9 CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE S OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 12 th November 2008

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1 9 CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE S OVERVIEW AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE 12 th November 2008 SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT: Priority Schools Report Author: Bill Lyttle Chief Adviser VT E&S Children s Services Classification: For Information 1. SUMMARY 1.1 This report builds on the previous report to provide further information about the strategy for school improvement for schools requiring additional support, including schools identified as causing concern. It provides information on the categorisation of schools with distinction made between schools that are categorised as outstanding, good, satisfactory and improving and those judged to be satisfactory and vulnerable to under performance or an Ofsted category at the next section 5 inspection. 2. RECOMMENDATION 2.1 Members are asked to note the contents of this report. 3. BACKGROUND 3.1 In Strategy for Change Part I (2008) it states that VTES has committed to ambitious and challenging targets to raise attainment and narrow gaps. VTES will challenge all schools to raise performance, especially targetting under performing groups of students including the most vulnerable and marginalised. Top priority will be the underperformance of our weakest schools. 3.2 We have been working with schools to clarify the discrete roles and responsibilities within the school improvement strategy. 4. MONITORING CHALLENGE INTERVENTION AND SUPPORT 4.1 Schools themselves are the core of the system. In addition to having the central role in delivering education, they have responsibility for their own improvement and for making the best use of the challenge and support available to them. 4.2 The local authority needs to know its schools well and has a duty to (MCSI) Monitor and evaluate the quality of education in schools. Challenge schools to raise standards, narrow attainment gaps and set ambitious targets for all pupils. Intervene in schools it judges to be at risk of not providing a suitable standard of education for its pupils or significant groups of pupils, or where school leadership and - 1 -

2 management does not demonstrate the capacity to develop and implement strategies that have a positive impact on outcomes for its pupils. Support schools where performance is not as good as could reasonably be expected. 5. CATEGORISATION OF SCHOOLS IN WALTHAM FOREST 5.1 VTE&S working in partnership with Waltham Forest and its schools seeks to provide informative reports with more precision and no surprises based on clear communication and transparency with schools. 5.2 Currently categorisation is graded according to the four Ofsted categories (1-4) and has been agreed in partnership with the senior management team. Distinction now needs to be made between schools that are categorised as Outstanding (1), Good (2) Satisfactory (3) and Inadequate (4). 5.3 As reported previously the list of the numbers of schools in each category is identified in the table below. Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Total Primary Special Secondary Total Note: Walthamstow Academy is not included as their categorisation is not completed by an LA SIP. 5.4 It is proposed that we extend the categorisation to Satisfactory and with capacity to improve (3b) and those judged to be satisfactory and vulnerable to under performance or an Ofsted category at the next section 5 inspection (4) and those already in an Ofsted category (5). This is a professional judgement and not simply an arithmetical calculation. Schools in all categories, including those in Notice to Improve and Special Measures, will have strengths as well as weaknesses and areas for development. 5.5 The LA categories need to be reviewed and refined against shared criteria based on rigourous and robust evidence based judgements. The above data is still current as recent Ofsted judgements are still unvalidated as reports have not been published and the proposed re-categorisation has not taken place with schools. 5.6 Review of (self) Categorisation of Schools will provide more precision in categories based on evaluative judgements on: - Leadership and Management - Teaching and Learning - Provision - Curriculum 5.7 School self-evaluation is central to the process of school improvement. Securing strong school leadership, management and governance is core to our work and we will promote robust and honest self-evaluation, supported by clear evidence and focussed on outcomes for pupils. Unsatisfactory outcomes may impact on the judgement about the capacity of school leaders, managers and governors to lead effective change and - 2 -

