Recovering a school from special measures is a huge challenge. But the team at Whitelands Park Primary in Berkshire made it happen. Deputy Head Stefan Morsley talks about the changes that were made and how staff pulled together to raise standards.
What issues were the school facing?
“Whitelands Park Primary School was put into Special Measures after an Ofsted inspection in 2013. Some of the issues revolved around inconsistency in moderation, and data not being used effectively to prove progress and inform teaching.
“Since then, the school has become part of the Kennet School Academy Trust, and a new leadership team has introduced a variety of changes. One of these far-reaching changes has been the school’s use of Classroom Monitor and the impact it has had on the teaching, learning and progress of pupils.
“Classroom Monitor has become well embedded within Whitelands Park Primary School because teachers and leaders can see the clear value it adds to planning, teaching, learning and assessment.”
Classroom Monitor is a vital planning aid for teachers
“Classroom Monitor has helped our staff return to the core of good teaching: what the children know, don’t know and what we’re going to do about it.
“It’s become integrated into our everyday classroom practice, rather than just a place for teachers to store data. This has allowed their data to become an integral part of the assessment and learning cycle, and this is the key to using it successfully.
“All teachers update the class mark-books either on tablets during a session, following a session when marking written work or after a session with a year group colleague in a form of ‘mini-moderation’. This, combined with regular summative assessment, helps us pinpoint the areas of weakness for each child across a cohort.
“Classroom Monitor has become a vital planning aid for us a result. PPA sessions where teachers are planning together are always enhanced by having the Classroom Monitor markbook open. This has ensured that learning is catered as specifically for the children as possible; no one is ‘learning’ things they already know and lessons are more accurately pitched and targeted for individual children.”
Management uses data to eliminate under-achievement
“For school leaders that are responsible for over-seeing assessment data and outcomes across the whole school, Classroom Monitor has various functions that ensure ease of use. I quickly check every week to ensure that teachers have continued to update their class mark-books regularly and, more importantly, it’s quick and easy to gauge progress within teacher assessment.
“Teacher assessment has long been an area that’s been accused of being ‘fluffy’ – Classroom Monitor has helped ‘remove the fluff’ from progress within formative assessment! The percentage scores that are generated when teachers make the hexagons green, yellow or red in the markbook are invaluable. It enables me to measure and record progress for each child against both formative and summative data. At Whitelands Park this is recorded every month and used as an integral part of our Pupil Progress Meetings to eliminate under-attainment and under-achievement.”
Proving progress to Ofsted
“Classroom Monitor proved to be very important during our recent Ofsted inspection. At the end of the previous academic year, the end of Key Stage 2 test results didn’t portray the school in the light we felt it should – largely due to prior under-achievement when the school wasn’t in a strong place.
“We were determined to show that children at our school were making good progress, but by the time of the visit (first week in December 2016) we didn’t have enough summative data to prove strongly that children in all groups were making progress in that academic year.
“Instead we triangulated the summative data with the Classroom Monitor teacher assessment percentages and the work in the exercise books. This was particularly vital when demonstrating progress for smaller groups, such as Pupil Premium or SEN.
“Following a thorough exploration of this process, and the detail within it, the inspectors agreed with our judgement that outcomes for the children at Whitelands Park were ‘good’ This would have been very difficult to justify without the use of Classroom Monitor.”
What Ofsted says
Ofsted inspectors recognised that at Whitelands Park Primary School.
- ‘Leaders have further developed the way they assess learning now national curriculum levels are no longer used. As a result, they have as full a picture as possible of the depth and range of each pupil’s learning. Leaders use this information effectively to identify pupils who need additional support. This support is very well matched to needs because it is based on diagnostic analysis of the gaps pupils have in their learning.’
- ‘The school has strong evidence that leaders’ determined efforts will mean that Key Stage 2 outcomes in 2017 will be higher than in 2016 and that Key Stage 1 results will continue on their upward trajectory.’
About Whitelands Park Primary
Whitelands Park Primary is part of the Kennet School Academies Trust. It converted to academy status in January 2014. The pupil roll is 312. The proportion of pupils that identify as needing additional support because they have SEN and/or disabilities is well above average. The proportion of pupils eligible for additional funding is slightly below national averages.