Embracing bilingualism helps school achieve Good OFSTED report.

What great news that a school in Peterborough has improved so greatly in the past months that OFSTED have now deemed them as good. So remarkable that news papers Peterborough Today and the Daily Mail and even the radio station R2 have today run the story.


Readers of this blog will not be surprised that by embracing bilingualism and using it to benefit your teaching improves and speeds up the rate that the pupils learn English. I have gathered information about its benefits and the results are now starting to come through. The head teacher clearly supports this view of bilingualism and her results show that by embracing it results can be improved quickly. I believe this is the start of the educational culture change which so many schools and LA officers were resisting up until a year or so ago.


Head Christine Parker, 54, said: ‘More and more  of the world is  going bilingual. The culture at our school is not to see  bilingualism as  a difficulty.’

I am also hopeful that this great result will also make sure that gone are the conversations littered with  I only have one or two! or what can I do I don’t speak their language? as an excuse is changing. Gone and evidently going are the teachers plodding along teaching what is comfortable for them in such a way that it takes longer than necessary for the children to pick up the language.  Children pick up social language quite easily and it is the schools job to ensure the curriculum is taught and academic language is known and understood. In the future we should now be able to say that  Every Student does Matter.

There will be difficulties along the way as the head describes here;

‘Sometimes parents have tried to help  their  children learn English but their own isn’t too good,’ she said.  ‘The outcome is  the children aren’t fluent in their own language. If  they haven’t got a good  foundation [in their own language] it can be  very difficult to build on  that.’

but by sharing and supporting each other we can ensure that this becomes the reality.


Welsh Education …my worry

Over the past week I have read numerous reports about the Welsh education System being found unsatisfactory at LA level.  To date Blaenau Gwent, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Monmouthshire are all in special measures and more worryingly on a normal curve there would be the same amount recognised as being outstanding, but this is not the case.

Having worked in areas where schools are deemed to be in Special measures it is really difficult to sum up the feeling of worthlessness and lack of support the individuals in this situation feel, as well as the disbelief at the people who should be helping who either can’t or talk the talk and sadly can’t walk the walk, yet they are making the crucial decisions and walking away scott free whilst pointing the finger.

Has anyone actually thought about what these people are now feeling? Many will feel isolated and teams will also feel isolated but it wont stop them trying to do the best for their staff and pupils, but without any support. To make the necessary changes it takes strong people confident in their ability to make change without the support of those set up to support them.

What does surprise me is this statement

It’s no coincidence that many of our councils look to England for inspiration,  with several directors of education (the majority experienced in working in  deprived areas) parachuted in from across the border.

Why are they looking over the border? I am sure they have schools which have been judged outstanding by ESTYN so why don’t they harness these staff, they are relevant and in touch with todays policies, strategies, parents expectations and pupils needs. All too often we look to those above us, or in this case those in a different system. A few years ago there was a lot of work done about 360degree evaluation which sadly in many cases meant looking at what is worse below us and improve it rather than looking at what is best practice and bringing it through.

This together with the fear of staff re job losses due to our current national financial situation, who works well in a climate of fear?  The way many councils have dealt with this is to cut the necessary staff needed to do these jobs, this together with the cutting of wage levels so that a different level of staff are attracted i..e. rather than paying for Local Authority Consultants at deputy Head level many have opted for the equivalent wage of a head of department, in that way they get heads of departments and not people with the educational depth and knowledge needed to support and improve practice.

Finally from a story at Wales Online

Mr Andrews’ bullish reaction was to be expected. Having already threatened to  pull education from council jurisdiction, Estyn’s findings were more power to  his elbow.

My concern is that if this continues and staff morale decreases, parental support is diminished it will open a wide chasm for someone like Capita to sweet talk The Welsh Government that they can do better and education in Wales will never be the same again. Capita and similar companies will always have the verbal verbosity to explain the reasons why the LA’s or schools  should be in specials measures, but are not necessarily caring about the children and learning but more about profit as we can see from the recent translation debacle, but if this happens the Welsh Govt will have no way back and that will be a very sad day for Welsh education for everyone.

Remember the reason we are in education and making policies about teaching and learning is because we want to support our children.

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2013/02/23/why-half-term-is-usually-the-calm-before-the-storm-in-welsh-education-91466-32862733/#ixzz2LohsPxJq

OFSTED – Analysis and challenge tools for schools Guidance

OFSTED have set out a  set of tools to help support ensuring that your pupil premium is spent effectively and gives guidance for schools to show how its use is closing the gap. Different criteria for secondary and primary it focusses attention on results and the use of the money to improve English, reading, writing and maths.

