Presentation on theme: "Future strategy for education in Essex 14 th January."— Presentation transcript:
Future strategy for education in Essex 14 th January
The focus of this review and the process carried out to date Focus The purpose of this review was, building on the research which Isos had undertaken on behalf of the LGA and DfE on the evolving role of local authorities, to help Essex to: articulate both the local authority’s vision to date for its role and how it looks to develop this in the future develop this vision and plans for implementation with schools develop an action plan for next steps in the work of the local authority publish a document setting out the future vision for Essex education Process We have interviewed Councillor Castle and Dave Hill as well as Tim Coulson and his senior management team. We have also spoken to other local authority staff including quadrant commissioners and staff with responsibility for places planning/SEN We spoke with the Executive Directors of Essex Special School, Primary and Secondary Heads Associations as well as with a small sample of special, primary and secondary heads themselves We also interviewed the Directors of two major Academy chains working in Essex We have reviewed a range of existing data, information and documents about current performance in Essex and future strategy
The context of schools in Essex – numbers of academies Almost 75% of Essex secondary schools are already academies – the majority individual convertor academies. At primary only around 10% of schools are currently academies, but those in the pipeline are likely to take this up to around 15%. Essex is considering setting a clear ambition that by the end of this academic year a further 100 primary schools will be en-route to academy status. This would mean that around a third of primary schools were on the path to academy status or already academised. The risk in such a large authority, is how to ensure a coherent strategic direction to education and stable collective decision-making and accountability functions when there are multiple sponsors and many stand-alone academies Based on data published by Department for Education in December 2012
Overall performance at KS2 and KS4 compared with national averages Percentage of pupils achieving L4+ in both English and maths at KS2 and percentage achieving 5+ A*-C including English and maths at KS4 At both KS2 and KS4 the performance of schools in Essex, both in terms of average attainment and five year improvement trajectory has very closely tracked the national average. However, Essex has been clear in its vision that the national average is not good enough for an authority with the resources and relative affluence of Essex. Essex is currently 2.75 percentage points below the lower threshold of top-quartile performance at KS4 and 3 percentage points below at KS2. Reaching the top quartile would require making up this difference as well as improving at at least the same rate as authorities in the top quartile. Threshold of top-quartile range – 82% Threshold of top-quartile range – 61.25%
Overall performance at KS2 compared with statistical neighbours Percentage of pupils achieving L4+ in both English and maths At key stage 2 Essex performs broadly in line with its ten closest statistical neighbours (as defined by the NFER benchmarking tool). However, the attainment levels in the highest performing statistical neighbours (for example Hampshire) demonstrate that it is possible to aspire to top- quartile performance in contexts similar to that of Essex.
Overall performance at KS4 compared with statistical neighbours Percentage of pupils achieving 5+ A*-C including English and maths Similarly, at Key Stage 4, Essex is performing broadly in line with its statistical neighbours both in terms of overall attainment and the improvement trajectory. However, again, the performance of an authority like Warwickshire demonstrates that what Essex is aspiring to achieve is not impossible.
Schools’ performance at their most recent Ofsted inspection up to For both primary and secondary schools the percentage judged good or outstanding in Essex is significantly below national averages. This is true both for the proportion of schools (shown here) and the proportion of learners attending good or outstanding schools. The three year trajectory actually shows the proportion of satisfactory schools rising. The relatively high number of schools that are inadequate is also a concern. However primary schools inspected recently, under the new and tougher framework, show an improving trend: 38 primary schools were inspected in September and October – at their previous inspection, 11/38 were good or outstanding and after the inspection, 23/38 are good or outstanding. The performance of special schools in Essex is also very strong – half are judged to be outstanding and none are inadequate..
