LEADERSHIP FO CUS
The magazine for members of the NAHT. For leaders, for learners September/October 2013 • £5
West Midlands: a thriving region P.30 Reading recovery in action P.34 Raising the bar in Scunthorpe P.38
In safe hands NAHT and Family Action ensure children are ready to learn at school
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EDITORIAL WE N A T I O N A L P R E S I D E N T
elcome to the beginning of another school year. For BERNADETTE HUNTER many of us, this will be a time when we are welcoming new families into our schools and helping children and parents to settle quickly into routines in order to make a good start to learning. Managing the transition to new year groups and teachers also provides opportunities for us to engage with parents and help them at www.naht.org.uk/familyaction. to give their children the best support they can with learning. Sadly, This is going to be another demanding year, particularly in the we all know that there are children in our schools who are not ready areas of curriculum and assessment, but the NAHT will continue to learn every day, often because their families have been unable to to provide you with high-quality advice and guidance on all current provide them with the physical and emotional resources they need issues. You can read about how the NAHT is leading the way with a in order to access learning. profession-led approach to assessment in Russell’s article (page 21). The NAHT is working closely with Family Action, a charity that Finally, in the face of all the challenges we are grappling with, it supports some of the most disadvantaged families in the country, is good to remember to celebrate the successes that happen every to raise awareness of the impact of family life on learning. An day in our schools. You can read about many examples in this article on page 24 explains how schools can support this valuable edition of Leadership Focus. Ranging from the smallest learning work by holding a fundraising ‘Dressed down, ready to learn’ step for an individual child to transforming schools, school leaders day. You can also read more about the series of joint leaﬂets we make signiﬁcant and positive differences to the lives of students, to have produced and an exciting set of assemblies to help children families and to the system. We should be proud of that achievement. understand the importance of being ready to learn on our website
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ASSOCIATION / EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES NAHT 1 Heath Square, Boltro Road, Haywards Heath, West Sussex RH16 1BL www.naht.org.uk Tel: 01444 472 472 Editorial board: Russell Hobby, Bernadette Hunter, Gail Larkin, Steve Iredale, Stephen Watkins, Lesley Gannon, Magnus Gorham, Paul Whiteman, Clare Cochrane and Caroline Morley @nahtnews
Leadership Focus is published by Redactive Publishing Limited on behalf of the NAHT 17 Britton Street, London EC1M 5TP www.redactive.co.uk Tel: 020 7880 6200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
EDITORIAL TEAM Managing editor: Steve Smethurst Sub editor: Carly Chynoweth Redesign: Mark Parry Senior picture editor: Claire Echavarry Production manager: Jane Easterman Cover illustration: Giles Mead Columnist illustrations: Lyndon Hayes Printed by: Wyndeham Heron
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ISSN: 1472–6181 © Copyright 2013 NAHT All rights reserved; no part of this publication may be copied or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior written permission of the publishers. While every care has been taken in the compilation of this publication, neither the publisher nor the NAHT can accept responsibility for any inaccuracies or changes since compilation, or for consequential loss arising from such changes or inaccuracies, or for any other loss, direct or consequential, arising in connection with information in this publication. Acceptance of advertisements does not imply recommendation by the publishers. The views herein are not necessarily those of the publisher, the editor or the NAHT.
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Policies for Schools Keeping your school policies up to date with the constant changes in government legislation is tedious and time-consuming.
So why not subscribe to our Policies for Schools website and let us do the hard work for you. Sign up for a yearâ€™s subscription for just ÂŁ215 and you will have access to over 300 model school policies that: tCover 20 different areas including Safeguarding and Welfare of Children, School Inspection and School Health and Safety - our school policies cover all aspects of school life. tAre continually being updated to reflect any changes in government legislation - our school policies reflect current legislation as each policy now includes a template for undertaking an Equality Act 2010 Initial Impact Assessment and a Policy Evaluation Checklist to assess each policy in practice. t Are thoroughly researched and written in line with the NAHTâ€™s guidance on policy writing our policies are professionally written and are clear, concise and consistent. t"SFWFSZFBTZUPDVTUPNJTF to suit your particular type of school - our policies are written in Microsoft Word format and can be easily adapted to suit any school. t "SFBWBJMBCMF - why wait for a yearly updated CD when you can download your policies at any time, all you need is an internet connection.
Subscribe to Policies for Schools by going to our website at:
www.policiesforschools.co.uk and whatever the size of your school, the school policies available can help any headteacher establish a proper work-life balance by saving countless hours of valuable time. Teachers Resource Centre Ltd, Singleton Court, Wonastow Road, Monmouth, NP25 5JA 5FMFQIPOF'BY$PNQBOZ3FHJTUSBUJPO/P Website: www.policiesforschools.co.uk Email: email@example.com
Partners A new insurance policy for staff sickness and information about legal reforms from the NAHT’s partners.
Balancing act The NAHT’s new national treasurer has a sense of prudence and an understanding of priorities, writes Steve Smethurst.
Rona Tutt’s column Some Ofsted inspection teams are outstanding, but too many require improvement, according to the past president. That should change, she says.
‘Anti-union’ legislation The NAHT has responded to clauses in a draft lobbying bill that it sees as a ‘politically motivated attack on unions’.
A meeting of minds The NAHT is booming in the West Midlands thanks to revitalised branches and a successful annual conference.
Russell Hobby’s column The general secretary wants school leaders to step up and help the NAHT create an assessment system that works.
National pay framework for SBMs School business managers want to work with others in the NAHT to standardise their pay, conditions and employers’ expectations of them.
The word on the streets A literacy programme in North Tyneside has transformed teaching practice as well as improving pupils’ literacy, learns Daniel Allen.
Best of the blogs The latest insights from the NAHT website’s bloggers: Warwick Mansell, Susan Young and past president Rona Tutt.
Raising the bar in Scunthorpe Vice-principal Mike Adnitt explains how his academy gives students a better start, despite the odds against them.
What’s new? The latest books for school leaders, plus information and resources about the latest events and anniversaries.
Ready, willing and able Underachievement is an issue for gifted children as well as those at the other end of the spectrum, ﬁnds Joy Persaud.
Susan Young’s column George Green School in East London dropped A levels for the international baccalaureate in the year it got a notice to improve – and never looked back.
Seven habits of highly effective heads Alison Peacock outlines seven leadership behaviours that enable transformation.
Schools can choose term dates Changes included in the draft Deregulation Bill would allow individual schools to set their own holiday dates without reference to the local authority.
Helping families Talking and listening are key to making sure that children are ready to learn every day, according to Family Action.
Progress on online safety The suicide of 14-year-old Hannah Smith has prompted Ask.fm, the social networking site, to make it easier to report bullies.
New-look GCSEs for England Rigorous exams, Shakespeare and British history are in; coursework (except for science) is out in Michael Gove’s reformed GCSEs for England. Ofqual review of exam marking The NAHT has welcomed Ofqual’s interim report into the quality of marking for GCSEs, A levels and other exams. ‘Seek out freedoms’ School leaders should exercise their professional autonomy over how children learn and see the national curriculum as a guideline, not a limit, said the general secretary.
LEADERSHIP FO CUS
The NAHT hits the road More than 90 per cent of members who attended one of this year’s roadshows plan to attend again next year – and recommend colleagues do too.
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NEWS IN EDUCATION • ONLINE SAFETY • DEREGULATION • NO MORE PAGE 3 • FREE SCHOOLS • RANKINGS AT 11
WE N E W S F R O M T H E W O R L D O F E D U C A T I O N
O N L I N E B U L LY I N G
Progress on online safety THE SUICIDE OF 14 YEAROLD HANNAH SMITH HAS LED TO ASK.FM MAKING IT EASIER TO REPORT BULLIES
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Ask.fm, the social networking site, has unveiled changes to make its site safer after recent online bullying cases. Hannah Smith, 14, who committed suicide in August, was the fourth death linked to the social networking site after Josh Unsworth, 15, from Lancashire, in April and two girls in Ireland last autumn, Erin Gallagher, 13, and Ciara Pugsley, 15. Nora Parker, head teacher at Lutterworth High School, said: “Hannah was a bright, bubbly, popular and thoughtful girl who was liked and respected by all those she came into contact with. She had
everything to live for.” Ask.fm has said it would view all reports within 24 hours, make the report button more visible, and include bullying and harassment as a category for a report. A recent report from the NSPCC indicated that online harassment or abuse was experienced by almost one in ﬁve children who used social networking sites. It suggested the most common bad experience was trolling (see page 11), but that children also received unwanted sexual messages, cyber-stalking and felt under pressure to look a certain way.
Prince’s Trust survey of 2,300 young people
Poor exam results destroy hope More than a quarter of young people who leave school with low grades believe that this will always hold them back, according to a poll of people aged 16-25.
One in ﬁve of those questioned said that they had ‘abandoned their ambitions’ because of low grades, the charity reported.
Deregulation Bill: DfE takes a holiday from common sense
SMART STAT The cost of raising a child from birth until the age of 18 is now £148,000, according to the Child Poverty Action Group
From September 2015 state schools throughout England will be allowed to choose their own term dates rather than adhering to those set by the local authority thanks to plans put forward in the draft Deregulation Bill, which was published in July. Academies already have this right. While schools would still have to open for at least 190 days per year, they would be able to Balancing act: is the Deregulation decide how to do this. For example, they could Bill a mistake? scrap the six-week summer holiday for a series of shorter breaks. However, Gail Larkin, the NAHT vice president, said that it made more sense for schools, unions and local authorities to liaise and agree on dates. “I don’t think that the idea has been thought through properly,” she said. “Autonomy for schools sounds like a good idea but it just won’t work.” Parents with children at different schools were particularly worried about the logistical difﬁculties that they could face as a result of deregulation, she said. “They tell me that it’s already bad enough when neighbouring authorities set different dates, so for individual schools to be able to choose their own holiday times would be even worse.”
FREE SCHOOL INSPECTIONS Three quarters of the ﬁrst 24 free schools inspected by Ofsted have been rated good or outstanding; one was deemed inadequate and ﬁve require improvement. The success rate is almost identical to that of maintained schools.
And 18 per cent think they will end up on beneﬁts for at least part of their lives, according to Abandoned ambitions? The need to support struggling school leavers.
‘No more page 3’ campaign The NAHT became the ﬁrst teaching association to back the ‘No More Page 3’ campaign when it signed up in July. Russell Hobby, the NAHT general secretary, and Bernadette Hunter, the Association’s president, have both put their names to the online petition that opposes The Sun’s topless photographs at nomorepage3.org Mr Hobby said: “School leaders understand the importance of protecting children and young people from inappropriate adult material, whether online, on television or within the pages of the popular press. “Our members have told us about the problems the easy availability of pictures like these cause children. They can ﬁnd such images confusing and embarrassing.”
Government proposals that would see 11-year-olds ranked by their Sats results are ‘destructive’ and will detract from breakthrough progress in the primary assessment consultation, according to the NAHT. “The government’s ambition to raise standards is achievable, given time and support,” said Russell Hobby, the Association’s general secretary. “We particularly welcome the genuine breakthrough on accountability for progress. Our primary schools have made huge gains over the last decade and are capable of going further still if measured fairly and treated respectfully.” He accused the government of being too reliant on tests as a measurement of performance and thus at risk of missing what really matters. “You have to be honest with people, and sometimes those messages are tough,” said Mr Hobby. “But these rankings are not honest. They are not an accurate measure of pupils’ performance and they are not an indication of their future potential, although they will be regarded as such by many.” However, the suggested changes include some positive proposals, he said, including the possibility of a teacher-administered baseline of attainment on entry to primary school. • The NAHT has established a committee to develop principles to underpin assessment across the country in light of the government’s abolition of levels. See page 21 for more information.
Ranking is ‘destructive’
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‘Anti-union’ legislation The NAHT has criticised the government for ‘a politically motivated attack on trade unions’. It relates to clauses in the Transparency of lobbying, non-party campaigning and trade union administration bill. The bill’s main role is to establish a register of professional lobbyists and a registrar of lobbyists to supervise them. The NAHT has responded to consultation on the clause relating to trade union administration. The clause changes legal requirements in relation to trade unions’ obligations to keep their list of members up to date.
Magnus Gorham, NAHT head of democracy and governance, said: “It’s trying to introduce the concept of an independent audit of trade union membership on an annual basis. It’s designed to make life more difﬁcult for trade unions. “Any union that is likely to take industrial action would have this kind of scrutiny in place anyway. “We feel it’s unnecessary, costly and won’t achieve very much. It also appears to be politically motivated. It seems a diversionary tactic to take focus away from other parts of the bill that don’t appear to be
ﬁt for purpose. There are holes in the bill itself, and we see the clauses about trade union administration to be completely unnecessary in the context of existing legislation. It would effectively allow
any member of the public to complain about union membership lists.” Consultation has now closed and the bill should take into account consultation responses as it proceeds through Parliament.
Aspire to whole-school success with the NAHT
Early feedback from the NAHT’s Aspire project indicates that 30 schools and communities piloting the programme are ﬁnding it extremely valuable, said Kathryn James (pictured), the director of policy and campaigns at the Association. “It’s been a staggered start but the people who have been doing it the longest have been very positive about it,” she said. “One told me it was ‘absolutely stunning’ and asked why we hadn’t done something like it before.” Aspire is designed to ﬁll the gap between higher expectations and lower levels of support by offering schools access to advice, resources and support. The scheme, which is partly funded by the DfE and has the backing of Michael Gove, the education secretary, is being piloted by 30 schools based in four clusters around England. “Schools can adapt the programme to make sure that it works for their school, and their community,” said Kathryn. “That, combined with the whole-school approach, makes it exciting.” Russell Hobby, the Association’s general secretary, added: “What is dramatic about Aspire is who is doing it. The NAHT is a trade union dedicated to the protection and representation of our members. But we know that our members want to do the best for their pupils – that is part of their ‘reward’.” The project will take advantage of education professionals’ commitment to and ambition for young people; the key to its success will be building trust, collaboration and inspiration that will trigger the innovation needed, he said.
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GUARANTEED SUCCESS In 2010 Blackburn College principal Ian Clinton told his A-level students that if they came to class and did their work they would pass – or he’d pay them £5,000. They all passed.
