Saturday, 30 April 2011

Teacher Interview Questions

Some Example Interview Questions for Teachers

1. Why do you wish to teach at this School?

2. What do you think you have to offer?

3. What is the place of your specialist subject in the curriculum for xx year olds?

4. What do you think is the role of staff appraisal in terms of professional development?

5. How would you set about teaching reading in your classroom? How would you help poor readers?

6. How would you organise your class in terms of provision for equal opportunities?

7. What do you think is the value of organising the curriculum around topics?

8. How would you manage assessment in your classroom?

9. How would you see parents as assisting you in the classroom?

10. How do you see your career developing in the future?

11. How would you use the computer in your classroom?

12. If your classroom is organised in groups, how do you ensure that everyone is occupied?

13. What is your understanding of ‘the basics’?

14. What does discipline mean to you?

15. Who determines what you do in the classroom?

16. As a NQT what are you looking for in your first school? What do you think will be expected of you?

17. Your letter of application mentioned expertise in (Music / Games…) what did you do in this area on your last TP?

18. What would you look for when on playground duty?

19. What do you think of introducing French into the Primary School?

20. How frank can you be in your reporting of classroom performance to parents?

21. What In-service courses would you like to attend in your first year?

22. The National Curriculum is the prescribed minimum, what would you try to fit in your curriculum beyond this?

23. Is there too much emphasis on play and not enough on the 3 R’s in the early years?

24. How would you involve parents in the life of the School?

25. It is important that children learn correct grammar, don’t you agree?

26. What is your understanding of the ‘Hidden Curriculum’? Is tradition important in the life of
a school?

27. What is the wider educational value of music?

28. Should Maths be fun?

29. Are you competent across the whole of the primary curriculum? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

30. Where do you stand in the debate over Topic and Subject based lessons?

31. Given a free-hand how would you organise your class?

32. How would you feel with a precociously gifted child?

33. What do you think of team teaching?

34. How do you create a learning environment?

35. Why do we make records on children?

36. What do you think is important in preparing children for adulthood?

37. Are you computer literate? How will you use Information Technology in the classroom?


1. What is the difference between bias and discrimination? Should the teacher show either in his
or her teaching?

2. What would you do if you suspected that a child in your class was suffering physical/sexual or emotional abuse?

3. How would you arrange your classroom or manage your teaching to meet the needs of four year olds?

4. What information do you think it is necessary to pass on to the next teacher of your class?

5. How will you manage assessment in your classroom?

6. What are your views about discipline?

7. To what extent is the class teacher responsible for children with Special Educational Needs?

8. What would you do if, on a Saturday morning, you saw a group of children from your school in the local shopping centre?

9. What action should you take if, for argument’s sake, you accidentally caused injury to a child?

10. How do you see the role of the Governors?


1. What is the place of your specialist subject in the curriculum for six year olds?

2. How would you set about teaching reading in your classroom? How would you help poor readers?

3. Your letter of application mentioned expertise in (Music/Games …). What did you do in this area on your last school experience?

4. What would you look for when on playground duty?

5. What do you think of introducing French into the Primary School?

6. The National Curriculum is the prescribed minimum. What would you try to fit into your curriculum beyond this?

7. How would you go about teaching numeracy at the foundation stage or Year 6?

8. How can Maths be fun?

9. What are your strengths and weaknesses across the whole of the primary curriculum?

10. How would you plan to develop the role of ICT in your classroom?

11. What is the value of play in the learning of young children?


1. How would you organise your class in terms of provision for equal opportunities?

2. What would you do if you suspected that a child in your class was suffering physical/sexual or emotional abuse?

3. What are your views about discipline?

4. What action should you take if, for argument’s sake, you accidentally caused injury to a child?


1. How would you see parents as assisting you in the classroom?

2. If your classroom is organised in groups, how do you ensure that everyone is productively occupied?

3. How would you involve parents in the life of the school?

4. What are the important provisions of the foundation stage?

5. How would you go about creating a stimulating learning environment within your classroom?


1. If you were to walk into a Primary School what would you look for which might tell you whether or not it was an effective school?

2. Describe your perfect classroom and how it would be organised.

3. How do you think children learn best?

4. Should foreign languages be taught in the primary school? Do you speak any?

5. What are your views on topic teaching versus subject teaching and formal teaching versus enquiry and problem solving based teaching.

6. Questions related to:
• running of schools
• policies
• discipline points
• organisation

7. Tell me about one of the children you got to know well in school?

8. How would you go about the task of getting a child to do as you say?

9. What are your particular strengths/weaknesses?

10. What are your views on discipline?

11. The school does a lot of extra-curricular activities, clubs etc. Are you happy to be involved in these and if so what could you offer?

12. I notice from your application that you are interested in ……………………. How involved are you?

13. Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

14. The government publishes ‘league tables’. What are your views on this and what do you think the consequences may be?

15. What reading/maths schemes have you used in school?

16. What are your views about streaming/setting etc?

17. Tell us a little about the course you have followed.

18. How has your knowledge of your main subject developed during your course?

19. Tell us something about the class on your last teaching practice in respect of age-range and ability.

20. A child in your class comes to you covered in bruises saying they have been hit by their parents. What course of action do you take?

21. How do you see the role of classroom assistants in school?

22. Describe your perfect classroom and how it would be organised.

23. Having looked around the there any area you went back to and if so, why?

24. Are there any areas of the curriculum which you are not happy about teaching?

Questions courtesy of an article posted on

Friday, 29 April 2011

Checklist of School Governors’ legal duties towards children with SEN

Checklist of Governors’ legal duties towards children with SEN

Duty Practical evidence

1. Do its best to ensure that necessary provision is made for any pupil who has SEN – use its best endeavours

• Be aware of number of children being supported at SA, SA+, under a statement of SEN within the school population

• Request to see a sample of IEP to see if they include SMART objective

• Attend a sample number of Annual Review of Statement meetings

• Ask to see teaching lesson plans to ensure they show relevant differentiation of work for children with SEN

• Be informed specifically where a child has been excluded – fixed term, permanently who has SEN

2. Ensure that the school appoint a SENCO who has the appropriate teaching background/ experience or training to comply with Statutory obligations

• Know who the school SENCO is

• Ensure that their background complies

3. Make sure that, where the head teacher or the appropriate governor (the responsible person) has been informed by the local authority that a pupil has SEN, those needs are made known to all who are likely to teach him or her

• Ensure systems are in place for the circulation of IEPs to staff in contact with a child with SEN

• SENCO and /or specialist teacher advice is available to teaching staff to support differentiation

• Ask to see teaching lesson plans to ensure they show relevant differentiation of work for children with SEN

4. Ensure that teachers in the school are aware of the importance of identifying and providing for pupils with SEN

• Ensure staff are trained in the different stages of SEN support & triggers

• That staff regularly review IEPs specifically to consider progress against SMART objectives and review support to ensure adequate progress is being made

5. Consult with the local authority and other bodies over special needs provision where this is desirable

• Make clear, formal request to LA when additional expertise and support are required which are outside a school‘s expertise and resources i.e. behavioural support

• Head teacher to consider requesting Statutory Assessment of a child‘s need to ensure additional professional support and resources are made available

• Be clear that the legal duty to met a child‘s SEN ultimately lies with the LA

6. Ensure that a pupil with special educational needs joins in school activities with pupils who do not have such needs so far as is reasonably practical and compatible with the pupil receiving the necessary special education, the efficient education of other children in the school and the efficient use of resources

• Ensure that you are made aware where a child with a disability is not being included within a school activity i.e. swimming, school trip, PE, playground activity, assembly

• Explore what alternative means of achieving the same educational goal could be used

7. Ensure that when a child begins receiving provision for special educational needs his or her parents are informed. This duty may be delegated to the head teacher

• Ensure that parents regularly receive IEP‘s and are invited to IEP review meetings i.e. at least termly

• Ask to review complaints concerning children with SEN

8. Publish and review a policy on special education and a behavioural policy which must be available free of charge to parents and prospective parents.

