Account of practice: Monitoring and evaluation

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1 Account of practice: Monitoring and evaluation Matt Rampton, headteacher, Pickhurst Junior Academy, Bromley, Kent 1/5 Pickhurst Junior Academy is a large (460 pupils), mixed, 7 11 school in a generally affluent area with a lower than average percentage of children eligible for free school meals (8 per cent). The proportion of pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities is 8 per cent and 6 per cent do not have English as their first language. It became an academy in Matt Rampton became headteacher of Pickhurst Junior six years before this account of practice was written. This is his second headship and, under his leadership, Pickhurst Junior Academy has developed an effective monitoring and evaluation process that ensures that the curriculum engages children and aids their progress. This account of practice explores the following themes: curriculum innovation monitoring and evaluation systems conclusion Curriculum innovation Matt has a strong vision for the curriculum that is firmly focused on its impact on pupils: I want the children to become free and independent thinkers who can communicate effectively so that doors open for them. Indeed, his rationale for gaining academy status was to keep a bespoke curriculum for our children. When he took over the headship the school was judged to be coasting. With his previous experience in schools in less advantaged areas, he was shocked at how cash-rich, spiritually and culturally poor the children were: They ve been to Disneyland, Florida but haven t been on a train up to town. They were used to having things done for them They took the wonderful resources and environment for granted. He started on what he describes as a creativity journey to build a curriculum that is creative, stimulating and challenging for all the pupils and the staff. It started with the introduction of philosophy for children (see p4c.com), with intensive staff training. Matt says it transformed the curriculum because it initiated and continues to underpin the creative approach to learning. It has high status: philosophy for children is taught in all classes for the first hour of every Monday morning, as the timetable below shows. Matt maintains the literacy and numeracy strategies and the National Primary Framework (NPF) resulted in an overdependence on prescribed ideas, schemes of work and plans, especially in English and maths. Matt introduced a more creative approach to planning, giving teachers the learning outcomes and then giving them the freedom to decide how to meet them. They now work with the children s interests to make learning purposeful, related to the wider world and integrated with different areas of the curriculum. Another innovation that Matt introduced is a three-week rotation programme for the whole school on Friday mornings in: libertas day: where the children choose what to do big write: for an extended piece of writing maths challenge: such as a Dragon s Den style enterprise activity

2 BREAK LUNCHTIME National College for School Leadership National College for School Leadership 2/5 He believes these are exciting for both pupils and staff. The school newsletters frequently feature enthusiastic articles about them. For instance, Year 5 pupils comments about one event, the enterprise game, included, It really felt as if I was in business for real and It is a fantastic game, especially for anyone who wants to go into business in the future and because this game was so interesting I will never forget this fabulous day. The non-core subjects are taught through the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) (see com/ipc/ a scheme that was already in place but which Matt relaunched and invigorated: We want children to enjoy their learning, develop enquiring minds and the personal qualities they need to be good citizens of the world, and develop a sense of their own nationality and culture, while at the same time developing a profound respect for nationalities and the cultures of others. Topics include world rulers and leaders in Year 5 with activities such as dressing up as a famous ruler or leader (all children and staff take part) and forming a human timeline to enhance an understanding of chronology. The development of the forest school, in partnership with the infant school which shares the same site, is another example of how the outdoor curriculum makes learning relevant and practical ( Lesson 1 Lesson 2 Lesson 3 Lesson 4 9am-10am 10am am 10.45am- 12 noon 1.10pm- 2.15pm 2.15pm-3.20pm Monday Philosophy Social for children assembly Numeracy IPC IPC Tuesday Literacy SLT assembly Numeracy PE PSHE Wednesday Literacy Singing assembly Numeracy French ICT Thursday Games SEAL assembly RE Numeracy Literacy Friday One of Sporting Libertas day, assembly big write or maths challenge One of Libertas day, big write or maths challenge Science Science Golden time

