SEN school Stony Dean is celebrating the results of its latest Ofsted report, having leapt from ‘requires improvement’ to outstanding in all areas. Assistant Head Neil Strain shares their success story in this case study, and tells us how Classroom Monitor helped the team to raise standards.

The missing link: a unified approach to assessment and analysis

Stony Dean adopted Classroom Monitor in early 2013 as a way to synchronise their formative assessment with progress tracking and data management:

“We were looking for a system that would allow us to create a bridge between assessment criteria, effective data storage and data analysis”, explains Neil. “Classroom Monitor stood out because it’s designed to bridge those gaps, so it’s made each stage of the ‘assessment story’ effortless and transparent for us.”

This has supported Neil and his team to focus on the issues that really matter: “It has enabled us to start thinking more about the types of question we want answering, not thinking how can we get hold of specific answers. This ethos has enabled us to shift our efforts on to implement effective whole school and group strategies that improve the quality of teaching across the school.”

A clear map of progress for staff and pupils

Classroom Monitor’s online markbooks have given staff a quick and easy way to record pupil progress and manage the curriculum: “Staff have found the assessment criteria descriptors detailed but not confining. The skills involved in inputting the data is minimal and not time consuming which has been a hit with the staff. Being able to get printouts to support moving students forward has been invaluable and is consistently seen across school in all classes.”

The straight-forward layout of the markbook and its ‘traffic light’ system also gives students a clear map of their goals and achievements: “Students have greater awareness of how they are progressing, as staff are sharing their learning journeys better in terms of next step developments. Students like the interactive nature and the colours of moving through the levels and get a sense of enjoyment and pride as and when they move through the assessment criteria.”

What Ofsted says (November 2014)

  • ‘Students’ achievements are regularly assessed by leaders through the school’s tracking system so that any student falling behind can quickly be helped to catch up. Consequently almost all students make the progress expected of them in English and mathematics and a very high proportion exceed the expected progress.’
  • ‘Improvements to the range of subjects offered and the very effective assessment and tracking systems ensure that work is particularly well matched to students’ needs and abilities. As a result all groups of students achieve equally well.’

Ongoing support from the Classroom Monitor team

Over the past two years, Neil and his team have benefited from the wide-ranging support that Classroom Monitor provides as part of its service:

“Classroom Monitor’s promise of support and guidance has allowed us to successfully implement the system and to never be afraid to ask the ‘silly’ question. Their wiliness to take feedback and develop their tools within their product has meant that it’s constantly moving forward and reflecting changes that take place in the education arena.

“Classroom Monitor has always been on the end of the phone or email. They have always been professional and personable in their interactions. Additional training has been provided and supported throughout our school journey and it’s been faultless!”

About Stony Dean

Stony Dean is a mixed community special school for pupils aged 11 to 19. There are 169 pupils on roll. The school caters for students with moderate learning difficulties and/or spectrum disorders. A small number of students have severe learning difficulties, sometimes together with physical difficulties. Neil Strain has been Assistant Head at Stony Dean for two years, following four years of teaching in an SEN environment.