• Draft an SEN policy & behavioural policy

• Make arrangements to regularly review (3 yearly)

• Publish it on school website and with school prospectus

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Thursday, 28 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (Non Statutory Guidance)

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

Non Statutory Guidance

School discipline and pupil-behaviour policies: guidance for schools

Includes a useful checklist for governors planning behaviour policies which take into account pupils with SEN.

• Schools must make reasonable adjustments in the application of their behaviour policy to disabled pupils.

• Schools must make special educational provision for pupils whose behaviour-related learning difficulties call for it to be made.

• Schools should be alert to the potentially disproportionate impact of the school's disciplinary framework on vulnerable pupils.

• Schools should identify at-risk pupils in advance.

• Schools should plan proactively how the school's disciplinary framework should be applied for each of these pupils.

• Schools should ensure that all those in contact with the pupil know what has been agreed.

• Schools should make sure that every vulnerable pupil has a key person in school who knows them well, has good links with the home, and can act as a reference point for staff when they are unsure about how to apply the disciplinary framework.

Schools should ensure that all staff are aware of appropriate referral procedures.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (SEN and exclusion)

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

SEN and exclusion

Official figures show that exclusion is largely a problem affecting children with SEN who are nine times more likely to be permanently excluded than other children (government stats for the academic year 2008/09). Governing Bodies can play an important role in reducing this by ensuring that their schoolsanticipate the needs of children with SEN and disabilities, adequately resource their support, ensure that staff receive training and monitor the levels of exclusion and other sanctions which are used in relation to this group. Governing Bodies can consider the support and strategies available to help vulnerable groups of pupils when they review the school‘s SEN and behaviour policies.

The discipline committee

Governing bodies generally choose to set up a committee to hear exclusion cases, sometimes establishing a pool of governors on whom they may call. At least three members must sit. The GB must be informed immediately of all exclusions which total more than five school days or ten lunchtimes in any one term or which deny a pupil the opportunity to take a public exam. Shorter exclusions must be reported to the governing body once a term.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (SEN & Behaviour Policy)

Governors’ Information duties – an SEN Policy

As well as ensuring individual parents are told when their child receives special educational help, governing bodies must publish an SEN policy which must contain the following:

1) Basic information about the school‘s special educational provision:

• the objectives of the policy

• name of the SENCO

• arrangements for co-ordinating educational provision for pupils with SEN

• admission arrangements

• any SEN specialism

• any facilities for pupils with SEN including those which help access.

2) Information about the school‘s policies for identifying, assessing and making provision for pupils with SEN:

• the allocation of resources to and amongst pupils with SEN

• identification, assessment and review procedures

• arrangements for providing access to the curriculum for pupils with SEN

• how children with SEN are integrated into the school

• criteria for evaluating the success of the SEN policy

• arrangements for considering parents‘ complaints about SEN provision within the school.

3) Information about the school‘s staffing policies and partnership with bodies beyond the school:

• arrangements for SEN training for staff

• use made of teachers and facilities from outside the school including support services

• arrangements for partnership with parents

• links with other mainstream and special schools, including arrangements when pupils change or leave school

• links with health and social services, education welfare services and any voluntary organisations.

Governing bodies must also publish the following information in their school prospectus each year:

• arrangements for admission of disabled pupils

• steps taken to prevent disabled pupils from being treated less favourably than other pupils

• facilities provided to assist access to the school by disabled pupils

• details of the accessibility plan prepared by the governing body

• details of any changes to the SEN policy and a report on its implementation.

Governors’ duties for school discipline

The behaviour policy

The governing body should set the framework of a school‘s behaviour policy through a written statement of general principles which takes account of the needs of all pupils, including any with SEN. The statement should cover:

• the ethos of the school

• the school‘s moral code

• positive and constructive rules of conduct; and

• the rewards and punishments to be fairly and consistently applied.

The Governing Body should consult the head teacher and parents of pupils before making or revising the statement, and take account of their views. The GB should advise the head teacher of its views on specific measures for promoting good behaviour. This might include such issues as bullying.

The head teacher must follow the Governing Body‘s statement of principles and have regard to any guidance they give. The head has day-to-day responsibility for discipline and responsibility for establishing and maintaining a behaviour policy that promotes self-discipline and respect for others, prevents all forms of bullying and secures completion of tasks. It can include reasonable measures to regulate the behaviour of pupils when they are off the school site or not under the control of a member of the school staff. The behaviour policy must be reviewed regularly by the GB and made known to staff, pupils and parents. It should be brought to their attention at least once a year.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Monday, 25 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (Annual Review)

Annual Review

Once a local authority (LA) has drawn up a statement the LA must review it within 12 months of the date the final statement was issued and thereafter within 12 months of the previous review (EA 1996 s.328 (5) (b)). The process which the LA and school are required to follow is set out in great detail in the Education (Special Educational Needs) (England)Regulations 2001 (the SEN Regs) in Regulations 20, 21 and 22. Regulation 20 covers most annual reviews, Regulation 21 covers the review for a pupil in Year 9, and Regulation 22 covers reviews where the child does not attend school.

A simpler guide to the Annual Review process is detailed in chapter 9 of the SEN Code of Practice.

Process and timetable

Within two weeks of the beginning of each term, the local authority must write to head teachers with the names of all pupils whose statements will require reviewing that term (SEN Reg 2001 18). The LA, or the head teacher on its behalf, must also notify Social Services and the Health Service who must respond (unless certain exceptions apply) with advice if requested by the head. (EA 1996 s.322(1) & (2) and COP para 9:15). The head teacher (or their delegate) must request written advice from:

• the child‘s parents

• anyone specified by the LA

• anyone the head teacher considers appropriate. (SEN Reg 2001 20(4))

The advice must cover

• the child‘s progress

• the application of the National Curriculum and/or substitutions for the National Curriculum

• whether the Statement is still appropriate, or needs to be amended or dropped

• any Transition Plan (see below) (SEN Reg 2001 20(5))

Arranging a review meeting

The head teacher must invite:

• the child‘s parents

• appropriate members of staff

• someone from the LA who looks after the statement

• anyone else the head or LA thinks appropriate. (SEN Reg. 2001 20(6)

Before the meeting

At least two weeks before the meeting, the head teacher must circulate copies of any written advice, inviting comments, to anyone who has not said that they will not be attending (SEN Reg 2001 20(7)). Very often only teachers and parents will attend and the head will delegate his or her responsibility to the SENCO.

At the meeting

As well as considering the written advice and any new targets for the coming year, the annual review must consider any significant changes to the child‘s circumstances. The meeting may recommend changes to the statement if:

• there is significant new evidence not already covered by the statement

• significant needs recorded on the statement are no longer present

• different help is required to meet the child‘s changing needs and new targets

• the child should change school.

After the meeting

No later than ten school days after the meeting, or at the end of that school term (whichever is earlier), the head teacher must send a report to the local authority and copies to parents and others involved in the review or to anyone else whom the LA or head teacher consider it appropriate that a copy be sent (SEN Reg. 2001 18(4) & 20(12). The report summaries the meeting‘s conclusions and includes recommendations.

Local authority reviews the Statement

The local authority must send a copy of any decision to amend or cease to maintain a Statement to the head teacher and child‘s parents within a week of making the decision. There is no time limit on the LA‘s consideration of the head teacher‘s report but the decision needs to be made within one year of the issuing of the Statement or the previous decision being made.
If an LA decides not to amend a Statement following an Annual Review parents have a right to appeal the decision to the Special Educational Needs and Disability tribunal (SEND).

