13. Charter for Transition - Highway to Success, Barnsley
This project is designed to improve both pupils' progression through school life and their performance, especially results at the end of Key Stage tests, and the liaison between phases of education (in particular Key stages 1 & 2 and 2 & 3).
It is also developing systems for measuring pupils' progress through the main transition stages (Y2/Y3 and Y6/Y7) on a consistent, borough wide basis, and to target support for those identified as at risk of regression during transfer between phases.
Background - Problems to be Tackled
- Establishing the baseline has been a long, but essential part of the process. Much of the project is geared towards developing systems and management investment in teachers in order to change classroom and management practice, which will make the project redundant by the end of its lifetime.
- The partnership activity with schools relies heavily on their ability to manage delivery of the mini-projects: it was therefore important to boost this capacity at a very early stage to secure the medium term outputs. Individual support was often needed in writing the initial bid. The team is, however, wary of the risk of slipping into the role of training and resources branch for the local education authority.
- The team has a good spread of expertise, including its co-ordinator, a former DfEE adviser and Chairman of the Southern LEAs Curriculum and Assessment Advisory Group and two former head teachers. The project relied on the willingness of several of the key staff to accept a substantial cut in salary. The co-ordinator feels that the quality of assembled team has been critical to its success so far.
- The plethora of schemes and groups with an interest in this work is considerable - Education Action Zone, other SRB activity, Barnsley Education Forum etc. It has therefore been important for the project co-ordinator to establish clear lines of communication with these other partners, and to be open about the project's activities - initially rather a one way channel of communication, but now developing into a real dialogue. There remains a risk, however, that the picture in Barnsley could become less cohesive.
- Managers stress the need to recognise the time needed to change systems and cultures as this project is aiming to do. Many of the achievements will be qualitative, rather than quantitative, but should not be submerged under the drive for quantitative outputs.
Ofsted reports and local evaluation studies identified two related factors, which have contributed to pupil under achievement:
- Lack of coherent borough-wide transfer systems from one key stage to another;
- Regression following transfer from one phase of education to another, in particular from Key Stage 1-2 and from Key Stage 2-3;
- This regression affects standards within the borough, which helps to account for the disparity between national and borough wide attainments at the end of Key Stage assessment/GCSE and in disappointing staying on rates;
- The lack of systematic analysis of pupil performance data to monitor the rate of progress that pupils achieve through the key stages and transfer from one school to another - across all 102 schools in the borough 13 different tests were being used;
- The need for co-operation between school, child and parent when pupils are at risk of performing well below national norms.
How the Project Developed
- expectations of pupil capabilities are too low;
- the planning of future learning does not take sufficient account of pupils' existing achievements.
Barnsley's Regeneration Forum, in place since the days of City Challenge in the early 1990s, had identified gaps in addressing the poor educational attainment of Barnsley's young people. Barnsley already had SRB learning activity underway from SRB Round 2, with a Tackling Disaffection project to identify and support pupils and families 'at risk', and a Reading Recovery project, and has recently been successful in Education Action Zone bidding, covering 22 schools.
The Highway to Success Scheme, of which this project forms a part, was developed in conjunction with the Barnsley Education Partnership (a policy body which had been a local authority initiative) with a number of theme co-ordinators, who included head teachers.
The project is managed within the structure of Barnsley Advisory Support and Inspection Service (BASIS).
Its research phase includes:
Local education authority Development Work includes:
- desk research on transfer procedures, nationally and internationally;
- analysis of performance data in Barnsley schools to help to identify causes of underachievement;
- analysis of curriculum planning;
- review of classroom approaches and assessment and target setting arrangements;
- evaluation of current transfer arrangements in Barnsley schools, including the respective roles of teachers, pupils and parents.
The mini-projects which schools can put forward for funding require individual proposal forms and contracts, and a certain amount of project management capacity on the part of schools contractors. To cope with an overall lack of project management expertise among school staff, the project team devised training sessions, with supporting materials entitled How to be a Project Co-ordinator and Evaluating a Project and Writing a Report. Such materials have been used in connection with this project and the Education Action Zone.
- developing a policy statement for individual progression planning;
- developing individual progression plans and practice to involve parents in their promotion, evaluation etc;
- promoting continuity and progression in schemes of work;
- developing a revised pupil recording system that meets DfEE and QCA requirements, but focuses on the use made of them by teachers;
- developing a nationally compatible data handling system identifying underachievement;
- promoting an LEA wide cluster moderation system to support school based moderation, including building management capacity in schools.
School Based Developments, supported by small grants to participating schools, include:
- promoting revised transfer arrangements
- developing internal systems for quality assurance
- developing teacher skills to support individual progression planning
- developing the skills of pupils and parents eg with home school working contracts;
- promoting school based procedures to enhance pupil performance eg through mentoring.
Lacewood Little Learners' Project - An example of block funded activity
Nursery nurses conduct outreach work with pre-nursery children who are on the waiting list for admission to join the nursery.
Three home visits are made to introduce the child (and parents) to a range of books, songs and activities that make up the pre-nursery programme.
The aims of this:
Total cost: materials - £250; staff cover - £750
- develop parents' involvement in the child's education;
- strengthen home-school links
- develop parents' own learning
- develop information links from health visitor/clinic, to enhance pre-school provision
- develop effective pre-school programme to raise attainment.
The small grants scheme is available to help schools carry out specific projects to promote good practice related to the transitions between schools, key stages and year groups. For instance, it provides the financial support for schools to release staff for working on materials, additional training and extension of the project.
In 1998 much of the work has been to trial ideas and materials, to see what would be likely to work on a wider scale. This will be followed in Summer 1999 with piloting strategies and materials and then disseminating a borough wide strategy and materials to support school development during the summer of 2000-2003 in three cohorts of primary and secondary schools.
Total Project Costs
Capital - £28,000 (SRB £18,000, BASIS £10,000)
Revenue - £1,144,688 (SRB £982,200, BASIS £143,464, Standards Fund £19,224)
Additional funding sources to be sought as and when available to add value to the project.
Outcomes and Achievements
Examples of these include:
- Project staff have been appointed and initial analysis of data and systems done, including internal reports on: Analysis of Performance in Barnsley Secondary and Primary Schools 1995-98.
- Project management skills have been developed among school staff, which should increase the effectiveness of all schools project activity, both under SRB and for other special initiatives, although this has yet to be assessed. Systems have been set up for contracting with schools and monitoring developments.
- The project is already supporting a number of schools to set up trials, which will be evaluated and, if found to be effective, piloted in other schools. A borough wide model is to be piloted and then implemented with a third of schools in each of the last three years of the project.
The project's work to progress target setting has already been publicly acknowledged in OFSTED reports.
- An English Bridging Project - jointly planned and delivered by Key Stage 2 and 3 staff, with joint moderation activities planned for the future;
- Facilitating target setting and improved planning for learning and teaching, using 'assessment manager'.
- Paired reading using reading partners, focusing on raising attainment in Year 3 and 5.
Tel: 01226 206 725
Fax: 01226 206 718