Pay, conditions and training on the agenda for SBMs
Support for performance pay: poll Most people think that teachers’ pay should be linked to their classroom performance, according to a Populus survey. It found that 62 per cent of people supported the idea, with 43 per cent saying that quality of teaching assessed by an annual appraisal should be the key factor and 29 per cent plumping for exam results as the main measure. Russell Hobby (above), general secretary of the NAHT, said: “It is right that the progression of teachers through their pay scale should be linked to their performance – as long as it is a rounded measure of their whole contribution to the school, rather than crude exam statistics.” Head teachers should have the discretion to decide on progression, but this should happen within a consistent national pay framework and on a foundation of fair funding for all schools. “Heads are clear that their staff are their greatest asset... we don’t envisage heads using this as an opportunity to pay teachers less,” he said.
School business managers (SBMs) hope to work with others in the NAHT to develop a national framework that will help to standardise pay, conditions, tasks and other elements of their role across the country. Around 10 SBMs representing a cross-section of schools and areas discussed this and other issues of importance to the profession at the group’s ﬁrst meeting, held in London in July. “At the moment there is a great deal of variety in SBMs’ pay, conditions and what is expected of them because each individual employer requires them to do different tasks,” said Magnus Gorham, who leads the Association’s democracy and governance team. “Bringing in a national framework would create clarity and support professional development, which will in turn mean that SBMs are better-placed to advise and support other school leaders,” he said. SBMs, who make up the fastest-growing area of the Association’s membership, are represented on the National Executive by Nicky Gillhespy (pictured). The next meeting will be in the autumn.
Amount that parents spend on packed lunches each year, according to the School Food Plan
BULLYING LASTS A LIFETIME Childhood bullying appears to have long-term effects on victims’ health, employment and relationships – and on that of bullies – according to a study by Warwick University.
More affordable childcare plan is a sensible approach
Government plans to increase the supply of affordable childcare are common sense, said Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary. “In particular, we welcome the move towards a standard early years funding formula, as we know this varies across local authorities,” he said. “However, we recognise there are valid concerns about these changes. What we do not want to see, as different areas of childcare are reformed, is the individual child getting lost. “Whatever the setting, both premises and provision should include indoor and outdoor spaces, resources and highly trained staff. It should also be suitable for the speciﬁc needs of young children,” he said. “High quality early education, with skilled staff in schools and nurseries, is the best way to narrow the gap. What is essential is ensuring that regardless of how it is provided, childcare remains of a high standard and those providers that fall below the bar are brought up to the correct standard as soon as possible.” Proposals in More Affordable Childcare include helping schools to offer after school and holiday care; reducing red tape so that it is easier for nurseries to expand; ensuring that ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ childminders and nurseries automatically receive government funding, supporting parents to access more informal care.
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READING VOLUNTEERS The NAHT is working with the Education and Employers Taskforce to develop a project encouraging people to visit primary schools to talk about their jobs and read with pupils.
Exam focus for GCSEs Future generations of GCSE students in England will be assessed entirely on ﬁnal examinations rather than coursework in all subjects except science under proposed changes announced by Michael Gove, the education secretary, in June. Other reforms, designed to make the qualiﬁcation ‘more ambitious and rigorous’ include the requirement for all English literature students to study a play by Shakespeare and for British history to make up at least 40 per cent of the subject. The reforms, which are out for consultation until early September, are set to be introduced in 2015, with the ﬁrst cohort to sit exams in 2017; they only apply to England. Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, said that Mr Gove’s proposals for more rigorous exams ‘contained merit’ and deserve further consideration. However, he warned the secretary of state not to rush any reform. “If we have all learned one thing from last year’s chaos, it is that we need to take time to get any new assessment system right,” he said. “We need to listen to the specialists in the ﬁeld when they tell us what will, and won’t, work. We need to get the profession inspired to deliver a vision that we all share and in which the public can have full conﬁdence.”
The proposed changes were announced shortly before this year’s GCSE results, which showed a drop in the proportion of entries awarded top grades for a second successive year. Kathryn James, NAHT director of policy and campaigns, said: “Congratulations to students and schools for maintaining standards amid a very difﬁcult and uncertain background. The results show a continuing popularity in the Ebacc subjects and a healthy increase in entries for modern foreign languages. The slight fall in top grades was to be anticipated given the wider ability range taking these subjects. “This year’s entry patterns indicate the extent to which apprehensions about the accountability system have driven decisions in schools. As we anticipate signiﬁcant reforms to both exams and accountability we hope that a more appropriate balance will be struck in the future.”
NEWS IN BRIEF School budgets are protected from cuts Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT welcomed the government’s decision to protect school budgets from spending cuts but warned that schools do not operate in isolation. “Cuts in the wider community – to local authority services, for instance – will have a knockon effect on schools as they must fund replacements and deal with the social problems that arise and
which make education harder,” he said. “The school workforce is also shouldering a large part of the savings personally, with cuts to pay and pensions, which may affect recruitment and retention.”
Are you ready for STPCD? The ﬁnal version of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2013 has just been published. It brings in major changes to teachers’ pay, particularly
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in relation to performancerelated pay progression. A checklist to assist you in making sure you have the necessary policies and procedures in place was included in the mailing of this magazine and can be found online via www.naht.org.uk
Registrations open for SEND conference 2014 Members are being urged to sign up soon for next year’s SEND conference to secure their place at the popular
event and secure an earlybird discount on their ticket. Visit www.naht.org.uk
Free e-zine helps all students learn to lead The ﬁrst issue of this year’s Student Leaders e-zine is available for download from leadersinschool. com.au. The magazine, which is supported by the International Confederation of Principals, is designed to help young people around the world to learn about what it means to lead.
JARGON BUSTER WE Internet trolls
Online bullies NAHT ‘reassured’ by Ofqual review of exam marking The NAHT has welcomed Ofqual’s review of the quality of marking for GCSEs, A levels and other academic qualiﬁcations. The interim report, published in June, found that an ‘overwhelming’ number of the 50,000 or so examiners are experienced, well-educated teachers, said Glenys Stacey, the chief regulator. She also spoke positively about the increased use of on-screen marking, saying that it ‘allows for more frequent and ﬂexible monitoring of examiners, and reduces the logistical risks’ as long as it was managed properly. She added: “The biggest factor inﬂuencing the reliability of marking is the design of the assessment itself – the style and quality of the questions and the quality of the accompanying mark schemes. These are matters we intend to improve as qualiﬁcations are reformed.” Russell Hobby, the Association’s general secretary, said: “Ofqual’s review of the quality of examination marking is a reassuring example of the regulator’s desire to address public conﬁdence in our assessment process. The investigation is timely given the extensive reforms to public examinations proposed by the government.” But it has also uncovered some problem areas, he added. “The report does raise worrying concerns about current inconsistencies of practice between awarding organisations and in the take up of online marking applications,” he said. “This does little to bolster conﬁdence and NAHT trusts that this theme will be explored in the investigation and that appropriate recommendations ensue.” Two more reports are expected by the autumn.
The number of A and A* grades awarded in this year’s A-level exams has dropped slightly for the second year in a row. Last year 26.6 per cent of exam entries secured an A or A* but in 2013 this fell to 23.3 per cent. The overall pass rate rose slightly, in line with long-term trends, to 98.1 per cent. Kathryn James, NAHT director of policy and campaigns, praised students for their hard work and the impressive grades that they had earned despite continuing upheaval in the exam system. “The predicted slight fall in the top grades should not be seen as a failure of students and schools but as the inevitable consequence of too much ﬂux in the education system,” she said. “A dip in overall grades will inevitably be accompanied by a resumption of the ‘standards’ debate... [But] the real issue is surely the extensive and rapid reform to the A-level system proposed by the government.”
A level grades fall slightly
ONE THING TO CLEAR UP straight away, these trolls have little to do with the cave-dwelling creatures of Norse mythology, other than a common interest in being wicked or mischievous. The modern versions specialise in posting deliberately provocative or offensive messages on the internet. Several people have been imprisoned for trolling under the Communications Act 2003. Sending messages that are ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing in character’ – regardless of whether they are received by the intended recipient or not – is an offence. Recent events featuring the website Ask.fm (see page 6), have reinforced the need for tighter controls. The usual advice is to turn a blind eye and online warnings often state: ‘do not feed the trolls’, as responding is seen as encouragement. HOWEVER, THIS IS NOT the approach adopted by ‘troll hunter’ Kaitlin Jackson, a mother-of-ﬁve who spends several hours a night trawling the internet to expose online bullies. She told the Daily Mail: “Social networks are out of control. It’s just about proﬁt to these companies, they don’t care if their sites are being used to destroy people’s lives.” Ms Jackson took action after her daughter was targeted by trolls. “I messaged these anonymous people and told them that I had printed every message and had taken them to the police. I report about 40 trolls a night. There has to be a harsh penalty when people are taking their own lives because of abuse.” Claire Hardaker, a professor of linguistics at Lancaster University, specialises in researching online aggression. She too would also like to see more action: “It seems both morally and logically better to face the problem head-on,” she wrote in The Observer. “This could take the form of training and education for those amenable to change, or convictions and prison terms for those who are not. Or, it might start with considering how much trolling is symptomatic of social injustice, economic disadvantage and political disenfranchisement.” SCHOOLS HAVE NOT been immune either. Debbie Ward, head of Grifﬁthstown Primary School in Pontypool, wrote to parents recently after what she termed “defamatory, misleading, abusive or threatening comments about members of staff” appeared on Facebook. She wrote: “The effect that this has had on staff morale has been devastating. While I appreciate parents will want to do what is right for their child, it needs to be done in such a way that staff are able to then deal with the situation in a positive way. Instead, staff feel vulnerable, undermined and at a loss as what to do.” NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “Parents have a right to express their views and complaints should be heard. Schools can only beneﬁt from constructive feedback. Too often, though, social networking sites are a medium for the unreasonable and the unprincipled, and have a momentum out of all proportion to reality.” The NAHT website contains guidance for members on online bullying: www.naht.org.uk
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NEWS FOCUS DON’T FORGET ABOUT… WE Primary sports funding
By Tony Draper CURRICULUM REFORM
‘Seek out freedoms’ School leaders should exercise their professional autonomy over how children learn and see the national curriculum as a guide to what they teach, not a limit, said Russell Hobby. Mr Hobby, the general secretary of the NAHT, made the statement in response to the government’s release of ‘programmes of study’ for primary schools. He said: “Despite multiple drafts and much controversy the real work on the curriculum hasn’t even begun. The challenge is how schools now take the words on the page of the programmes of study and make them come alive in the minds of their students. The government can persuade and shape, but it cannot
mandate this and some of the unnecessary controversy so far has damaged its capacity to persuade.” Schools should treat the national curriculum as a ‘necessary minimum’ and not allow it to limit their aspirations, he said. “We encourage our members to seek out the freedoms and space to build vibrant curricula to inspire students and staff alike. “Teachers know their pupils better than government does. We must be bold and conﬁdent in our professional expertise; not looking over our shoulders for the inspector’s opinion.” • The DfE’s consultation on primary assessment closes on 11 October. Go to bit.ly/ PriCurric to respond.
MPs call for governors’ training to be improved School governors need professional support and appropriate training if governing bodies are to be as effective as they can be, according to a report from the Education Select Committee. The committee also recommended that schools be given more power to remove poorly-performing governors from ofﬁce, and that businesses do more to encourage their staff to volunteer. Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, backed the recommendations: “If this means fewer, better meetings and smaller groups, so be it,” he said.
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IN SEPTEMBER, primary school PE and sport funding starts. This equates to approximately £9,500 per school for two years and aims to improve the quality of PE and sport in primary schools. My school has been inundated with emails from coaching companies. My response is the delete button. While many organisations are good at what they provide, some will take the money and not add value to the quality of PE and sport. Many will take the money and then disappear leaving no long-term sustainability. The NAHT worked with the Youth Sport Trust to create a vision for a lasting legacy following the London Olympics. We believe that it should be focused on training and facilities. I plan to provide high-quality training for staff creating expertise across each key stage. Many teachers enter the profession having had only six hours’ PE training; this is inadequate. I want to deliver sport, health and physical literacy through a highquality curriculum delivered by well-trained, conﬁdent staff. I can only achieve this through staff development. The latest Ofsted subsidiary guidance states: Inspectors should consider the impact of the new primary school sport funding on pupils’ lifestyles and physical wellbeing by taking account of the following factors: • the increase in participation rates in such activities as games, dance, gymnastics, swimming and athletics • the increase and success in competitive school sports • how much more inclusive the physical education curriculum has become • the growth in the range of alternative sporting activities • the improvement in partnership work on physical education with other schools and other local partners • links with other subjects that contribute to achievement and pupils’ greater social, spiritual, moral and cultural skills • the greater awareness among pupils about the dangers of obesity, smoking and other activities that affect their health. The Youth Sport Trust has a self-review tool that can help to evaluate your provision: www.youthsporttrust.org/howwe-can-help/primary-school-sport-funding.aspx PE in schools is alive and well. High-quality physical education and school sport contribute to a range of outcomes. They equip children with physical literacy, supporting their physical development, movement skills and body conﬁdence. It also contributes to their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being. Getting physical education and school sport strategies right will lead to increased achievement and raised school standards. Tony Draper is head at Water Hall Primary in Milton Keynes
Given the role the NAHT plays in promoting excellence in school leadership, it's natural that it partners with outside organisations that can help, such as Kirkland Rowell Surveys, part of school management solution provider, GL Performance. But for new NAHT president Bernadette Hunter, it was important to verify that the organisation's partners were delivering tangible benefits. So earlier this year, she put Kirkland Rowell Surveys through its paces at her own school, William Shrewsbury, a large primary school in Staffordshire. William Shrewsbury had carried out various different types of stakeholder perception surveys over the past decade, from paper-based ones to online tools, with varying degrees of success. “We had become quite good at understanding the types of questions that needed to be asked and how to track the school's progress on core initiatives using the surveys,” she says. But while the in-house surveys proved to be a useful tool for William Shrewsbury's leadership team, they also created a major time-headache. “Typically, we relied on our leadership team and those involved in our parents' forum to do the analysis of the data, with the out-of-hours work collating responses proving to be a significant imposition,” says Bernadette.