Other types of review

Transition review for young person in year 9

The process for reviewing the Statements of year 9 pupils is very similar to that of younger pupils (with for instance the same timetable and same issues to be considered) but in addition there must be:

• a focus on post 16 options

• advice sought from the Connexions adviser (or Career Wales adviser),and an invitation to the transition review meeting, which a representative from Connexions must attend.

• a transition plan drawn up by the head teacher in consultation with Connexions covering post-16 options as well as Key Stage 4 support.

Annual reviews after year 9

In addition to the considerations made at annual reviews of younger pupils, these focus on the transition plan and decide whether any additions or amendments should be made.

Interim reviews

Local authorities may use their discretion to bring forward an annual review and a school or parent may ask for (but not require) an early review. The SEN COP and other government guidance suggests this might be appropriate in the following circumstances:

• a sudden deterioration of a child‘s health or development (although reassessment may be more appropriate)

• where a child is under five – the Code suggests more frequent informal reviews (COP Para 4:46)

• a change to their circumstances such as a new diagnosis or a crisis (although again reassessment may be more appropriate) (SEN Toolkit,Section 9, Para. 3)

• exclusion from school or where a child is at risk of permanent exclusion (COP Para 9:44)

• where there is a disagreement at a review meeting over a particular course of action, a review over a shorter period might resolve the dispute. (SEN Toolkit, Section 9, Para. 3)

• where there is doubt about the child‘s transfer to secondary education which cannot be resolved in Year 5, an interim review in the autumn term of year 6 is often required to ensure the statement is amended by the legal date (the Code suggests this is rare but experience suggests otherwise) (COP Para 5:71)

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Sunday, 24 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN (Legal Duty & Law)

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

Governors‘ legal duties to children with special educational needs apply to the governing bodies of all maintained schools. It is the governing body as whole,not individual governors, which has legal duties.

Legal duty

The Education Act 1996 s. 317 requires Governing bodies of schools to use their best endeavours to:

• Ensure that for any pupil who has SEN the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for is made

• Ensure that where a pupil has special educational needs, those needs are made known to all who are likely to teach him

• Ensure that the teachers in the school are aware of the importance of identifying, and providing for, those registered pupils who have special educational needs

• Designate a member of the staff at the school (to be known as the ―special educational needs co-ordinator‖) as having responsibility for co-ordinating the provision for pupils with special educational needs and make sure they are suitably qualified.

The Law

Governing body SEN duties are set out in the following legislation:

Part IV of the Education Act 1996 as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001 (SENDA).

Key regulations are the Education (SEN) (England) (Consolidation)

Regulations 2001 and the Education (SEN) (Information (England)

Regulations 1999 amended in 2005.

SEN Code of Practice – Statutory guidance which Governing bodies must have regard to when fulfilling legal duties towards children with SEN should be followed unless there are ―exceptional reasons not to do so.

Governor duties regarding the appointment of SENCOs are contained in:

The Education (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinators) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2009

Duties towards children with SEN

• Consult the local education authority and the governing bodies of other schools to ensure co-ordination of Special Educational Provision

• Inform the child's parent that special educational provision is being made for him there because it is considered that he has special educational needs.

• Shall secure, so far as is reasonably practicable and is compatible with—

(a) the child receiving the special educational provision which his learning difficulty calls for,

(b) the provision of efficient education for the children with whom he will be educated, and

(c) the efficient use of resources,ensure that the child engages in the activities of the school together with children who do not have special educational needs.

The responsible person: either the head teacher or a designated governor whom the local authority will inform when a statement is made for a child. The responsible person must then ensure that all the child‘s teachers know about their SEN.

A duty to have regard to the Special Educational Needs Code of Practice

Under Education Act 1996 s.313 the Secretary of State has a duty to issue a Code of Practice containing guidance on the law on special educational needs and provision, and all relevant bodies have a duty to have regard to‘ the guidance in the Code. To have regard to‘ the Code means that the guidance:

1. Must always be considered; and

2. Should always be followed - unless there is a very good reason not to (for example, because a school has found a better way of achieving the Code‘s aims for children with special educational needs).

Much of the Code paraphrases the law, and when possible it is better if the law is relied upon rather than the Code.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Saturday, 23 April 2011

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN What is SEN?

School Governors’ duties towards children with SEN

What is SEN?

Special educational needs are defined by the Education Act 1996 in the following way:

A child has special educational needs for the purposes of this Act if he has a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for him.

A child has a learning difficulty if he has:

a) a significantly greater difficulty in learning than the majority of children of his age (for example emotional, behavioural, communication or cognitive difficulties)

b) a disability which either prevents or hinders him from making use of educational facilities of a kind generally provided for children of his age in schools within the area of the local education authority, or

c) he is under the age of five and is, or would be if special educational provision were not made for him, likely to fall within paragraph a) or b) when of or over that age.

Special Educational Provision are educational provision which is additional to, or otherwise different from, the educational provision made generally for children of his age in schools
maintained by the Local Authority”

Support for children with SEN within in school

School based stages

Support for the special educational needs (SEN) of children in school who do not have a statement is provided at two levels:

School Action (SA) and School Action Plus (SA+).

Increasingly extra help for children with high levels of SEN is given under the school stages as LAs make no secret of the fact that they are aiming to restrict statements to a smaller proportion of children with SEN.

Children making adequate progress (definition in the SEN Code of Practice:

paragraphs 5:42 for primary and 6:49 for secondary) may still need additional support but do not fall into SEN category.

School Action (SA)

Triggers for receiving help at SA include the concern of teachers or others (including parents) backed by evidence that:

• Child is making little or no progress despite targeted teaching strategies

• Child has difficulty developing literacy and/or numeracy skills resulting in poor attainment

• Child has persistent emotional and/or behaviour difficulties, not improved by normal behaviour management

• Child has sensory or physical problems and is making little or no progress despite specialist equipment

• Child with communication/interaction difficulties, making little or no progress despite differentiated curriculum.

School Action Plus (SA+)

Despite extra help at SA, one or more of the following applies:

• Child is still failing to make much progress in specific areas over a long period

• Child is still working at National Curriculum levels well below his or her age group

• Child continues to have difficulty developing literacy and numeracy skills

• Child‘s behaviour substantially and regularly interferes with his or her learning and that of the class despite an individualised behaviour management programme

• Child with sensory or physical difficulties needs more help

• Child has ongoing communication/interaction difficulties which are impeding social relationships and learning.

• Provision at SA+ is characterised by the involvement of external support, e.g.specialist teaching or LA educational psychologist who may provide general advice, specialist assessments or advice on different strategies or materials.

There is no requirement that a child must progress through SA and SA+ to statutory assessment, although that may happen. A child may need help immediately at SA+ and may proceed immediately to statutory assessment.

Similarly, a child at any level of help may require more or less as they go on.

Individual Education Plan (IEP)

This is a working document which records the help for any child with SEN,including those with statements, and which should be reviewed at least twice a year (three times for under-fives) in consultation with parents. Unlike a statement, an IEP is not a legal requirement although the Code expects a school to use them or have an alternative method of fulfilling the same duties. If an LEA uses an alternative approach i.e. Provision Mapping, it must contain the information required under the SEN Code of Practice in order to be accepted as being an effective way of recording support given to a child and progress made against measurable objectives.

Reviews of the IEP should be informal and parents‘ views actively sought.

An IEP should include:

• 3 or 4 short-term targets

• teaching strategies

• extra help

• date of review

• success and/or exit criteria

• outcomes of action taken IEP targets should be SMART:

Specific, Measurable , Achievable , Relevant, Time-bound

As a School Governor asking to see and review a sample of the IEPs for children with SEN within your school is a good way to fulfil your duty to ensure needs are being met.

