Since the early 1990’s I have been engaged in seeking to understand why schools’ performances are so varied and how ‘the average school’ can be helped to become more like ‘the best’. This coincided with calls for greater accountability within the public sector and also, latterly, with substantial increases in the funding available along with demands for continued improvement in the outcomes of schooling.
One of the first tasks was to move beyond the crude characterisations of schools based simply on their outcomes and reported by ‘League Tables’ of schools’ performance.. Early work involved a series of academic papers showing some of the factors affecting schools’ intakes which had an influence on schools’ outcomes. As a consequence of this I became involved in a series of official inquiries and advisory groups.
These included working with the Grammar Schools’ Heads Association to develop ‘Progress’ frameworks to assist these schools review their performances in ways similar to those available for non-selective schools. This resulted in the publication of the first ever ‘Value-Added’ assessment of the performance of each of the specialist selective schools in Spring 2009.
Since 2007, I have contributed to the early establishment of procedures for the effective monitoring of progress in many sponsored academies – and more recently have established frameworks for the detailed use of early data for the new cohorts entering these schools. This has been both a challenging and yet very satisfying development – using the same principles that were established in my early work – but with greater cogency and potential for these schools to become ‘beacons of hope’ within their communities.
Between 2006 and 2008, I was a member of DCFS Advisory Group for ‘Gifted & Talented Young People’ chaired by Lord Adonis. This followed the work implemented by the Specialist Schools & Academies Trust highlighting the need to pay particular attention to the progress made by the ‘most able’ pupils within secondary schools.