The potential for Teaching Schools and a school led system to make the workforce more representative of its local pupil population.
A few days ago the DfE published its annual School Workforce in England Report. This report provides a wealth of information on the size and characteristics of the school workforce working in schools and academies, including ethnicity profiles of staff. As I have both a personal and professional interest in matters pertaining to equality and diversity, I read the report with interest to take stock of the current situation with regards to the make up of our school workforce.
This year’s data highlighted the stark realities facing the English education system, whereby the profession remains overwhelmingly white at a time when the pupil population is becoming increasingly diverse. Statistics from the report show that 94.4% of Heads of publically funded schools are from a ‘White British’ background. However, considering the fact that this means the remaining 5.6% ‘ethnic minority’ category also includes 1.8% of Heads from ‘Any other white background’ and 1.3% from ‘White Irish’ background, the figures are even more alarming if you look at the ‘non-white’ representation of Heads which stands at a paltry 2.5%. The situation regarding teachers is a little better with 88.4% of teachers coming from ‘White British’ backgrounds overall, but again the figures drop considerably when looking at just ‘non-white’ teachers, which represent only 6.7% of the teaching workforce. This is an increase of 0.3% on last year. Behind this headline data, the report also shows that there are higher percentages of minority ethnic teachers and senior leaders in the London region, highlighting considerable regional disparities too.
I was disappointed with these figures, so decided to take a longer view of the situation rather than judging the improvements over one year. I therefore went through each annual ‘School Workforce’ report and was able to go back as far as 2004, when the first set of disaggregated data became available. I also wanted to look at what was happening in our schools in relation to the pupil population and was able to get the figures for the minority ethnic pupil profile from the annual ‘Schools, pupils and their characteristics’ reports for the same period. My findings are presented in the graph below, which plots the percentage of England’s minority ethnic pupil profile separately by Primary and Secondary phase from 2004 to present, along with both its minority ethnic (green line) and ‘non-white’ (purple line) teacher profile over the same period.
DfE: Schools, Pupils and their characteristics, Statistical First Release for individual years 2004 -2012
DfE: School Workforce in England, Statistical First Releases for individual years 2004-2012
The graph doesn’t need much commentary because the visual representation tells the tale quite vividly. What these figures reveal is that the percentages of minority ethnic and ‘non-white’ teachers have increased more or less every year leading to an overall 2% gain over this period. However, as can be seen in the graph these increases are occurring at a painfully slow rate. Certainly during the past eight years the percentage of minority ethnic pupils has increased at a faster rate, so that the gaps are widening considerably year on year and will continue to do so unless some decisive action is undertaken.
For many years in England there has been a recognition and understanding by policy makers of the many benefits which can accrue from having a school workforce which is reflective of its pupil population. It has also been recognised that minority ethnic teachers can play an important role in ensuring that all pupils get a more balanced view of society and as far back as 1985, when I first entered the teaching profession, The Swann Report and later the Cantle Report in 2001, highlighted the need to ensure that the teaching ethos of each school reflected the different cultures of the communities served by society and that the lack of ethnic minority teachers in schools needed urgent attention. The now abolished Teacher Development Agency (TDA) oversaw a number of initiatives through which Initial Teacher Training (ITT) institutions were actively encouraged to recruit and retain minority ethnic staff in schools. The National College similarly has led a number of initiatives to encourage better representation of minority ethnic teachers to progress to senior leadership levels, such as the Equal Access to Promotion (EAP) and Investing in Diversity (IiD) Programmes. During this time there have also been a number of important reports commissioned to look in depth at the disparities that exist and the reasons for this, such as joint report by NASUWT and NCSL entitled ‘The leadership aspirations and careers of black and ethnic minority teachers’ undertaken by The University of Manchester. This report along with several others provides useful information to ascertain the issues and possible ways forward for interested parties, although generally there is a dearth of research in this area both in England and internationally.
This issue is not only pertinent to England as many countries across the world are also grappling with similar issues to varying degree of success. An OECD report called ‘Educating Teachers for Diversity: Meeting the Challenge’ in 2010, explores the concepts underlying diversity in various contexts across the world and the challenges involved in creating an evidence base to guide policy makers. This report focuses on two key areas:
· Preparing all teachers for meeting the needs of an increasingly diverse pupil population and
· Ensuring the school workforce is representative of the pupil population
It urges schools and education systems to ‘treat diversity as a source of potential growth rather than an inherent hindrance to student performance………’ and argues for a paradigm shift from homogeneity, to heterogeneity and finally to diversity by moving along a continuum, whereby difference is not acknowledged under homogeneity, differences are seen as a challenge to be dealt with under heterogeneity, to difference seen as an asset and opportunity under diversity. In England, the challenge for us is to move from heterogeneity to diversity and accelerate our efforts in in this endeavour.