A Statement of SEN

A Statement of a child‘s Special Educational Needs is a legal document setting out:

Part 1 The child‘s & parents personal details as well as a list of the reports that were used as evidence in drafting the statement

Part 2 All the child‘s educational needs identified in the parents‘ and professionals‘ report as being different from those of their ordinary developing peers.

Part 3 Section 1 Details the objectives for the child

Section 2 The special educational provision which has been identified as being needed to meet each of the child‘s special educational needs. This must be specified and quantified. This should be dictated by the child‘s needs not the LA‘s or school‘s available resources. This is the special educational provision which a child must receive by law.

Section 3 The arrangements for monitoring the statement

Part 4 Names the type of provision that a child should be educated at i.e. Maintain Special primary school Names the actual school where a child will receive their education.

Part 5 Non education needs (not legally enforceable against the LA)

Part 6 Non education provision (not legally enforceable against the LA) The legal entitlement only has worth, however, if the Statement is written in accordance with the law and provides detailed information about the child‘s difficulties and the help to address those difficulties.
There is no duty on the LA to provide help listed in Part 6 so it is important to check whether difficulties described in Part 5 should appear in Part 2 and whether the help in Part 6 should appear in Part 3.

Sometimes LAs list provision such as speech therapy, occupational therapy or physiotherapy in Part 6 in order that they are not held responsible for providing it. The law is clear that such therapies are special educational needs so should be clearly set out in Part 3 and properly specified and quantified.

The full report for School governors understand their legal duties to children with SEN from IPSEA can be downloaded from here

IPSEA is a registered charity offering free and independent advice to parents of children with special educational needs in England and Wales on:

• local authorities’ legal duties to assess and provide for children with special educational needs;
• exclusions of children with special needs/disabilities;
• actions or inaction
by local authorities and/or schools which discriminate against children with disabilities

Website Twitter @IPSEAcharity

Friday, 22 April 2011

An Audit Commission overview of school workforce spending for Chairs of Governors

A focus on value for money is timely. The increases in school funding that schools have enjoyed over the last decade are now slowing. The October 2010 Spending Review allocated budget increases of 0.1 per cent annually by 2014/15.There will be additional resources for schools provided through the new pupil premium.

School leaders and governing bodies need to understand the costs and benefits of different models of staff deployment in order to manage their staffing resources well. Our briefings will help them:

■ discuss resource allocation, staff deployment and reviews of staffing structures;

■ understand the costs of different workforce strategies;

■ assess how their workforce costs compare with national distributions and similar schools; and

■ identify what they can change to improve efficiency.

In the Audit Commission briefing on Classroom deployment they consider:

■ the pattern of teacher numbers and their utilisation;

■ the potential for schools to make efficiencies by varying class sizes; and

■ the growth in numbers of teaching assistants in schools.

In the Audit Commission briefing on Curriculum breadth they consider:

■ the priorities given to subjects taught in the national curriculum;

■ the variation in the GCSE curriculum offer by secondary schools; and

■ the use of bought-in curriculum services.

In the audit Comission briefing on Managing staff absence and cover they consider:

■ teacher absence, including rates of sickness absence across council areas;

■ options for covering absence, focusing on the scope for teachers and qualified support staff
to provide cover; and

■ the use of directly employed and agency-sourced supply teachers.

In the Audit Commission briefing on The wider schools workforce they consider:

■ the growth in the non-teaching workforce;

■ the numbers and cost of educational support staff;

■ changes in the use and costs of schools’ administrative and clerical staff; and

■ the pattern of spending on other staff groups, including bought-in consultancy services

The full Audit Commission overview of school workforce spending can be found here

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Audit Commission Better Value for Money: The wider schools workforce

The main findings on the wider schools' workforce are as follows.

■ In 2002/03 teachers accounted for 76 per cent of staff costs in schools;by 2009/10 this had fallen to 68 per cent. There is notable variation in workforce profiles and teachers typically make up anything between 27 and 75 per cent of the workforce in individual schools.

■ Expenditure on educational support staff has risen as a result of investment in teaching assistants. But there has also been a growth and diversification of other educational support staff roles. We did not find a strong statistical link between the proportion of pupils with special educational needs in schools and the proportion of educational support staff they employ.

■ Administrative and clerical staff account for 7 per cent of total spending on staff, some £1.7 billion. Variation in numbers of these staff between primary schools suggests that they have kept additional numbers of these staff to a minimum. In secondary schools, variation may reflect
different strategies for employing these staff.

■ Expenditure on additional staff expenses accounts for some 6 per cent of schools’ costs. Spend on bought-in non-curriculum-related costs has increased from £316 million in 2002/03 to £492 million in 2009/10.

Questions for school leaders and governing bodies

■ How has the balance between teachers and the wider workforce changed since the introduction of the National Agreement on workload? Does this balance still reflect the current objectives of the school?

■ To what extent have you explored the scope for sharing support staff with other schools?

■ How do you measure the impact of the deployment and use of support staff on educational outcomes?

■ Have you evaluated the impact of educational support staff roles to ensure you still require the hours; grade and responsibility level?

■ Have you explored the scope for sharing educational support staff with other schools?

■ How do you measure how the deployment and use of support staff contributes to educational outcomes?

■ What is the current profile of administrative and clerical staff in the school? How do current roles link to educational outcomes?

■ How can you be sure that school business managers and other finance managers provide value for money? What role do these staff play in senior leadership decisions?

■ What is the balance of spend between administrative and clerical staff and additional spending on teachers’ teaching and learning responsibility points?

■ How well has your school examined the potential for savings from sharing premises staff across local schools?

■ When did the school last review its options for providing catering? How can you achieve the best balance between the quality and cost of catering?

■ How does the provision of community-focused extended school services change staff costs? Has the school calculated whether funding for and income from these services covers staff costs?

■ What are the costs and benefits of using bought-in professional services? How well does funding for this support cover costs?

The full Audit Commission Better Value for Money: The wider schools workforce can be found below

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Audit Commission Better Value for Money: Managing staff absence and cover

The main findings on staff absence and cover are as follows.

■ Nationally, rates of teacher sickness absence have reduced in recent years, but there is still notable variation between council areas and in some areas rates have been persistently high. Schools have scope to reduce teacher sickness absence and release some £14 million of productive teacher time annually. As the primary employer of teachers, councils can assist them in doing so.

■ Numbers of Higher Level Teaching Assistants (HLTAs) have risen by 38 per cent since 2008, to over 15,000. However, fewer than half of all schools employ any HLTAs. Schools that have invested in support staff have not reduced spend on supply staff, and there is some evidence
that the use of qualified support staff for cover may be hindered by cultures in schools.

■ Nationally, there has been little change in school spending on supply teachers since 2003. Schools continue to make extensive use of supply teachers, who account for 5 per cent of their spend on teachers, £875 million in total. We found considerable variation in supply teacher
spending and nearly one school in five spends over 10 per cent of their teaching budgets on supply teachers. Our analysis suggests that schools could make considerable savings by reviewing these costs. Schools now spend more on agency-sourced and less on directly-contracted supply teachers.

Questions for school leaders and governing bodies

■ How do you know that the school’s strategy for managing staff absence is clear, fit for purpose, and widely understood?

■ What does your review of current and historical patterns of absence and your benchmarking against others tell you?

■ Who has named responsibility for absence management? How does the senior leadership team manage the issue?

■ Have you considered working collaboratively with other local schools to cover sickness absences?

■ How can you make sure you get the best support from your local council to apply best practice in absence management?

■ What scope does the school have to make use of existing teachers to cover? What are the financial and educational implications of employing a floating teacher to cover

■ What use is the school making of qualified support staff to cover short-term absence? Do you support training for these designated roles?