Understanding what matters most to Primaries
satisfy the needs of the majority of primary schools, school leaders have the opportunity to customise the surveys and focus on issues of specific importance to them. “That flexibility was really important to us,” says Bernadette.
Evidence for Ofsted Once the data was collected, the organisation speedily analysed the responses and produced an easy-to-read report. That not only alleviated the burden from school leaders in interpreting the survey results, but it gave Bernadette a useful dossier of evidence for the Ofsted inspectors that arrived shortly after the surveys were completed. For example, the results showed more than 98 per cent of parents would recommend the school – a sure sign it was on the right track. The quality of the information William Shrewsbury was able to glean from its surveys also proved to be a real eye opener for Bernadette. “In the past we'd learned a lot from the qualitative side of things, for example the answers parents gave us on certain issues, such as homework,” says Bernadette. “But we never had the time or the capability to make use of the quantitative information.” Because Kirkland Rowell Surveys provides detailed breakdowns of the survey results, school leaders can get a better picture of what different parents think or explore whether a pupil’s gender affects their responses or those of their parents. In the case of
William Shrewsbury, the raw data indicated that there were wildly different views from parents on the levels of homework being set and Kirkland Rowell Surveys helped Bernadette and her team unpick how that related to different year groups. “Having the analysis done for us, which highlighted our strengths and weaknesses, freed the leadership team up to concentrate on the school development plan,” Bernadette commented. Kirkland Rowell Surveys also have some advantages over other feedback mechanisms that Ofsted inspectors might check on, such as Parent View. “The results from Parent View tallied pretty well with those from our parental survey,” says Bernadette. “Even so, the Kirkland Rowell parent survey provided much more detail about the issues, allowing us to drill down by year group and gender, as well as those parents with children entitled to free school meals, and we were keen for the Ofsted inspectors to see that.” Such was the success of its stakeholder survey project, Bernadette plans to repeat the process in the coming years. “It will be really interesting to see how our first results compare with a second set, and that will really help us track the progress we're making and provide us with evidence of the impact of any actions we take,” she says.
Working with Kirkland Rowell Surveys gave Bernadette the opportunity to try out the system endorsed by the NAHT. There was perhaps a perception that its surveys were designed more for secondary schools, says Bernadette, however they are tailored to meet the needs of primary school heads, too. Kirkland Rowell Surveys have been used by almost 3,000 schools across the UK and as such, they are fine-tuned to drill into the heart of the issues that matter most to parents, pupils and staff. They can also be adjusted so that alongside the core questions which will
For more information on Kirkland Rowell Surveys please call 0191 270 8270, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.gl-performance.co.uk/krs LFO.09.13.013.indd 13
NEWS FOCUS COURSES AND EVENTS WE Education conference
Shaping the future REGIONAL ROADSHOWS
NAHT hits the road More than 90 per cent of the members who attended one of the NAHT’s regional roadshows plan to attend again next year and would recommend that their colleagues do the same, according to feedback after this year’s events. The roadshows, which covered issues such as assessment, forced academisation and accountability, were ‘much better value than local authority training events,’ said one attendee, while another described it as ‘very good value for money.’ “I wish I had brought my whole leadership team, because we would have had good opportunities for talking and planning,” said another member of the roadshows, which included sessions by NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby,
Bernadette Hunter, the Association’s president, and a number of senior staff from NAHT headquarters. Another delegate said that the performance related pay session was ‘better informed’ and more useful than the local authority’s presentation on the same topic. “This was an excellent opportunity to hear knowledgeable people guide us through a complex and frankly frightening prospect of change.” This sense that the sessions provided clarity at a time of upheaval and ‘political madness’ was a recurring theme in the responses. “It is so difﬁcult to keep track of all the changes and the expectations [but] I went away clear on what I needed to do next and reassured/and grateful to know the NAHT is there and what they are doing for us,” said a member.
Focus on the pupil premium Ofsted will pay extra attention to the performance of disadvantged pupils and examine how effectively schools are using the pupil premium, set to rise to around £900, from this September. Russell Hobby, NAHT general secretary, said that it was right to call schools to account for the achievements of our most vulnerable young people as long as it is done ‘fairly and realistically’. He said: “Most schools already use welldeveloped tracking schemes to monitor the progress of all pupils, and will be keenly aware of the work that still needs to be done to support disadvantaged young people.”
When is it? On Friday 18 October at Cedar Court, Bradford and Friday 15 November (this event is now full) at the Senate House, London. The same conference, in two places? Yes. The split format is tried and tested, allowing members in different parts of the country to attend. What’s it all about? The conference will do the following: inspire, stimulate and empower current and future leaders of education share current educational thinking and examples of effective practice provide networking and collaboration opportunities provide practical advice, ideas and support Any more details? It will provide your leadership team with practical and innovative ideas and tools for you to use in school. High-proﬁle, thought-provoking speakers and forward-thinking, knowledgeable workshop leaders will motivate and challenge delegates. Who are the keynote speakers? Darren Campbell, MBE, one of Britain’s most successful male sprinters and an ambassador for a programme to re-engage young people who may be at risk of opting out of school life. Andy Cope (Bradford) is a qualiﬁed teacher and author, and has delivered his ﬂagship presentation, ‘the art of being brilliant’, to rave reviews all over the world. Andy Whittaker (London) is a neurolinguistic programming trainer, author and frustrated comic. What workshops can I attend? There are nine at each venue, aimed at helping you improve teaching and learning. Send your EYFS soaring Shaping the future: a world class curriculum Humour as a tool for engagement and learning in the classroom: make them laugh, make them think Research to practice: enquiry-based leadership for complex needs (Bradford) Neurobiological learning and its impact in the classroom (London) every classroom Beyond online safety to ofﬂine outcomes – using what we know to protect children better Learning leaders: how to identify, create and retain the next generation of talented middle leaders? What works? How we can draw lessons, for practice, from high quality research (Bradford) The quiet revolution: helping school leaders to use evidence to support disadvantaged learners? (London) Ensuring a lasting legacy from London 2012 What was feedback like from last year’s conference? Gary Richards, head teacher: “We went as a group of heads and that made the experience more worthwhile because we could discuss the key issues raised.” T Hamilton-Hall, acting head: “I took my senior leadership team and it was one of the best conferences they had been to.” Jeremy Harwood, head teacher: “This is the ﬁrst NAHT conference I’ve attended since my ﬁrst headship 24 years ago – it was worth the wait.” Where do I sign up? Visit www.naht.org.uk/ec2013 to book your place. The price for members is £230 and non-members £285.
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AUTUMN EVENTS 2013 Sue Palmer at the HMS Belfast ‘Teaching Grammar Creatively’ in association with www. Jubileebooks.co.uk at HMS Belfast, The Queen’s Walk, Tooley St, London SE1 2JH Date 12th November 2013 In this exceptional interactive in-service conference, the inspirational Sue Palmer will: - explain the changes to grammar teaching in the new National Curriculum, including new terminology and the concepts behind it - demonstrate a vast range of creative approaches to teaching grammar throughout the primary school - show how to fire children's interest in language (whilst also equipping them to pass their SPAG test!). Sue is a national authority on grammar, having written many successful textbooks and a BBC TV series on the subject, and designed the National Literacy Strategy's grammar training course and materials for teachers.
Cost £199.00* + VAT including lunch and refreshments OR £184.00* + VAT including refreshments excluding lunch
PLEASE NOTE: Due to limited spaces priority will be given to paid bookings.
*Group bookings over 5 delegates: 10% discount
Pie Corbett, Creative Conference at Victoria Hall Poetry, Storytelling and Writing through Art INSET Conference at Victoria Hall, VICTORIA ROAD, Saltaire, West Yorkshire BD18 3JS, UK Date 2nd October 2013 In this exceptional inservice conference, the inspirational Pie Corbett will explore how educators can develop pupils’ storytelling, writing and poetry skills through art. A series of inspirational and creative sessions will illustrate how paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs can be used to develop teacher pupil interaction and creative curriculum activities with the aim of improving critical thinking, writing and storytelling skills in pupils
Cost £199.00* + VAT including lunch and refreshments OR £184.00* + VAT including refreshments excluding lunch *Group bookings over 5 delegates: 10% discount
PLEASE NOTE: payment must be made PRIOR to the event to secure your place. Payments accepted by Credit card, BACS or Cheque.
RSVP to Eddie Burnett Children’s book consultant & Literacy Events Coordinator 31a Vanbrugh Park, Blackheath, London, SE3 7AE T. (020)8293 6060 T.(020) 8265 4645 F. (020) 8465 5111 Email: email@example.com
PARTNERS WE M E S S A G E F R O M A S C H O O L P A R T N E R There’s a new insurance policy on the market for staff sickness If you are a school or academy currently self-managing the cost of staff sickness, this new service could be for you. There’s a new insurance policy on the market, which gives you the ﬂexibility to continue self-managing, but protects you against worse-than-expected costs. As you continue to manage a good part of the risk yourself, the premium you’d pay is much lower than for traditional staff absence insurance. It comes from the NAHT’s sole preferred supplier of staff-absence insurance, The Education Broker. If you’d like to ﬁnd out more visit www.theeducationbroker.co.uk/sos/pages.aspx, call 0845 600 5762 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and quote ‘NAHT Supply Overspend’. E The Education Broker provides free, no-obligation quotes tailored to your needs. It can, of course, also offer you traditional staff absence insurance – three quotes from three separate insurers to help you comply with procurement and ﬁnancial regulations.
WE M E S S A G E F R O M A M E M B E R P A R T N E R Professional liability insurance following the Jackson Reforms ‘No-win, no-fee’ conditional fee agreements (CFA) have played an important role in extending access to justice, but they also enabled claims to be pursued with no real risk to claimants and the threat of excessive costs to defendants. It cannot be right that the sensible thing for any defendant to do is settle even the weakest of claims before legal costs start – but this is what has happened. On 1 April this year, reforms restored a sense of proportion and fairness to the current regime, not by denying access to justice, but by returning fair balance. Changes include the abolition of recoverability of CFA success fees. Now, meritorious claims will be resolved at more proportionate cost, while those making unnecessary or avoidable claims will be deterred from progressing to court. This is common sense and it will help businesses and other defendants who have to spend too much time and money dealing with avoidable litigation, whether actual or threatened. Substantial unnecessary costs will be removed from the system, leading to signiﬁcant savings to defendants. E If NAHT members are undertaking education consultancy work outside their contracted paid employment, they may need also need to have their own professional and public liability insurance cover and this is where Graybrook Insurance Brokers Ltd can help. This article is based on an extract from the government’s response to Reforming civil litigation funding and costs in England and Wales, March 2011. A full copy of the document is available from www.justice.gov.uk
Partner contacts The NAHT is committed to negotiating a wide range of high-quality, value-added benefits and services for its members. If you have any comments on the services provided by our affinity partners, please email John Randall, the NAHT’s commercial marketing manager, at email@example.com
SERVICES FOR SCHOOLS ETEACH Online staff recruitment 0845 226 1906 www.eteach.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org TEMPEST SCHOOL PHOTOGRAPHY 0800 328 1041 (quote ‘NAHT’) www.tempest-schoolphotography.co.uk GL ASSESSMENT Pupil wellbeing assessment 0845 602 1937 www.gl-assessment.co.uk GL PERFORMANCE Kirkland Rowell Surveys 0191 270 8270 www.kirkland-rowell.com THE EDUCATION BROKER Staff-absence insurance 0845 600 5762 www.theeducationbroker.co.uk
SERVICES FOR MEMBERS ROCK Travel insurance 0844 482 3390 www.nahttravelinsurance.co.uk AVIVA Home, contents and motor insurance 0800 046 6389 www.fromyourassociation.co.uk/NAHT CS HEALTHCARE Private medical insurance 0800 917 4325 www.cshealthcare.co.uk (please use promotional code 147) GRAYBROOK INSURANCE BROKERS Professional indemnity and public liability cover 01245 321 185 www.graybrook.co.uk/naht-members Email: email@example.com MBNA Credit card services 0800 028 2440 www.mbna.co.uk SKIPTON FINANCIAL SERVICES Independent ﬁnancial advice 0800 012 1248 www.skiptonfs-naht.co.uk Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Inspire and achieve excellence in literacy 27th January 2014, Institute of Education, London Achieving excellence in literacy for all children is complex and challenging. The Literacy Excellence Quality Mark will help you raise expectations and standards in Key Stages 1 & 2 through informative assessment, professional learning and strategic management.
Recycle your magazine and seven days later it could come back as your newspaper.
Find out more at this free event for school leaders, with internationally recognised experts Peter Blatchford, Toby Greany and Julia Douetil. ioe.ac.uk/QM
We exist to fuel the potential of millions of adults and young people. The National Careers Service is free and available to anyone in England aged 13 and over to help them make the right choices in work, education and training. From volunteering to Apprenticeships to university degrees, we can help your learners to take the next step. To register for free online information seminars and ďŹ nd out how the National Careers Service can support young people you work with, call 0191 269 5259
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Your MIS data available wherever you are - it’s all in hand! “Emerge has Registration can be taken simply with Emerge and written directly back to the school’s MIS along with behaviour and achievement information write-back for SIMS. Available on Apple iOS and Android devices.
Contact Mr Hunter now for a free, no-obligaon trial! Email: email@example.com
revoluonised the way we take registers. It is really beneﬁcial to the eﬃcient running of the school with all informaon at your ﬁngerps” Flakeﬂeet Primary School
Book your free trial now! Visit: www.groupcall.com/emerge T 020 8502 7344 F 020 8498 1099 LFO.09.13.018.indd 18
Student information including timetables, attendance, minutes late, absence notes, medical information, behavioural and achievement data can be accessed wherever the teacher is located (even in another country) without the need to rely on a desktop or laptop computer.
