On an annual basis, in collaboration with the governors and other stakeholders, the school reflects on its areas for improvement. Taking into account a variety of sources, three school improvement priorities are identified. These are then approved and progress towards these used as a quality assurance measure by governors throughout the academic year.
The school improvement priorities for 2021/22 are laid out below:
1) To continue to develop strong leadership & management of the school curriculum through subject leader development
Since 2018, the school has been on a journey to develop its school curriculum. This began with a huge focus on professional development for all staff in “small steps” teaching. This is now a key element of the schools approach to implementation of its curriculum and is built around The Multi-store Theory of Memory (Atkinson and Shiffrin,1968. This ties closely into the belief that “learning can be defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned” (Ofsted 2019).
Since embedding this, the school has focused on developing its curriculum intent by focusing on the progression and sequencing of learning for different subjects – within year groups and across year groups.
Moving forward, the next step in curriculum development has been to develop accountability for subject leaders who are responsible for the curriculum intent, impact and implementation.
Subject Leaders are crucial to a school’s success through their role in securing and sustaining improvement in each area of the curriculum. They offer the leadership, expertise and enthusiasm critical to providing effective learning opportunities for pupils.
Subject Leaders have three core roles:
- Judging standards across the school
- Evaluating teaching and learning and identifying strengths and areas for improvement;
- Leading sustainable improvement by: developing a high quality curriculum delivered through effective teaching; organising quality professional development for staff; supporting and mentoring staff.
- Carefully designed, sequential and progressive learning across all subject areas in the curriculum.
- The implementation of a high quality curriculum which caters for all learners.
- High learning outcomes for all in which significant gaps between groups of pupils (e.g. boys and girls, SEND and disadvantaged children) are addressed and gaps are closing by end of primary school.
- Staff have access to focused and highly effective professional development dependent on their identified needs.
2) To maintain and promote high levels of progress in early reading, phonics and vocabulary development
There is a huge raft of research that shows the impact that success in early reading can have in future life – particularly as a predictor of future academic success and as a building block for social mobility. This is widely discussed in the DfE’s July 2021, Teaching the foundations of literacy, Reading Framework.
To teach word reading and spelling successfully, teachers need to understand the principles underpinning the teaching of word reading (decoding) and spelling (encoding). This should include understanding how the alphabetic code of English represents the sounds (phonemes) of the language with single letters and groups of letters (graphemes). These principles underpin phonics teaching and from September 2021 there is an expectation that schools should have a full systematic, synthetic phonics programme implemented. This is in line with updates to the DfE’s letters and sounds programme and a number of new approved programmes will be released during this time period.
At The Lea, reading outcomes at the end of key stage 2 are very high, however phonics attainment has been variable, particularly for different groups of children. A new phonics lead position working alongside the reading lead has been in place since 2020 and it is clear that a more consistent approach to the direct teaching of phonics is needed.
- Standards in phonics as measured by y1 phonics screening check are above national expectations.
- A full systematic, synthetic phonics programme is implemented
- Staff involved in teaching of phonics receive highly effective professional development which develops subject, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge for teaching of phonics.
- Reading books across the school are carefully linked to phonics learning and all children have access to a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books.
- Vocabulary development is carefully mapped out in subjects across the curriculum.
3) To further develop the provision in place for the mental health and wellbeing needs of the children through implementation of whole school approach to mental health and wellbeing through movement (Stormbreak)
We know that our mental health and wellbeing are vital to our ability to thrive and achieve. One in ten young people has some form of diagnosable mental health condition and we know that children with a mental health problem face unequal chances in their lives, particularly where childhood mental health issues continue into adulthood.” (Transforming Children and Young People’s Mental Health Provision: a Green Paper – DfE 2017).
Following school closure, it is well recognised that children and families may have been through a period of extreme challenge while living in lockdown. This period of time may have had significant impact on the mental health of children and members of their family. Before any long lasting learning and “catch up” can be considered, the mental health needs of all children must be considered.
The school has been fortunate to be selected to join a resilience training programme that is being offered fully funded from the Wellbeing for Education Return Programme (WER) to 10 Hertfordshire Primary Schools across the county. Wellbeing for Education Return is a national programme funded by Department Of Education, Department of Health and Social Care, in partnership with Health Education England, Public Health England, NHS England and NHS Improvement. The WER programme aims to support staff working in schools and further education providers to respond to the additional pressures that some children and young people and their parents and carers may be feeling as a direct result of the pandemic, as well as to any emotional response that they or their teachers may be experiencing from bereavement, loss, stress, trauma, low mood or anxiety over the past months. This is a whole school programme which will involve staff training and monitoring of implementation and impact.
- All staff have access to professional development that increases their understanding of positive mental health and wellbeing
- The school is successful in receiving its kitemark accreditation.
- Stormbreak programme is successfully implemented across the school and its impact is carefully monitored.