Teaching & Learning
At Atkinson House we firmly believe in nurturing and encouraging our students to become creative learners. In our view, exceptional individual achievement is more likely to occur within an educational environment which stimulates the creative capacities of everyone.
In the interests of fostering creative learners, our curriculum is moving towards a more student centred learning journey. Our aim as a school is to identify the strengths and skills which our students have to offer, and from this provide an individualised learning programme which caters for all.
Teaching and Learning Report 2017-18
Lead: M Hutchison
The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) was restructured in 2017/18 with Mr M Hutchison taking responsibility for teaching and learning and Mr G Brown managing assessment and data. Teaching and learning is GOOD and we have made significant improvements in pupil outcomes compared to previous years. Our 2017 GCSE results were our most successful ever and we are confident this will be developed further in spite of the impact of recent exam reforms. We have increased accountability in teaching staff by identifying subject leads in English (FW) and Maths (BW) and by increasing the number of book scrutiny sessions. This is further supported by the development of a new whole school assessment policy which will begin being introduced in September 2018 and is designed to ensure parity of assessment data across subjects. A teaching and learning group has been introduced and this team is tasked with improving the quality of teaching and learning across the school through evidence based practice and supporting the whole school drive towards personalising pupil’s educational experiences. In terms of pupil progress the introduction of targeted literacy, numeracy and pastoral interventions which address particular pupils in need are having a positive effect on closing their progress gap. Furthermore, the expansion of additional GCSE classes for our most-able pupils across core subjects is another success and is a key driver for our pupil engagement and attainment progress. Community engagement has also been expanded through the introduction of community projects led by AB and this is having a positive effect on pupils wellbeing and school: community links.
In summary; teaching and learning is good and is being progressively moved forward. We are driving forward change to our assessment policy to ensure uniformity across the school and we are increasing accountability to ensure data is used effectively to support improved progress for all of our pupils. Our outcomes at KS4/5 are our best ever and this is reflective of our good teaching and our development of a more personalised learning journey for our pupils. As we move forward the following 7 areas are identified as key:
Areas of Development
- Assessing, monitoring and improving quality of teaching
- Book scrutiny
- Extending MAT pupils
- Improving literacy
- Improving numeracy
- Develop pastoral support
- Personalising the curriculum
- Assessing, monitoring and improving quality of teaching
Current: Based on performance management observations our teaching across the school is rated as GOOD. This is based on the average score of 1.7 (1 = Outstanding; 2 = Good; 3 = RI and 4 = Inadequate) of all observed lessons (28 from 14 teaching staff – see Lesson Observation Overview) since recent SLT structures were implemented (Summer 2017). This judgement is supported by the SIP who conducted lesson observations with MH on 26.6.18. This is further supported by (1) increased number of pupils being entered for qualifications and (2) improvements in outcomes (i.e. GCSE grades – see Attainment Data).
Since the introduction of the new SLT progress has been made to standardise our whole school assessment policy. Previously, each subject had been free to implement their own policy and this proved difficult to monitor and assess across the school. In the Summer 2018 term Maths, English, ICT and PE have aligned their policies to ensure all subjects are now assessing pupils using numbers 1-9 with four sub-levels (Emerging, Developing, Secured, Mastered). KS3 ‘levels’ encompass NC requirements and are similar to the previous ‘APP’ policy. KS4 pupils who are following GCSE specifications transition to 9-1 predicted grades. Those that don’t progress to GCSE specifications follow their own subject specifications (i.e. NOCN BTEC) or continue to be assessed against the 9-1 NC/ APP framework.
In relation to the timetable we have made some significant improvements in the last 2 years. The introduction of additional GCSE classes and a general shift to personalise the curriculum has improved pupil engagement, progress and attainment. The introduction of a ‘year 8 teacher’ has also assisted in the transition of our pupils out of the Year 7 primary curriculum.
We have also significantly improved our level of parental engagement through our termly Parent Partnership days (PPD) (for which in part we received the Parent Partnership Award) and the related personalised assessment policy this development has facilitated. In short, this policy relates to the individual behaviour profiles which assess and monitor pupil’s holistic development. Targets are set through the triangulation of staff, pupil and parent/carer views and provide a basis for dialogue for our PPD’s. They have proved very successful in improving staff: pupil: parent/carer relations and are a key driver for wider pastoral support and more holistic pupil progress.
We have also increased our level of community engagement through our vocational staff and their landscape based community work. This is improving pupil engagement in school and assisting in developing a positive social culture in our pupils. This work adds to our general philosophy of teaching pupils outside of the classroom (DofE, PE and availability of 3 buses).
However, we still have some challenges to overcome. Some of our subjects lose consistency and lack credibility in the eyes of pupils i.e. RE and European Studies. The lack of lead teachers for these subjects and the timetabling of numerous members of staff also hinder consistency and effectiveness.
