This week four schools – Ramsey Grammar and Ballasalla, Laxey and Michael primaries – have shared with parents the comments from an external validation of their School Self Review and Evaluation (SSRE).
The process of SSRE is continuous and entails schools reviewing all aspects of their work and making judgements about what they are doing well and where they need to take action to secure improvement, Martin Barrow, the island’s director of education, said.
The possible judgements are ‘significant strength’, ‘good’, ‘satisfactory’ and ‘action required’.
For the most part, all four schools were in the good category in most areas.
Ramsey Grammar is a ‘well-led school in which the staff are particularly caring and in which students are engaged in learning’.
It has a number of significant strengths - including the overall learning environment and its care, guidance and support - and is in ‘a good position to improve even further’.
Learning and teaching at Laxey are ‘good’ and moving towards being a ‘significant strength’.
The review says it is in a good position to improve.
It says: ‘Parents have a very positive image of the school and are happy with their children’s education.’
In the future, the school says it will be known for having significant strengths.
Michael School says: ‘Parents informed us that their children prefer to be at school than at home.’
It has a number of significant strengths, including the overall learning environment, and is good overall.
One gap identified is between boys and girls. Boys’ attainment is rated as good, girls’ as very good. The school has developed an action plan to close the gap.
Ballasalla’s positive ethos is praised. But it says its self-review document ‘does not currently allow it to demonstrate that it knows itself well enough’.
It continues: ‘There is a need to strengthen the school’s self review and evaluation processes to enable it to fully document its strength and areas for improvement.’
It adds: ‘The validation team concurred that the school is held in high esteem by the parents and wider community and that parents are grateful for what the school provides for their children both academically and socially.’
Mr Barrow said: ‘This process supports schools in having a clear view of how to build on their strengths to ensure they continue to offer the best possible learning opportunities to pupils.
‘The Department of Education and Children believes the process has proved very effective in helping schools to improve their practice.’
To support schools in confirming that the judgements they have made are accurate, the process has an external element built in to it.
The first external validation cycle took place from 2008 to 2011 and a second validation cycle began in September 2013, Mr Barrow said.
It involves an external validator, together with a DEC adviser, working with headteachers to review the evidence schools have used to make judgements and to quality assure their accuracy.
The validating company, World Class Learning, was chosen from a number of companies that tendered.
The island does not have Ofsted assessments, as schools do in England.
Any areas for improvement or further dissemination of best practice are then identified in the annual School Improvement Plan and supported by the school’s link adviser.
Mr Barrow said: ‘The main aim of the validation process is to provide professional support to schools to help them to refine their own judgements. When a school has been involved in this validation process, they will take the opportunity to share key outcomes with parents.’
Results from other schools will be released later.