DCSIMG

Assessment of five primary schools

Geoff Moorcroft

Geoff Moorcroft

This week five primary schools – Anagh Coar, Braddan, Dhoon, Marown and Onchan – will share with parents the comments from an external validation of their School Self Review and Evaluation (SSRE).

‘The process of SSRE is continuous and requires schools to review all aspects of their work and make judgments about what they are doing well and where they need to take action to secure improvement,’ said Geoff Moorcroft, director of education.

‘The possible judgments are ‘significant strength’, ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘action required’.

‘This process supports schools by making clear to them what high quality provision looks like and requiring them to offer the best possible learning opportunities for pupils,’ Mr Moorcroft said.

‘The Department of Education and Children believes the process has proved very effective in helping schools to improve their practice.

‘As the process is one of continual monitoring and evaluation, staff in schools can develop a clear idea for themselves of what is good and what needs to be improved. The validation process then supports schools in confirming that the judgments they have made are robust, by building in an external element.’

The first external validation cycle took place from 2008 to 2011 and a second validation cycle began in September 2013.

It involves an external validator, together with a DEC adviser, working with headteachers to review the evidence schools have used to make judgments and to quality assure their accuracy. The validating company, World Class Learning, was chosen from a number of companies that tendered for this work.

Any areas for improvement are then identified in the annual School Improvement Plan and are supported by the school’s link adviser.

Mr Moorcroft said: ‘The main aim of the validation process is to provide professional support to schools to help them to refine their own judgments. When a school has been involved in this validation process, they will take the opportunity to share key outcomes with parents.’

ANAGH COAR:

Achievement against prior attainment

Within the large majority of lessons and units of work pupils acquire and apply skills, knowledge and understanding and can demonstrate progress in their learning.

Most pupils have made very good progress in all areas by the end of the Foundation Stage.

By the end of Key Stage 1 (aged five to seven) most pupils have made progress in reading, writing and mathematics that is above the island averages.

Initial analysis of the results of the current cohort of pupils reaching the end of Key Stage 2 indicates the likelihood of most of them making better than average progress, compared with previous

cohorts. The validation team concurs with the school’s judgment that achievement against prior attainment is ‘satisfactory’.

If the end of Key Stage 2 (age seven to 11) results are as predicted, the school will be able to judge this aspect as ‘good’ in the future.

Care

The school cares well for its pupils. It implements key policies in order to ensure the physical and emotional health of all pupils.

The school works in collaboration with a range of external agencies in order to reduce risks and ensure the best outcomes for the children and families who require access to their services.

The good care that the school takes of pupils leads to good attitudes, values and personal qualities.

There are some significant strengths in the school’s care, including the implementation of the PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies) programme, TAS (Team Around the School) and Rights Respecting Schools.

The validation team concurs with the school’s judgment that care is ‘good’.

Learning resources

The school is well resourced. The school has purchased good quality resources to reflect the priorities of the school improvement plan and therefore to match the needs of the pupils.

The careful and organised storage of resources for learning enables staff to easily access what children need for their lessons.

Staff expertise is deployed effectively to meet the needs of all pupils. The validation team particularly noted the good deployment of Education Support Officers.

The validation team concurs with the school’s judgment that resources are ‘good’.

Other areas considered

As well as the specific aspects of the SSRE on which it focused, the validation team also considered other judgments set out in the SSRE. It concurred with a range of statements, including those that:

 The vast majority of pupils engage well in the learning activities.

 There are frequent visits and visitors to the school to enhance learning.

 There is some good – and very good – assessment practice.

 Provision for pupils with more complex social and emotional needs is effective and has enabled the successful inclusion of these pupils within mainstream education.

 The guidance and support that the school provides for pupils is good. In particular, the introduction of the PATHS programme has enabled all pupils – including those who are vulnerable – to make the right choices in order to develop and achieve.

 The school’s senior leadership is good. The headteacher and senior leadership team promote a clear, shared vision which promotes pupils’ interests.

 Relationships in the school are strong.

 Communication with parents is good. Parents are highly supportive of the school.

Conclusion

The school knows itself well and is therefore in a very good position to continue its improvement.

Rob Coole

Headteacher

July 2014

BRADDAN:

Attainment

Attainment in the Foundation Stage over the past five years has been better than island averages.

Attainment at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 is at least satisfactory and sometimes good when compared with the expectations for pupils at these ages. Attainment in writing and mathematics at the end of Key Stage 1 (ages five to seven) has improved.

The school is developing comprehensive and professional descriptions of pupils’ attainment in relation to the Department of Education and Children’s ‘Essentials for Learning’ curriculum for learning and achievement. The school has a wealth of data to support its evaluation of pupil attainment. The team agreed with the school’s judgment that attainment overall is ‘satisfactory’.

Achievement against prior attainment

The team agreed with the school’s judgment that children’s achievement against prior attainment is ‘satisfactory’. The school’s data shows that pupils at the end of Foundation Stage make good progress overall, those at the end of Key Stage 1 also make good progress and those at the end of Key Stage 2 make generally satisfactory progress, with evidence of good progress in writing.