■ What options have you explored (for example revised timetabling or collaboration with other schools) for ensuring you have in-house cover?

■ How do you monitor and report on the use and costs of supply teachers? How have these changed over time?

■ How have you benchmarked spend on supply teachers locally and with similar schools? How do you justify your spend - by need or supply teacher quality?

■ How have you assessed the relative costs of direct contracts with supply teachers and using agency staff?

■ Have you conducted a financial analysis of the viability of supply teacher insurance?

The full Audit Commission report on Managing staff absence and cover can be found below:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Audit Commission Better Value for Money: Curriculum Breath Questions

The main findings on curriculum breadth are as follows.

■ Up to Key Stage 4, schools have little choice in the timing they give to particular subjects, if they follow the guidance by the Qualifications and Curriculum Development Agency (QCDA). Schools use the choice they do have to support English and mathematics. Overall, the time spent on particular subjects in primary and secondary school has not changed between 2006 and 2010.

■ On average schools enter their pupils in 24.5 subjects at GCSE, while others offer as many as 42 subjects. The breadth of the curriculum at GCSE is largely explained by school size. We have not found evidence that offering a broader curriculum increases cost per pupil, suggesting that narrowing the curriculum will not necessarily increase value for money.

■ Spending on bought-in curriculum services has more than doubled since 2003. Schools could achieve greater value for money in this area without narrowing their GCSE offer to pupils. However, because the total spending in this area is relatively small, the scope for savings is
likely to be limited.

Questions for school leaders and governing bodies

■ How do you use the ‘spare’ time in the curriculum? How do you decide?

■ What scope do you have to adjust your subject offer to achieve financial balance as funding becomes tighter? How would this impact on the provision of a balanced and broadly based curriculum?

■ How have you reviewed the cost of your optional Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 subjects with small numbers of pupils?

■Are there subjects taken by a few pupils that are not financially sustainable?

■ How have you used the Audit Commission workforce costing tool (secondary schools) to cost individual subject departments?

■ Could you train teachers to teach more than one subject to save money?

■ How have you analysed how the curriculum offer affects your ability to attract pupils to your school?

■ How have you worked with the council school improvement team to get a better understanding about the cost of curriculum choices?

■ How has your spending on bought-in curriculum services changed over time? How do you know you are getting good value for money?

■ How might you save money on bought-in curriculum services?

■ In what ways could bought-in services be used to build your capacity to provide these services in-house in future?

■ What scope do you have, given local labour market constraints, to use teacher recruitment to maximise the breadth of skills, and therefore curriculum in the school workforce?

The full briefing Curriculum Breath can be found here

Monday, 18 April 2011

Audit Commission Better Value for Money: Classroom Deployment Questions

Two weeks ago the audit commission released four briefings which are designed to help schools make the best use of their workforce - whether teachers, teaching assistants, or administration and finance staff - at a time when they have to find savings.

England's maintained schools spent £35 billion in 2009/10 and School staff account for over three-quarters of this total and form one of the country's largest public sector workforces.

The four briefings, under the heading Better Value for Money in Schools, examine patterns in spending in maintained schools in England. They aim to help school School governing bodies control costs without compromising educational attainment.

They look at four areas where schools have scope to improve efficiency:

The deployment of classroom staff, including class sizes and allocation of teachers and teaching assistants;

The breadth and focus of schools' curriculum offer;

Approaches to covering for staff absence, including supply teachers; and

The size, cost and composition of the wider (non-teaching) school workforce.

In addition a summary paper, An overview of school workforce spending, which is targeted at chairs of governing bodies.

Today we will cover Classroom Deployment with the rest being covered over the next four days.

The main findings on classroom deployment are as follows.

■ The number of teachers in England has increased by 8 per cent since 1997. With a concurrent drop in pupil numbers, the ratio of teachers to pupils has increased by 9 per cent since 1997.

■ Since the introduction of planning, preparation and assessment (PPA)time in 2003 teacher utilisation has declined in primary schools, although it remains much higher than in secondary schools. The scope for increases in teacher utilisation is modest, but may be an option for
some schools. Secondary schools are most likely to achieve efficiency gains in this way.

■ In 2010 an average class in a primary school contains 26 pupils, while a class in a secondary school contains on average 21 pupils. Variation in class size can be large, even between similar schools. However, only some year groups are large enough to allow a reduction in the number
of classes by increasing average class size. Some secondary schools could improve efficiency by increasing their class sizes but scope for savings in primaries is limited.

■ The number of teaching assistants has tripled since 1997. They now make up a quarter of the school workforce and cost some £2.2 billion. There is wide variation in the use of teaching assistants between schools and evidence on the impact of assistants on pupils’ attainment
or teachers’ workload remains inconsistent.

Teachers constitute schools’ largest cost, and their greatest asset.

Fifty-six per cent of schools’ budgets is spent on teacher pay. Ensuring that teachers spend the greatest amount of time in the classroom, where they add most value, helps schools to achieve value for money. It also helps pupils, with research demonstrating that outstanding teaching has the greatest impact on pupils’ outcomes (Ref.2). Over half of the secondary school business managers we surveyed believed that schools had scope to improve the utilisation of teachers.

According to the Department for Education (DfE) Workload Diary Survey, teachers in both primary and secondary schools work around 50 hours per week. Apart from teaching, teachers carry out a range of managerial, extra-curricular, pastoral and disciplinary duties. They also
need to prepare and follow up lessons if those lessons are to be effective. In order to reduce the out-of-hours workload of teachers and improve teaching quality, the 2003 National Agreement on workload requires schools to set aside at least 10 per cent of a teacher's normal timetabled teaching time for ‘planning, preparation and assessment’ (PPA).

Questions for School leaders and Governing Bodies

■ How does your school make sure that your timetable is efficient, and that all teachers are always allocated to either teach or to PPA or management time?

■ How have you ensured that the PPA and management time is sufficient but not excessive for your teachers’ needs?

■ How well are your administrative staff integrated into the teachers’ work day to ensure they effectively minimise the amount of non-teaching work teachers have to carry out?

■ How well is your school working with other schools to look at the opportunities collaboration could bring to improve teacher utilisation?

■ How have you considered if your year groups are large enough to allow for potential savings from larger classes?

■ How have you considered the limitations from your school building, your curriculum or your pupil population that make larger classes unfeasible?

Deploying teaching assistants

■ How have you considered the role and responsibilities of teaching assistants in your school? How have you communicated these roles and responsibilities to the rest of the school workforce, parents and pupils?

■ How have you reviewed how your teaching assistants have reduced teacher workloads, and supported improved educational attainment?

■ How have you considered the contribution your teaching assistants have made to help achieve the schools objectives and outcomes for pupils?

■ What is the quality of support, performance management,training and development for the teaching assistants in your school?

■ How do you know if the use of teaching assistants in your school has had positive or negative impact on the pupils in your school?

The Full briefing on Classroom Deployment from the Audit Commission can be found below

Sunday, 17 April 2011

How Schools can help promote ‘Girls’ career aspirations’

Earlier this week Ofsted published a report called ‘Girls’ career aspirations’, which found that some girls are receiving weak careers education, which is making it difficult for them to make properly informed choices about courses and careers.

The report is based on findings from visits to 16 primary schools, 25 secondary schools, including 13 single-sex girls’ schools, and with female learners from 10 colleges. Ofsted Inspectors also contacted 36 businesses linked to 12 schools.

In most of the schools visited, not enough was being done to promote the confidence, drive and ambition of girls to take risks in challenging vocational stereotypes. Through discussions, inspectors found that girls aged 11 to 14 years had limited knowledge and understanding of how choices about courses and careers influenced pay and progression.

A narrow range of gender-stereotypical work placements dominated choices in almost all the schools visited. Of the 1,725 examples of work placements for young women collected from school records, only 164 represented non-stereotypical experiences.