Progress and attainment at primary – distribution of schools Although the majority of primary schools are clustered around the national average in terms of the progress their pupils make and their attainment, there is a significant minority (around 7%) of primary schools whose progress and attainment is well below the average and are a serious cause for concern. However, there are also plenty of very high performing schools which suggests that there is capacity to draw support from within the primary sector. Percentage of children achieving L4+ in English and maths Percentage of children achieving expected rates of progress
Progress and attainment at secondary – distribution of schools (based on 2011 GCSE results) At secondary there is also a significant minority of schools, around 10%, which are well below national averages in terms of both attainment and progress. Many of these already have a sponsored academy solution in place. There appear to be a lower proportion of secondary schools performing at well above national averages than there are at primary which suggests that there may be a need to source additional capacity and expertise from outside Essex. Percentage of young people achieving expected rates of progress Percentage of young people achieving 5+ A*-C including E&M
The strengths for Essex identified during the fieldwork The priorities of ‘every school a good school’ ‘top quartile performance’ and ‘narrowing gaps’ are well understood and articulated clearly. They are widely shared across the senior leadership within the authority. Overall the vision is clear and sets the objectives for the coming years The LA and Secondary Heads Group have maintained strong relationships with all schools including academy converters Relationships with Academy Sponsor organisations are on the whole strong as well, with the draft concordat setting out expectations for both parties At Secondary level relationships are on the whole strong The increased use of IEBs has helped to address issues of serious under-performance There is much greater transparency and clarity of what will happen if a school goes into a category through published statement of actions The focus on satisfactory schools and ‘triaging’ to identify those capable of improvement, those in need of further support, and those where more decisive action is needed offers the prospect of further improvements The process of intervention and support for all schools including Academies is now clearly set out Performance issues at primary are now being tackled decisively and with urgency The LA has a good understanding of the performance of all schools and knows where improvements are needed The data held by the local authority is now being used in more creative ways to think about the ‘mapping’ of approaches to local groupings of schools The use of data is seen as a real strength of the authority
The challenges for Essex identified during the fieldwork Especially amongst primary schools there was a strong sense that schools did not fully appreciate the depth of the performance challenge faced by them. Debate around OFSTED criteria is getting in the way of the need for improvement Understanding and acceptance of the performance challenge Schools don’t yet see the advantages of becoming part of a wider group of schools either through Multi-Academy Chains or other groups of schools. Many schools have not yet adjusted their expectations of what support they can expect from the LA or asked themselves where they will need to look for support in future Case for a new approach at primary has not been made clearly yet or understood by schools There appears to be no clear strategy for the growth or use of Teaching Schools. Although there are some examples of school to school support there seems to be no systematic model in place yet. There is no sense of Essex wide priorities Lack of an Essex wide strategy for improving the quality of teaching and learning There needs to be a more proactive approach to shaping new provision to ensure it meets identified need. Some examples exist where this has worked well e.g. the development of a new Studio School in Tendring but in other cases new provision has emerged without the engagement of existing providers and in areas where arguably it was not needed Need to do more to influence new provision and new providers to meet identified needs A sense of frustration that the SEN strategy has been parked for a number of years now and that there is no coherent plan for meeting the needs of the most vulnerable in Essex. This is giving some schools an ‘excuse’ for not being good There are gaps in existing provision especially for those with autism and BESD. The expertise of special schools and PRUs are not being harnessed to support the mainstream sector sufficiently, despite the quality and readiness of schools Special educational needs
Solutions for the primary sector - argument Capacity in the sector to drive excellence Only 61% of primary aged pupils in Essex currently attend schools judged good or outstanding placing Essex in OFSTEDs second lowest category for young people likely to attend a good or outstanding school. Moreover with OFSTED’s new inspection framework many of these schools are potentially at risk of falling into ‘requires improvement’ in the coming period There are a very large number of primary schools in Essex, and solutions for individual schools are unlikely to be able to provide the step-change in performance Essex is looking for. Groups of primary schools working together to support each other and commission support from other schools, the local authority or other agencies are more likely to be able to achieve the improvements in outcomes for young people Multi-Academy Chains present one clear option for schools becoming part of a group. Essex wants schools to be actively considering the possibility of becoming part of an Multi- Academy Chain as a means of accessing the support they need To support this Essex needs to develop a stronger argument about the benefits of becoming part of an Multi-Academy Chain or other grouping of schools. This does not mean forcing good and outstanding schools to become Academies but helping them to understand potential benefits and make an informed choice Appetite to make it happen Many of the primary schools