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Moving things forward

Each year we produce a document called the School Development Plan which outlines our priority areas for the coming academic year. The priorities contained in this are developed out of our previous year’s outcomes and through discussion with staff and governors. This week we have taken time out to evaluate our progress so far.

For the last two years, Ofsted have produced an ‘Inspection Dashboard’ for each school. This uses the previous year’s outcomes to list a school’s strengths and ‘weaknesses’. We are proud of the fact that we have strengths listed in early years, Y1 phonics and both Key Stage One and Key Stage Two outcomes. We will also have strengths in attendance once those figures have been finalised nationally. The dashboard states that the school has ‘no weaknesses’. We were particularly proud of the fact that writing has now become a strength as we have worked hard to improve our writing curriculum over the last three years.

Each year, in our School Development Plan, we have a priority that includes targets for attainment in reading, writing and mathematics in each class. These are deliberately challenging and are discussed with each class teacher regularly. We monitor the progress of every child across the year and intervene if we feel they need additional provision to meet the targets set.

We also have up to two additional priority areas. This does not mean we ignore all other areas of the curriculum but rather that we focus our professional development and monitoring on these areas. This year, we are focussing on improving even further the quality of pupils’ recording in books and the quality of adults’ verbal feedback and marking. The second area we are working on is that of maximising the challenge in our curriculum in order to engage all pupils fully. In both areas we are focussing on the full range of subject areas.

One of the reasons for the sustained improvement at Unsworth is that we have a very strong system of monitoring what happens in our classrooms. On Thursday, three of our governors spent the morning in school and visited every classroom. They observed the lessons that were going on at the time, spoke to children, looked at books and then had a discussion with members of staff. The object of the visit was to gather evidence of how verbal and written feedback was being used to have an impact on pupils’ learning. It is not the role of governors to pass judgements on teaching and learning in classrooms but rather to gather evidence to discuss with the leadership team.

It was a very successful visit and the governors were so impressed (as all visitors are!) with how articulate our children are about their learning and how much they can talk about the process of learning. When the children were asked about why they received written feedback in their books, this is what they said:

o It helps me to learn from my mistakes
o It makes me work better
o I am happy when the teacher says I have done good work
o It helps me to learn how to spell correctly so that I get it right next time
o It helps me to get better
o I like it when I get good comments, it makes me feel good
o I’m excited when I get my book back to see if I have been given a house point
o You don’t have to be right all the time, it’s good to learn from your mistakes.

I always say that no matter how long I have been at our school, I never fail to be enthused and inspired by our children. They are very articulate, thoughtful individuals and we are rightly proud of them. If you would like to contribute your thoughts as parents/carers about our priority areas then please use the comment facility below.

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