The girls from the schools visited predominantly held stereotypical views about jobs for men and women, despite knowing they can choose any career and being taught about equal opportunities. For girls of all ages, the decision about what they would like to do when they finished school was most heavily influenced by friends and families.

Many of the girls thought there could be discrimination if they worked in a male dominated occupation, and suggested they would like to visit a workplace and see a woman doing the job successfully before choosing it for themselves.

Ofsted Press Release

Ofsted Report

Heather Heaton from 'today starts NOW' has agreed to guest blog on this subject below:

We know that through various research papers that young women tend to choose their 'first career' in one of five areas - childcare, hair, beauty, admin or retail.

I worked in the Careers Service for 7 years before starting Today Starts NOW, so I know a thing or two about careers!

Before that I was a nonconformist girl! Let me explain.

I was brought up by my mother who joined the army when I was four, it was the army life for us!

We moved around quite a bit when I was growing up, surrounded by soldiers, by men - all very positive role models.

I often heard the tales of what men were saying, and me, being me, thought I would change the world, and change the way in which women where dealt with in the world we live in, and in the Army.

I was the first girl in my school to do GCSE PE, and the only girl, so my fight had started early.

What I have realised since then, is that my role models were not hairdressers, nor beauticians, nor administrators - they were soldiers who made life an amazing adventure.

It carries through to now, I can't sit still, I have to plan my next great adventure straight after the next one. My children can't wait to go back to school after the holidays because they get to have a rest, mummy has had them up a mountain or two. Oh, I also rearrange the furniture every 18 months to give myself the impression that I've moved house. I'd be a nightmare to live with if you were blind!

Role models are everything. When we work with young ladies, we quiz them on who they live with, what do they do, what does your aunty do...quite often you get the traditional roles coming through - and this is where young ladies will take their guidance from. Although many mothers might disagree, girls listen to their mothers, more than what they let on.

In certain areas of Liverpool, multigenerational unemployment is a huge problem. The amount of money put in to remedy this is astronomical. Why - because if mum nor dad, don't go out to work why should junior? Job roles and careers are just the same.

So, while we might have the issue of a stuffy old career officer asking/telling a girl what careers she might be suitable for, not only are you dealing with their preconceptions of what 'she' can achieve as a woman, you're dealing with the influences of her family.

As part of our programmes we bring in role models from every walk of life, at every step in any career. In one of our sessions we invite five female employers. They are dressed in casual clothes, no ID badges and no clues as to who they are, or what they might do. Time after time, girls are stumped by this session.

Do you answer a phone - Yes
Do you work in an office -Yes
Are you a receptionist - No
I run a very successful rugby club!

Do you work with children - Yes
Are they in school - No
Are you a nursery Nurse - No
I'm a child psychologist!

If we can show the young girls whats out there and let them meet the people who are doing these jobs - then, and only then will you really start to influence girls career aspirations!

Heather Heaton

Email Website:

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Pupil performance: Identifying priorities and actions

Data often raises lot of whys; School governors also need explanations! What are the reasons underlying the results/ how is the school going to tackle underperformance/ what are the school’s priorities? Some questions Governors might ask include:

Appropriateness of the curriculum/ curriculum resources?

Quality of teaching and learning/ homework?

Quality of feedback to pupils?

The deployment of support staff?

What is the attendance/ absence rate like, both generally and for different cohorts?

What are the characteristics of persistent absentees?

What is the link between attendance and attainment?

Any issues around behaviour?

Teacher absence?

Assessment for learning / use of pupil tracking data (how is it monitored?)

What intervention strategies are in use, both generally and for specific cohorts of pupils?

How are impacts monitored/ evaluated?

Parental involvement?

Professional development for staff?

Monitoring of Priorities and Actions

Once priorities for improvement have been identified, it’s important that governors have in place mechanisms to monitor and evaluate outcomes, particularly their impact (remember, all outcomes must have success criteria).

Autumn term agendas should contain an item on assessment/ examination results which should be fully discussed/ analysed at either full governors or the appropriate committee. Any recommendation for action should then feed into the school development plan and be monitored at subsequent meetings.

It’s also important that pupil progress is reported/ monitored at either at full governors or the appropriate committee. If poor progress is an issue, this needs an explanation and addressing.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Pupil performance: Questions Governors might ask

All School governors need to understand the context of their school and how it compares to other schools. RAISEonline provides this information. A useful summary will also be found in the school’s Self Evaluation Form (SEF).

Remember, at KS1 pupils are expected to attain Level 2 (or 15 points) whilst at KS2 it’s Level 4 (or 27 points). At KS4 the target is 5 A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent), including English and maths.

Remember the expected level of progress between KS1 and KS2 is two national curriculum levels or 12 points. This is equivalent to 1 point per term.

Progress between KS2 and KS3 is 1.5 levels or 9 points, and from KS2 to KS4 is 2.5/ 3 levels or 15/18 points.

Subsidiary questions Governors might include:

Are children in the following groups making better or worse than expected progress?



Free school meals

Special educational needs

Able, gifted and talented

Looked after children

other groups unique to your school

Subsidiary School Governors questions might include:

Which are the strongest and weakest performing groups of pupils?

Are all pupils fulfilling their potential or should they achieve more?

If there are attainment gaps, why?

Is the attainment gap narrowing?

Is there a culture of high expectations in the school?

Are individual pupils’ targets sufficiently stretching and challenging?

Do any pupils lose momentum between point a & b?

Are the most disadvantaged pupils, or those with SEN, making sufficiently rapid progress to catch up with their peers?

Q. How does your school compare with within the local authority/ national results?

Q. How do actual results compare with the school’s statutory targets? (How achievable/ challenging are the targets)

Q. What are the trends over the last three to five years? Are school standards rising, staying the same or falling?

Q. Are any of the above statistically significant?

Q. Is there a member of staff who has responsibility for assessment/ monitoring results? Who do they report to? How does this feed into the school improvement plan?

Q. How are results communicated to parents/ carers?

Q. How does the school work with parents (particularly of the most vulnerable groups) to help them support their child’s learning?

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Understanding Attainment, Achievement and Statistics Commonly used

Analysing pupil performance from the previous summer national tests and examinations is a key item on autumn term agendas.School Governors need to understand their school’s performance data and what questions to ask at meetings.

The schools’ performance data is contained in RAISEonline. This stands for Reporting and Analysis for Improvement through School Self-Evaluation. This is an online resource and schools can provide access for governors to download the full report. However, this is not published until all the data has been validated, usually in the spring term of the following academic year. Nonetheless schools have details of the 2010 national tests and examinations and headteachers should use this information to report the results to governors.

Schools also have access to Fischer Family Trust (FFT) data/ reports which is particularly helpful for target setting and self-evaluation.

Raise Online

Fischer Family Trust

The Head teacher’s termly report to governors should always have a section on standards/progress. This can be supplemented by reports from subject and key stage leaders.

Attainment: the standard of the pupils’ work shown by test and examination results. In other words how many pupils have reached the expected level/grade at each Key Stage or end of year assessment?

Achievement: the progress and success of a pupil in their learning, development or training i.e. distance travelled between two points in time – this can be the start/ end of a term/ academic year or between key stages etc.

Remember – It’s quite possible for a school to have good attainment results i.e. at or above the threshold, but lower scores for achievement. In other words, are overall results at the end of a Key Stage concealing poor progress? Conversely, although a school’s attainment results may be average/ below average it’s quite possible that pupil progress can be good or even outstanding.

Ofsted make a judgement on both attainment and pupils’ learning and progress, and remember… pupils’ learning and progress is a limiting grade i.e. it will impact on the overall effectiveness grade.