Again, the school has a wealth of data to support its evaluation of achievement against prior attainment.

Assessment

The team agreed with the school’s judgment that assessment overall is ‘satisfactory’. The school has good procedures in place for tracking pupils’ progress. The assessment information that it gathers is used to inform planning at school level and to set numerical targets related to National Curriculum levels and sub levels. There is some good practice relating to identifying the next steps for pupils to improve their learning.

Other areas considered

As well as the three specific aspects of the SSRE on which it focused, the validation team also considered other judgments set out in the SSRE. It noted that:

 The vast majority of pupils demonstrate positive attitudes, values and personal qualities.

 The vast majority of pupils show ‘risk awareness’ in day-to-day activities – including an understanding of e-safety.

 The majority of pupils demonstrate consistently good behaviour.

 There is some very good practice in teaching.

 There are some very good examples of teachers introducing the Manx elements of the curriculum where appropriate.

 There are a wide variety of learning resources in the school. These are of good quality and well matched to the requirements of the curriculum.

 Displays in most classrooms are informative.

 The school has good communication systems in place to share information with parents.

 The quality of the school’s senior leadership is satisfactory.

Conclusion

The school’s self review and evaluation acknowledges the school has many strengths and the team oncluded that the school knows itself well.

By developing a more robust and rigorous SSRE document, the school would be able to express this knowledge more clearly. The vast majority of pupils like being at school, however, feel their lessons are interesting and fun and regard other children as friendly.

Mrs Louise Oates

Headteacher

July 2014

DHOON:

Assessment

The validation team concurred with the school’s judgment that assessment is a ‘significant strength’.

The team noted that the school makes very good use of assessment processes and data to inform and improve pupils’ learning. The principles of ‘assessment for learning’ are well established.

Teachers’ marking of pupils’ work is very good, making clear reference to what has been successful and identifying next steps.

The team felt that a particularly notable aspect of assessment in the school is the way in which pupils participate in the setting of targets for future learning.

The team went on to note that the school has a wealth of data collected through summative assessment and uses pupil-tracking systems effectively to make evaluative judgments about pupils’ progress.

Learning and teaching

The validation team concurred with the school’s judgment that learning and teaching at the school is ‘good’.

They noted that teachers provide pupils with a range of learning activities which provided them with opportunities to work both independently and collaboratively, and that pupils take appropriate opportunities to

direct their own learning. The team also reported that learning is extended beyond the classroom effectively through, for example, participation in a range of educational visits, while also noting that the use of home learning journals has had a positive impact on pupils’ engagement with learning at home.

Additionally, the team commented that teachers’ medium and short term planning is thorough and identifies clear learning objectives, outcomes and teaching strategies matched to pupils’ needs.

Achievement against prior attainment

The validation team concurred with the school’s judgment that pupils’ achievement against prior attainment is ‘good’.

They noted that most pupils, throughout the school, make better than the Island’s average progress, and that the current data tracking shows that most of the current cohort of pupils will make better than

average progress in reading, writing and numeracy.

The team additionally noted that within individual lessons and units of work, pupils acquire and apply skills, knowledge and understanding, demonstrating good progress in their learning.

Other areas considered:

The validation team noted that:

 Behaviour at the school is excellent.

 Pupils are polite, responsible and independent.  Pupils recognise that they genuinely have a voice in determining the school’s direction.

 The school’s ‘curriculum drivers’ (Local Links, The Wider World, Communication, Initiative, The Arts) help teachers to plan and provide learning that is varied, accessible and engaging.

 The taught curriculum makes very good reference to the Manx context.

 Classroom environments are rich and engaging.

 The school provides guidance and support to pupils in relation to inclusion, healthy lifestyles, enjoyment and achievement, and citizenship.

 The school provides many opportunities for pupils to take part in sporting, musical and other events on the island.

 The headteacher and senior staff promote a shared vision which provides the school with a sense of purpose.

Teachers are encouraged to be innovative and risk-taking; the curriculum drivers and the child-led approach to planning, for example, allow teachers to be creative and to try new things in their classes.

 The headteacher distributes responsibility throughout the staff effectively, with leaders at all levels being accountable for school improvement.

Conclusion

The school knows itself well. It is in a good position to devise clear and specific targets for the continued improvement of pupils’ learning.

Mr David Jenkins

Headteacher

July 2014

MAROWN:

Teaching and learning

The validation team agreed with the school’s judgment that this area is good.

Teachers’ plans identify learning outcomes and suitable teaching strategies. The learning objectives for particular lessons are explained to pupils.

Teachers extend and enhance pupils’ learning experience through a range of additional activities, including educational visits. Teachers use an appropriate variety of styles to meet the needs of learners. They provide pupils with opportunities to learn both independently and collaboratively.

Achievement against prior attainment

The validation team agreed with the school’s judgment that achievement against prior attainment is satisfactory overall.

Observations during the visit confirmed the school’s judgment that, in individual lessons, pupils progress in the development of knowledge, skills and understanding. Pupils also make progress in the development of personal qualities as defined by the ‘6 Rs’ as set out in the ‘Essentials for Learning’ curriculum for learning and achievement.