have not yet accepted the fundamental argument for why further improvement is needed. The debate around OFSTED categories is getting in the way and the case needs to be remade on basis of outcomes for learners Most schools have realised that the relationship with the authority has changed, but many don’t seem to have accepted the new reality or asked themselves the question as to where the support is going to come from in future Some groups of schools are actively considering the possibilities of working together as a group or chain of schools, and in these cases, some are beginning to consider the benefits of becoming a multi-Academy chain, though other solutions are possible Essex doesn’t yet have enough successful examples of why becoming part of a group or chain (Academy or non-Academy) will be beneficial to primary schools. It needs to develop these examples from both within Essex and outside of Essex to make the case to all primary schools to at least consider this option Primary schools are aware of the latest developments in Basildon and see the agenda as one of ‘forced academisation’. The debate needs to move on from this so that schools understand the benefits and a number of myths are nailed Individual primary schools are unlikely to have the capacity on their own to achieve the step change in performance which Essex is looking for. Essex therefore wants schools to be considering the benefits of becoming part of a formal grouping of primary schools. Multi-Academy Chains offer one way in which schools could do this, but schools need to understand the potential benefits and see some successful examples
Solution for the primary sector - proposal Primary Schools becoming part of local groups of schools either through Multi-Academy Chains or other solutions Developing models and information for other schools to learn from Essex needs to work with and actively provide support to ‘early adopter’ groups of schools who want to develop their proposals for becoming part of Multi Academy Chains or other groups of schools Essex should look to other local authorities for examples of successful groups of schools it can use Essex needs to develop a clearer narrative and answers to key questions schools will have Further supporting capacity at primary Future LA role There will continue to be schools who do not become part of any group of schools both immediately and long term There needs to simpler information available for schools and Governors who are considering becoming part of a Multi –Academy chain or want to look for other solutions Essex needs to think through it’s support model for these schools as well as the Chains and other groups The development of locality based clusters of schools may be able to provide the support needed by individual schools in many cases Essex should also consider whether it can commission support from the chains or groups of schools for schools who formally sit outside them Essex will need to develop similar ‘concordats’ with each of the primary multi-Academy chains and other groups of schools to ensure they maintain strong relationships with each group of schools The case to primary schools for becoming part of a Multi-Academy Chain or other group of schools needs to be made in school improvement terms Essex needs to ensure that there are mechanisms in place to ensure sharp challenge is matched by high quality support Outstanding heads are cautious about taking on executive leadership roles for fear of what will happen if they fail to deliver The incentives and structures for schools to support each other are not well aligned and the brokerage function is proving difficult because the LA has a limited knowledge of the most effective schools
Solutions for the secondary sector - argument Capacity in the sector to drive excellence Although performance overall at secondary level is better than primary, and major issues of under-performance have now been addressed, there remain performance challenges with the numbers of schools in categories and satisfactory schools – as of 31 August secondary schools were judged inadequate and 28 satisfactory. Over 70% of Secondary Schools have converted to Academy status but the vast majority have done so as single converters and as such Academy Chains are unlikely to provide the capacity for further improvement in these schools – only 9 secondary schools are currently supported through sponsored Academy status Although 20% of secondary schools are currently rated as outstanding in Essex and there are many other schools with outstanding practice, there is no systematic mechanism for brokering support from these schools to other schools, nor is the capacity necessarily what is needed to provide the type of support other schools need. There is no clear approach to using Teaching Schools currently to provide support –no secondary schools are currently designated teaching although there are a number of bids being put forward in the current application and it maybe possible to achieve a Teaching School in/or near to each District in future Appetite to make it happen Relationships between the LA and secondary schools and amongst secondary schools themselves are on the whole strong There is no clear mechanism for brokering school to school support or support from outside Essex for Secondary Schools The Essex Secondary Heads Association has discussed before the idea of it taking on and playing a more formal brokerage role but has not stepped into this space yet Some individual groups of schools are coming together to commission support – Harlow and Colchester were two examples mentioned during the fieldwork visits The fact that so many secondary schools in Essex are single Academy converters, and the absence of an effective school to school support mechanism, means that many of the secondary schools in Essex are currently unlikely to be receiving the support they need to drive further improvement. The brokerage of support needs to come from groups of schools in future rather than individual schools determining commissioning their own support and there may be benefit in looking outside of Essex for at least some of this support. The challenge and support needs to be considered at a more strategic level across Essex Secondary schools through some type of Secondary Challenge Board.