In order to measure attainment and achievement, a number of statistics have been developed. Apart from percentages (%), these include average points score (APS), value added (VA) and contextual valued added (CVA).

Average points score (APS) is based on the formula referred to above, which links national curriculum levels to points scores, and is used to measure a number of outcomes . These include the performance of individual pupils (or different groups of pupils), different subjects, or a key stage. You can also use APS to work out the average national curriculum level for each subject/ overall at each key stage (see Appendix for worked examples).

School A might show high percentages of pupils achieving Level 4 and above, while school B shows lower percentages. However this may be a reflection, in part, of the school’s catchment area rather than the school’s effectiveness. Similarly, pupils at school B may have made more progress than other pupils who were performing at the same level at KS1 for example, and therefore have a higher value added “score” than school A. Therefore, value added measures are designed to allow a fairer comparison between schools with different pupil intakes/starting points, and to give schools greater recognition for the work they do.

Value added is used to measure the progress made by an individual compared with the average pupils make by similar pupils nationally between two points in time, typically key stage assessments. In other words, it’s a measure of relative rather than absolute performance.

Each pupil’s value added (VA) score is based on comparing their KS2 performance with the median – or middle – performance of other pupils with the same or similar results at KS1. The individual scores are averaged for the school to give a score that is represented as a number based on 100. This indicates the value the school has added on average for their pupils.

Scores above 100 represent schools where pupils on average made more progress than similar pupils nationally, while scores below 100 represent schools where pupils made less progress (see note on statistical significance).

Each pupil’s VA score is based on a comparison between their best eight results at GCSE – sometimes referred to as their capped points score – and the median or middle performance of other pupils with the same or similar results at KS2. The individual pupil scores are added together and averaged to produce the school level VA measure. This number is presented as a number based around 1000.

Measures above 1000 represent schools where pupils on average made more progress than similar pupils nationally, while measures below 1000 represent schools where pupils made less progress (see note on statistical significance).

NB. The accuracy that can be attached to any schools VA measure depends, amongst other things, on the number of pupils in the value added calculation. The smaller the number of pupils, the less confidence can be placed on the VA measure as an indicator of whether the effectiveness of a school is significantly above or below average – see note on statistical significance below.

VA measures take account of prior attainment, which is the biggest single factor affecting pupil results. However, contextual factors which are outside the school’s control, such as gender, mobility and levels of deprivation may have a further impact on pupil results, even after allowing for prior attainment.

In order to introduce more of a level playing field when comparing schools, and take account of these additional factors, a more complex measure known as CVA has been developed. Like VA, this provides an indicator of relative rather than absolute performance and attempts to isolate the “school effect” i.e. whether the school, with the pupils it has, is doing better than, worse than, or broadly the same as other schools, with the pupils they have.

The additional factors which CVA take into account include:

Prior attainment in English and maths



Age within age group (month of birth)

Special educational needs

Eligibility for free school meals

First language other than English

Deprivation based on pupil postcode (using IDACI – that is the Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index)

Looked after children

Geographic mobility

Although CVA calculations use a more complex model than “simple” VA, the basic principle remains the same. Quite simply this involves comparing the peformance of an individual pupil with the performance of children with similar prior attainment and similar circumstances.

An individual’s CVA score will be the difference (positive or negative) between their actual performance and that predicted taking into account the national data for all the factors in the model. These differences are then collated to provide a CVA score for the school. As with “simple” VA, this is based around a medium score of 100 for primary schools and 1000 for secondary schools.

A school’s CVA of more than 100/ 1000 means that, overall, the school has performed better that most schools with a similar mix of students and factors. Under 100/1000 means the performance of this group of students is below average.

Whilst CVA can provide powerful insights into the impact which schools have, the figures need interpreting with caution (see note on statistical significance).

NB: Contextual Value Added scores should not be used to set lower expectations for any pupil/ groups of pupils. DfE advise that schools should, when setting targets for future performance expectations, strive to set equally challenging aspirations for all pupils.

When using statistics the term “statistical significance” is often used. In everyday language “significant” means important or meaningful; in statistics it’s the likelihood that a finding, result or relationship is caused by something other than just chance.

In other words, what statistical significance tries to show is how confident we can be that a result is reliable or true.

In RAISEonline most reports show attainment or progress scores for your school relative to the national average/ mean. Significance tests have been performed on data using a 95% confidence interval, and where the school value differs significantly from the corresponding national value, sig+ or sig- boxes are used: the sig+ boxes are usually coloured greenwhilst the sig- boxes are coloured blue. Where a school figure is significantly above that of the previous year an up (↑) or down (↓) arrow is displayed to the right of the figure.

Significance tests are heavily influenced by numbers of pupils in a cohort, so large schools are more likely to see Sig+ or Sig- boxes than small schools, even when differences to national averages are the same.

DfE Guide to CVA

In the White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, published on 24 November 2010, the Secretary of State announced the introduction of the English Baccalaureate. The Department of Education uses a new English Baccalaureate indicator. The 2010 Tables, for the first time, show the proportion of pupils at school, local authority and national level achieving good GCSE grades (A*-C) in both English and maths.Their intention is to include science in this 'Basics indicator’ from next year. Development of a School Report Card, proposed by the previous government, has been discontinued.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

National Curriculum and Key Stage Assessments Explained

From age 5 (year 1) to 16 (year 11) all pupils follow the national curriculum. Additionally, maintained schools must offer religious education, sex education, work-related learning and careers education for specified year groups. The national curriculum determines the content of what should be taught – statutory and non-statutory subjects/ areas of learning – and sets attainment targets for learning. The national curriculum also determines how performance will be assessed and reported.

But first a word about Key Stages. The national curriculum is divided into four key stages, which covers the statutory age ranges for school attendance.

Key stage 1 Key stage 2 Key stage 3 Key stage 4

Age 5-7 7-11 11-14 14-16

Year Group 1-2 3-6 7-9 10-11

Assessment is an integral part of everyday teaching and learning. However, by law, schools must assess pupils’ attainment at the end of Key Stages 1, 2 and 3.

Key Stage 1 consists of teacher assessment in speaking and listening, reading and writing, and mathematics and science. Assessments in reading, writing (including handwriting and spelling) and mathematics must take account of results from Key Stage 1 tasks and tests.

Key Stage 2 consists of national curriculum tests in English (reading, writing (including handwriting and spelling) and mathematics and teacher assessment in English, mathematics and science.

Key Stage 3 consists of teacher assessment only, in all national curriculum subjects. Schools have to submit results for English, maths and science.

At the end of Key Stage 4, pupils generally take public examinations, for example GCSEs. Many pupils also undertake vocational courses, foundation learning and apprenticeships.

For each national curriculum subject, there is a programme of study which sets out the subject knowledge, skills and understanding that pupils are expected to develop in each Key Stage. The programmes of study map out attainment targets, which are split into eight levels (1 to 8), plus a description of “exceptional performance” i.e. above level 8.

For GCSEs the range is from A* -G. Other examinations often have pass, merit and distinction.

At the end of each national curriculum Key Stage, pupils are expected to reach a certain level, although many will (and should) exceed it.

At the end of Key Stage 1 most pupils are expected to achieve level 2

At the end of Key Stage 2 most pupils are expected to achieve level 4

At the end of Key Stage 3 most pupils are expected to achieve levels 5 or 6

At the end of Key Stage 4 most pupils are expected to achieve 5 GCSEs A*-C (including English and mathematics)

Sometimes national curriculum levels are expressed in terms of points scores, using the following formula: points score = 6 X level plus 3. Thus Level 4, for example, has a points score of 27 (i.e. 6 x 4 + 3 = 27). Other equivalences are shown below:

Level 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Points 9 15 21 27 33 39 45 51

The National Curriculum standards have been designed so that most pupils will progress by approximately one level every two years, which is equivalent to 6 points.

