribute to the school’s ongoing development and therefore represented lesser value to the school’s leadership, staff and community.

“Quality Mark is more meaningful; it would have some significance to our parents”, Joanna observed.

The Quality Mark is a nationally recognised accreditation demonstrating schools’ commitment to continually improving standards in the provision, practice and performance of English and mathematics, from Early Years through to Secondary. Work undertaken towards accreditation offers a meaningful context in which to monitor and evaluate the quality of provision, practice and outcomes. Quality Mark accreditation is awarded when a school demonstrates that the criteria for all 10 elements of the framework are met and can provide evidence that participation in the award has had a positive impact on provision and practice.

An introduction to Quality Mark, with National Director, Nicola Morris


The fact that other schools within the Lion Academy Trust had also been through the process made the decision to embark on the Quality Mark journey, even more logical. (You can read about Warwick Academy’s Quality mark journey here: “Digging deeper into school data to bring about improvements in quality and in parents’ perceptions”.) As a Trust, there are already well-established, collaborative working processes, the early years delivery representing a good example. The Trust’s Early Years Handbook is followed by all schools so there is a very clear pedagogy behind the delivery of provision; staff have a good understanding of why the Trust does things in a specific way, and schools share multiple opportunities to work alongside other schools in the hub.

Joanna explains how Quality Mark has aided meaningful discussion, “Quality Mark has sharpened our focus on a number of things – it has drawn discussion and made us reflect on our provision. Specifically for Olympic Academy, it has helped us look more closely at our school data.”

Joanna has been responsible for cascading the process through the team, and found that what they were already doing at school really supported their accreditation process, and that their practice didn’t need any huge adjustments.

“Knowing that actually what we are already doing, what we have in place here, is good practice, and obtaining that external validation, was a valuable quality assurance exercise for the school. It gave us the impetus to continue working in those ways.”

She goes on to explain how this was particularly beneficial given the school had only recently taken on board a new early years setting, so to achieve the Quality Mark gave the school the confidence they had the right groundings in place, that the foundations were right to continuously improve the quality of provision.

“As a school we’re very proud to receive this nationwide recognition – we’ve been able to present the school to parents as an award-winning setting which reassures parents that the school is providing a high-quality environment for learning. As a Trust we have strong beliefs in what works, and the Quality Mark accreditation has reaffirmed that, for the Trust, our school and our parents.”

The accreditation is valid for two years, after which period a further accreditation visit takes place to ensure the school continues to meet all 10 elements of the Quality Mark whilst demonstrating progress and sustained good practice. One of the additional benefits beyond the actual award that Joanna also recognises is the fact that the school receives a recording of the assessment against the 10 criteria, something which has been useful feedback for her personally, but also acts as more detailed Professional Development for the wider early years team.

“Quality Mark represents good value for schools because you get significant detailed feedback from the Assessor, who really makes the school think about the evidence being presented, but also applies challenge which ensures the school’s responses are robust and stand up to quite detailed scrutiny.”

Olympic Academy’s belief in challenge and success for all is evidently a philosophy that extends to their staff and stakeholders as much as it does their learners, and their quality journey will undoubtedly continue. In their Quality Mark award they have the strong foundations upon which to continue building.


Find out more about how Quality Mark accreditation supports excellence across all phases and types of schools

[Supporting and celebrating excellence in English and mathematics provision]


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