To consider the report of the Director of Children's Services on the attainment of children and young people in Hampshire schools.
The Committee received a report and presentation (Item 9 in the Minute Book) from representatives of the Director of Children’s Services on the attainment of pupils in Hampshire schools, following on from an update provided in January 2017 on the changes to how attainment is measured nationally.
Members had noted during the previous consideration of this item that there had been an unprecedented change in the way performance was measured in schools in 2016, with the introduction of new standards at key stage one, and key stage two, and the introduction of new GCSE courses and methods of assessment at key stage four. Overall, outcomes for children and young people in Hampshire continued to outperform national averages, although direct comparisons could not be made between previous assessment types and those recently introduced. In particular, Hampshire continued to perform strongly against its comparator statistical authorities, particularly in relation to early years and key stage two.
Data from the previous year seemed to suggest that Hampshire schools were performing better with the new attainment and qualification standards than under the previous regime, which may be in part due to the work undertaken by the Department to ensure that schools and their leaders understood the changes and how to meet the new expectations.
The Department were aware that mean scores can often hide the scale of performance, and focus was being given to those schools that were performing less well. From the most recent publication of data, there had been a significant reduction in the number of schools classed in this category.
The changes to how key stage four is tested continued, with more challenging GCSEs for English and Maths rolled out and now scored on a 1 to 9 point scale. Previously the Department would monitor how many children got a C or above in these topics; the focus now was on a five or higher.
The move to ‘Progress 8’ and ‘Attainment 8’ was leading to some tensions with schools who were perhaps considering offering a less comprehensive syllabus in order to increase the chances of children attaining preferred scores when tested. As Hampshire schools currently showed a score lower than the national average in relation to ‘Progress 8’, thought would need to be given as to why this is, and how to help schools increase this figure without restricting syllabus selections. Despite the lower than national average ‘Progress 8’ score, Hampshire schools achieved above average in nearly all performance data metrics.
In response to questions, Members heard:
· That the data received nationally could be drilled down to individual child level, so children from different cohorts, such as those with an Education, Health and Care Plan or looked after children, could be grouped for analysis. This is something that the Educational Advisory Committee could consider in future, as it fell within their remit.
· The Department were not aware of any maintained schools changing their offer of non-core subjects as a result of changes to how progress was measured, although this was something that the Department would be monitoring.
· The Department were continuing to lead a range of briefings for Head Teachers on the new attainment measures, and the Department had a local inspector attached to each ‘requires improvement’ school to help them to improve in the areas outlined by OFSTED.
Members agreed that they would benefit from a further school attainment update, to include work ongoing with schools judged as ‘requires by OFSTED to improve attainment figures.
That the information update is noted.