VIEWS IN EDUCATION • RONA TUTT • RUSSELL HOBBY • BEST OF THE BLOGS
WE V I E W F R O M A P A S T P R E S I D E N T
s July drew to a close and thoughts turned to the summer break, RONA TUTT Ofsted published its latest trilogy: School Inspection Handbook, The Framework for School Inspection and Subsidiary Guidance. As usual, the overriding thrust is to increase the pressure on schools to raise standards. While Ofsted expects schools to SOME OFSTED INSPECTION TEAMS self-evaluate and to seek continuous improvement, Ofsted itself does ARE OUTSTANDING BUT TOO not lead by example. Rather, as its MANY REQUIRE IMPROVEMENT empire and the scope of its work has broadened, it has found it harder to In the meantime, ﬂoor standards will rise with each passing provide inspection teams of quality. While some are good and a year and school leaders will be concerned that it is increasingly few may be outstanding, too many require improvement. difficult to be rated good or outstanding at the next inspection. In recent article in The Guardian, former education secretary After the bar was raised by the chief inspector with the Estelle Morris wrote that ‘Ofsted’s biggest challenge is the requirement that schools must have outstanding teaching to be consistency of its workforce’, pointing out that this matters graded outstanding overall, David Laws, the schools minister, because so much depends on inspectors’ judgements. declared that schools should not be seen as outstanding unless There are other faults in the system, too. While Ofsted, they could also show that they are ‘closing the gap’. in line with government policy, urges schools to produce Next came Sir Michael Wilshaw’s letter to head teachers ever-higher results, Ofqual’s aim is to clamp down on grade giving warning of the emphasis on the progress of the most inﬂation and keep exam results stable. The two approaches disadvantaged and the most able. In the latest descriptor for are incompatible. Meanwhile, schools and their students are ‘outstanding for achievement’, the following bullet point has caught in the middle. been added: “The achievement of pupils for whom the pupil premium provides support at least matches that of other An over-dependence on data pupils in the school or has risen rapidly, including in English Another issue is inspectors’ use of data to provide answers and mathematics.” The grade descriptors for the quality of rather than to help them form questions. This has contributed teaching adds ‘and the most able’ if the school is to meet the to a system that is out of kilter with how schools operate. It criteria for good or outstanding. would make more sense to judge schools on the quality of their Finally, my apologies to readers who double up as inspectors communication and their success in building relationships, but and do a rattling good job. One of the more productive these things do not lend themselves to statistical analysis. suggestions made by Sir Michael was to encourage more The revision of the national curriculum and the consultations school leaders to take on the role. Perhaps one day there will on secondary and primary accountability would have been be enough school leaders on the inside to turn Ofsted into the an ideal opportunity to rethink the whole Ofsted concept, supportive organisation it needs to become. particularly as national curriculum levels, which have been used to support inspectors’ judgements, are due to disappear. One reason given for this is that parents ﬁnd them difficult to Rona Tutt is a retired head understand. This may be true but it is hard to see how a threeteacher and a pronged assessment – a scaled score, a national ranking by past president of the NAHT decile and an indication of relative progress – is any easier.
RAISING THE BAR
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Accept Visa payments to make your life easier. It’s quicker than banking a cheque and better for cash ﬂow as funds are usually received within 2-4 business days. It also oﬀers parents more payment choice and flexibility, allowing them to pay in person, over the phone or online 24/7. So to make payments for school fees, uniforms, trips or clubs easier for everyone, swot up on how Visa could help you and your school. To ﬁnd out how your school can accept Visa, visit visa.co.uk/schools
Life flows better with Visa LFO.09.13.020.indd 20
EE “Whenever the government creates a vacuum we should fill it without seeking permission”
ur current government has a marvellous knack for throwing RUSSELL HOBBY the baby out with the bath water. National curriculum levels were not perfect, but the idea that each school should create its own assessment system is extremely dubious. Do we need 22,000 wheels reinvented? To take just two examples: how well will inspectors be able to use the school’s data to make WE WANT SCHOOL LEADERS TO judgements? And how will secondary STEP UP AND HELP US CREATE AN schools cope with different data from ASSESSMENT SYSTEM THAT WORKS each of their primaries? My instinct, whenever the Ditching levels is not the only dubious idea on the horizon, government creates a vacuum, is that the profession should ﬁll and NAHT will certainly have a full programme of activity this it without seeking permission. We need a nationally consistent autumn. We can cope with the end of levels, because we can system of assessment, yes, but no one said it has to be a ﬁll the gap ourselves; we can cope with the new curriculum, government-led system. What about a profession-led approach? because we can continue to teach what matters. However, I am sure we could do a better job. As an association of leaders, if we cannot put up with proposals for ranking 11-year-olds we believe there is a better way it is up to us to create it – as we according to their performance in Sats. are already doing with Aspire and Instead, for example. Let’s be clear, you have to be honest with people, and sometimes those messages are tough. But these rankings are not A profession-led approach honest. They are not an accurate measure of pupils’ performance For this reason, the NAHT has established the Commission on and they are not an indication of their future potential, although Assessment without Levels. It will work in the autumn term – despite the government’s protestations – they will be regarded to produce a report around Christmas time. The commission as such by many. I do not think this is right. What possible contains our own officials as well as a broad range of policy deﬁnition of ‘secondary readiness’ involves arriving believing makers, practitioners and academics. It will invite evidence from you are in the bottom 10 per cent of students in the country? all interested parties – including a survey of our membership. My view is that we can actually take higher ﬂoor standards, The commission has three aims, which are to: if a reasonable level of progress is a genuine alternative to • agree a set of principles, which should underpin approaches attainment, with certain clear conditions: that they are based to assessment across the country, creating consistency; on measures that command the conﬁdence and respect of • identify and highlight examples of good practice that meet the profession; that schools are accountable only for factors these principles, saving time; and within their control, rather than becoming scapegoats for • secure the acceptance of officials and inspectors, building society’s failings; and that we are given space from the constant conﬁdence. tinkering to focus on building the skills and capacity needed. If the commission achieves these aims, schools should have If you would like to get in touch about this issue, or anything conﬁdence that, when they invest in developing or acquiring else, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org an assessment system, it will be used and accepted by officials, recognisable to other schools and genuinely effective in supporting teaching and learning. It is also a good chance to Russell Hobby measure what matters in ways that help schools plan learning is NAHT general secretary and spot need.
TIME TO USE OUR HEADS
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BEST OF THE
BLOGS Sponsored academies faring poorly in inspections Warwick Mansell If there is one type of school – perhaps other than free schools – that the DfE would like to be a success, it is the sponsored academy. Ministers are very keen on these schools, which are often previously struggling, non-academy institutions that have been transferred to a semi-private sponsor, usually to operate in a chain. So keen is the government that the sponsored academy model is being put forward as the only possible solution in forced-academy situations, where a change of the constitution of a school
can be imposed, despite very strong opposition from local communities. Extra funds are also made available to support sponsored academies. Yet what is the evidence of their success? Well, they seem not to be proving quite the unanswerable solution to school improvement problems that often seems to be implied by the DfE. Indeed, according to calculations I’ve carried out, Ofsted’s ofﬁcial data suggests that half of the sponsored academies subject to full inspections in the past year have been deemed by the inspectorate as not good enough, having been given requires improvement or inadequate judgement. E www.naht.org.uk/welcome/newsand-media/blogs/warwick-mansell
HAVE YOUR SAY Let’s have collaboration, not empire building Schools should collaborate (Stronger together, LF, May/June 2013) but we must do it for the right reasons. School leaders currently face a stark choice: genuine collaboration for self-improvement – where schools work with and for as many schools as possible – or a closed approach driven by a desire to protect the position of a small group of schools at the expense of others. Most schools want genuine collaboration. But we have seen collaboration used as a Trojan horse for the advancement of certain views: in other words, for empire building. For example, we’ve come across schools that use collaboration as a vehicle for forced academisation. This approach will create a fractured system plagued by self-interest. Some schools will fall through the gaps. We formed the Inspiring Leaders partnership with four other teaching school alliances to provide CPD and teacher training opportunities to hundreds of schools across the East Midlands. We realised that limiting collaboration to our respective teaching school alliances wouldn’t give enough schools access to support and development. By collaborating on a large scale we could be a genuine force for the improvement of many schools rather than the few. Yes, we have a choice between genuine, altruistic collaboration and steely self interest. Please, let’s choose the latter.
Chris Wheatley, head teacher, Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary School, Nottingham
VIEWS IN EDUCATION • SPONSORED ACADEMIES • STEM SUBJECTS • COLLABORATION • GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP • PRUSAP
A Levels, GCSEs and the bigger picture Susan Young There are some interesting developments that are beginning to show how the background to the big picture will develop. For a start, there’s the interesting coupling of an increased interest in studying STEM subjects at uni and a lack of people taking up teacher training posts in the same subjects. If all the teachers with the right degree subjects get funnelled into taking the A-level classes, it rather makes you wonder how children and schools doing the increasingly rigorous science GCSEs are going to fare with what’s left. Will this be a short-lived science boom, cut short by a lack of specialist teachers at GCSE and below, or can we divert enough new graduates from well-paid industry jobs into our classrooms? E www.naht.org.uk/welcome/newsand-media/blogs/susan-young
Time to reﬂect on the Children and Families Bill Rona Tutt The PRU organisation is now The National Organisation for PRUs and Alternative Providers in England and Wales (PRUsAP). The change reﬂects the diversity of provision that now exists, including alternative academies and free schools, private companies offering alternative education, mainstream schools returning to on-site provision, and many colleges and special schools also being involved in the creation of various forms of alternative provision. E www.naht.org.uk/welcome/newsand-media/blogs/rona-tutt-specialeducational-needs
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EE “Encouraging young people to see beyond their problems and help others can be tough”
n ever-diversifying classrooms, pupils sit side by side with peers from around the world, with little JOHN DOWLER knowledge of their contrasting backgrounds. Classmates can range from children who have never left their town or city to former Sudanese refugees. With such different backgrounds, getting pupils to relate and empathise with one another, let alone feel a sense of responsibility to the entire population, is not HOW TO MAKE GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP RELEVANT straightforward. FOR TODAY’S PRIMARY SCHOOL STUDENTS Every school now has a responsibility to promote the importance of aim of eradicating child deaths by preventable causes. Relay teams citizenship. Whether this is officially measured or merely from not only the UK but as far aﬁeld as India, Canada and Kenya complementing the curriculum, it is an increasingly important compete simultaneously to beat the world marathon record. part of the ethos of many schools. All schools that sign up are given education resources, including Encouraging young people to see beyond their own problems ready-made lesson plans which provide the link between the fun and look to help others, while understandably absorbed in their sports activity and real problems faced by developing nations. trying, pre-adolescent world can be tough, especially when the All World Marathon Challenge learning activities can be used experiences they’re hearing about are so alien. for teaching citizenship, PSHE and humanities and are designed Understanding citizenship isn’t simply about helping other to teach students about why hunger affects so many and how people, but enabling young people to develop the core skills to be they can help change this. able to relate effectively with the world and people around them, Taking part is easy. You can choose a date to suit your school with the hope that they, in turn, seek to live a more sustainable or club between 16 and 23 October, or join teams from around life and encourage others to do so. the world for our ‘global ﬁnale’ race on Wednesday 23 October. In 2006, our school was invited to compete in the Deporte Young people can track their progress against others in the online Divertido indoor athletics competition in Spain by George ‘world leaderboard’, creating a sense of global competition that Bunner MBE. He helped us to arrange a sponsored marathon adds to the excitement. relay to raise funds for the trip. The event proved a huge success The World Marathon Challenge presents an opportunity for and was popular with students who enjoyed working together young people to be able to feel a part of a global community for a common goal. Not only did the group raise enough money to and to contribute to improving the lives of their peers across travel, but the idea of a marathon relay was taken by George and the world in a tangible way. For us Save the Children and developed into in our privileged communities in the what has become the world’s largest heart of rural Cheshire, it has proven simultaneous children’s running event. an invaluable experience and we are The Save the Children World looking forward to building on that Marathon Challenge is a relay in which success at this year’s event. teams of between 26 and 36 children across the globe race to complete the www.savethechildren.org.uk/wmc full marathon distance by running 200m seven or eight times each. The money John Dowler is head they raise will help save children’s lives teacher at Helsby High School, Cheshire in the world’s poorest countries, with the
AUTUMN’S GLOBAL MARATHON RELAY
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The NAHT and Family Action are keen to stress the importance of talking and listening, to ensure children are ready to learn every day. By Andy Tate
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TALKING AND LISTENING are regarded as such basic skills that many parents assume their children will pick them up naturally â€“ like eating or walking. Unfortunately, as school leaders know all too well, some children do not pick them up â€“ at least, not to the extent they need to reach their potential and be ready to learn at school. Research by the National Literacy Trust last year found nearly one in seven parents fail to help their children develop literacy and communication skills on a daily basis, for example by reading with them or discussing school work. Children who struggle to speak well, listen carefully and express their feelings easily are more likely to become frustrated or lash out. Over time, this will have a negative impact on their learning, independence and ability to make friends. By contrast, children who can communicate well with others will think about what they say and choose the right
ILLUSTRATION: GILES MEAD
Fragile families: The NAHT and Family Action are supporting families with new assembly materials
words, listen to instructions from their teacher and listen to their classmates before speaking. They will also be better at reading and writing. The Rose Report, about the teaching of early reading, found that speaking and listening were “prime communication skills that are central to children’s intellectual, social and emotional development”. It is not surprising, then, that both are key components of the national curriculum, cutting across subjects at both primary and secondary level: children need to be taught to talk and listen. However, while teachers can improve children’s language skills, by planning appropriate lessons and creating a supportive learning environment, parental inﬂuence is arguably even more important. Research has found that early advantage in word power is highly inﬂuential in children’s achievement at school. This is especially true of the children from the disadvantaged families Family Action supports, but the lesson is there for parents from all backgrounds: when it comes to talking and listening, early child development is critical. That is why the new leaﬂet for
NAHT’S CHARITY Family Action has been chosen as the NAHT’s charity partner for 2013/14. The two organisations are planning a range of awareness and fundraising activities over the year including a dress down day – ‘Dressed Down and Ready to Learn’ – from September 2013. A series of ﬁve assembly plans has been created to support the NAHT [available to download from www. naht.org.uk/familyaction and the Family Action site below] and Family Action’s Ready to learn every day campaign. For more information about the assemblies, leaﬂets or fundraising, contact Cath Cole at Family Action on 020 7241 7638. For more information about Family Action’s partnership with the NAHT – and to provide feedback on the leaﬂets – visit www.family-action.org.uk/naht
parents, produced by the NAHT and its charity partner Family Action, is focused on what mums and dads can do to help their child become better talkers and listeners. The leaﬂet is the second of four that the partnership is producing under the banner Ready to learn every day. The ﬁrst, released in May 2013, and endorsed by education minister David Laws, provides an overview of all the steps parents can take towards supporting their children’s learning. Already more than 2,300 printed copies of the leaﬂet have been ordered on top of the digital copies downloaded from the Family Action website. The new leaﬂet, which has been included as an insert with this issue of LF, recommends a range of steps parents can take to help improve their children’s ability to communicate.