Solutions for the secondary sector - proposal Secondary Challenge Board identifies cross cutting needs and locality based partnerships broker support Leadership and strategic overview from challenge board A secondary challenge board would provide greater oversight across all Essex Secondary schools identifying common issues and need for support The challenge board could commission and broker support itself for Essex wide priorities, or make recommendations to locality based partnerships of schools about what issues they should be thinking in determining their own commissioning of support Support development of Teaching School Alliances Develop a strategic approach to the use of Teaching Schools such that every district has access to at least one Teaching School Develop locality based-partnerships Develop locality-based partnerships as the mechanism for commissioning and brokering school to school support and challenge Building on existing examples like Colchester and Harlow and working with the Essex Secondary Heads Associations to develop new models of brokerage Work with Teaching Schools to develop Essex wide offer of support at secondary level, as well as for primary schools Use locality based partnerships to commission support from Teaching Schools Looking outside of Essex to bring in more effective challenge and support to Secondary Schools where needed
Solutions for vulnerable children - argument Barriers There is a sense that there has not been a clear enough strategic direction set by the LA for how vulnerable children are to be supported in Essex. In part as a result of historical legacy, and in part due to the lack of a clear strategic direction, the pattern of special provision in Essex is not well matched to needs – either geographically or in terms of the type of need catered for. A lot of special schools are full and there is a distinct shortage of provision for BESD and ASD. The LA services have been stripped back, with a strong focus on meeting statutory requirements. However the focus of the new legislation is on early intervention which does not currently form a significant part of the LA service offer. Schools are pooling funding through LDGs for tier 1 and tier 2 early intervention support (such as co-funding family support workers) but the funding situation feels fragile with schools only committing budgets for one year at a time, and uncertainty about the LA contribution to LDG budgets going forward. Some specialist schools are providing outreach and support to mainstream schools but the brokerage and funding mechanisms for this are not systematic. The specialist teaching service provides training and outreach to mainstream schools and is valued, but some special school heads believe that service would have even greater credibility and impact if specialist teachers were located in special schools and provided outreach on a part timetable model. Enablers Performance in the special school sector is very strong, and a number of special schools have a real appetite to support mainstream schools if the funding and brokerage could be made more efficient and systematic. Some special schools are actively considering forming special academy chains. Through the LDGs there is a strong history of collaboration around the vulnerable children’s agenda which should be built upon. The opportunities to secure capital for special schools and alternative provision through the Free Schools programme should be considered, particularly in relation to addressing the gap in provision for autism and BESD. The creation of quadrant commissioners with a focus on vulnerable children provides an opportunity for the LA to strengthen its approach to commissioning for outcomes for the most vulnerable. The new legislation and SEN funding changes provide a key opportunity to refresh the focus. There is significant capacity in the sector to support vulnerable children – particularly drawing on the expertise of special schools. What is required is a clearer commissioning lead from the LA that ensures that both places and support is more closely matched to need and is accountable for driving improved outcomes for vulnerable children in mainstream schools.
