Ash Grove Primary and Nursery School in Macclesfield, Cheshire, recently improved its Ofsted rating from Satisfactory to Outstanding. Tracking pupil progress with formative Classroom Monitor was crucial to this turn-around. Head Teacher Kevin Simpson and Deputy Headteacher Mark Avis oversaw the improvement and Mark is now sharing his strategies with Daven Primary School in Congleton, Cheshire.

Addressing the challenge

Mark explains the key issues that his team were faced with: “The school was struggling with measuring assessment, which is crucial for us to identify where children need to improve and where they require extra help. This had been a big issue before the Satisfactory Ofsted rating in 2009 as there was a lack of reliable, ongoing assessment.

“Although we were using APP to track progress, it was an unwieldy, paper based system which we found ineffective. We wanted something online and easy to use, but still robust. Similarly, at Daven, assessment was a major issue. It was paper a based system that collated the information using the optional SATs test once a year.”

Mark researched online systems for managing assessment and progress data, and came across Classroom Monitor:

“We introduced Classroom Monitor because we needed a reliable solution to perform formative assessment. Staff at Ash Grove and here at Daven have embraced Classroom Monitor very positively – it has given them more confidence as now they know exactly what to do to make their teaching more effective”.

Raising standards in teaching and learning

In February 2013, Ash Grove received an Outstanding Ofsted report. The Senior Leadership team was able to prove accelerated attainment with convincing and detailed progress data. Crucially, they were also able to show how this information is used to support teachers in the classroom:

“Having something like Classroom Monitor is important for Ofsted, in that you can demonstrate where the children are at every stage. For example, if you’re using your Pupil Premium Fund to target FSM pupils and you want to identify what those children need to work on, you just look on Classroom Monitor and it helps you to see what to do next.

“As a teacher, it is easy to use and you feel that your assessment for learning is much more robust. If you are clear about where the children are and their next steps, then it is a lot easier to plan and to teach the way they need to be taught.”

Sharing the success

The success of Ash Grove makes it a sought after school with parents, and the register is growing year-on-year. “The pupil roll has doubled from 90 to 180”, says Mark. “The teaching has improved considerably; parents hear about it and consequently want to send their children there, which is great.”

Mark has been able to share best practice between Ash Grove Primary and Daven Primary School and is confident that he can make a difference there as well.

“As a Senior Leader who is new to the school, I’m more convinced of the quality of assessments undertaken by teachers using Classroom Monitor. I can also look at this data any time, which is much easier than having to collect it manually.

“In terms of sharing best practice between Ash Grove and Daven, having Classroom Monitor in common means that I could come into Daven and know what I needed to do straight away.”

What Ofsted Says About Ash Grove Primary and Nursery

  • ‘Progress for all pupils is rapid. Excellent systems for checking progress regularly and setting targets not only keep teachers ‘on their toes’ but mean that pupils themselves are very much involved and always know what is expected of them. Expectations across the school are consistently high’.
  • ‘School leaders check teaching, attainment and pupils’ progress rigorously. They have an accurate view of how well the school is doing and are fully capable of maintaining its high performance.’
  • ‘The rigorous assessment has helped all pupils in the school, particularly those funded through pupil premium and on free school meals. Pupils funded through the pupil premium, including FSMs, achieve much better results than their group as a whole does nationally in all subjects.

About Ash Grove Primary and Nursery School

Ash Grove Primary and Nursery School has 180 boys and girls aged from 3 to 11. It is a smaller-than-average-sized school in which the majority of pupils are White British with a high proportion entitled to the pupil premium and free school meals (FSM). The proportion of pupils with a statement of special educational needs or supported through School Action Plus is well above average.

Mark had been Deputy Head teacher at Ash Grove since 2009 and is currently Head Teacher at Daven Primary School. He is studying for an MA in Primary Maths Pedagogy.