3 3/5 Monitoring and evaluation Matt believes that understanding the curriculum is the key to ensuring that monitoring and evaluation activities help the school to move towards its vision. He says: We have very high expectations and are determined that no one gets left behind. Every child counts. With his staff, Matt has designed structured monitoring and evaluation systems in order to ensure that the curriculum meets pupils needs and identifies areas for improvement. The systems evaluate pupils engagement, enjoyment and creativity as well as checking that they are making progress, especially in English and maths. This is achieved by seeking the views of pupils, staff, parents and the governing body. There are regular questionnaires for pupils and parents. This evidence is enhanced by focus-group interviews. The head, senior and middle leaders monitor planning, carry out work scrutinies and lesson observations. Pupils are also involved in observing lessons. The whole emphasis is on looking for ways to improve, to go beyond outstanding. For instance, from her evaluation following monitoring through book scrutiny, lesson observations and teacher discussions, the literacy leader saw that there was a need for different sorts of text (for example, instructions, stories, persuasive letters) to be taught consistently throughout the school. She worked with teachers to build this into planning and introduce assessment criteria for the children to use so that they could see their next steps in writing different literary forms. Matt s approach to monitoring and evaluation is set within the school s termly raising standards cycle of seven (Figure 2). He says this ensures that information is gathered in a timely manner to aid school improvement. The seven steps take place over approximately a six-week period every term. It starts with the assessment week (1) where there are tests and assessment activities in reading, writing and mathematics. Teachers assess pupils work and then meet (2) to moderate and agree levels. Data is uploaded and analysed by pupil assessment software The head meets (3) with every teacher to discuss each pupil s progress, and interventions (4) are designed for pupils who are not making sufficient progress. Intervention groups are formed to address very specific needs, such as Year 3 low-attaining boys non-fiction writing. Then every teacher meets with his or her appraisal reviewer (5) to discuss progress towards targets related to school improvement that draw on evidence of pupil performance in writing. Because children eligible for free school meals have been identified as being at risk of underachievement, the reviews look particularly closely at the progress of these pupils. Teachers write brief reports for parents (6) and parents evenings are held to discuss progress so that school and home can work together. Lastly, the school improvement plan (7) is reviewed and amended where appropriate.

4 4/5 Figure 2: The raising standards cycle of seven 1. Assessment week 2. Teachers moderating 7. Review school improvement plan 3. Head with teacher pupil progress meeting 6. Parents reports & evenings 5. Performance management reviews 4. SEN & intervention planning and review

5 5/5 Conclusion This account of practice has explored one headteacher s approach to monitoring and evaluating the curriculum so that it aids children s learning. The most recent Ofsted inspection report judged the curriculum as outstanding: Pupils are keen learners, inspired by the school s innovative and creative curriculum which emphasises the acquisition of personal and learning skills as the basis for academic achievement. This holistic approach to developing the whole child was referred to by parents and carers as being a key factor in their children s enjoyment of school. Matt says he has developed his leadership skills through the monitoring and evaluation process. He is a firmer believer in having structured systems and timelines to ensure that the curriculum provides the greatest opportunities for children to learn. He distributes leadership by trusting middle and senior leaders to carry out the monitoring activities and evaluate carefully so that no children slip through the net. The coaching culture that he is establishing in the school has also helped staff become more evaluative, and the trust that he has in his staff has also increased their accountability. The most recent Ofsted report judged all aspects of leadership and management as outstanding: The inspirational leadership of the headteacher, backed up with rigorous systems to monitor and improve the quality of education, is a key factor in pupils excellent personal and academic achievements. Reflection Having read this account, reflect on what you can learn from the monitoring and evaluation of the curriculum at Pickhurst Junior Academy. 1. What do you think of the way the curriculum is timetabled? What messages does it give? 2. Matt is keen on structure as well as creativity. What can you learn from this? 3. Consider the elements in monitoring and evaluating the curriculum. What other ideas do you have? 4. What do you think of the termly raising standards cycle of seven (Figure 2)? What are its advantages and what might make it even better?

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