In my last blog I shared the presentation delivered by Mary Rayner HMI when she spoke at a recent Greater Manchester leadership conference about the implementation of the Common Inspection Framework in the special school context.
One of the key messages we all took away with us was that in our schools there are many things in addition to Core and Foundation subjects which we value and want to celebrate, however, the onus is on us to ensure we are able to provide evidence of impact. It is not enough for us just to say how outstanding we are at for example personal and social development – how do we know? Importantly too if we are making a judgement of outstanding – what is that in relation to? How would it compare to other similar pupils in other similar settings?
Following the presentation, as a leadership team and then as a group of teachers, we have begun work on ensuring we have clarity on this in our own school.
The key questions for us were:
- what areas ( in addition to Core and Foundation subjects) were we agreeing were the key areas we want to focus on / celebrate in terms of pupil achievement?
- What are our existing sources of evidence for progress in these areas?
- In what format do we want to present our evidence and who to? ( parents / governors / website)
- On what basis are we making our judgements?
- How do our judgements / evidence compare to that in other schools?
Where are we up to and what are our next steps?
The staff and governors have now agreed 9 key areas of achievement for our school. They are:
- Core subjects
- Foundation Subjects
- Social, Moral, Spiritual, Cultural (SMSC)
- Characteristics of learning
- Personal and social development (PSD)
- Life Skills
We talked about how many of these overlap but can also identify key distinctions in our definitions of each one.
We then went onto deciding on and listing existing evidence sources for each area as we do not want to get into creating additional checklists for the sake of it! Many evidence sources are generic for each area e.g. formative assessment records, classroom observations, displays, end of year reports…however there are some evidence sources which are bespoke to individual areas e.g. for PSD / SMSC / Characteristics of learning – school council minutes have been included on the list of evidence sources.
We are now in the process of compiling case studies for each of the areas to which evidence sources which exemplify the progress made by some of our pupils will be attached. When complete, the table indicating our 9 areas of pupil progress with their evidence sources and anonymised case studies will be included on our website on the curriculum / assessment page.
Rather than relying solely on our own judgement however, in order to benchmark against other schools, we are working with special school leaders across Greater Manchester (in the established network working group we have already which includes cross moderation of assessments), we are agreeing as a group what a ‘Gold standard’ case study should look like and then during 16 – 17 are planning to cross moderate each other’s case studies – a professional dialogue which will be really valuable.
On 13th July, we are going to discuss this topic between 8 – 8.30 p.m. on @ – a chat which I @, co-host with @ and we would really love to hear from other schools about how you are tackling this issue? Let’s share good practice and ensure together we can make sure we achieve the best possible holistic outcomes for our children and young people with SEND.
Whilst this has been a conversation in this blog about learners with SEND, I am sure mainstream colleagues would agree that there are so many achievements other than core and foundation curriculum in all of our schools for all of our pupils so I would welcome views from all settings.
Thank you for reading and I look forward to hearing from you