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 2022/23 are laid out below:
1) To continue to implement a high quality curriculum that caters for all learners – ensuring that significant gaps and barriers to educational success between groups of pupils (e.g. boys and girls, SEND and disadvantaged children) are addressed and gaps are diminished by end of primary school.
- The Lea has high academic expectations that have remained high during two Covid interrupted school years. The school reached high levels of attainment and progress at end of key stage two outcomes in 2022, in line with its 2019 pre-pandemic outcomes – being well above the national average in all curriculum areas.
- However, ongoing review and internal monitoring to assess the impact of the pandemic and to regularly monitor standards in curriculum impact suggest that there are some disparities in educational success and quality of educational engagement between groups of children.
- This has been particularly noticeable for certain groups of children when also taking into account non-academic information, such as attendance data and behaviour incidents. Of particular focus is the gender gap – with boys attainment generally below that of girls and with a higher proportion of behaviour incidents being related to boys than girls. Whilst hugely complex, this disparity has been noticeable for children on entry into the school. For instance, in September 2021, 33% of children on entry into nursery were at an age related level of communication and language compared to 89% of girls.
- Interpreting this information accurately is further complicated by the challenges presented by children who fall under what The Lea refer to as multiple “risk factors” to educational success – such as being a boy, disadvantaged, SEN, having social worker involvement and being summer born.
This priority is about identifying the needs of groups of children and supporting them to overcome barriers to learning.
- Sports premium funding is used to support the work in diminishing gaps, with a particular focus on boys’ engagement in learning.
- Gaps between groups of children are identified – education, behaviour and attendance and relevant actions to address these are made.
- Pupil premium strategy statement is quality assured through governor involvement and is used to address barriers to education.
- All staff are aware of children who fall under multiple risk factor categories and are aware of gaps between groups across classes.
- Gaps between groups of children continue to be diminished over time so that by end of key stage two outcomes remain well above national and by end of the academic year attendance gaps are diminished.
2) To maintain and promote high levels of progress in early reading and reading attainment throughout the school
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 was 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 were released during this time period.
In October 2021, The Lea began implementing Little Wandle Letter & Sounds Revised as its chose SSP programme. This formed stage one of our school improvement plan to promote high levels of progress in early reading and reading across the school. Following successful implementation of this, the school is now at stage 2 which is focused on two main parts:
1) Embedding our early reading curriculum.
To ensure that all staff continue to deliver high quality phonics and reading teaching in line with our curriculum design. This also includes a focus on the importance of constantly modelling high quality spoken sounds and spoken English.
2) Continuing to promote high levels of attainment in reading throughout the whole school.
This latter point is multi-faceted and a key element to it is the focus on quality of reading materials on offer across the school curriculum and the methods in which they are used to support teaching, learning and reading for pleasure.
- Standards in phonics as measured by y1 phonics screening check are above national expectations.
- A full systematic, synthetic phonics programme is fully embedded and all staff are confident in its delivery
- Standards in reading at end of key stage 2 remain above national expectations
- Staff involved in teaching of phonics receive highly effective professional development which develops subject, pedagogical and pedagogical content knowledge for teaching of phonics.
- Reading materials across the school are carefully linked to phonics learning and curriculum content and all children have access to a wide range of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
- All staff model high quality spoken sounds and spoken English and CPD is available for staff who require it.
3) To maintain the use of effective assessment strategies to ensure that intent has maximum impact on learning retention across all areas of the curriculum subjects.
Over the past 3 years, The Lea has developed and refined its curriculum across all subject areas. During this period, subject leaders have carefully designed sequential and progressive long-term overviews that map out learning of key knowledge, skills and vocabulary in their subject from early years to the end of primary school.
Whilst current monitoring suggests that this is being implemented to a high standard, the school wish to further maximise the impact of these plans across all subject areas by ensuring effective assessment strategies are in place.
These assessment strategies and ongoing work to develop this area of the curriculum will ensure that:
1) Teachers adapt curriculum plans and their teaching for all children to reflect what they learn from ongoing assessment.
The carefully planned sequential learning that has been designed across subject areas requires strong understanding at each lesson stage. If learning has not been successful and the follow-up lessons are not adapted accordingly, future learning will not be built on strong foundations and connections. For a number of years, children have referred to daily learning as LS (learning skill). From September 2022, daily learning in non-core lessons will be connected to a DQ (destination question). By moving to a question format, it enables a more efficient ongoing assessment through live lesson discussion and through marking of children’s work.
2) Ongoing assessment is used to support the transfer of learning to long term memory – so children know more and remember more.
There is much research and theory around the importance of using regular assessment to support learning. The Lea’s approach to learning is built on ‘small steps teaching’. This is 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 ‘small steps’ approach is supported by Rosenshine’s (2012) ten principles of instruction and connected to this is the importance of ongoing reviews of learning as an element of assessment. The Lea will aim to use ongoing reviews of previous learning when presenting new learning as the average cognitive load and working memory is fairly small and if previous learning isn’t reviewed, then trying to remember old information will get in the way of trying to learn new information.
3) All teachers are confident in knowing what appropriate attainment looks like across subject areas.
In order for subject leaders to ensure they are addressing any gaps in attainment or progress that are emerging between groups of children in the learning of a subject, teachers need to be confident in understanding what appropriate attainment in that subject looks like.
- Monitoring shows that plans are routinely adapted based on assessment of learning to support sequential learning.
- In the wider curriculum, key learning for each lesson is presented as a “destination question”. This is used to support ongoing assessment in marking and in live lesson assessment.
- Sequential learning uses regular recap and low stakes quizzing to support ongoing assessment and learning.
- Subject leaders and teachers have clarity over measuring attainment in all curriculum areas.
- Teachers have subject knowledge CPD opportunities in identified areas