Governors have an important role to play as a critical friend to schools, and the relationship with the governing board is one that many school’s really value. Ofsted has often demonstrated that effective schools have effective Leadership and Management, of which a keep part is the governing board. A challenge for many schools is how best to provide governors with the data that they need to be effective in the post-levels world.
For over two years, most education professionals have been grappling with what this world without levels looks like. SLTs have spent lots of time creating new assessment policies and ways of tracking. Teachers have put lots of effort into implementing that so they can effectively impact the attainment and progress of the pupils they teach.
But what about governors? Many governors spent time getting to know what tracking with levels looked like, and the things they needed to look for when supporting and challenging a school. Their interactions with schools are far more limited and sporadic so they’re still likely to be playing catch up and need guiding through what assessment data looks like now.
We know that accountability measures are based on end of key stage results. While end of key stage data is important to understand, by the time it’s published it’s historic. On the other hand, a good understanding of data within key stage identifies issues that can be acted upon. So it is this ‘within key stage’ data that we’re looking at today.
Since the launch of the new curriculum, it’s been made very clear that what happens within a key stage is entirely a decision to be made at school level. Ofsted continues to reiterate that they don’t expect to see tracking data in any particular format, they just want to see that it’s being done and being used effectively. So what should you be sharing with governors and what should they expect? Here are some key questions that governors should have the answers to:
Is pupils’ attainment and progress meeting expectations?
The shared understanding of points progress per year and level expectations at key points has gone. For end of key stage data, reporting is all based around ‘expected attainment’ and ‘expected progress’ and what this looks like for key sub groups. We know that there are complicated calculations going on below the surface but the amount that governors need to understand of that to be effective is fairly limited.
So if the information that they’re getting at the end of key stages isn’t complex, is there any need to provide complicated and overly precise tracking data between these points? Governors will have a good picture of attainment in school if they know the percentages of children in each year group who are below, at or above expected standards. That doesn’t require a complex understanding of scoring, weightings or thresholds so is easy to understand and question.
Classroom Monitor users can export a PDF from the ‘Attainment Spread’ homepage favourite to give them easy access to the numbers that they need. What does being at the expected standard mean? That’s up to you! It should be a judgement based on professional knowledge, and governors don’t necessarily need to know the detail but will need to trust that it’s a robust and professional judgement.
When thinking about progress, the government have moved away from measures into tracking the attainment of children based on their prior attainment. Classroom Monitor users can group pupils based on their prior attainment and report current attainment for these groups to demonstrate adequate progress and highlight issues that need addressing.
How are sub-groups doing?
If you show for example that ‘children with SEND’ are achieving at a lower level than their peers, that doesn’t tell them anything about what needs to be done to change that. Teachers look at individuals and how we can impact on their attainment and progress regardless of their characteristics.
So why do governors want to know this information? Because it’s reported at end of key stage but also because if a general issue is identified, for example boys have lower attainment in reading than girls, there may be implications in terms of school development plan focus and resourcing that follows from that.
However, reporting attainment and progress merely in relation to ‘expectations’ will give enough information without measures. In Classroom Monitor, the ‘Attainment Breakdown’ homepage favourite can be exported as a PDF which summarises attainment for key sub-groups within each year group.
Is our money well spent?
Governors have a responsibility in terms of ensuring effective use of school resources and budget. So if money has been spent on improving attainment and progress then it’s great to be able to show that this is the case. Whether it’s money spent on pupil premium children, an intervention targeting particular children or an investment in a subject area to impact on all children, comparing attainment before and after can show its impact.
Classroom Monitor allows you to easily filter your Pupil Premium children and also to create groups receiving specific interventions. Then there are ways that their data can be compared between dates both in terms of overall progress and in particular objectives via curriculum tracking or an assessment summary.
Is the data robust?
While governors don’t need to understand every intricacy of your assessment system they do need to feel confident that the data is giving an accurate picture of what’s happening in school. Sharing examples of how classroom-based formative assessment is then used to create the shared data, maybe alongside data from tests or other contextual information, should be enough to reassure them.
Classroom Monitor users could export class markbooks to Excel and anonymise them or use anonymised Assessment Summaries to show this visually.
Many schools tell us that governors are asking for, or they want to give them, the same measures that they gave previously. But if your school assessment processes no longer lend themselves to this, then there’s no use trying to squeeze the data into a badly fitting format. Governors need to know that changes in the curriculum mean that the data shared needs to be different to what it was before and that it’s actually an opportunity to simplify things, make their job easier and help them to be more effective.