Pupil Academic progress at Courtlands.
As all of our pupils have Statutory Education, Health and Care Plans for their learning difficulties, the natural assumption from most people, including DFE guidance, is that our children should not be expected to make the same levels of progress from their starting points as those pupils without learning difficulties. At Courtlands we refuse to believe that our children should be limited. The high levels of support in class and the expertise shown by our highly trained and experienced staff should be expected to help our children to make outstanding progress in their learning.
The school track the pupils three times annually and moderate with both special school and mainstream colleagues regularly. The data is then used to inform individual pupil provision, teachers’ planning and also teacher performance management.
This chart shows that during the period from 2011 to 2016 there was a significant improvement in the proportion of pupils making outstanding progress. This coincided with an improvement in observed quality of teaching and learning, showing that the concerted effort made by all staff to improve performance has been effective over this period of time. The other contextual element worth noting is the significant upward shift in complexity in pupils with ever more band 7 and 8 pupils exhibiting ever more severe learning needs and Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs.
The area for development highlighted here is the need to support the children making the lowest levels of progress to accelerate. What is also missing from this picture is the progress pupils make in their Wellbeing, and this is a major focus of school development this year.
During the academic year 2016/17, the school worked hard to address the change to assessment systems in all schools and designed its own system with help from a local consultant.
The data showed pupils making overwhelmingly outstanding academic progress and ‘Exceeding Expected” progress. What this has told us is that we need to do some calibration work on what we record as ‘Exceeded’. At the moment, this means pupils making at least 80% or more progress in-year of what would be expected if they had no learning difficulties at all. This work is being undertaken both with the consultant and Paul Winterton, Director of School Improvement for the trust. The challenge is clearly to show the proportion of pupils exceeding expected rates of progress for pupils in mainstream schools.
Pupils in receipt of the Pupil Premium nationally lag behind their better-off peers. Courtlands has bucked this trend for years, with these pupils often outperforming those not in receipt of the pupil premium.
This chart shows that there is no meaningful gap between the two groups again this year, with both groups making excellent progress.
All in all, the pupils at Courtlands School make outstanding academic progress, whatever their needs.
As a school we ensure that the teachers check how well the children are progressing in their learning firstly by checking the learning in every lesson. The teachers then record this information over time and formally report it to our Deputy Head Teacher and Assessment leader three times per year (November, February and June). We then use this information to make sure that our children are making the very best progress possible.
With the change in the national curriculum from ‘Levels’ to ‘Age Related Expectations, all schools are now expected to have their own assessment systems to measure the progress of their children and these are often quite unique to the schools. As a special school, ours is one of the unique ones.
It is important to have a clear rationale for the decisions we have made in designing our assessment system, so we have based our school expectations on the following assumptions:
- That the archived ‘National Progression Guidance Materials’ offered a rough guide to what progress should be expected, but that it was far from perfect.
- That children in our school should aim to make similar, if slightly slower, progress to those in mainstream schools, but from lower starting points. This is because they have complex and enduring needs which impact on their ability to learn and retain new knowledge.
Below are a number of documents which show how well our children perform against school expectations. Much of the language used is quite specific to people who work in schools, but the broad ideas are relatively easy to understand. We colour code the information to aid understanding and a general guide to you is that if it is coloured blue, it means the children are near to making, at, or exceeding mainstream levels of progress. If they are green, then it means the children are making between 60% and 80% of a year’s progress. If they are yellow, they are making between 40% and 60% of a year’s progress, and red means they are making 20% or lower. These measures are roughly equivalent to the old progression guidance materials.
Given that the children at Courtlands also have other complex Social, Emotional and Mental Health Needs we also measure progress in their behaviour, attendance and attitude to work and school.
These two sets of information give us a picture of how well a child is doing in school and allow us to judge if we need to give even more support. It also allows us to identify trends in how well the school is performing in different ways.
If you would like any further explanations, please contact us and we will be happy to help.