With the rapidly changing education system within England, it seems that the current developing autonomous school system led by Teaching School Alliances and their partners could provide an opportunity to embrace these issues by ensuring that decisive action is taken at a local and regional level to make the school workforce more representative of the pupil and communities they serve. Teaching Schools have been given the remit of recruiting and retaining the best teachers and leaders and providing high quality Continuous Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for staff at all levels of career progression. They also have a remit to focus on succession planning issues. The National College Teaching School handbook in the section ‘Diversifying School Leadership’ gives clear pointers for serious consideration. Dependent on the understanding and expertise of diversity matters within individual Teaching School Alliances, which may or may not be a current area of strength, there is the powerful potential of taking forward what has already worked well by successful ITT institutions in this area and ensuring this is embedded in newer programmes such as Schools Direct, which are increasingly being delivered locally by schools. It also provides an opportunity to carefully look at the existing programmes being delivered through Teaching Schools to ensure that action is taken to recruit and retain minority ethnic teachers and where gaps in provision are evident, bespoke solutions are developed.
With careful analysis of local needs in relation to diversity matters there is the unique possibility for each Teaching School Alliance to develop a clear and cogent strategy of building on the existing best but also innovating to fill existing gaps, so that there is acceleration in percentages of ethnic minority teachers and Senior Leaders at local and regional level, in line with the paradigm shift argued for within the OECD report. This would enable England to become a world leader in this area for other countries to emulate.
The ‘gender effect’ is a matter of concern not only for England but many countries around the world. As a result, gender and educational attainment continues to be the focus of research. Initially the focus was on ‘girls’ underachievement’ in the 1970’s but since the 1990’s, however, the discourse has shifted significantly to focus on ‘boys’ underachievement.’
This issue regularly preoccupies the minds of many politicians and parts of the media, and from time to time it gives way to a moral panic. However, in terms of inequalities in education it is worth remembering that class has over five times the effect and ethnicity has twice the effect compared to gender. [i] That is not to say that that the effect of gender is not still significant but it should be considered within this context. The actual issues affecting inequalities in education can be quite complex and to gain a better understanding of these issues it is important to look at how class, ethnicity and gender come together to interplay on educational outcomes. It is recommended that senior leadership teams and staff in school look holistically at the needs of their particular pupils and groups of pupils who are currently underachieving before developing strategies to address these needs. It is also worth remembering that there are more variations within the overaching groups of ethnic minority and pupils eligible for free school meals, as there are between them too, largely because groups are not homogeneous and have a wide variety of needs.
This fascination with the ‘gender effect’ has resulted in many myths and misconceptions being perpetuated. For colleagues interested in addressing gender inequalities Equitable Education has produced the following Infographic exploding 12 myths and misconceptions commonly associated with gender. The Infographic has been based on the publication called ‘Education and Gender – Mythbusters. Addressing Gender and Achievement: Myths and Realities’ produced by the DCSF in 2009 and written by Gemma Moss, Becky Francis and Christine Skelton.
[i] Gillborn D & Mirza H (2000), ‘Educational Inequality: Mapping Race, Gender and Class. A Synthesis of Research’. Ofsted London
The realities to these myths are outlined below:
The original publication ‘Education and Gender – Mythbusters. Addressing Gender and Achievement: Myths and Realities’ produced by the DCSF in 2009 and written by Gemma Moss, Becky Francis and Christine Skelton it is available here in PDF format for you to download. It includes further information, along with research evidence to back up these assertions.We shall be coming back to this topic in future postings, so do visit our blog regularly to keep updated. In the meantime, should you require specialist advice and support in addressing educational inequalities in
.your school, please do contact us at Equitable Education by e-mailing us on firstname.lastname@example.org If you would like a PDF version of our Infographic to use in your school, please get in touch with us by using the e-mail above. We look forward to hearing from you.
Recent research by Professor Sandra McNally et al at the London School of Economics has discredited the negative popular view perpetuated by the media, that pupils with English as an additional language drive down standards for pupils for whom English is a first language. Newspaper articles, especially around the time of the EU enlargement frequently used negative headlines to highlight this myth – ‘English is the foreign language for 40 % of primary school pupils’ - Daily Mail, November 2007 'No place at school if you’re British' - Daily Express, October 2006 or 'More Catholic schools needed to cope with East European influx' - Independent 22/6/ 07. This is not accounting for the negative rhetoric used then and now by politicians too.