Moving forward: We need to build on recent outcome improvements by continuing to improve the quality of teaching and learning. As we develop a more personalising curriculum that better suits the needs of pupils we need to develop our whole school pedagogy. We have recently introduced a Teaching and Learning Group (MH, RR, CR, LT, SW) which is currently looking at developing a whole school approach to developing and embedding a learning skillset which will improve pupils rate of progress and their level of intrinsic motivation. This will take the form of a group of skills that all staff will look to develop in all of their lessons i.e. PLTS. This is to be trialled in Autumn 2018 and rolled out whole school as soon as feasibly possible. It is likely that this framework will be integrated into the current lesson observation sheet to ensure staff are accountable for its implementation. This in turn should improve the quality of lesson’s, pupil engagement and their ability to take ownership of the personalisation of their curriculum. The more personalised their curriculum, the more engaged pupils will be and this will ultimately increase their attainment.
In terms of whole school assessment Maths, English, ICT, PE and Science will ensure through moderation that their assessment policies are aligned effectively by the end of the Autumn term 2018. It is currently envisaged that assessment data will then be transferred to SIMS as a whole school policy and this will be overseen by subject leads. This data will then form the basis of termly progress reports by subject leads to the SLT. Once this process is secure the SLT will look to extend this policy across other subjects.
In terms of the timetable we are implementing a personalised KS4 PM slot which builds on our recent successful additional GCSE classes. All KS4 pupils will have the opportunity to select from various PM lessons each day which will include ‘core’ and ‘vocational’ subjects. This should increase engagement and improve progress and attainment. Each subject will also start the 2018/19 year with an identified lead who is accountable for all progress and attainment to increase staff accountability. Where possible subject delivers will be reduced to a minimum to improve consistency and some subjects i.e. RE and European studies will be encompassed under the wider scope of humanities and PSHE. PSHE will also take a much larger role in the curriculum to reflect its wider SEMH agenda.
In terms of our whole school pedagogy we are looking in the long term to restructure the school into 2 learning environments: (1) Structured learning for those still developing their skillset and (2) Independent learning where pupils who have the skillset and motivation, are able to access a fully personalised curriculum in an independent manner.
- Book scrutiny
Current: MH, BW (Head of Maths) and FW (Head of English) form the ‘book scrutiny team’. Five samples have been taken in 2017/18, two of which have been spot checks and one in conjunction with the SIP. Analysis (see Folder) demonstrates that although the standard has been mixed, but generally positive, it has improved steadily throughout the year. Introducing HoD’s in English and Maths has made a big difference in those areas in terms of department consistency. This is something which is to be addressed across other subjects (having leads staff) in the new timetable. MH delivered staff training on 5/2/18 regarding Book Scrutiny Analysis (see doc) which highlighted good and bad practice and how we would be moving forward. Standards have risen since this session. One issue that has arisen from analysis has been the need to improve creative writing opportunities across the curriculum. Generally, our English outcomes fall below Maths and thus this is an area which needs addressed. The HoD carried out a half term creative writing intervention with positive results and this is will need to be developed further.
Moving forward: We need to continue carrying out termly book scrutiny reviews with BW feeding back to Maths and FW feeding back to English. MH will continue to oversee the remainder. Opportunities for creative writing type tasks will form a section of this scrutiny in line with a whole school drive. We also need to include the new form of assessment data with books to check correlation. SLT are to implement termly data reports where all subject leads are to present their assessment data for scrutiny. This will address the 2015 Ofsted statement which stated: “The analysis and monitoring of progress by middle leaders are not always detailed enough to help plan effective learning”. This will make staff more accountable and thus increase pupil progress, feedback and attainment.
- Extending MAT pupils
Currently: We have made huge progress since the March 2015 inspection which stated “there is insufficient challenge for the most-able students”. Outcomes have improved significantly and this reflects the progress of our MAT pupils i.e. significant improvements in GCSE/ equivalent outcomes (see attainment report). This is as a direct result of (1) the drive to personalise the curriculum through targeted GCSE classes in addition to the standard curriculum (see timetable); (2) improved quality of teaching in class driven by increased accountability, staff training and staff restructure; (3) improved engagement by pupils driven by increased staff: pupil relationships; and (4) improved culture in pupils who now recognise that GCSE A grades are achievable.
Moving forward: We need to continue to personalise our curriculum by (1) quickly developing, testing and implementing our whole school teaching drive; and (2) developing the PM timetable to offer personalised curriculum including our additional GCSE classes. The culture shift that has happened in some pupils also needs to be built upon through whole school recognition of accomplishments/ reward incentives. Although staff training and development has improved since the introduction of the Wednesday PM session, teaching and learning linked to outcomes needs to form a bigger role in these sessions. The T&L group will play a significant role in this drive and specifically the building of an evidence based curriculum in order to continue the improvement in the quality of our T&L.
- Improving literacy
Currently: Improving literacy is one of our biggest challenges over the coming years if we are to improve our English outcomes. Book scrutiny analysis, outcomes, assessment data and pupil engagement all highlight the need for improvement (in particular extended creative writing). We now have a designated HoD and we employed an additional specialist English teacher to support the quality of teaching across the subject. Since the introduction of the new SLT the timetable has been revised and seven 1:1/ small group interventions are now running targeting pupils most in need as determined by the HoD. Additionally, we have recently purchased an ICT based literacy package (Lexia) which is currently being introduced to target small groups of pupils in need of additional support. This is being led by the HoD.
