Agenda item

Performance in schools

Report from the Cabinet Member – Children and Families attached

Associate Headteacher Scheme - pen portrait briefs attached

Holy Cross Summary attached – David Frost, Principal

Elton High School Summary attached – Jonathan Wilton, Head

Vision Academy Trust summary attached – Carol McLachlain, Head

Hoyle Nursery attached – Rachel O’Neil, Head



Councillor Tamoor Tariq, Cabinet Member for Children and Families and Julien Kramer, Interim Assistant Director, Education and Inclusion presented a report giving the Overview and Scrutiny Committee an update on the work being undertaken in relation to School Improvement.


Councillor Tariq explained the journey around school improvement since the implementation of the work in July 2019. There had been a number of meetings held with Head Teachers, Governors, Teachers JCC and the Overview and Scrutiny main Committee and Performance in Schools Working Group.


Councillor Tariq reported that the Regional HMI was due to attend a meeting with Head Teachers in January.


The Regional School’s Commissioner had approved the work that had been carried out so far and the plan to move it forward.


Julien Introduced David Frost, Principal – Holy Cross College, Carol McLachlan, Chief Executive – Vision Multi Academy Trust, Rachel O’Neil, Acting Head Teacher – Hoyle Nursery School and Jonathan Wilton, Head Teacher – The Elton High School.


Each of the Head Teachers had submitted a pen portrait of their school or college to the Committee and were given the opportunity to present this information.


Holy Cross

David Frost, Principal at Holy Cross College explained that he had been at the College for 12 years and from 2007 to 2017 had been Ofsted Outstanding with a high number of students (over 50%) attaining A*, A or B at A Level and a large number (85% plus) progressing to university.


In early 2017 Mr Frost reported to Bury Heads that there was a changing emphasis in Ofsted’s approach ‘Good was the new Outstanding’ with a stronger emphasis on Value Added. This places greater weight on the progress of students. Some schools had high percentages of students gaining good GCSEs but low progress scores – getting as good as expected GCSE scores, but not ‘better’ than expected.


Mr Frost explained that at that time, Holy Cross had received ‘Satisfactory’ progress measures and were later judged by Ofsted as requiring improvement stating that satisfactory progress was no longer deemed sufficient. The college set in place a strategy not only to maintain high grades and high university success but to work towards ‘Very Good’ progress as well. It was explained that this was rapidly achieved.


A very strong ‘Good’ was awarded in inspection in 2018 as a result of the rapid improvement in progress, added to the continuing success such as A Level high grades, progression to university, pastoral care and enrichment. Mr Frost reported that the 2019 results have maintained the ‘Very Good’ level of progress while doubling Oxbridge admissions and increasing A* grades.


The significant level of improvement was achieved and maintained by strong quality improvement planning focussing on the following 6 elements:-

·         Strong monitoring of progress/value added scores at a teacher, class and subject level: every teacher trained to monitor the progress score for every key assessment and exam; (not just senior and middle management) Governors also trained.

·         Relentless focus on improving Teaching, Learning and Assessment through observations and investment in CPD.

·         Good use of collaboration with other institutions to share excellent practice.

·         Strong performance management based on teaching standards.

·         Ensuring teaching time was maximised, reducing intrusions into teaching

·         High visibility, drive and constant insistence on high standards across college.


This was achieved by focussing on progress and the staples of teaching and learning and a willingness to learn from and work with others to improve.


The Elton High School


Jonathan Wilton, Head Teacher at The Elton High School explained that he had been Head Teacher at the school for the past 4 years and a teacher there for 9.


The school had required improvement at the time that Mr Wilton became Head. The first year as head the school received a good Ofsted report. This was done by revitalising quality assurance, building on strengths and sharing good practice.


Daily delivery -  

Relentless focus on standards of Teaching and Learning with weekly briefings for all staff, Staff Teaching and Learning Group, Student Teaching and Learning Group, Improved Quality Assurance process, focus on oracy across the school. All good practice had been reinforced with recent curriculum review across all departments.


Consistent promotion of positive values – wide range of student roles – peer mentors, peer readers, sports captains, maths mentors etc. A fortnightly newsletter to the wider school community, the introduction of a new school uniform, strong rewards system, attendance rewards and weekly attendance focus/intervention.


Strong profile of staff and daily presence – Strategic Leadership Team (SLT)  on lesson by lesson walkaround, open door policy across the school, staff presence at lesson changeover,  SLT on daily morning/afternoon duty. Staff turnover is very low.