How to listen When it comes to listening, the top tip is to lead by example – parents should show their child how to be a good listener by listening to them ﬁrst. Patience is key – mums and dads should refrain from interrupting or ﬁnishing their children’s sentences for them. They should try to give their full attention, resisting the urge to check their mobile phone while their child is talking to them. Positive recommendations include asking questions about E
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COVER FEATURE WE Ass sembly y materia als
W what their child says, asking their opinions, and listening to their child reading aloud regularly. The National Literacy Trust found that children who are encouraged to read by their parents achieve higher reading levels at school, and those who see their parents reading think more positively about reading than those who do not.
How to speak
MARILYN DOWNS retired last year after 18 years as head teacher of the Bollin Primary School in South Manchester. She has written a series of assemblies for primary schools to use
ASSEMBLY MATERIAL TOPICS
To help children become clear speakers it is important for parents to speak conﬁMonday dently themselves, using the Get there on time right words and setting an example by talking in full Tuesday sentences, and using clear, Get a good night’s sleep simple directions for tasks Wednesday and behaviours. Eat breakfast Children should be praised Thursday for listening and following Follow the rules directions. Unsurprisingly, Friday using swear words in front of New baby the children should be avoided. (standalone story) Communicating well and often as a family can make a big difference. Having a family meal together regularly is strongly encouraged, as is discussing a child’s day with them after school, and asking about and getting involved with their homework. The leaﬂet suggests switching off the television and any computers well before bedtime and chatting or reading a bedtime story together instead. While not all parents will need encouragement to takes these steps, the campaign is aimed at prompting those who could do more to stop, think, talk and listen.
Andy Tate is the senior media and campaigns ofﬁcer at Family Action
‘Chaotic homes’ are to blame for children arriving at school without having eaten breakfast, education secretary Michael Gove asserted in July. He was speaking at a Church of England seminar hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury and said that this chaos was a far more likely cause than a lack of ﬁnances. The NAHT and its charity partner Family Action are working hard to support families who need guidance and support when it comes to ensuring children are ready to learn when they get to school. As part of this work, Marilyn Downs, who retired last year after 18 years as a head teacher, has written a series of assemblies for primary schools to use. She tells LF, “I am not sure I like the word ‘chaotic’, but the family structure is ever changing and we have to try to help families get the best out of school. I wrote the assembly materials following a request from NAHT president Bernadette Hunter. I had been on the national executive and feel that family involvement in school is particularly vital. She describes the work of Family Action as “brilliant”. “It’s very pertinent to what is going on in society at the moment. They act as a bridge to families with problems, and my interest is in the work that they do in enabling children to access education and to get the best out of school.” Key points are made in each assembly, such as the need for a good night’s sleep, being punctual and the necessity of a good breakfast. Marilyn says: “All of those messages have been turned into stories that can be used for the children and, if parents come into those assemblies, the messages can go out to them as well. “On the Friday, I’ve tried to do one that can be used as a standalone assembly. It tells the story of a mother suffering from post-natal depression. Her little boy feels left out because mum is not at her best and so Family Action get involved. They are very simple stories, but hopefully effective ones. “My brief was to look at primary as you have to get children into good habits from the word go, otherwise you are swimming against the tide. If we can get them into good habits from reception age, they learn far better. Research data proves that it helps.” The assembly materials can be used whenever schools wish to, although the NAHT and Family Action are encouraging schools to hold a non-uniform day on the Friday and make a donation to the charity. “We used to call it an ‘own clothes day’,” says Marilyn. “Although school leaders should try to avoid what I did once, when I stood up in assembly and said we were having a ‘no clothes day’.”
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Neglect is the most common form of child abuse The 1933 law on neglect is basic and out of date It doesnâ€™t prevent neglect and leaves children at risk
Help us keep children safe Join our campaign to change the law Text neglect3 and your email address to 88080 or visit www.actionforchildren.org.uk/neglectlawchange
Design by Dinah, 14, who has been supported by Action for Children services Text will cost your standard network charge. Providing your email address is optional. If you choose to text neglect to 88080 you are opting-in to receive further information about Action for Children by text message and email. Please contact 0300 123 2112 for further information.
Stephen Watkins: wearing bright socks to meet ministers is a great way to lighten the mood if things start to get a bit sticky
Balancing act Stephen Watkins is the new national treasurer at the NAHT. It’s a role that calls for prudence and a grasp of what the priorities should be. Steve Smethurst reports THE ROLE OF NATIONAL TREASURER at the NAHT is a curious one. It sits at the top of the union hierarchy, alongside the president, vice president, past president and general secretary. However, it doesn’t require professional ﬁnance qualiﬁcations or complete mastery of the ﬁner points of ﬁnancial regulations. As the new incumbent puts it: “My wife laughed when I said I was becoming treasurer, and my son said to me, ‘Dad, who would trust you with money?’” Don’t be alarmed, though; Leeds head teacher Stephen Watkins has held a seat on the ﬁnance committee for the past seven years and has recently overseen the appointment of a new ﬁnance director to ensure that all the accounts are in order.
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Stephen, who took over from Bolton head teacher Jack Hatch in May, says that his job is to look at where the money is going and to assess whether it could be spent better elsewhere. As a head for 29 years – and an NAHT member for all that time – he has acquired a good understanding of school ﬁnances and a knack for balancing ﬁgures. He tells LF: “Joking aside, I can understand a balance sheet and I go through all the ﬁgures on a monthly basis. But my main interest is in how we can spend the money that we have to the best advantage of the members.” The position of national treasurer is an elected one and it comes with a three-year term. It’s also a two-fold role. As Stephen says: “On one hand, you are a national officer, so you are involved in all the strategy meetings and the strategic planning for the association with the NAHT headquarters staff. “The second role is the ﬁnancial one – to ﬁnd the money to do
PHOTOGRAPHY: SAM KEST EVEN
EE “Sometimes I have to say: ‘Hang on a bit, Russell, you can’t have a new initiative until we have costed it out’.”
the things that the Association needs to do to best support the members. It is quite a balancing act. You have a ﬁnite budget and you are trying to ensure that you don’t spend it all at once, and also that it is spent well. People can always ﬁnd ways to spend money, but there has to be a saving somewhere else. We can’t make the money up.” The main income stream for the NAHT comes from its membership fees, but training and events, such as the recent roadshows, also bring in revenue. In the future, the Assure
programme will also bring in extra funds. “In terms of spending money, there are plenty of competing priorities coming up in the months ahead,” says Stephen. “For example, we could see campaigns on assessment and the national curriculum for primary schools.” When asked about his motivation for standing for the role, he says: “I was chair of the Personnel Committee when the NAHT appointed Russell Hobby as general secretary and I wanted to see things through with him. I thought another three years would get a decent period under his belt with a stable head office group.” He is also prepared to say ‘no’ when necessary. “Sometimes I will have to say, ‘Hang on a bit, Russell, you can’t have a new initiative until we have costed it out’,” he says. Combining the role with running a primary school is also going to be a challenge. Stephen says: “I am particularly grateful to my long suffering staff at Mill Field Primary. Most of them had worked with me for 15 years or more. I have a superb team who just take over. If there is something that needs doing, somebody will step in,” he says. And if you meet Stephen at an event, look out for his socks. “They are usually brightly coloured,” he says. “Partly it’s because as a man, you are restricted on what bright colours you can wear.” There is also another more strategic reason. “I ﬁnd that socks, especially if you are in a formal situation – perhaps when meeting ministers – are great if things get a little bit sticky or you want to change the atmosphere. If you slightly put one leg up or cross your legs and they see a ﬂash of orange, yellow, gold or blue mixed together, it takes people by surprise.”
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A meeting of minds The West Midlands region is booming in NAHT terms, with a successful annual conference, revitalised branches and a leading light as national president. Steve Smethurst reports 30
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PHOTOGRAPHY: ST EVE SMETHURST
WE Key issues in branches
in the West Midlands: Advice and support: Attendees are full of praise for the supportive atmosphere at meetings
Pay policies Forced academisation Facilities time Safeguarding for children going home alone from
upper primary ‘Too many school leaders getting into trouble’ so the
NAHT branch is working with the LA to support school leaders and give better training Special school funding Growth of the membership Need better communication ‘of all the good we do’ Flexi learning for pupils educated at home
THE MOOD IN the upstairs meeting room at the Moat House in Acton Trussell is upbeat. It’s the venue for the six-weekly get together for the three dozen or so representatives of the West Midlands region of the NAHT. The meeting is the ﬁrst following the annual conference in Birmingham, which saw Bernadette Hunter, representative for district 11 (Shropshire, Staffordshire, Stoke and Wrekin), take on the NAHT presidency. It’s now a challenge for her to attend regional meetings. “It was Sheffield yesterday, then I’ve got Manchester and York tomorrow and Friday,” she says, referring to her packed schedule. However, she is clear that without the backing of the representatives in Acton Trussell, she would have found it much harder to rise through the ranks. She says: “I had tremendous support from everybody here and the help they gave me at the conference was ﬁrst rate. I don’t have any experience of other regions’ meetings, but it always feels as though ours is a very uniﬁed group. We have our differences sometimes, but we listen respectfully and that it is very supportive.” The fact that West Midlands is a uniﬁed group – to the point that there’s barely a seat free at meetings – is one of the reasons we’ve chosen it to start a series looking at the work of the NAHT across the country. The ﬁrst hour of its meeting is taken up with a discussion of the conference. Comments include: “You were fantastic with Gove” and “It was by far the best conference yet, giving voice to the profession.” It is not all self-congratulatory though, with the point being made that “ﬁve minutes is too long for an opening speaker on conference motions, especially if going to be a clear-cut vote.”
Threat of an LA being taking over by an external
company Many new heads in a branch leading to increasing
There was also constructive feedback about the campaign workshops and the observation that conference debate isn’t what it used to be: “If no one opposes, it’s consensus, not debate.” As with most regional meetings, the discussion of branch issues plays a key role (see above). Pay policies are a particular concern, as are the DfE’s plans for forced academisation. On the latter, the advice for school leaders is simple: “If a school receives a letter from education minister Lord Nash, pick up the phone immediately. People are leaving it too late. The key message is that if you are put in a category, you should expect a letter. It’s important to remind members that the NAHT website has a toolkit, podcasts and videos to help school leaders in this position.” One of the most familiar with this is regional officer Michelle Brierley. She now represents the West Midlands, and previously covered Lancashire. She says: “The academy brokers are outrageous. Staffordshire has several cases at the moment, but we’re well prepared as we’ve seen it all before in Lancashire.” Michelle says that two primary schools in Cannock – Norton Canes and Heath Hayes – recently held a successful parents’ meeting on the issue. “More than 200 parents packed the hall. We had speeches by head teachers, local councillors and Sarah Williams, a parent from the Downhills Academy in Haringay, who shared her experience of ﬁghting forced academisation.” This kind of concerted action is typical of the region, says Bernadette, when asked to list the strengths of the group. She says: “It’s about commitment to the NAHT, and also to colleagues in the region – everyone coming together to offer support, discussing things formally and informally, making sure there is always somebody from a different local authority (LA) who might have advice and help they can give to you.” With regard to LAs, she says: “Even in the West Midlands E
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REGIONAL FOCUS WE A personal view Hilary Alcock “I became more actively involved with the NAHT because I wanted to understand further about how the organisation responds to government policy and how it helps to shape opinions about education. I wanted to appreciate more fully how head teachers, as leaders and agents for change within their schools, are supported by the organisation to do this. I felt an excellent way to achieve this would be through attending the NAHT annual conference – something I did for the ﬁrst time in 2011. I had attended my local branch meeting regularly for several years and accessed NAHT training events and education conferences, but the annual conference was pivotal for me. It broadened my understanding and provided the link I already recognised between the national and local issues. I was also inspired by the delegates who spoke so passionately about the educational issues that I felt were important. With this increased knowledge and the positive collegiate support I received from the West Midlands group, I became more involved in regional activities, so much so that I presented two motions at the 2012 annual conference and AGM – one around the promotion of the organisation to sustain and strengthen the membership; the other about challenging Ofsted to remove no-notice inspections. My school had been the ﬁrst within my local authority to receive one, so the subject was an important one to me. When the opportunity to present a motion arose again this year, I didn’t hesitate. This time, the focus was on the need for the inspection process to more fully acknowledge and report on the breadth of the curriculum and educational experiences that schools provide. My role within the NAHT’s West Midlands regional group contributes to my continuing professional development too. I have been able to ‘shadow’ the role of branch secretary and hope to take more of a lead in the future. The knowledge and skills I gain have a positive impact on my own school and put me in a stronger position to inform and support colleagues in other schools as well. The new straplines for the NAHT – “For leaders, for learners” and “Stronger together” – epitomise the support I receive from the organisation and the role I aim to play within it. This sentiment is key, so that school leaders are respected, empowered and are able to maintain their professional and moral responsibility in their leadership of educational change.”
