The Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Neighbourhood Working and the Assistant Director – Education attended the meeting to present an overview of the provisional, unvalidated educational outcomes of children and young people in primary, special, secondary schools and academies in Rotherham for the academic year ending in the summer of 2019.
The Deputy Leader in introducing the report emphasised that the figures included in the report were still provisional and would not be finalised until February. The Deputy Leader advised that since the report had been prepared new data received regarding Key Stage 2 (KS2) had made a positive improvement to the provisional figures included in the report. The Deputy Leader also noted that it was difficult to compare 2019 performance directly with performance in previous years due to changes in assessment methods.
The report provided information of provisional outcomes for:
· The proportion of Rotherham Schools judged as good or outstanding.
· Performance in the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile.
· Phonics testing for Year 1 children.
· Performance at Key Stages 1,2,3, 4 and 5.
A summary of the key issues that the provisional outcomes presented that included:
· The decline in outcomes in the primary phase in 2019. The national average had declined in some areas but the outcomes in Rotherham had declined more than the national average.
· Ensuring that Multi Academy Trusts worked collaboratively beyond their own trust to support performance and achievement across Rotherham.
The report also included a summary of priorities for Education for 2019/20, which included:
· To increase the number of children and young people attending (Ofsted) good or outstanding schools and increase the number of good or outstanding schools in Rotherham.
· Improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils by addressing wider issues than only academic outcomes and preparing young people for life after school to enter the workplace.
· To improve the performance of our pupils at the end of Key Stage 2.
· Continuing to improve performance at KS4, in particular for achievement in English and mathematics to be at or above the national average.
The full 2019 Education Performance Outcomes data was attached as an appendix to the officer’s report.
The Assistant Director – Education noted the disappointment of the service that overall education outcomes had not improved in 2019 and advised that work had been conducted to fully investigate the reasons for this. This work had led to the development of a broad and deep action plan designed to address issues identified, and the Assistant Director reassured members that the issues that had led to the dip in performance at KS2 in particular could be addressed successfully. The Assistant Director in summarising the performance data noted the good performance at Key Stage 4 and the above national average performance at Key Stages 5.
Members asked what would be done differently in future to improve performance at KS2. The Assistant Director advised that there was no need for any significant changes to delivery at KS2 as he was confident that strategies to improve performance that had already implemented would start to deliver results. The Assistant Director noted that it was essential in order to improve performance and attainment that activity was focussed on the key basics which would have the most impact on performance and not on peripheral activities that had less impact on performance.
Members asked that with regard to the under performance in Early Years provision whether there should be an increased focus on creative activity and less of a focus on reading and writing. The Assistant Director advised that in Early Years there should not be an over emphasis on reading and writing but noted that Government guidelines with regard to their provision needed to be adhered to. Members acknowledged this requirement but noted that the teaching of reading and writing in Early Years could be done in numerous and creative ways. Members also asked around activity regarding breakfast clubs and other activities that ensured children were ready to learn when school started. The Assistant Director advised that information on this type of activity could be collated and presented in future reports. The Deputy Leader noted that it was widely acknowledged that supporting activities did have a positive impact on children’s performance, but such provision was harder to deliver with fewer resources available.
Members asked for further information on the Attendance Pathway initiative that had been detailed in the report. The Assistant Director advised that the strategy had been developed with headteachers and other stakeholders to monitor non-attendance and to challenge and support families with the issue. The Assistant Director stated that he was confident that the strategy would be effective in improving attendance, but that as the strategy had only recently been introduced performance would be monitored and reported on after a year of operation.
The Chair asked about the collaborative and partnership working that was taking place with schools and other strategic partners. The Assistant Director provided information on the partnership working that had been taking place and noted that levels of engagement from academies had increased greatly.
The Vice-Chair thanked the Assistant Director – Education for attending the meeting and answering member questions.
(1) That the report be noted.
(2) That the format of the Education Performance Outcomes data presented to members in future years be reformatted in the style of the Council Plan update to make it easier to understand and interpret.