It is clear from national data and the NFER 2015 Paper that there is a massive disparity for KS4 outcomes across UK schools. We also find from research, and common sense that there are several clear factors found in schools where pupils tended to be above the average progress line. I have always been clear in my own teaching and leadership that no pupil who is under my care should find that their family, social, or economic circumstances should hinder their ability to learn at school.
Senior leaders must always work from a perspective where the expectation on staff is that all pupils achieve a target grade regardless of background and there must be a no excuses culture. All staff must be aware of the impact of each pupil’s progress and the requirements. Senior leaders through to classroom teachers must always use the data collected to ensure that timely management choices are made to put the disadvantaged first. Systematic clear cross departmental systems of teach, test, intervene will overcome underperformance. Policies such as highlighting pupil premium groups on seating plans, marking work first, work scrutiny, lesson shadowing and questioning first can really boost their results. SLT must ensure that all staff take part in these processes consistently. We can also look at tailoring the curriculum model to support options for pupils to suit them. Marking policies whole school can be set to focus on making use of the ideas of metacognition in learning to help students to realise how to improve by the use of a regular marking dialogue.
Behaviour and attendance can have a serious effect on pupil performance and pupils from difficult backgrounds clearly need support and challenge to do their best. This involves time, effort, organisation and care. Parents usually want help from the school and sometimes will require a different format; if this can be provided usually progress improves. I also think we should never underestimate the effect of providing hardware, digital and printed materials to pupils and access to facilities which may be considered “normal” for the more affluent and really do matter. The simple addition of a breakfast club and quality student meals can also work wonders as a healthy breakfast and lunch is key to learning.
We must ensure heads of subject make decisions to ensure that the best staff are placed on the most demanding students. This enables a more bespoke lesson to be delivered to students as these staff are usually the most confident at reshaping their lessons and understanding who to challenge and support. I also think that SLT must make a regular review of all school structures and compare to other learning communities which are more successful to appraise school systems for the disadvantaged to root out any barriers to progress for all.
Mini Progress Class Cards
This resource which I have provided on PPT for easy use is designed to work with the school MIS system. As a Head of Science you would wish to track each Y11 class and further down the school on levels of progress each term or at a school assessment point.
The idea behind the card is simple as you add data each time you collect and put all the pupil photos from the MIS on the bottom of the page who are PP/FSM and highlight around edge if they are not on track. Also add other groups in a similar way.
The bottom box is for a copy of the class timetable and room timetable for the group.
These documents are shared with teachers for the classes and SLT so you can push and target your intervention.
It worked really well and helped everyone to their goals.