W we have a large variation in the amount of support and quality support that LAs can offer. By sharing experiences, it can sometimes be very helpful to go back to our own LAs with a different approach. These meetings help people to realise that they are not tackling issues in isolation.” Mike Millman, who retired recently from Priory Primary School in Dudley, is the regional secretary for the West Midlands. Has it always been like this? “Certainly, the makeup of attendees changes,” he says. “Some people have been in the group a very long time and others very short. But the philosophy underpinning it has kept going because they have seen how it works. When I first came to the region there were the established heads who were the matriarchs and patriarchs of the system. That doesn’t happen anymore. It is very much on an equal footing.” Tim Gallagher is the region’s vice president and the Worcestershire branch secretary. Also recently retired, he was a head teacher and a former head of a pupil referral unit. He’s been HiIary is head teacher at Buntingsdale Primary School and Nursery a member of the NAHT since 1990, having moved across from the NUT, only becoming active in 2006, as a result of needing NAHT support. to do the same in Herefordshire with the help of the West Following this, he realised that most members were probMidlands region.” ably only turning to the NAHT when they were in trouble. Ann Pritchard, head teacher at Trinity Primary in Here“That gave me something of a mission,” says Tim, “to try to ford is attending her first regional meeting. A relatively new do preventive work to help other people before they need NAHT member, she joined two years ago after “not quite to cry for help, and to point members in the direction of the getting the support” she needed from the NUT. NAHT for advice.” Previously, she had been union representative in HerefordHis ‘current joy’, he says is helping Herefordshire to revishire, with all that it entailed in terms of schools forum and talise its NAHT branch, which has been dormant. “In the consultation meetings. When she moved across and it coinpast, Worcestershire and Herefordshire were a joint entity cided with the retirement of the NAHT branch secretary, it and since they split up about 12 or so years ago they have seemed like a natural progression for her to carry on with both suffered. But, with the help of key people I have been union work. able to restore a NAHT capacity in Worcestershire and want Ann says that she found the Moat House meeting interest-
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Local heroes: Some of the representatives at the West Midlands regional meeting
THE SECRETS OF OUR SUCCESS Location One key issue, says Mike Millman, appears at ﬁrst to be a minor problem. It’s choosing a venue that is easily accessible for all members. “The West Midlands, with Birmingham at the centre, can be a trafﬁc nightmare,” he says. “When we had meetings in the geographical centre of the region attendance was much worse. You need somewhere that’s easy to get to with good parking. It might be seem a small issue, but it does make a difference.”
ing. “What’s good about it is the sharing and the supportive network and finding out what is going on in the other regions. It’s great being able to share opinions, get advice and support. There are things I have picked up today that I could take back to my own school and region. It has been really useful.” In terms of revitalising the NAHT presence in Herefordshire, there is going to be an initial meeting in September, to get the NAHT members more involved again and to explain to them what support the NAHT can give them. “It’s a case of developing that network, so getting head teachers together through the NAHT to provide support for each other is going to be really important.” Mike is excited by the challenge. “Hereford, as an area where the NAHT doesn’t meet, has floundered for years and after today’s meeting have had two people who’ve both volunteered to make a two-hour drive to help with meetings. I haven’t had to ask people to do that.” It’s this kind of response that Michelle feels should encourage more people to get involved with their branch. “The pressures on school leaders are intense and they are growing. I think that being involved with the union is important, if only to feel that you are not on your own – but also to support other people who are going through things that they are finding difficult. “It is great being a member and never having to use your membership – you hope that you never have to call on the services in that regard, but union members are far more informed than people who are not in a union, whether in terms of better places to work, safer places to work, and you tend to be better paid.” “As you probably heard from the meeting and can see from the turnout, they are a very coordinated and knowledgeable group. In fact, the only problem is there isn’t enough room around the table.” To find out about events in your area, contact your regional official. Details can be found at www.naht.org.uk
Bringing out the big guns An important step, suggests Tim Gallagher, is to acquire a database of existing members and to ascertain how current that is. Then, advertise to members that there is a meeting that they would be well advised to attend. Although Tim confesses that he simply invited all heads in Worcestershire to a meeting. Then, request that someone senior from HQ attends the meeting. Tim says: “Russell Hobby came to ours and it helped us with recruitment and retention because there were people wanting to relinquish membership when they retired, and others saying ‘What’s in it for me?’ That attitude has changed.” Communicating the beneﬁts At the meeting with local school leaders (include deputies, assistants and school business managers), share with them the beneﬁts that membership brings – such as model policies and issues of Leadership Focus. Tim says: “The next thing to do is to make sure that you send regular newsletters, not just a monthly one, but also when there is a clear piece of advice that they may not have looked at on the web.” Tim also holds surgeries in different areas. “Many of the small village school heads can’t leave their schools easily, so I hold a surgery after school, in an area that they can get to. They can ask me what is going on, look at ways I can help them, or it might be simple information sharing.” Atmosphere Mike says that the overriding strength of the West Midlands region is that you can bring any issue and you will get honest support. “It is quite possible that you can raise an issue and then ﬁnd different LAs do things very differently, so it enables you to listen to how other people do things. It is a hugely valuable personal support in a very secure environment where you won’t be made to feel silly. People say ‘we have done it that way, but try this in future, it is far more successful.’ There is no putting down or cliques.”
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The word on the streets Daniel Allen learns how a literacy programme has transformed teaching practice as well as raised reading levels at a North Tyneside primary school
Loving literacy: teaching children to read is at the core of what it means to be an educator, says Stephen Fallon
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PHOTOGRAPHY: JIM VARNEY
EE “With Reading Recovery we have changed our thinking... we’ve built up a mantra that every child can and will achieve, and we will support it”
EMPOWERING A CHILD with the ability to read, to solve problems and to process information is truly the core purpose of our existence as educators. That’s the view of Stephen Fallon, head of St Stephen’s Roman Catholic Primary School in North Tyneside, whose strong emphasis on children’s literacy has also helped transform teaching practice at the school. St Stephen’s has used STEPHEN FALLON Reading Recovery, a prohead of St Stephen’s Roman gramme designed to help Catholic Primary School in children who are strugNorth Tyneside gling with literacy, to catch up with and in some cases better their classmates’ performance, but it has also encouraged staff at the school to reﬂect on their own approach. “As a school it has helped us challenge our thinking and professional practice to the point where we view ourselves as learners,” says Stephen. “Barriers to learning are being broken on a daily basis across the school – a direct result of the inﬂuence of the principles of Reading Recovery.” The programme is designed for the lowest-achieving children aged ﬁve and six. Through a series of daily one-to-one lessons with a specially trained teacher, Reading Recovery helps them to reach their age-expected literacy levels within 20 weeks. But a literacy programme is nothing without the drive to make it succeed and it is clear that Stephen’s passion for improving children’s literacy is a critical factor in the success of Reading Recovery at his school. In June he was named E
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READING RECOVERY WE Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman Malorie Blackman (pictured, left) was announced as the new Waterstones Children’s Laureate in June, taking over from Julia Donaldson. The role is awarded every two years to an eminent author or illustrator. The author of more than 60 books for children and teenagers, Malorie has called on teachers and parents to spend at least 10 minutes a day sharing a book with their pupils or offspring. She says: “A love of books has opened so many doors for me. Stories have inspired me and taught me to aspire. I hope to instill in every child I meet my love and enthusiasm for reading and stories.” Although much of the media response to her appointment was positive, she was soon embroiled in a row over children’s reading of classic texts. “Forcing kids to read classics puts them off books, says new Children’s Laureate,” shouted the Daily Mail. However, the Children’s Laureate soon took to Twitter to set the record straight. • “Forcing kids to read the classics puts them off books, says Children’s Laureate.” I said ‘only classics’. • “Children and young adults should be encouraged to read a wide range of books – classics and more modern texts.” I have never said otherwise. But few children come to classics without developing reading stamina ﬁrst, acquired by getting the reading habit. • Classics consolidated my own love of reading but I wouldn’t have appreciated the classics if I hadn’t read other less memorable works ﬁrst. Malorie has also stated that while the nature of exams requires set texts, reading for pleasure does not. “Choice should feature in reading for fun” she says. Her plans for later in the year include ﬁnding ways to encourage more teenagers to read for pleasure. • If you would like Malorie to visit your school, email Lauren Bennett lbennett@ randomhouse.co.uk or email@example.com
W Inspirational Manager of the Year at a national literacy awards ceremony at the University of London’s Institute of Education. St Stephen’s has been running the programme for about three years. “We found we had a number of children coming to school without the basic communication skills – below what we would expect for their age,” says Stephen. “This has a big impact on their ability to read and to learn to read – they don’t have the skills – so our job is to try to get them back up to speed with their peers.” The school aims to put eight children through the programme each year and usually has two teachers trained to deliver it. Those teachers employ a series of diagnostic assessments to determine what a child can and cannot do, and then use the assessments to plan sessions around what the child needs. For Reading Recovery to be effective with the hardest-toteach children, the teacher needs to become a highly skilled decision-maker at every turn of the lesson. Teachers “notice signiﬁcant behaviours, interpret them in light of theory, and interact in ways that make reading and writing processes visible to the learner,” according to Partners in Learning: Teachers and children in Reading Recovery, by Lyons, Pinnel and DeFord. Stephen says: “Every day for half an hour that child will have reading, and incorporated into that time will be writing, work on processing skills, work on memory and a whole manner of things. By the end of the 20 weeks they’ve made, in some cases, massive progress to the point where, in those ﬁve months, they can make 18 to 24 months’ progress in their performance. We’ve put them back on track – and it’s sustainable.” Are there commonalities in the backgrounds of children who arrive at St Stephen’s with low literacy skills? “In some cases, some of them have had less than positive experiences but I couldn’t say for certain that they’re all from vulnerable families,” he says. Parents, according to Stephen, are ‘absolutely astounded’ by
the progress their children make. “We insist that parents come to watch some of the lessons – we share it with them. We also insist that to be part of the programme parents must agree to read with their child on a daily basis.” That approach has led to other initiatives. The school had an existing breakfast club for pupils but now parents come, too. “We put on croissants and fruit juice and toast, and just allow them to sit and have some quality time with their children. We also have workshops for the parents on how they can help their children to read. It’s about getting everybody involved in the child’s development.” At ﬁrst parents were unsure. “But once we’ve shown them how, and given them the tools to do it, they’ve responded really positively,” he says. Stephen was ‘surprised and delighted’ to be nominated for – and to win – the inspirational manager award. The nomination came from Reading Recovery teacher Helen Miley. “Helen and the children are the ones who do all the work,” Stephen says. But clearly he leads the way. “With Reading Recovery, we’ve basically changed our thinking. Sometimes
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Moving on: a sensory training programme helps children improve their reading through movement
WE Another approach: move4words Primary pupils in 80 schools across England are making remarkable strides in their reading after taking part in Move4words, a sensory training programme which helps children improve their reading through movement routines. Move4words founder Dr Elizabeth McClelland says research shows that literacy progress rates of children at KS2 can more than double as a result of the programme, with Sats results also going up. She says the programme has been shown to beneﬁt children of all abilities, with poor readers making the greatest improvements. The programme is inspired by academic research into developmental dyslexia and new understanding of how reading skills develop in children’s brains. Move4words activities are designed to improve children’s attention and timing – areas proven in research to be critical to reading development. Dr McClelland says her main aim is to help those in the bottom 20 per cent of reading ability. “Children who are very far behind their peers often have to have an alternative curriculum, which isolates them from their classmates and can create dependency, rather than self-reliance,” she says. “This is a whole-class approach which allows children of all abilities to improve their literacy skills, particularly those in the lowest performing group.” Former London Schools Commissioner Sir Tim Brighouse is patron of the notfor-proﬁt community interest company formed by Dr McClelland to promote the programme. He calls Move4words a ‘teacher and child-friendly classroom method that is easy to use and has most impressive results’. Luton Borough Council is piloting the intervention with more than 1,000 children in nine large schools, one of which is St Joseph’s Junior school. Head teacher Jacqueline Lee says: “Many pupils have reported that it has helped them with their reading and concentration.” www.move4words.org.uk
in education it’s very easy for teachers to hide behind: ‘That child can’t achieve because of X, Y or Z’. We’ve now built up a mantra that every child can and will achieve, and we will put as much support as possible into making that happen.” Teachers appointed by a school that wants to implement Reading Recovery complete a year-long accredited course. Stephen estimates that the cost eventually works out at about £3,000 per child. “But you can’t put a price on a child’s ability to read and that’s why it’s the one thing in school we would not go without now. I would not let it go because I’ve seen how it can help children.” It can help teachers, too. Part of the training for Reading Recovery involves the use of a screen or one-way mirror. “I thought that was such a good tool that we’ve built a screen in school, an observatory,” Stephen says. Staff can watch a whole class from behind the screen, unobserved, and then give feedback. “It’s brilliant for professional development.” Stephen believes that the reading programme has helped change expectations. A child who goes into the Reading Recovery room emerges not as a low achiever but on a par with others, forging a more tangible link between one-to-one
support and the classroom. “There’s far more joined-up thinking around this now. That’s challenged us, certainly – and it’s raised the expectations of ourselves and the children.”
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Raising the bar in Scunthorpe Mike Adnitt, viceprincipal at the St Lawrence Academy, explains how the school has given its youngsters a better start in life, despite the odds being stacked against them
WHEN YOU LOOK at the facts, the outlook doesn’t look too promising for young people in the UK. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), they spend more time unemployed than their counterparts in Europe. In addition, we have fewer young people enrolled in education than countries in comparable circumstances to our own. There is no doubt that for those leaving school, a challenge lies ahead. As the teachers who prepare students for this environment, we have our own mountains to climb too. We need to ensure that every student that enters our school is given the best opportunities to succeed so that they are ready to face whatever comes next. This task can be hampered when students come into school at low starting points. But our experience at the St Lawrence Academy has shown me that it is possible to make a big difference
EE “Parts of Scunthorpe are among the most deprived areas in the UK with incidences of second- and third-generation unemployment” 38
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to a student body’s achievements, prospects and ambitions no matter what the starting point. Parts of Scunthorpe in North Lincolnshire, where our academy is based, are among the most deprived areas in the UK. We are in an area with high incidences of second- and third-generation unemployment and low-income households with both social and health problems. More than a third of our students speak English as an additional language (EAL) and our school is first choice for the children of migrant workers and asylum seekers who live in the area. As a result, many of our students join us at very low starting points, well below national averages in reading, writing and maths. This presents a significant challenge in raising the attainment, and also the expectations, of all our students. But it is a challenge we are meeting head on. In 2008, the proportion of students who gained at least
five GCSEs including English and maths at grades A* to C was well below average. At one point only 14 per cent of pupils were achieving this. While it was expected for our pupils given their starting points, it is something we were determined to change. One of the most important catalysts for change was becoming an academy. It gave us the freedom to make the changes we wanted and to challenge the status quo of low achievement. Five years on, all our GCSE students achieved five or more A* to C grade GCSEs in 2012, and 56 per cent including English and maths. Given that our student population profile has barely altered, these are excellent results. We have also received recognition for adding to each student’s attainment and we were placed 19th in the value-added league table. I’d like to share some of the steps we have taken over the last few years to make these big leaps. E
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EE “University and college visits are important. They show students they can feel at home in FE or HE”
W Less is more One of the ﬁrst things we did was to reduce the number of subjects our students needed to follow, from 13 to just nine or 10. The change enabled teachers to spend more time delivering higher quality lessons and engaging with pupils. For students, this gave them the space to absorb what they needed to before moving on to the next topic. For the same reason, we agreed that our lower-ability pupils follow just eight subjects. With many our students starting at St Lawrence with a low grasp of English and maths, we needed to commit more time providing them with extra English and maths teaching to make the rest of the curriculum more accessible. The impact of these changes is that our students feel more engaged, less pressured and have more room to actually enjoy what they are learning.
lesson, we now offer more day visits to exhibitions, shows and residential experiences both in the UK and abroad. University and college visits are important too, as it shows students that they could feel at home in a further or higher education setting. Our annual Year Seven camp has been a real success. It’s a chance for all of the new entrants to spend a few days under canvas in their tutor groups at a local farm. Here, they cook, hike, go on nature trails, have lessons outdoors and enjoy games and activities with their new classmates. For many, this is not just their ﬁrst camping experience, but their ﬁrst trip to the countryside. We’ve found that increasing the number of activities outside the classroom has given students an opportunity to see learning differently and shows them it can be fun.
