SEF stands for Self-Evaluation Form and is a useful tool used by Ofsted during their reviews and inspections. Ofsted uses SEF to look at each school’s perception and thoughts on their own positives and strengths, as well as their needs in regards to training and improvements in multiple areas. Leaders in schools fill out SEF’s and use it as a tool to effectively identify key areas of development and break down how they can achieve these performance goals.

Ofsted provides prompts for a school SEF so that when writing a self-evaluation form it is ensured school provisions have been properly considered. They also provide specialised tips to ensure schools have the right support to properly utilise SEF as a development and planning tool.

There are also more tools online that can help make the process more efficient and ensure the process is meaningful. SEFonline provide a carefully designed self-evaluation tool that enables efficient and thorough assessment, guiding school leaders through a number of different key performance indicators and prompts.

Schools can use this interactive tool and guide for every section of the SEF. Afterwards, schools can download the completed form in a concise document. The document is 10 pages long and can be a very useful tool for tracking the progress of goals and ensuring staff are aligned with the school’s missions and goals, particularly in regards to improvements and planning.

Previous SEF versions are stored for future reference, making it an easy to use tracking system. Data on the school is presented in a clear and accurate format and can be compared to national averages to measure school performance. For senior leaders, this can be an invaluable tool when it comes to reporting, for example to school governors. It also makes for a useful source when creating school improvement plans as it clearly presents a school’s strengths and weaknesses based on nationally agreed indicators.

SEFonline provides an accurate indication of where a school is, as well as identifying where the school can make future improvements. It helps to track strategic priorities and goals, such as:


  • To improve the quality of Mathematics and English teaching so that more pupils achieve the expected standard and greater depth within supported schools.



  • To harness leadership potential in middle and senior leaders so that leadership activity is more precise and impactful.



  • To develop a research-informed health and well-being strategy to improve the quality of life within schools. To increase staff confidence, reduce unnecessary workload and address recruitment and retention issues.



  • To develop an evidence-informed school improvement solution for early years so that more children achieve a good level of development.


A focus on these strategic goals and a school’s individual goals through completing the SEF can enable better planning and therefore can be instrumental in giving a big boost in a school’s performance.


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