Moving forward: We are looking to employ a specialist English TA which will further support our progress drive. We are going to re-designate the current ‘Literacy’ session to a wider focus of ‘Interventions’. Within this session literacy will be driven forward by English specialists through the targeting of specific pupils in need (i.e. under achievers and MAT pupils). English, as part of a wider whole school drive to sync our assessment policy across core subjects (in line with the new 9-1 grading system) is re-developing its assessment system to ensure all staff are marking and assessing pupils work in line with new guidelines. This is being led by the HoD and will improve consistency across the department. We also need to improve the opportunity for, and the quality of, creative writing across the curriculum. This will be addressed in part through the introduction of a whole school skillset framework and the related modification of lesson observation criteria to make staff more accountable for its implementation. The English department are also looking at ways to incentivise creative writing for pupils to improve motivation and drive forward progress.
- Improving numeracy
Currently: Improving numeracy is another big challenge that we are currently making good progress in addressing. We now have a designated HoD and with 2 specialist Maths teachers in place we are well equipped in terms of staffing to drive forward continued improvements in numeracy. Since the introduction of the new SLT the timetable has been revised and four 1:1/ small group interventions are now running targeting pupils most in need as determined by the HoD. Additionally, we have recently purchased an ICT based literacy package (Mathletics) which is currently being introduced to target small groups of pupils in need of additional support. This is being led by the Maths department.
Moving forward: We are going to re-designate the current ‘Literacy’ session to a wider focus of ‘Interventions’. Within this session numeracy will be driven forward by Maths specialists through the targeting of specific pupils in need (i.e. under achievers and MAT pupils). Maths, as part of a wider whole school drive to sync our assessment policy across core subjects (in line with the new 9-1 grading system) is re-developing its assessment system to ensure all staff are marking and assessing pupils work in line with new guidelines. This is being led by the HoD and will improve consistency across the department.
- Develop pastoral support
Current: We have made significant progress since the introduction of the new SLT. The timetable has been revised and seven 1:1/ small group interventions are now running targeting pupils most in need as determined by (1) staff in daily briefings; (2) occurrences of bullying/ incidents/ restraints/ returns to school following absenteeism; and (3) SDQ scores. One member of staff (LT) has undertook a lead role to effectively manage and monitor pastoral intervention work carried out by staff. Pupils are assessed through SDQ’s and this data is used to monitor pupil’s SEMH. All work is reported via SIMS. We also have one member of staff (SC) who is undertaking a counselling qualification and she is currently acting in a pastoral support role to parents/ carers in need. Our pastoral support is well received by pupils and parents and is a valuable asset supporting our whole school drive to develop better motivated, higher achieving pupils.
Moving forward: We need to build on the Summer 2018 terms work by ensuring capacity in the new timetable to continue the pastoral intervention work that has been introduced (for pupils and parents/ carers). We also need to include the work carried out in our Wednesday PM staff training sessions on an evidence based practice basis (i.e. SDQ scores, SIMS data) to continue to highlight positives and be critically reflective of the system. We need to place a bigger emphasis on PSHE in the new timetable by increasing the number of classes and effective staffing therein. We also need to rebuild a previous peer mentor system that used to be in place to improve the wellbeing culture in school.
- Personalising the curriculum
Current: SLT are driving a curriculum personalisation agenda to improve pupil’s engagement and ownership of their learning. This is an extension of (1) the KS4 option pathways that were introduced several years previous; (2) the positive introduction of additional GCSE classes and subsequent improved attainment; and (3) the personalisation of individual timetables to improve engagement. This has assisted thus far to (1) increase engagement (i.e. pupils see more purpose to their lessons and feel more involved in their education); (2) improve opportunities (i.e. more access to qualifications taught in an environment of like-minded peers); and (3) increase attainment of pupils involved (i.e. recent improvements in GCSE grades).
SLT is in the process of introducing a KS4 ‘options’ afternoon (Summer 2018) where pupils have the opportunity to select from a range of core and vocational subjects that better suit their individual needs. This is to be extended to the new timetable for 2018/19. We are also in the process of compiling individual pupil progress files which will showcase each pupils learning journey throughout their time at AHS. This will provide a portfolio of evidence upon which to draw for reporting purposes as well as a live document with which to drive forward improvements in staff: pupil: parent/carer relations and pupil progress.
Moving forward: In terms of our whole school pedagogy we are looking in the long term to restructure the school into 2 learning environments: (1) Structured learning for those still developing their skillset and motivation for personalised learning; and (2) Independent learning where pupils who have the skillset and motivation, are able to access a fully personalised curriculum in an independent manner. As part of this process the SLT will introduce the KS4 options afternoon’s in the 2018/19 timetable. This will be supported by the further development and curriculum integration of the recent community projects. The T&L group’s whole school skillset framework (in development) will form a key aspect in this drive ensuring that there is a cohesive strategy across the school to ensure pupils are developing the right skillset to ensure they can make the most of a personalised curriculum. We also need to continue building the individual pupil progress files through the inclusion of evidenced progress.