Engaging curriculum When you have a school situated in an area of high deprivation, it is important to increase the number of outside learning experiences as students may not have access to them at home. As well as straightforward visits into the town for a geography
Data backbone The use of pupil-tracking systems within our management information system (MIS) has allowed us to ensure that each child is progressing and that no one is being left behind. We can see instantly if a child falls below target and step in to intervene or monitor pupils on the pupil premium and compare their progress to other students. We now have an achievement team leader (ATL) in each year group who teaches a 70 per cent timetable and is responsible for progress and attainment across all subjects. They track student progress by looking at attainment data, and initiate the interventions for individuals or groups of students and make recommendations over set changes to subject leaders. The ATL is supported by a non-teaching student progress leader who speciﬁcally works with students to overcome any social, peer or behavioural barriers to learning to support this process.
Sensible setting Over the past few years, we have had an increase in the number of students on roll, which has given us the opportunity to move away from the traditional timetable banding to a blocking system. What this means is that a year group will all attend a speciﬁc subject at the same time. The data from the MIS can help us see if students are struggling or being held back. They can then be moved to a more suitable ability group if needed, without having a huge impact on the timetable arrangements. Staff appreciate the ﬂexibility of this, and from the students’ perspective it means they are in the most appropriate group and will receive the most effective interventions.
Providing plenty of choice In KS4, we have introduced a more ﬂexible curriculum where students have a wider choice of subjects and extra-curricular
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Gordonstoun: Some St Lawrence Academy students have won scholarships
activities. There is critical thinking and sociology for more academically able students, as well as option choices for students to study vocational subjects, including mechanical engineering, construction and hair and beauty, in partnership with the local college. Essentially we want to make sure that there is something here for everyone. Our PE department won the Telegraph Aviva National State School of the Year for PE in 2012 and we were recognised for arranging sports tours and awards and also for a bespoke partnership with Scunthorpe United FC. They invite our students to train there, offer work placements for students who want to experience a career in sport, and provide us with the opportunity to organise sporting festivals.
Responsible students Giving students the opportunity to have some form of leadership role is a great way for them to take individual and collective pride in the school. The feeling of responsibility spills over in to the classroom too. We see to it that over a third of students have some form of leadership role. Some act as subject leaders, for example, who help support other students in their learning. Our prefects enjoy presenting to trustees and we have other students embracing lead roles in review meetings with parents. Our specialism in sport has opened up additional opportunities for our sporty students to lead activities and to develop good relationships with younger children. Some of them visit local primary schools to support PE activities.
Making the most of external relationships Our drive for improvement would not have been possible without the considerable help and support we’ve received from academy associations, trustees and local businesses. The Specialist Schools and Academies Trust really helped us at the beginning by giving us training and providing oppor-
tunities to adopt good practice from other secondary schools. Becoming an academy has also provided a great opportunity to attract some real talent on our board of trustees. In addition, Joan Barnes, the academy principal, worked hard to establish a link with Gordonstoun, the independent boarding school. This is a valuable partnership and has enabled some of our over-16 students to win full and part-time scholarships. It is an opportunity many of them could never have dreamed of before and we plan to widen this initiative to include other independent schools this year.
A better future for all students The changes we have made have meant that students now really enjoy their learning and have become more engaged in the life of the academy. This is reﬂected in their above average attendance and the low level of exclusions at the school. Our work in effectively targeting and supporting each student as an individual has meant that every student now has a better chance of gaining the qualiﬁcations and skills that they need to succeed in life. We regularly have students achieving ﬁve A* to C grades including English and maths, who according to Fischer Family Trust predictions, have a less than 25 per cent chance of doing so. The number of our students going on to and staying in post-16 education, straight into employment or training is increasing too. We will continue to look at what we can do to be an even better school that supports, nurtures and beneﬁts our students. The focus will be on ensuring that we introduce the most innovative and effective strategies for raising the aspirations of every student, whatever their circumstances.
Mike Adnitt is vice-principal, St Lawrence Academy
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GIFTED AND TALENTED
Ready, willing and able 42
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Underachievement is an issue at all ends of the spectrum. That’s why identifying and stretching the most able pupils is a central part of Fernwood Junior School’s ethos, its head tells Joy Persaud GOVERNMENT TARGETS CAN encourage schools to think of achievement as something that means making sure that all pupils reach a minimum standard but this, while important, is not the whole picture. The needs of those who are gifted and talented must also be addressed if they are to maximise their capabilities. Unfortunately, a new report from Ofsted suggests that too many of the most able children and young people in non-selective state schools are underperforming. In The most able students: are they doing as well as they should in our nonselective secondary schools?, published in June, it reviewed evidence from more than 2,000 lessons observed by its inspectors as well as visits to 41 non-selective state schools around the country. It found that many students had got used to performing below their potential. “Students did not do the hard work and develop the resilience needed to perform at a higher level because more challenging tasks were not regularly demanded of them,” the report found. “The work was pitched at the middle and did not extend the most able. School leaders did not evaluate how well mixed-ability group teaching was challenging the most able students.” Schools that were doing a good job of supporting their gifted, talented and more able students (GTMA) shared a number of characteristics, including leadership with a purposeful drive to improve standards for all pupils; high expectations among most able students, their families and teachers; effective transition arrangements for the move from primary to secondary school; and early identiﬁcation of the most able students so that teaching could be tailored to meet their needs. “However, too few schools adopted these good practices,” it concluded. There is no legal requirement for schools to hold an official list or register of their more able and talented learners. There is, however, an expectation that schools should know who they are, in the same way that they should know who their underachievers are. This does not mean that GTMA learners should be considered in isolation, warns the National Association for Able Children in Education (NACE). Instead, schools need to focus on providing stretch and challenge in the classroom for all learners of all abilities. Mandy Austin is head teacher at Fernwood Junior School, Nottinghamshire, which has held NACE’s nationally-recognised quality mark for its good provision for GTMA learners since 2008. E
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GIFTED AND TALENTED WE Challenge for all Fernwood’s gifted, talented and more able (GTMA) policy is titled ‘Challenge for all’. It states: “We believe that all children have unique talents and abilities. We are committed to providing challenging opportunities for all pupils to develop their full potential. In addition, we identify and provide opportunities to challenge pupils who may show exceptional abilities in various curriculum areas both academic and non-academic.” A range of strategies is used to identify GTMA children. On entry to the school, children begin the Early Years assessment process to identify more able children. This is conﬁrmed by teacher assessment. The process is ongoing throughout the Foundation Year. At the beginning of KS1, using teacher assessments, knowledge and when appropriate, discussion with parents, a small group of children are identiﬁed and put onto a GTMA register. Their area of gift or talent is identiﬁed. Teachers continually assess and track children’s progress to further identify and monitor children on the register. Parents are informed when a child is identiﬁed as exceptionally gifted or talented and is receiving additional or enrichment provision. Accelerated learning is incorporated into teaching – this is when the most able children are working on objectives and learning activities from the next year group. Teachers are aware of individuals within their class who are outstanding in their ability and appropriate challenges are
W Mandy says: “Ofsted looks for the fact we have identiﬁed children who are gifted and talented, who are challenged in doing all classroom lessons and are not underachieving. They are looking at a wide range of underachievement including at a higher level. The awards are a key indication that we are not coasting. We are stretching our children.” Identifying the more able pupils is one of the school’s priorities, she says, with between 5 per cent and 7 per cent being categorised as GTMA. ‘Gifted’ describes learners who are exceptionally able in one or more academic areas such as English, maths, ICT or science; ‘talented’ describes learners who have the ability to excel in skills such as leadership, artistic performance, visual art, sport or music; and ‘more able’ is a broad band that applies across all academic areas. Pat Samuels, who leads on GTMA at Fernwood, told LF that the philosophy has been explained to staff, all of whom are involved in teaching enrichment subjects, so that they understand what is expected of them. “The teachers have to do quite extensive research,” she says. “We expect them to do extra work at home, too. Enrichment activities – lessons that stretch the pupils beyond what would usually be expected of them for their age – comprise 30 to 40 minutes of extra work for the more able. It relates to the subject taught and the six or seven children from each class spark each other off.” The Ofsted report calls on the DfE to develop progress measures to identify how well the most able students have progressed from Year Six through KS4 to the end of KS5. It wants parents to be sent a report each year showing whether their children are on track to meet national expectations. As well as this, it wants
provided for these children. This provision is identiﬁed on weekly class planning. The federation also looks for opportunities for GTMA children to work on joint projects, for example, poetry days.
Infant School There is differentiated work in class with challenging targets. Planning identiﬁes opportunities for discussion to extend and develop higher-order thinking skills. Dedicated teaching assistant time is used to take small groups to broaden knowledge and to allow GTMA pupils to work with like-minded individuals. The school sets for maths in Year One once a week during the spring term. It sets for maths and literacy in Year Two once a week from October half term. In Years One and Two children are set for their phonics lessons. Outside providers help children develop their own skills – for example, gymnastics coaches, scientists, poets, and artists. In Year Two, the children have the opportunity to follow their own interests through lunchtime clubs such as chess, recorder, French, science and choir. Groups of children also have the opportunity to take part in projects that reﬂect their ability. These short-term projects in areas such as ICT, chess and performing arts allow the school to respond to the needs in each year group and allow a greater number of children to access small group enrichment activity. At different times of the year, teachers may also provide a challenge box
wider publication of data highlighting the proportion of students progressing to university, particularly Russell Group universities. Additionally, it recommends that transition arrangements with primary schools are improved – something on which Pat is focusing. She says: “There are transition arrangements from primary to secondary school – Fernwood Academy, which achieves very good results, has a GTMA person, too. We don’t want the pupils to coast. That’s my goal for next term – we want to strengthen our liaison with the secondary school.” Maths is taught in set groups according to ability with the most gifted working a year ahead of their age. Additionally, enrichment activity is held weekly across the school for 30-40 minutes.
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WE Three key challenges containing puzzles and thinking tasks for the children to complete during independent learning times.
Junior School Enrichment activities are planned for the children each week, with all children in each year group working to the same theme. The more able children work with likeminded pupils on challenging tasks that require the children to research, think and present work at a higher level. Work is differentiated within the classroom to challenge and extend all children, including the more able. In addition, the most able children are given the opportunity to act as mentors and teachers, for example on World Maths Day and in PE lesson demonstrations. All children are set by ability for maths. Each of the four groups has speciﬁc work planned and delivered at their level. Challenging homework is set for maths and another subject each week. All children have the opportunity to learn musical instruments and be part of the school’s choirs. They also have the opportunity to attend a range of after school clubs, such as dance, chess, netball and football. Across the federation, there are shortterm project opportunities, such as visiting artists, musicians and chess leaders. These occur throughout the year and allow talented or interested children to explore and extend their skills.
Younger children at foundation stage are not listed on a register for GTMA, as it can be unclear whether they are showing ability or the effects of attention from home or preschool. In Year One, additional provision is made with the help of a teaching assistant. As it would possibly be detrimental to remove a child from the GTMA register, the staff need to be sure they are able to keep up with the challenges that will come their way. “For the identiﬁcation procedures for foundation, we make a note but will not make formal arrangements on the register,” says Pat. “Year One and Year Two may be on the register for maths or something else. We carry out a non-verbal reasoning test in Year Three during the Christmas term. If they get 118-130 in the test they will be more able, while a result of 112-117 is above average.
for all those involved in the education system: To make sure the most able students in England’s nonselective schools do as well academically as those from our main economic competitors in Europe and beyond. This means aiming for A* and A grades and not being satisﬁed with less.
To ensure, from early on, that students know what opportunities are open to them and develop the confidence to make the most of these. They need tutoring, guidance and encouragement, as well as a chance to meet other young people who have embraced higher education.
For all schools to help students and families overcome cultural barriers to attending higher education. Many of the most able students come from homes where no parent or close relative has either experienced, or expects, progression to university. Schools need to engage more effectively with the parents or carers of these students to tackle this challenge.
Source: Sir Michael Wilshaw, HM Chief Inspector of Schools
“The teachers have a list of what to spot. For example, their written work might not be impressive but verbal reasoning may be very good. It’s great to see a child who has been struggling with writing and then told they have ability. Their difficulties may be due to conﬁdence and frustration, for example. “We had a boy who left last year on pupil premium (free school meals) who was registered as gifted and talented and has a scholarship. He was pushed and enriched. We can say, hand on heart, we are sure we have done our best. But we have not dealt with him in any special way. It’s what we expect from everyone else.” Mandy agrees. “We have many children with complex needs in school and we work very hard to make sure all our pupils’ needs are met. We are also particularly mindful of the development and maturity of our younger pupils and recognise that different abilities emerge at different ages and in different circumstances. “Children are rarely taken off the register but they may move to and from a shadow cohort depending upon their current development or ability.”
