More, most, academically able.
More, most, academically able.

More, most, academically able.

I blame myself. Completely. It was my fault. I let the pressure get to me and I ranted.

Ofsted influence is broad, of course it is. In schools that “Requires Improvement” it is palatable. Hence, Ofsted speaks, a series of job requests follow. The job request, to present an analysis of the “Most Able” category. I hope you find the information / rant useful, if not typically data dull. It is a parody of the email I sent some weeks ago to my senior colleagues. At the time, I recognised that I frustrated with the Ofsteds wagging the dog and I didn’t post the details. New jobs replaced the old jobs and I was too busy to be angry. Now that “The most able students- An update on progress since June 2013” has also been post, maybe I should filter out some of the frustration and share the details…

In January 2014, Ofsted revised its guidance document ‘Writing the report for school inspections’ to include the statement that:

Inspectors must always report in detail on the progress of the most able pupils and how effectively teaching engages them with work that is challenging enough. (p8)

This serves to reinforce the changes to the inspection guidance and clearly indicates that coverage of this pupil cohort. Unfortunately, and for our clarity as school leaders, Ofsted’s definition of ‘most able’ is both flawed and poorly applied.

Most able refers to “students starting secondary school in Year 7 having attained Level 5 or above in English (reading and writing) and/or mathematics at the end of Key Stage 2.” If you are reading this, there is a good change you work with data, and therefore most likely prefer numbers, a KS2 APS 30+.

This is of course you will have noted, is in fact “most high attaining” and not most-able at Key Stage 2. Second, in the most recent Ofsted reports, (Watchsted) you will find reference to  ‘most able,’ ‘most-able’, ‘the more able’, ‘more-able’, ‘higher attaining’, ‘high-ability’, ‘higher-ability’ and ‘able students’. It is not unusual for two or more of these terms to be used in the same report. Third, and recently added, is that the reference “most able,” is an all-rounder definition; English, maths and science.

It gets further complicated by Ofsted contradictory declarations that there is no “most able” glossary and that “there is currently no national definition for most able.” (Ofsted). Hence, it has become a contentious issue for school leaders. Which pupils exactly are will referencing, analyzing and supporting?

My advice, always clearly define which pupils you are referring to when discussing groups of pupils or pupil cohorts with inspectors. Always know you cohorts KS2 APS and outcome KS4 APS. As the recent 2013 Survey update can not decided which measure to use, choosing themselves to report A*-A and A*-B brackets, and sometime including grades C analysis, I would respond to the open criticism and use at least four levels of progress, reporting grades A*-A.

If we are to focus on L5 pupils on entry. Know who these pupils are, make sure the staff know who these pupils are. As most able and disadvantage is a clear attainment gap, make sure your AMA and FSM6 coordinators work together.

Performance Tables include a subtly different definition of high attainers, essentially requiring an APS of 30 points or higher across Key Stage 2 tests in the core subjects. The 2014 Secondary Performance Tables show that this high attainer population constitutes 32.3% of the 2014 GCSE cohort in state-funded schools. Ofsted reports 30.9% of the cohort in comprehensive schools (Ofsted report in 2014). Of these –

  • 29% of pupils achieved Level 5 or above in KS2 reading and writing
  • 44% of pupils achieved Level 5 or above in KS2 Maths and
  • 24% of pupils achieved Level 5 or above in KS2 reading, writing and maths.

Know your own schools figures. At The Wellington Academy 24 pupils, 30-32.7 APS. Of which 17 are Level 5 or above in KS2 (reading / writing combined) English and maths.

Also, important, our FSM6 or disadvantaged context. Lastly – if we are preparing for conversation, we should note that 5 pupils are L5 (upper) and FMS6. 5A*-C 100%. With A and A* grades 60% Eng and 80% Maths. Attainment at these % would be above national benchmarks.

Go down the corridor, turn right and the Russell Group presentation is in the room to your left.

The momentum in my own personal understanding of the “most able” is overwhelming due to the highly detailed analysis and conversation with @GiftedPhoenix. Head over to the blog for the detailed analysis.


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