Strong focus on staff well-being and reinforcing team morale – Golden weeks half termly (no meetings after school), wellbeing drop-ins, increased number of SLE roles for strong staff and a full restructure of TLR holders to ensure consistency and fairness of roles.


Mr Wilton explained the challenges and opportunities;

Quality of education; Behaviour and Attendance; Leadership and Management; Personal Development, and the work that being done in these areas.


Vision Multi Academy Trust


Carol McLachlan, Chief Executive Officer – Vision Multi Academy Trust explained that she had been a head teacher for over twenty tears and had also worked in school improvement.


Vision Multi Academy Trust had opened in 2014 with 3 Bury Schools:- East Ward Primary School, Higher Lane Primary School and Sunny Bank Primary School with a total of 1120 children.


The role of the trust was explained as “Vision Multi Academy Trust is a community of school in which our pupils come first; we are proud of each and every one of them and want them to thrive, flourish and achieve their full potential within a supportive and caring environment.

The schools in our trust have come together to recruit, retain and develop the highest quality staff in order to deliver the best educational outcomes and be the employer of choice.”


The Vision MAT was a national leader of education providing services to other schools including: School improvement offer, professional peer support and challenge, office services, compliance management and leadership as well as other services.


It was reported that at the end of KS2 72% of children across the trust achieve the expected or above in reading, writing and mathematics. At the end of KS1 69% of children across the trust achieve expected or above in reading, writing and mathematics.

Year one phonics – 87% of children or above across the trust pass the phonics test.70% of children across the trust achieve a good level of development at the end of the early year’s foundation stage.


Ms McLachlan explained that there was consistency across the schools in the Trust with a good, strong team and an excellent support network.


Governance across the schools was high with Member and Trustees supporting and challenging the schools. Each school has its own local governing body who focus on school improvement. The school improvement members provide external reviews. All local Governing bodies and board complete a skills audit to ensure that they are highly skilled and carry out ongoing training and support.


It was explained that the trust would continue to provide support to other schools and continue the relationship with the Local Authority. There were no plans to grow as a trust at the moment and would only do so for the right reasons.


Hoyle Nursery School


Rachel O’Neil Acting Head Teacher at Hole Nursery School explained that she had been the Acting Head since January 2019.


Rachel explained that Hoyle Nursery School was located in one of the most deprived areas of Bury and provided support to the parents as well as the children. This was especially important with children who have English as a second language. There were 16 different languages spoken within the school at the current time.


The school developed and created bespoke packages for all of the children after establishing what support each child required and ensured that the SEND policy was embedded and practiced as an operational part of the whole school.


The information provided set out the summary of school improvement that was being undertaken across SEND, Curriculum, C & L, PSED, Reading and Maths.


Rachel reported that the Nursery School had been recognised as Outstanding by Ofsted.


Those present were given the opportunity to make comments and ask questions and the following points were raised:


·         Councillor Harris congratulated those present on the hard work and achievements that they had made.


·         Councillor Caserta referred to the ongoing work at The Elton High School and stated that the work that had been undertaken was very encouraging and it seemed that having strong foundations in place was working.



Mr Wilton explained that strong teachers supporting strong teachers on a lesson by lesson basis was a good quality experience.


·         Councillor Walsh referred to the quality assurance process at The Elton High School and if the process had been made more robust and whether there were more staff ownership involved.


Mr Wilton explained that it was a mixture of both. The deep dives into the different subjects were thorough but supported. Feedback was always asked for on how the exercises were carried out and changes would be made if required. The whole Quality Assurance process had become part of the school and had modernised the evaluation process.

·         Councillor Lucy Smith asked whether there was enough robust collaboration across Bury schools?


Ms McLachlan explained that the schools partnership programme had initially had 3 schools working in partnership, this had proved successful and had been rolled out to 14 more primary schools. The programme was partially funded by the education endowment fund. The programme undertook visits to schools to work with them and was structured, purposeful and focussed.


Julien explained that there were lots of different ways of working together and that sharing good practice was an excellent place to start. The role of the Local Authority was to broker good partnerships and allow the relationships and partnerships to grow.


It was agreed:


1.   That David Frost, Jonathan Wilton, Carol McLachlan and Rachel O’Neil be thanked for their attendance.


2.   That the work be undertaken in relation to school improvement be endorsed.

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