Mandy and Pat led workshops at the NACE National Challenge Award Conference in London in June
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The habits of highly effective heads Are there certain leadership behaviours that enable school transformation? Yes, says Alison Peacock, head at The Wroxham School in Hertfordshire THIS ARTICLE DESCRIBES the seven key dispositions for leadership that were uncovered in a research study about The Wroxham School published last year in Creating Learning Without Limits. This approach enabled the school’s leadership team to transform it from ‘special measures’ to ‘outstanding’ within three years. The school was inspected again in May this year and judged to be outstanding for the third time. The research documented the journey towards a culture of opportunity, noting key dispositions that increased capacity for professional learning, thereby transforming learning for all children. Each one is underpinned by a strong value system of teaching without ability labelling, where all children (and adults) have the opportunity to surprise themselves and others through self-regulated challenge. This creative, happy and inclusive school offers an alternative approach to school improvement.
Empathy NOT fear, defensiveness or blame
This involves seeing the world through the child’s eyes to grasp their understanding and thinking to help them learn. In providing leadership with empathy, we enable the transformation of relationships. Crucially, this means that children, teachers and parents know that they are listened to and taken seriously.
Empathy operates both in teachers’ relationships with children and with each other. It also involves staff providing mutual support for one another, since the other dispositions are strengthened if members of a staff group reinforce each other. Mutual supportiveness creates an environment in which
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REFERENCES E Swann, M; Peacock, A; Hart, S; Drummond, MJ (2012) Creating Learning without Limits, Open University Press
nobody is embarrassed about asking questions or admitting that they do not have all the answers. This builds an ambitious culture of professional learning. Where children know that they can take risks without ridicule, it becomes possible to engage in challenging tasks with optimism. Wroxham’s children are not placed in ability groups, but are trusted to make wise choices about how much challenge they are ready for within a range of tasks. This pedagogy has enabled a culture of intrinsic motivation and selfchallenge to develop. This climate has had an impact on mathematics attainment. The children are encouraged to approach problem solving with a ‘can do’ mindset. This builds self belief and conﬁdence which encourages them to practise their skills in a variety of contexts, thereby deepening their understanding and enhancing their attainment.
Generosity NOT deficit thinking or desire for uniformity
This leadership disposition reﬂects a generous view of everybody’s future and trust in their capacity to learn. There is an expectation that learning is a lifelong process and that all members of the school community will be able to contribute if they are understood. This includes open acceptance of everybody so that collective responsibility is accepted for ﬁnding ways forward when problems arise, rather than complaining or blaming when individuals encounter stumbling blocks or barriers to their learning. It is the human face of persistence – never giving up on people and always taking responsibility to keep searching for ways to create better conditions for learning. It means a willingness to suspend judgement, to give the other the beneﬁt
of the doubt, to be ready to expand the boundaries of the collective to make it possible for everybody to be included. Within a generous learning environment, every child has an opportunity to surprise themselves, their peers and their teachers through an open-ended approach to assessment and engagement with the curriculum. Although many children at The Wroxham School have additional needs it is unusual for visitors to identify these youngsters at a glance. Genuine inclusion enables children to engage in learning without being labelled and without feeling marginalised. At our summer concert, a Year 5 child who has recently joined us from a primary school for children with moderate learning difﬁculties played
Chopsticks on the piano for a packed audience. His elder brother, now in Year 10, joined him in duet on the stage. Winston’s achievement was warmly celebrated by the entire community. At the same concert, Layla, who has just been accepted at the Royal College of Music, played the violin expertly, accompanied by her mother, a professional musician. The point is that within a generous learning environment, the important factor is trying one’s best and having opportunities to challenge oneself, rather than performing within a set of ﬁxed expectations and targets. Both children challenged themselves, both children felt proud and both experienced the warmth and acknowledgement of their learning from the audience.
call came during Sats week this year, colleagues planned for the next two days as normal. The exception to this was in Year Six where, in addition to sitting tests, the children were now also going to be observed during English lessons. The teacher’s inspired response was to plan writing lessons where the children recalled the experience of sitting in the hall waiting to begin a test. They worked
with learning partners, collected vocabulary and structured a short piece of descriptive writing. This was not a ‘safe’ pre-tested lesson but a response to the collective Year 6 experience, which resulted in writing of the highest quality. In an emotionally stable environment staff and children are able to take the risks that enable outstanding teaching and learning to become the norm.
Emotional stability NOT fear of failure or fear of trying new things
Leadership that builds and enables emotional stability in staff and children exploits opportunities to make transformative choices. All teachers need to be able to trust their own professional judgement and act accordingly. In an emotionally stable environment, teachers are able to plan, teach and assess in a manner that makes sense to them, rather than having to comply with
what the group is doing. This generates the strength to resist popular notions of ability and nurtures the capacity to take risks and to resist practices that create limits. Emotional stability is the readiness to challenge and to be challenged, to stay close to the vision and not be knocked off course by political pressure or a fear of failure. When the Ofsted phone
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LEADERSHIP BEHAVIOURS FURTHER INFORMATION E www.wroxhamtla.org.uk E firstname.lastname@example.org
Inventiveness NOT compliance with imposed models and materials
Inventiveness encourages creativity and inspires people to imagine something new. Abandoning ability grouping and labels requires inventiveness to create new ways of thinking about children, and new practices to enable everybody’s learning to ﬂourish. Designing a curriculum for all means creating a learning environment in which there is a sense that
with traditional camel seat for reading tales of the Arabian nights, and an outdoor music garden made from junk metal, including a kitchen sink. School leadership that makes the art of the possible feel constantly within reach requires the kind of conﬁdence and creativity that comes when a community works together in genuine partnership, where self belief can ﬂourish.
Alison Peacock believes we need the collective ambition to ask: ‘Is there a better way for all children?’
NOT belief that there is one right way or that outcomes are predictable a rigid interpretation of curriculum and of opportunity to learn. Openness reﬂects the belief that the future is in the making in the present. Everything teachers do every day either increases or restricts opportunities for learning. The importance of openness permeates the school
and enables children to ﬂourish in a manner that would be unlikely if they were subject to rigid sets of expectations. Children with additional needs make excellent progress at Wroxham knowing that they are valued for being themselves and that every success will be noted with optimism.
Persistence NOT settling for easy answers or rejecting complexity
Persistence is needed to avoid giving up on people or practices. It means holding onto the view that there is always more that can be done to free children to learn; the belief that, however challenging a situation, change is always possible. It is needed for teachers to transform learning capacity in the face of
almost anything can be achieved. At The Wroxham School, outdoor learning and Forest School activities are provided for all children. Additionally, the school has recently built a Celtic roundhouse on the school ﬁeld. This provides an evocative space for storytelling and history. Other examples of inventiveness include a double-decker buslibrary, a wooden camel
If teachers’ perceptions of children’s capabilities assume open-endedness, then there are no presumed limits. The willingness to embrace openness about curriculum experience and opportunities for learning means that teachers are able to avoid unwittingly creating limits through
E www.thewroxham.org.uk E@alisonmpeacock
constant challenge. Persistence includes personal qualities of courage and humility, knowing that we do not have all the answers, that transforming learning capacity will be a struggle, but that commitment will eventually pay off. At The Wroxham School, this persistence has meant that the school
has continued to seek opportunities to widen the debate, believing that an alternative approach to school improvement is possible at a system level. In 2011, it achieved teaching school status and has since established a transformative learning alliance working in partnership with more than 50 local schools.
Questioning and humility
NOT reliance on certainties or ready-made solutions This is probably the most important of the seven. A restless, questioning mindset is fundamental if we are to challenge the status quo and enable new thinking that will free children’s capacity to learn and teachers’ capacity to teach. As school leaders, teachers and parents, we need to ask ourselves: ‘Does it have to be like this? Could I do this differently?’ And we need the knowledge, conﬁdence and passion to ask the question, ‘Is there a better way for this child?’
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WHAT’S NEW WE T H E L A T E S T B O O K S A N D R E S O U R C E S
Spotlight on Literacy
Professional School Leadership
By Barbara Bleiman, Kate Oliver and Lucy Webster. English & Media Centre, £120
By Daniel Murphy. Dunedin, £17.95
This spiral-bound paperback with accompanying DVD could become an indispensible toolkit. It covers a wide range of issues, from basics such as handwriting and spelling, to getting more enjoyment from reading. Other activities provide accessible ways into more challenging areas, such as structuring a piece of writing, reading for inference or adapting spoken language to different audiences. There are 125 pages of teacher strategies and 192 pages of classroom-ready materials, plus approaches for one-to-one support, group work or whole class work on targeted areas.
The author is a Scottish secondary head who confesses that when he was starting out, he “experienced tension between what was expected of me by employers and what seemed possible, or even desirable.” It’s probably fair to say that most school leaders have experienced this at one time or another. This is an amended and enlarged edition of his book, with 16 new case studies. It contains practical insights to provide further assistance to school leaders who face complex challenges in their daily work. The book also contains a useful toolkit.
Leading and Managing People in Education By Tony Bush and David Middlewood. Sage, £25.99 The third edition of this book covers leadership and management of people at all levels in educational organisations. It has been updated with current research and literature, covering all educational institutions. The book deals with issues such as succession planning, leadership development and diversity. It also has an enhanced focus on international trends. Domestically, it includes the shift to system leadership, academies and free schools as well as changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
DIARY DATES Roald Dahl Day
British Foods fortnight
Black History Month
Mischief and mayhem are promised on 13 September, a celebratory day for ‘the world’s number-one storyteller’; the author of Charlie and Chocolate Factory and Matilda. There’s also the chance to raise money for his Marvellous Children’s Charity, which raises money for seriously ill children. www.roalddahlday.info
Two weeks of delicious culinary activities to whet your taste buds. It runs from 21 September to 6 October. The website below contains a resource pack of downloadable PDFs that will help teach students about food and how to cook. www.lovebritishfood.co.uk/ teacher-zone/teacherstake-part
October is the month dedicated to celebrating black history, from the Windrush generation to Bob Marley and Nelson Mandela. www.blackhistorymonth. org.uk
World Teachers Day A Unesco celebration of the teaching profession which has been running since 1994.
Held on 5 October, it’s a commemoration of teachers’ organisations worldwide. www.worldteachersday.org
Talk Like a Pirate Day Ooh arrrrr, ’tis here me hearties: lots of inspiration for piratical fun on 19 September, including how to speak like a French or German pirate. www.talklikeapirate.com
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WE T E L L U S A B O U T Y O U R S C H O O L We ’d love to share your stories with LF re a d e rs . Ema il Su s a n E email@example.com
eorge Green school in London’s Isle of Dogs has higher than average numbers of pupils with special needs, or with English as an additional language, who are eligible for free school meals. Although the students live in the shadow of Canary Wharf, their lives are worlds away from those who work there. The school has even handed out alarm clocks to help pupils get in on time when parents aren’t around to wake them up. You might not expect this to be a school where the exam of choice for the sixth form is the wide-ranging and challenging international baccalaureate (IB). But not only is that the case, the 1,600-pupil comprehensive also decided to push on with ditching A levels at the same time Ofsted issued a notice to improve in 2008. Head teacher Kenny Frederick explains how good a decision it’s been: “We haven’t looked back. The children are coping well and it’s getting them into university,” she says. “We felt it would be good all-round education for them and we knew research shows youngsters who have done the IB do better at university. It values languages, the theory of knowledge helps them to think, and we were already running lots of volunteering programmes. It all just seemed to suit us. Students have taken to it like ducks to water.” It was George Green’s then head of sixth form who researched the IB and made presentations about it to the rest of the staff. Kenny says: “What convinced me was the whole ethos behind the IB: the belief about inclusion, about having a worldwide vision rather than being inward looking. The Isle of Dogs can be insular and people don’t necessarily see themselves as global citizens, but we want to become an international school and look outwards.” It has turned out to be even more global than she and her team imagined, attracting students from Europe to take the course. “We get six to 10 every year. Sometimes they want to come here because their parents are working in Canary Wharf, sometimes they come and stay with families in the area. It’s fantastic because they tend to have been to private schools and it brings a different dimension to our sixth form.” The way the IB works also means that
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SCHOOL RISES AND SHINES staff and pupils get to broaden their horizons outside the school. “When we were starting up, we had to go to places like Athens – or sometimes Birmingham,” Kenny says. “It gives you a great network of schools to work with, a lot of them independent. There are very few inner city schools. We all like sharing ideas. “It brings the kids into all sorts of different places, including lots of independent schools for debates and other activities they probably wouldn’t have had in their lives. They’re meeting kids with different, privileged backgrounds. It really is a fantastic programme. The whole learner proﬁle is about pupils being risk takers, reﬂective, independent minded, principled thinkers. You couldn’t argue with it.”
No going back So convinced is the school by the value of the IB that it also offers a vocational version of the diploma, its careers certiﬁcate, which provides a ‘fantastic’ internship element and an A level in business, which is a useful complement. “A levels aren’t a proper programme,” says Kenny. “We’re not going back.” That said, she is about to retire and hand over the school to a new head teacher this month. Was it brave to make such a major change at a time when Ofsted had just served a notice to improve? “We were already going forward with it and had already passed the stringent two-day visit from the IB, which looks at anything and everything, and that gave us a sense of pride,” says Kenny. And, at the most recent Ofsted inspection, in March, “we were able to tell the inspector that our results were above the worldwide average which was fantastic. We’re so chuffed with it.” ILLUSTRATION: ADAM HOWLING
NFER tests Reading and mathematics tests for years 3, 4 and 5
1,800 schools have used NFER tests since February 2013 with a 90% satisfaction rating
Comprehensive teacher guides and analysis tools Compatible with the new curriculum* Fresh new content Child-friendly design
Find out more and order at www.nfer.ac.uk/ntnc For further information please contact the NFER enquiry team: T: 01753 637007 E: firstname.lastname@example.org www.nfer.ac.uk/ntnc
NFER tests * Free updates will be published later this academic year. LFO.09.13.051.indd 51
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