The research entitled ‘Non-native speakers of English in the classroom: What are the effects on pupil performance?’ by Charlotte Geay, Sandra Mc Nally, Shqiponja Telhaj, was published by the Centre for the Economics of Education at LSE in March 2012. The researchers highlighted the fact that the number of EAL learners has more or less doubled over the past fifteen years from approximately half a million to the present 1 million of EAL pupils in schools in 2012. The key focus of their research was ‘Does it matter for the educational attainment of ‘native English speakers’ at the end of primary school?’ The researchers used data from the National Pupil data base, which is the census of all pupils in state schools from 2012 -2009 and linked this to school level data sets. The Census data provides information on a range of factors such as EAL, ethnicity, gender, Free School Meal eligibility, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities, as well as prior attainment. These factors are often called pupil characteristics. They were also able to look in depth at school level data such as the school type, the size of the school, how many of the pupils were from disadvantaged backgrounds, pupil – teacher ratios and the amount of funding it receives etc. Much of this data nowadays for individual schools is in the public domain and is readily available on the DfE performance tables, which are available here. Using this information they carried out two pieces of research focusing on KS 2 SATS which are exams that all pupils have to take in Year 6 and marks the end of primary schooling in England. The two key areas they looked at were the following: 1. What was the association between the percentage of non–native speakers in Year 6 and KS attainment of native speakers of English, taking into account detailed characteristics of pupils.
2. Whether schools that had an increase of white non-native speakers as a result of EU enlargement had a change in attainment of native English in speakers, compared to other schools. Their findings were as follows: “There is a negative association between the percentage of non-native speakers and attainment of native speakers of English if we do not control for anything else”. Now this if is very important because of factors such as disadvantage which is measured by the proxy indicator of eligibility for free school meals (FSM). The researchers highlight that 15 % of non EAL speakers are eligible for FSM, compared to 18 % for white EAL learners and 28 % non –white EAL learners. Therefore, when minimal controls are put in to take account of these various characteristics “ …….this negative association goes away” . This is as a result of the fact that EAL pupils or non-native English speakers on average go to more disadvantaged schools. They conclude……….’ negative association in the raw data between the percentage of non-native speakers and the educational attainment of native English speakers is easily removed – even by controlling for very limited characteristics of native English speakers. The negative correlation can be explained by sorting of non-native speakers into schools with less desirable characteristics. Under certain assumptions, the strategies used in this paper can be used to make an inference about causal effects. Both strategies suggest that negative effects can be ruled out. This is not surprising in the light of positive selection of first and second immigrants to the UK in terms of their educational attainment, although it does refute perceptions (in the media) that the increase in students who do not speak English as a first language is detrimental to the education of native English speakers. The result also makes sense in the context of other research about ethnic minorities in England. Dustmann, Machin and Schonberg  show that most ethnic minority groups progress through primary school at a faster rate than white British students (as measured by the increase in attainment between age 7 and 11) and that improvements in the proficiency of the English language is likely to be the most important contributing factor. Thus it seems likely that most primary-aged students catch up in English proficiency at a rate such that they do not impede the progress of their native-speaking peers.” Should you wish to watch Sandra McNally giving an overview of the research report, a short video clip is available here courtesy of Cambridge Assessment. A full copy of the report is available here.  Dustmann, C., S. Machin and U. Schonberg, (2010), Educational Achievement and Ethnicity in Compulsory Schooling. Economic Journal, 120(546): F272-F297
A recent report ‘The state of the nation–demand and supply of language skills in the UK’ by Teresa Tinsley for the British Academy, provides a wealth of valuable information on the current state of languages in the UK. In one section focusing on language provision in schools, the report highlights how the situation with regards to studying a foreign language in schools in England has changed quite rapidly over the last few years. Currently, 92% of Primary schools in England offer languages to their pupils compared to only 56% in 2007. This percentage has grown quite considerably as a result of the National Languages Strategy. In comparison, in Secondary which traditionally used to be the place where pupils were first expected to learn languages, the situation has declined quite considerably. Although learning a language is still compulsory at Key Stage 3 for pupils in maintained schools, the numbers in Key Stage 4 have dropped quite rapidly following the announcement in 2004 that studying a foreign language was optional. The consequence of this decision has been that in 2011 only 43% of secondary aged pupils studied a modern language at Key Stage 4 compared to 78% in 2001. Furthermore, the stark reality is that only 14% of pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) obtained a good GCSE pass in a foreign language compared to 31% of all state school pupils.
In addition, it is also worth noting that there are approximately 1 million pupils in schools in England for whom English is an additional language. The School Level Annual School Census (SLASC) 2011 reveals over 360 different languages are spoken by our children and young pupils. That equates to 17.5% of the primary school aged population and 12.9% of secondary. The term English as an additional language covers a wide range of pupils from those who are new to English to those children who speak English alongside other languages that are spoken in the home or community environment.