As there are 6 terms in two years, each point represents one term’s progress for the median pupil.

Many schools have adapted this format by using national curriculum sub-levels with an equivalent points score. A common way of dividing the National Curriculum levels is the use of an a, b, c indicator – where

a – represents a strong level

b – represents a sound/ secure level

c – represents a weak level

Level Sub-levels
c b a
1 7 9 11
2 13 15 17
3 19 21 23
4 25 27 29
5 31 33 35
6 37 39 41
7 43 45 47
8 49 51 53

Whilst the use of sub-level can be helpful in identifying pupil support requirements and tracking progress, caution should be used as the National Curriculum level was designed to indicate attainment at the end of a key stage – a sublevel only gives an indication of the certainty of this achievement.

National Curriculum Review 2011

In January 2011 Michael Gove announced a major review of the National Curriculum in England.

The review will be led by the Department, supported by an advisory committee and expert panel chaired by Tim Oates made up of top teachers, academics and business representatives.

The review will

Replace the current substandard curriculum with one based on the best school systems in the world, providing a world-class resource for teachers and children

Consider what subjects should be compulsory at what age

Consider what children should be taught in the main subjects at what age.

The Consultation will finish tomorrow Thursday 14th April! I completed mine today

Key Stage 2 review

Lord Bew is leading a small review panel consisting of two education experts, a number of primary headteachers and one secondary school head. The panel will publish its final report by June 2011.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

NGA Outstanding School Governance & Clerk Awards 2011

I was very privileged to be invited as a guest of the School Governance and Clerking at the NGA Outstanding School Governance & Clerk Awards 2011 by NGA Chief Executive Emma Knights at the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion in Westminster,London.

I am an individual member of the NGA who often responds to Emma's requests in the NGA weekly email newsletter for best practice & experiences of governance. I have also built a small profile as a School Governing blogger and on twitter using the @schoolgoverning name.

Today's event was hosted by Baroness Howe, President of The National Governors' Association.

Baroness Howe's opening speech can be found before:

Lord Hill of Oareford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools made his speech here:

The Outstanding Clerk of 2011 was won by Sheila Daley of Alexandra Park School in Harrigey who was called away expectingly to New Zealand so couldn't collect the award in person.

The other finalists who collected awards were:

Louise Daniel, Clerk to Hillingdon Primary School
Lydia Morgans, Clerk to Raynes Park High School
Nerys Williams, Clerk to Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen

The Outstanding Clerk 2011 Award Presentations can be found below:

The Outstanding Governing Body of the year 2011 was won by Bishop Cornish Church of England V.A School from Cornwall

The other finalists who all collected awards were:

Cuckmere House School & St. Mary's School Federation
Cypress Infant and Junior Schools
The Duston School
Martin Primary School
St Mary's Church of England Primary School, Twickenham

The award presentations can be found below:

Chair of the NGA Clare Collins closed the ceremony with a few words and thank yous here:

Great to see School Governance being celebrated in such a fantastic historic setting and supported by both Baroness Howe and Lord Hill.

In addition to the finalists there were guests from SGOSS, TGWU, TES, DFE, NUT, NASUWT, ASCL, E&E Taskforce, University of Bath, LGA, SSAT, Ofsted, Teachers TV, National College, Governors Wales,IAA, The Voice, a number of Local Authorities, College of Teachers, NCOGS to name just a few.

I had a great chat with Professor Chris James from University of Bath who is the Chair of Education and Employers Taskforce and has promised to send me something for the blog for another article.

I was also interested to speak to Jackie Krafft from Ofsted who is just about to have an Ofsted report published on School Governance. I will look forward to read that report with interest.

Well done to all the winners and finalists.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Explained

Children from birth to the end of the academic year in which they have their fifth birthday follow the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

This comprises the Early Learning Goals (ELGs), which describe the knowledge, skills and understanding which most (although not all) young children should be able to achieve by the end of the academic year in which they turn five. The ELGs cover six areas of learning/ development, all of which are equally important, and none of which can be delivered in isolation from the other. These include:

Personal, social and emotional development

Communication, language and literacy

Problem-solving, reasoning and numeracy

Physical development

Creative development

Knowledge and understanding of the world

Statutory assessment for the EYFS takes the form of the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile (EYFSP), which summarises each child’s achievement in the above six areas of learning. There is no testing; practitioners draw on their day-to-day observations of children to build up information throughout the final year of the EYFS. These are 13 assessment scales in total (some areas of learning are sub-divided; for example personal, social and emotional development is divided into three: disposition and attitudes, social development and emotional development) and each scale has nine assessment points, which means a child could achieve a maximum score of 117 points. A child achieving an average of 6 points across each of the 13 areas –78 points in total, would be seen as ready to access the National Curriculum in Year 1.

A few weeks ago Dame Clare Tickell released her 2011 review of EYFS

The Key points of the EYFS Review:

The six areas of learning to be replaced with seven areas

Three prime areas: communication and language; personal, social and emotional development; physical development

Four other areas: literacy, mathematics, expressive arts and design, understanding the world

The 69 Early Learning Goals covering the areas of learning should be reduced to 17

Early years practitioners to carry out a child development check with children between 24 and 36 months of age

A summary report of the check should be included in the ‘red book’, which all parents are given and kept alongside their child’s health records

Early Years Foundation Stage Profile to be ‘slimmed down’ to take account of changes to the number of Early Learning Goals

The EYFS Profile should include a simple scale to measure whether children’s learning and development at the age of five is emerging, expected or exceeding the Early Learning Goals

Ministers should consider the findings of the Advisory Panel for Food and Nutrition and provide guidelines for healthy eating and nutritional requirements for under-fives to early years practitioners

A graduate-led early years workforce should continue to be an aspiration for the Government
Entry qualifications to early years should be of a high standard consistent with the NNEB qualification

Communication and language should be given greater emphasis than literacy in young children’s development

The Full Dame Tickle Review 2011

DfE: Foundation Stage Profile Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England, 2009/10

DfE Press Notice: Early Years Foundation Stage to be radically slimmed down

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Pupil performance (Understanding Attainment and Achievement)

Being a “critical friend” i.e. supporting and challenging schools, is an important function of governing bodies, and this is particularly so in the context of pupil performance. In the revised Ofsted inspection framework, for example, it states Inspectors should take account of: “…the extent to which the governing body understands the school’s performance data and has an accurate picture of how well pupils are achieving compared with those in other schools, as well as how different groups of pupils within the school are performing.”

As School governors we hopefully want all children in our schools to do well and successfully progress to the next level of learning. By doing so, they will enhance their future life chances/ opportunities, including job prospects, and play a more active role as a UK citizen.

In order to undertake this role effectively School governors need to understand their school’s performance data and explore, via a series of questions, the story underlying the figures, particularly strengths and weaknesses. Areas for improvement can then be identified and appropriate strategies put in place to raise standards. This will form part of the governing body’s annual cycle of self-evaluation and school development planning.

Understanding statistics, however, can be quite daunting. They can also be used/ manipulated to illustrate a particular argument/ point of view; hence the phrase – “…lies, damned lies, and statistics!”. Hopefully the activity guide will help improve your confidence levels and make you more aware of some of the more common statistical terms and concepts. It should also help you appreciate both the uses and limitations of data and when other evidence may be more appropriate. Most importantly it will help you ask questions, seek explanations, question assumptions, and discuss strategies for improvement.

What level of attainment are children expected to make at certain points in their school life?

Over the next 4 days we will cover Understanding Early Years, Understanding the National Curriculum and Key Stage Assessments, Understanding Attainment & Achievement, Questions governors could ask on Pupil Performance and finally Priorities and Actions within Pupil Performance.

Most of this information and advice is provided by in Greater Manchester