Rowan Learning Trust Secondary Diagnostic


The Rowan Learning Trust developed the secondary diagnostic procedure for the DfE during the GM challenge and has trained many schools around the country in how to carry out the process. We have successfully supported over 40 schools since 2010 and have conducted a large number of whole school and faculty / subject diagnostics as a precursor to providing school-to-school support.


  • To work with schools to identify areas for further improvement.
  • To provide strategies focused on bringing about the further improvement, prioritised for short term and longer term to maximise impact.
  • To provide or signpost school-to-school support.
  • To bring about rapid and sustained improvement.

Reasons for Requesting a Diagnostic

  • An new Headteacher in post may wish to receive an external analysis about areas of improvement.
  • A school may decide that it requires an external review while conducting its self-evaluation.
  • The school’s local authority may request that a diagnostic takes place.
  • The Regional School Commissioner’s office may request that an academy requires a diagnostic.
  • A Multi-Academy Trust sponsoring a school may commission a diagnostic.

The Process

The diagnostic team leader contacts the Headteacher at the school to arrange a meeting to outline the process and to emphasise the supportive nature of the model. Information is then requested in order to maximise the effectiveness of the process and a date for the full day team visit is agreed.

The lead SLE visits the school, in advance of the diagnostic day, to meet the subject staff to outline the process and to emphasise the supportive nature of the model. A schedule of lesson observations and meetings with key members of staff and groups of students is drawn up and sent to the school in preparation for the team visit.

During the day of the team visit, the lesson observations are carried out by pairs of observers, where possible including senior staff at the supported school. Verbal feedback is provided to staff during the day in the format ‘what went well’ and ‘even better if’. Student work is scrutinised during lesson observations in conversation with the students where possible. Learning walks are also conducted around the school to gauge the typicality of the subject area compared to the rest of the school. At the end of the day, verbal feedback is given to the Headteacher.

Following the team visit, a report is written under the headings: Teaching & Learning, Student Progress, Learning Environment, Leadership and Curriculum & Assessment. At the end of each section ‘Suggestions for Development’ are ordered to reflect short term, high impact strategies, and longer term strategies. A proposed action plan is drafted to include a support package directed by the diagnostic. The report and draft action plan are presented to the Headteacher by the team leader within seven days of the team visit. The lead SLE, from the analysis team, then presents the report and action plan to the subject staff.

If school-to-school support then follows, specific objectives and KPIs are agreed in the action plan together with mid-point and final review dates.

The Diagnostic Team

For a faculty / subject diagnostic, the team for a will normally comprise three people; usually an NLE, lead SLE and an SLE subject specialist. However, if a whole school diagnostic is requested, additional SLE team members will be required.


The cost of the diagnostic will be paid at the daily rate for the team members including preparation work, meetings, report writing and action plan writing. The total cost for a faculty / subject diagnostic is £2600 +vat. The cost of a whole school diagnostic will depend upon the size of the school and team member requirements.