School leaders know data in their schools, they may most probably how their school data compares to National data benchmarks. More recently schools leaders have been directed to explore the gaps within their school. Then there are data specialists and / or analysts who know data, and some know data and education. Gifted Phoenix is one such education policy analyst, Tim Dracup is happens to share an area of interest, the education of the most able.
Most of my own thinking is heavily influenced by Tim’s thorough and policy driven analysis. I use his broad analysis to help better understand my own specific context, a semi-rural Academy with a below average prior attainment intact and military backdrop. Here is more meagre follow-up to my initial concerns on the education of most able.
Reflections and recommendation on Most Able
Long term, a review of the definition of “most able” is required. This would require a thorough investigation of the current definition (currently inaccurate and rounded in its present form) and preparation for the new accountability framework. I would like to see the definition based on English or Maths or combined English and Maths indicators, rather than a APS 30+ score. To test that theory I analysed our 132 pupils, 25 are 30+ only 19 are 30+ in both English and Maths. Of the 132 35 pupils have different English and Maths entry levels.
The need to ensure that nomenclature is consistent and understood; for Ofsted, inspectors (and visitors), school leaders and data managers and analysts. These terms then need to be consistently applied in inspection reports and across the all reports. In my basic analysis, 5A*-A and 5A*-B indicators provided starkly different outcomes. What should we use of 2016?
Attainment outcomes for the most able are almost invariably defined exclusively in terms of A* and A grade GCSEs – which ever attainment outcome is used, it should be consistent with reporting, RAISEOnline and supporting documentation. Moving forward should we expect clear assessment of the agreed attainment and/or progress measures of the most able learners and most able sub groups – notable disadvantage and most able?
Tim Dracup notes that there is a “tendency for reports on medium-sized schools to be significantly less likely to feature the most able in both main findings and recommendations and significantly more likely to feature it in neither.”
He also noted that given the survey notes that reports should “always report in detail on the progress of the most able pupils and how effectively teaching engages them with work that is challenging enough,” coverage on attainment and progress is inconsistent. Some reporting attainment and progress combined, some are focused exclusively on attainment in the core subjects, there are instances where the wider curricular is considered. Too many inspection reports miss the opportunity to comment on the provision and outcomes for the most able group.
Given the surveys observations, should reports / RAISEOnline include the % of most able and disadvantaged learners in the school?
What is the relationship between the curriculum and outcomes for most able learners?
Ofsted should signpost – What are the expectations of the curriculum for the most able? What are the expectations of the wider education provisions eg SMSC and IAG? So that reports have a comprehensive reference report to refer too, for school leaders to explore. Possibly, school leader advocates for this particular cohort of pupils?