Proposal for securing better outcomes for vulnerable children LA assumes a stronger commissioning and strategic role for vulnerable children Comprehensive needs analysis and commissioning of special school provision Undertake a fundamental review of the special school provision needed to meet the needs of children and young people in Essex for the next 10 years. Focus particularly on where expensive out of county placements are leading to a drain on resources. Review the full range of options for increasing and reshaping the provision available including levering in Free School capital for a new school, extending existing special schools, and locating special resources bases in mainstream schools Invest in early intervention and outreach Develop special schools as outreach hubs for localities, setting clearer expectations for what schools must fund themselves and what funding the LA can provide Hold the system to account Set clearer outcomes measures for support, training and outreach for vulnerable children, linked to the achievement and progress of vulnerable children in mainstream education Increase the capacity for outreach through special school hubs and consider how these might integrate with the specialist teaching team Provide more certainty around funding arrangements for LDGs and support these as the key vehicle for achieving collaboration around T1 and T2 support Use quadrant commissioners to support the special school hubs around brokerage and strategic direction. Where the LA is investing in LDGs look at the impact of the different support models funded, share practice and look to incentivise high-impact examples of joint working.
Three developing ‘roles’ for local authorities in a more autonomous education system A maker and shaper of effective commissioning A champion of children, parents and the community Convenor of partnerships Through our previous action research, Isos developed this framework as a way of conceptualising how the role of local authorities is changing in the context of increasing numbers of academies and reducing funding. Many local authorities have found this to be a useful framework for thinking about and organising their future provision and focus of their services. It provides a model for understanding how the role of Essex local authority might evolve, if the recommendations set out in the previous slides were implemented.
Implications for the local authority role and focus of services Local authority as a champion of children, parents and the community Monitoring performance Continue to use publicly available data to monitor and categorise the performance of all schools, including academies, against agreed and transparent criteria Work with academies to agree up front, through the concordat, the ongoing sharing of non-published data Be highly systematic about mapping and tracking other forms of intelligence about schools including complaints, admissions, staff and pupil turnover, safeguarding concerns, information from LA governors, information from traded services to build up a rich picture of all schools, not just community schools. Use a termly analysis of all the data and information to drive challenge and intervention activities. Consider developing a dedicated publication for all chairs of governors. Challenge and intervention Implement the new intervention policies in relation to community schools that are failing or significantly underperforming. Continue to roll-out the review of satisfactory and not improving schools – but closely monitor the outcomes of this process in terms of impact on schools and accuracy against Ofsted judgements. Work with academies and academy sponsors to develop an agreed protocol about how Essex will raise performance concerns, the response expected from schools, and how concerns will be escalated if they are not addressed (with a focus on minimising the need for escalation and maximising the opportunity for practical joint solutions.) Define and publish the offer that Essex can make to academies that are struggling, and the cost for academies. Governance and scrutiny Develop LA governors as a much stronger strategic influence in the system. Consider training on what the LA governor role now means, replacing some governors who may not be able to shift focus, using governors more systematically as a source of intelligence, keeping governors briefed on latest issues, and developing a really attractive LA governance offer for academies and academy chains. A lighter touch training and briefing offer could be offered to all governors on a voluntary basis. Increase the public-facing role of educational scrutiny through regular reports; short and sharp investigations on well defined issues; and a rolling programme of asking academy chains, heads and/or chairs of governors to meet with scrutiny. These should not be badged as punitive occasions (ie invite the good as well as the poor) but should be seen as a way of accounting to residents /tax-payers.