Here are some highlight but it is worth having a  good look at the document in its entirety. Choose the PDF or word version from this link http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-analysis-and-challenge-tools-for-schools

 The items covered are:

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: secondary

Where are the gaps in Year 11?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Analysis and challenge toolkit for school leaders: primary

Where are the gaps (Year 6)?

Where are the gaps (other year groups)?

Where are the gaps (other eligible groups)?

Reflective questions

Planning and evaluation outline

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies

Below is the guidance for Secondary and primary schools re. where to look for the indicators.

Year 11: Indicator (using data from RAISEonline for 2011 and 2012, and school data for current Year 11. Definition of FSM for this purpose is the same as RAISE –those pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium under the ‘Ever 6’ measure. LAC and
service children in later section).

Data for the pupil outcomes table for Year 6 should be taken from RAISEonline.
Data for other year groups should be available from the school’s own tracking of pupils’ attainment and progress.

The following is a question raised by OFSTED about the date and indicators you have.

What does your data analysis tell you about the relative attainment and achievement
of FSM and non-FSM pupils for each year group? Are there any gaps? To what
extent are gaps closing compared with previous years’ data?

Early Years

Year 1 (consider   whether pupils are making expected progress on the basis of their Early Years   Foundation Stage score; consider the phonics screening check)
Year 2 (consider   predicted end of key stage results for reading, writing and mathematics at   each sub-level, as well as current data)Overall guidance

Pupil Premium used for: Amount allocated to the intervention / action(£) Is this a new or continued activity/cost centre?  Brief summary of the intervention or action, including details of   year groups and pupils involved, and the timescale Specific intended outcomes: how will this intervention or action   improve achievement for pupils eligible for the Pupil Premium? What will it   achieve if successful? How will this activity be monitored, when and by whom? How will   success be evidenced? Actual impact: What did the action or activity actually achieve? Be   specific: ‘As a   result of this action…’
If you plan   to repeat this activity, what would you change to improve it next time?

Self-review questions for Governing Bodies
Governors’ knowledge and awareness
1. Have leaders and governors considered research and reports about what works to inform their decisions about how to spend the Pupil Premium?
2. Do governors know how much money is allocated to the school for the Pupil Premium? Is this identified in the school’s budget planning?
3. Is there a clearly understood and shared rationale for how this money is spent and what it should achieve? Is this communicated to all stakeholders including parents?
4. Do governors know how the school spends this money? What improvements has the allocation brought about? How is this measured and reported to governors and parents via the school’s website (a new requirement)?
5. If this funding is combined with other resources, can governors isolate and check on the impact of the funding and ascertain the difference it is making?
6. Do governors know whether leaders and managers are checking that the actions are working and are of suitable quality?
Leaders and managers’ actions
1. Do the school’s improvement/action plans identify whether there are any issues in the performance of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium?
2. Do the actions noted for improving outcomes for Pupil Premium pupils:
 give details of how the resources are to be allocated?
 give an overview of the actions to be taken?
 give a summary of the expected outcomes?
 identify ways of monitoring the effectiveness of these actions as they are ongoing and note who will be responsible for ensuring that this information is passed to governors?
 explain what will be evaluated at the end of the action and what measures of success will be applied?
3. Is the leader responsible for this area of the school’s work identified?
4. How do governors keep an ongoing check on these actions and ask pertinent questions about progress ahead of any summary evaluations?
5. Are the progress and outcomes of eligible pupils identified and analysed by the school’s tracking systems? Is this information reported to governors in a way that enables them to see clearly whether the gap in the performance of eligible pupils and other pupils is closing?
Pupils’ progress and attainment
1. Does the summary report of RAISEonline show that there are any gaps in performance between pupils who are eligible for free school meals and those who are not at the end of key stages? (Look at the tables on the previous pages of this document for some indicators to consider)
2. Do the school’s systems enable governors to have a clear picture of the progress and attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium in all year groups across the school, not just those at the end of key stages?
3. If there are gaps in the attainment of pupils who are eligible for the Pupil Premium and those who are not, are eligible pupils making accelerated progress – are they progressing faster than the expected rate – in order to allow the gaps to close? Even if all pupils make expected progress this will not necessarily make up for previous underperformance.
4. Is the school tracking the attendance, punctuality and behaviour (particularly exclusions) of this group and taking action to address any differences?
Overall, will governors know and be able to intervene quickly if outcomes are not improving in the way that they want them to?

There is also a good document giving examples of good practice at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/pupil-premium-how-schools-are-spending-funding-successfully-maximise-achievement

Hope this helps if you have any ideas to share with others where you have used it successfully please add comments.