3 development that result in improving standards for all pupils. Self-evaluation supports schools to: Maintain their focus on raising standards of achievement Monitor progress and the impact of key developments Support school staff in working as a team towards common agreed objectives Identify key priorities for the school s development planning process. 5.8 Currently the formal categorisation is carried out annually in the spring term; however there is a need to revisit this term by term as individual school circumstances may change. The categorisation grade may not always match the Ofsted inspection judgement. A judgement of satisfactory or better from Ofsted does not necessarily preclude a school being identified as a school of concern to the LA. 5.9 In coming to a judgement that the LA needs to intervene in a school, particular emphasis is placed on trends of attainment and/or contextual value added/value added, if these have been consistently lower than benchmarks over a period of 3 years Recent Ofsted inspections have highlighted the need to - secure balanced judgements - develop Leadership and Management with a particular focus on - the level of challenge provided by the Governing Body Training is in place for Headteachers, SLT members and Chairs of Governors for schools with imminent Ofsted Section 5 Inspections to strengthen self evaluation judgements as well to quality assure the work of School Improvement Partners, 6. SCHOOLS REQUIRING ADDITIONAL SUPPORT SCHOOL CAUSING CONCERN 6.1 The reasons for a school being identified as a School Requiring Additional Support will be specific for each school, but triggers usually focus on four main areas: Poor progress and attainment and/or significant underachievement by some groups, which is not being effectively addressed including not meeting the floor targets. Leadership and management fails to demonstrate the capacity to secure the necessary improvements in the school. Provision which is not well focused on developing key priorities for school improvement. Exceptional Circumstances such as a new senior leadership team or fragility due to relocation or rebuild. 6.2 All schools receiving additional support will have a Raising Attainment Plan agreed and negotiated with the school. This is based on a thorough analysis of data and is specifically targeted to support the issues identified. There is a team approach to supporting schools, involving subject specialists, advisers and where appropriate staff from our good and outstanding schools. VT E&S is also able to draw on expertise from other parts of the organisation to provide additional support

4 6.3 The impact of support is regularly monitored at half termly meetings. This includes an evaluation of the progress made against the key issues. At these meetings the raising attainment plans may be revised. 6.4 Schools in categories 3b 5 will receive additional support based on inverse proportion to success. Schools in categories 1 and 2 will receive up to 5 days of support. Schools in the highest categories (4&5) will be designated as Schools Causing Concern (SCC). They will receive between 15 to 20 days of extra support. School advisers will discuss with the school the detail of the support and in the case of priority schools (schools in category 3b - 5) a raising attainment plan (RAP) will be written. 6.5 Future reports to the Schools Causing Concern group will be based on progress against the key issues identified in the Raising Attainment Plan. 6.6 The strategy Schools Causing Concern has been reviewed in partnership with the Executive Director and SLT. It now includes opportunities for early alert from officers across the council as part of the positive response to ensure proactive partnerships to support targeted early intervention in schools. 7. COMMISSIONED SCHOOL REVIEW 7.1 Section 51 of the Education Act 2005 gives a local authority the right to inspect any maintained school where it requires information about the school for the purpose of exercising its functions and where it is not reasonably practicable for it to obtain information in any other manner. 7.2 The principle underlying the Education and Inspection Act 2006 is that every school should be a good school. Every child in every school in every community should get the education they need to fulfil their potential. 7.3 A further addition to the school improvement strategy is to commission internal reviews initially in partnership with schools and with the option of an external expert (HMI) to secure accurate and balanced judgements and tighter monitoring of performance in order to target resources and focus direction of the LA, School Leaders and Governing bodies. 7.4 There is a need to be more precise in describing schools Low-attaining: Schools which are failing to achieve adequate absolute standards of attainment, such as floor targets. Under-performing: Schools where attainment and/or pupil progress is inadequate once the school s context or pupils prior attainment and potential are taken into account. Hard to shift: Applied to primary schools which have been below Key Stage 2 floor targets in both English and mathematics for 4 or more years. There is no equivalent term for secondary schools operating consistently below floor targets. However, the National Challenge (June 2008) addresses these schools. 8. EQUALITIES AND HEALTH IMPACT 8.1 School improvement is intended to impact positively on every young person to enable them to fulfil their potential. The analysis of data for each of the priority schools will identify vulnerable groups. Support for those groups is reflected in the raising attainment plan. Programmes to support SEN pupils and those with English as an additional language are targeted to priority schools. As these schools continue to improve this is likely to have a beneficial impact on the health of both staff and students

5 9. FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS 9.1 VT E&S, working in partnership the Local Authority, offers support to all schools within grade descriptors 3 (satisfactory) and 4 (inadequate) within existing resources. Where appropriate, additional support is sought from external bodies such as City Challenge (formerly London Challenge). 10. LEGAL IMPLICATIONS 10.1 The new Inspections and Education Act (2006) gives LAs greater powers to intervene where there is limited progress. We will advise the council in the use of these powers in those schools making less than satisfactory progress over time. 11. CONCLUSION 11.1 This report has outlined the numbers of schools in each category and the strategy we have in place to address their needs. Subsequent reports will provide greater detail and report on progress. i. Regular briefing and more robust expectations of SIPs ii. Briefing for schools when Ofsted imminent iii. VTES commissioned reviews (external) of schools. iv. Data on every school in a central database that will be used by School Improvement staff as well as feed reporting v. Re-issue the Guidance for schools working in partnership with advisers and SIPs. vi. Half termly Schools Causing Concern (SCC) workshops with Children Services vii. SCC alerts process between VTES & LBWF - 5 -

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