The Scrutiny Support Officer presented a report to provide the Children and Learning Scrutiny Panel with information on the Local Authority's Post Ofsted Action Plan and the progress made to date.
In January 2014, Ofsted undertook an inspection of the Local Authority's arrangements for supporting school improvement and reported that the arrangements were ineffective. In response to the inspection findings, an action plan was developed detailing the Local Authority's proposals to tackle issues raised by the Inspection.
The Local Authority was re-inspected by Ofsted in February 2015. Ofsted recognised that significant improvements had taken place and highlighted the strong commitment from all types of schools to work with the Local Authority and collaborate together.
The Head of Achievement was in attendance to provide the Scrutiny Panel with information in respect of the Middlesbrough Local Authority Post Ofsted Action Plan 2015-2016 and the Middlesbrough Post Ofsted Action Plan Evaluation, December 2015, copies of which were attached to the submitted report.
The Action Plan ran from February to December 2015 and the Evaluation had taken place on that basis. The target for Middlesbrough schools was to secure outcomes that were at least in line with the national average for all indicators and measures with an increasing number that were above.
In relation to Priority 1 of the Action Plan, primary outcomes were reasonable in terms of progress from the previous year, however the gap between national outcomes comparisons continued to widen. At secondary level however, the outcomes were significantly lower than predicted. In terms of the Action Plan, whilst the Easter and Summer outcomes were largely met, the end of the Christmas term 2015 targets were not met. Various reasons had been given for the drop in predicted grades which included grade boundaries changing and issues with examination boards. Consultants were working with schools on these issues and predictions for Summer 2016 were looking better and had been evaluated.
Most Network Meetings had been well attended although the Mathematics Meetings had experienced the poorest attendance. The Outwood Schools had planned a Mathematics Conference next term and offered a place to each school in Middlesbrough.
Middlesbrough Council had appointed a Lead Consultant for Secondary Mathematics on a part-time basis and Consultants for English, Mathematics, Science, Behaviour and Attendance, and Attendance on an ad hoc basis according to need. The Consultants were currently funded by the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership (MAP). The new Assistant Director for Learning and Skills would take up her post in 22 February 2016.
A Mathematics Hub had been established at Carmel College, Darlington, and Middlesbrough schools had been invited to join that Hub, although it was not yet known what the take up was.
Work still to do to raise the achievement of all pupils across all phases included working with schools, Regional Schools Commissioner, DFE, Ofsted and other stakeholders to improve outcomes. A termly meeting was held with Ofsted and their view was that schools should be looking at better practice. Ofsted had agreed to provide some input at a Leadership Meeting to be held next week in relation to schools that were outstanding.
In relation to narrowing the achievement gap for disadvantaged pupils, five local authorities had combined to bid for some funding. It was confirmed that the current definition of disadvantaged pupils was based on those eligible for the Pupil Premium.
It was also noted that there were a significant number of people and children coming to live in Middlesbrough who did not have English as their first language. The Authority was considering providing a Welcome Centre so that children and young people would get an immediate immersion into English before they started school. Although research had shown this was not always the best way, schools were saying it was very difficult when children could not speak English and issues such as health and safety were difficult to manage.
An inspection during the summer had noted that many of Middlesbroughs strategies for supporting those who did not speak English as their first language were very good. It was highlighted that this was a country-wide rather than Middlesbrough specific issue. A Member suggested that that an event to welcome and support residents who did not speak English as their first language could be held in the Town Hall Crypt. A Leadership Conference would be held in summer 2016 on English as a second language for all schools.
Community Learning had received a 4 day inspection the previous week and the inspectors had looked at the work undertaken with people arriving in Middlesbrough. The inspectors judgements had been very positive.
The Authority was also working closely with the National Leadership Trust who were doing a lot of work in early years which was having a good effect. The Authority was also trying to work with Stronger Communities and Public Health to identify key barriers to learning and direct joint resources in the areas of most need.
Progress being made to meet Priority two - reviewing the School Effectiveness Strategy (SES) - was good. The Strategy was in place and most of the milestones described for Christmas 2015 had been reached. Headteachers briefings had taken place to launch the SES and deployment boards, annual performance dialogues and school monitoring group meetings had taken place during the Christmas term. There had also been a personal dialogue with every school, including the Virtual School for Looked After Children, looking at performance and attendance with a view to deploying the most appropriate support. The Local Authority could broker specialist leaders of education, accredited by the National College and administered by the Teaching Alliance, to work in schools. Schools could also commission their own specialist support.
Every school falling below the required outcomes or which was in an Ofsted category requiring improvement, was invited to a Schools Standard Monitoring Group comprising the Executive Director Wellbeing, Care and Learning, Assistant Director, Head of Achievement and Executive Member for Education and Skills. It was noted that the Chair of the Children and Learning Scrutiny was also a member of this group. Following the meeting, a letter would be sent to the school outlining the actions that would be taken and followed up the following term.
Priority three was to refocus the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership so that it had a central role in raising achievement. School improvement was a long term strategy and the key area for secondary schools was the transition arrangements. MAP had set up a number of delivery groups staffed by leaders in schools with five priorities as follows: Leadership, Teaching, Learning and Assessment, Behaviour and Attendance, Transition, and Children and Young Persons Delivery Partnership.
The Authoritys Data Manager was visiting all secondary schools and looking at what data they required. Primary schools were also deciding what information they could feed up to secondary, for example, the best piece of independent writing a child had completed, so that secondary teachers could see what that child had been doing in June. An evaluation would be carried out with Year 7 pupils in September.
Locally and nationally there was an issue between progress continuing from KS2 to KS4. Indicators at KS4 were poor but at KS2 they were in line or better. Schools were working very hard to improve outcomes at KS4.
Reference was made to a recent letter to Middlesbroughs Chief Executive from a local HMI which criticised Middlesbrough schools performance. The Executive Director Wellbeing, Care and Learning had invited the HMI to meet with Middlesbrough Headteachers to discuss his concerns in detail. It was noted that at primary level, 81% or more of children in Middlesbrough attended a good or better school. There were also several outstanding schools and three teaching schools in Middlesbrough.
AGREED as follows that:
1. The information provided was received and noted.
2. The Head of Achievement would provide a further update on progress to Panel
in September 2016.