Implications for the local authority role and focus of services Local authority as a maker and shaper of effective commissioning Build relationships with academies Working from the current firm foundations, develop a clearer set of expectations for how the LA will engage with academies on an ongoing basis. This should consider different options for individual convertor academies, small multi- academy trusts, and larger chains. Focus on developing relationships with chairs of governors in convertor academies. Look at the numerous interfaces that academies may have with the LA and consider how they might be streamlined. Explore the concept of relationship managers, and who within current resources would have the right skill-set to perform this role. Bring larger academy trusts and chains more closely into the dialogue about the strategic direction for education in Essex. Commission academy solutions Continue the programme of seeking strategic academy solutions to areas of sustained poor performance, as well as individual solutions for schools requiring intervention. Create the governance structures that will enable the LA to continue to have a strategic dialogue with sponsors in areas like Basildon and Harlow after the initial brokering period has been concluded. Build up a bank of published information for schools about the performance of different sponsors that they can use to inform decision-making. Facilitate groups of early-adopter primaries to explore multi-academy trust options of conversion and shift the focus of the debate so that academisation is not equated with failure. Ensure new organisational models strengthen governance. Focus on vulnerable children Establish the LA as a much stronger commissioner for the needs of the most vulnerable by: Leading a full (and rapid) needs analysis of specialist provision. Better matching investment to need, including exploring the potential to use the high-needs funding block differently Levering in sources of additional funding, eg through Free Schools capital. Being clearer about what schools should fund themselves and what the LA is willing to fund. Focusing on early intervention, but with tighter expectations around outcomes. Developing, and holding to account, special- school-led outreach hubs in localities.
Implications for the local authority role and focus of services Local authority as a convenor of partnerships Develop a strategic challenge board Look to create a small, expert strategic challenge board to support the strategic direction of education in Essex, and monitor the impact of the actions that are set out in this report. The challenge board could be a manifestation of the new “middle tier” so include representation from the LA, from school groups, from multi-academy trusts and academy sponsors. The challenge board would oversee and be accountable for the impact of the local school improvement hubs. It could have a particular focus on securing value for money – so tracking the impact that investment, resources and support have on outcomes for children and young people. Enable local school improvement hubs Look to create a system of locally-based school improvement partnerships which are led by schools, for schools through majority school governance. Schools would buy into the partnership and would receive in return access to high quality peer-challenge and to a menu of tailored support services. School to school support could be brokered and held to account through the hub, and funded through school contributions. The teaching school alliances could be integrated within local hubs. The LA could provide support in-kind, through services, facilitation, strategic guidance. It could also provide seed-corn funding for innovation. Quadrant commissioners could have a key role in working with the hubs in their area. Make schools collectively responsible for decisions that impact on a community of pupils Continue the current ways of working so that schools increasingly take collectively responsibility for decisions about admissions numbers, place-planning and fair access. Ensure that protocols for working together are owned by schools and develop strong headteacher advocates for these processes. Position the LA as an expert provider of data (for example demographics, housing developments, projected educational needs), a strategic facilitator of these discussions and an advocate for communities and the most vulnerable. Consider delegating joint responsibility and funding for exclusions / alternative provision to groups of schools, initially at secondary.
How does this approach enable Essex to deliver its lifelong learning strategy? Essex has a clear vision for lifelong learning. The local authority role is one of strategic commissioner – helping to set the priorities for post-16 providers and make sure the requirements of employers and the economic needs of Essex as a whole are represented in their decisions about what provision to offer. The approach to supporting education in Essex set out in these slides will make a significant contribution to the implementation of the lifelong learning strategy Ensure every child achieves a good stage of development in the early years Ensure every child can go to a good or outstanding school Lead the UK in education and skills attainment Ensure education and skills provision are driven by the needs of employers Enable all residents to learn throughout their lives A more rapid and decisive response to school failure and underperformance Harnessing the capacity of Essex’s most successful schools to support other schools Developing leadership and governance capacity through collaborative structures and academy trusts A strategic challenge board to scrutinise performance Commissioning early intervention for vulnerable children to close attainment gaps Developing and embedding teaching school alliances to enable the efficient transfer of leading practice and a culture of professional development An enhanced school partnership structure that will make it easier for employers to engage with groups of schools Providing the data and opportunities for schools to make collective decisions about places and provision post-16 Engaging a wide range of strategic partners in the “middle tier” Essex Lifelong Learning PrioritiesHow the proposed strategic approach to education can help deliver the Lifelong Learning priorities Alongside these actions the ongoing implementation of the RPA strategy with schools and post-16 providers will also be critical to meeting the aims of the lifelong learning strategy '