The team agreed that there are undoubtedly good aspects of pupils’ achievement against prior attainment.

The accreditation team noted that the parents to whom they spoke were pleased and impressed with the progress made by their children, whatever their levels of prior attainment.

Assessment

The validation team agreed with the school’s judgments that this area is good.

Assessment for learning strategies are developing well throughout the school.

Teachers use assessment information to inform their planning. By looking at samples of exercise books, the validation team noted examples of teachers providing pupils with written feedback that indicated the next steps that they needed to take to improve their learning.

The team also noted that teachers use assessment

information to set targets in literacy and numeracy. The school has a wealth of assessment data that it uses to track pupil progress and set priorities for further development.

Other areas considered:

As well as the three specific aspects of the SSRE on which it focused, the validation team also considered other judgments set out in the SSRE and noted that:

 The senior leadership team promote a clear shared vision.

 There is a particularly strong ethos of inclusion.

 Pupils’ behaviour is very good.

 Levels of attainment in literacy, numeracy and science are above island averages.

 Pupils demonstrate good levels of Readiness to learn, Relationships which are positive, Resourcefulness, Resilience, Remembering skills and Reflectiveness. 

The school makes good use of its building and site.

 The school allocates resources (including human resources) for pupils who need extra support and has introduced excellent facilities to accommodate pupils with mobility difficulties.

 The school provides pupils with a good range of activities both in lessons and through visits and extra-curricular activities.

 Parents of children entering the school are provided with a very good induction programme.

 The school teaches children how to be safe.

 Communication is very good.

 School staff are enabled and encouraged to be involved in evaluating the school and planning its future development.

Conclusion

The school knows itself very well. Marown is a good school and has a number of significant strengths.

The school is held in very high regard by parents and others. It has recorded its knowledge in an excellent School Self-Review and Evaluation report.

The school is therefore in a good position to use its knowledge to continue in its development and to reach the targets it has set for itself.

Mr Ian Longshaw

Headteacher

July 2014

ONCHAN

Achievement against prior attainment

Achievement against prior attainment is good. By the end of last school year most pupils in the Foundation Stage (reception) made progress in all areas of learning that was better than the island average.

The current cohort is predicted to make better than average progress.

By the end of last school year most pupils at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2 (age five to 11) had made better than average progress in reading, writing and mathematics. Judging from observations and discussions, it is very likely that within lessons and units of work pupils acquire and apply skills, knowledge and understanding, demonstrating progress in their learning.

Teaching and learning

Teaching and learning is good. Teachers use a range of strategies to ensure all pupils are challenged.

They make widespread use of ‘chilli challenges’ through which pupils make guided choices of ‘mild’, ‘hot’ or ‘spicy’ tasks.

Pupils told the validation team that they found most of the work planned by teachers to be exciting.

Teachers’ planning identifies a wide range of learning activities including opportunities for individual, pair and group discussions.

Teachers regularly evaluate pupils’ learning and the next steps they need to take. They set realistic and challenging targets for the improvement of pupils’ learning.

Pupils know their targets and are often involved in setting them and monitoring their achievement.

Assessment

Assessment of pupils is good. The school has a clear policy which identifies the processes and methods used for recording pupil progress.

The policy also deals with moderation and marking and is widely implemented.

‘Assessment for learning’ methodology is well developed with considerable use being made of self- and peer-assessment.

Through newsletters, regular parents’ evenings, annual reports and other means of contact, parents are well informed both about what children will be learning and about their attainment and progress. Teachers mark pupils’ work thoroughly and often use marking to inform them of the next steps in learning. The school gathers a great deal of assessment data which is analysed carefully.

Other areas considered

As well as the specific aspects of the SSRE on which it focused, the validation team also considered other judgments set out in the SSRE. It concurred with a range of statements, including those that:

 The special education needs unit is an important and valued part of the school. Children from 
the unit are included in all aspects of school life where appropriate and pupils from other classes 
visit from time to time.

 Pupils are happy and confident.

 The school communicates well with parents. It has a strong reputation locally.

The headteacher and senior team promote a clear, shared vision.

School leadership is fair, 
transparent and energetic. Leadership is distributed to take account of areas of expertise and interest and to promote 
teamwork and collective ownership.

 Staff work well together to promote a nurturing atmosphere.

 Teachers make good use of ‘learning walls’ and ‘teaching walls’ in their classrooms.

 Pupils’ learning is enhanced by visits locally and further afield and by visits from people able to 
share their particular expertise.

 Teachers of each year group plan thematically.

 Differentiated learning is evident throughout the school, particularly through the chilli challenges.

 The school provides a considerable number of extra-curricular clubs – some of them organised 
by pupils.

 Parents report that their children are aware of what they need to do to stay healthy and safe.

Conclusion

The school knows itself well and is therefore in a very good position to continue to improve. It has produced a detailed SSRE report.

Even though the school building is old it is used flexibly as a positive learning environment and recent changes mean that the school could now 
judge the learning environment as ‘good’ and move toward it being a ‘significant strength’.

Mrs Jo Richardson

Headteacher

July 2014

 

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