Although, there is no doubt that English is a globally dominant language and benefits readily accrue to those who are proficient it in, it should be noted that being monolingual is not the norm as over half of the world’s population is bilingual. Sadly, even today there are many myths associated with bilingualism, particularly in countries where monilingualism is still the norm. This can get in the way of understanding that bilingualism is an asset and that it should be promoted in a classroom and school context rather than being seen as a ‘problem’ that gets in the way of learning. In England, there is no reason why children cannot learn English alongside other languages and have high levels of competency across all four language skills of speaking, listening, reading in both. We strongly feel that more could be done to promote the learning of languages – both as a foreign language in school and for children who speak another language at home and within the community. The benefits for children and young people developing a high level of proficiency in two or more languages are many and backed by research.
We at Equitable Education have selected an infographic on the benefits of bilingualism for teachers to use. This infographic present a lot of useful facts in a visually attractive way. It can be used for discussion with other professionals within school so that a better understanding of the benefits of bilingualism, based on academic research is gained or to positively promote the learning of languages to all pupils. It can also be used as part of a display or as a stimulus to get your pupils to produce their own by using one of the many infographic tools that are now available. This would allow you to custom make your own infographic to fit your own local circumstances. Equitable Education will be producing an infographic on bilingualism based on the context in England over the coming few weeks, so keep a look out for it. In the meantime, we hope you enjoy this one we have specially selected for you below, courtesy of voxy.com.
Source ‘The state of the nation –demand and supply of language skills in the UK by Teresa Tinsley for the British Academy, February 2013.
Click here to enlarge image.
A short while ago, I attended a meeting with colleagues at the Centre for Evaluation and Monitoring (CEM) at Durham University to discuss proposals for working with schools in disadvantaged areas to improve reading. Using the research findings from the EEF Toolkit developed by CEM, which found that peer tutoring was one of the top three strategies to improve learning, we are looking at ways in which we could use both cross–aged peer tutoring and parental engagement (another strategy recognised by the Toolkit) to raise standards in reading in a sustainable way.
Durham University is already working on a Shared Maths peer tutoring programme across four Local Authorities (LA). The Shared Maths project is being funded by Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) and it is a cross–aged peer tutoring programme involving Year 5’s working as tutors and Year 3’s as tutees. Pupils work together for 20 minutes a week, over a period of 16 weeks to solve mathematical problems. Together, they use a variety of strategies based on real life situations to gain a deep understanding of the mathematical problem and reach an answer to this problem. Altogether, there are nearly 100 schools across the four LA’s involved in the Shared Maths project which commenced in 2012 and will continue to be delivered over the next few years. Each LA has a local co-ordinator who works with schools in their area to provide initial CPD and follow up training to teachers taking part, along with on-going tailored support to schools throughout the duration of their involvement. InCAS, which is a diagnostic, computer-adaptive assessment tool, is being used to provide an objective measure of attainment and inform personalised learning of pupils involved in the project. Bristol University is providing an external evaluation of the Shared Maths Project. The benefits of the cross–aged peer tutoring work are cited as the following: · “Cross-age peer tutoring in maths has consistently been found to raise attainment with gains for both tutors and tutees.
· On top of the attainment gains there are social and emotional benefits to being involved in peer tutoring:
· Participating in a peer tutoring programme can improve attitudes both to maths and to school generally.
· Peer tutoring can increase motivation and confidence in maths.
· Working with a partner using the peer tutoring technique develops pupils’ interpersonal skills as well as improving social, communication and teamwork skills.
· Peer tutoring can increase social relationships within schools particularly for people who find it difficult to make friends”.
Source Durham University www.sharedmaths.org website. Recognising the above benefits of peer tutoring, we are hoping to extend the Shared Maths Project by piloting a small scale project with 6 primary schools to deliver peer-tutoring with a focus on improving reading for 10 weeks and then extending the same techniques to parents, so that target pupils continue to read within the home environment. This should allow for the development of a holistic approach to reading within the family context, with opportunities for families to read reciprocally, using other languages if these are spoken within the home environment. The evidence base for peer learning is extensive, with Professor Keith Topping being a leading expert in the field. Professor Topping who is the Director of the Centre for Peer Learning at Dundee University and who was a lead member of the Fife Peer Learning Project, is working with Dr Andy Wiggins, and other colleagues from CEM and I on this project.
Whilst I was at CEM, I had the opportunity to meet with Stuart Kime. Stuart has been part of the team along with Professor Robert Coe, Camilla Nevill, & Robbie Coleman, who have produced the newly released The DIY Evaluation Guide (January 2013) to accompany the refreshed Sutton Trust - EEF The Teaching and Learning Toolkit Stuart and colleagues are particularly interested in receiving feedback and hearing from colleagues in schools who have used The DIY Evaluation Guide. Stuart can be contacted on email@example.com
The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. London: Education Endowment Foundation by Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Kokotsaki, D., Coleman, R., Major, L.E., & Coe, R. (2013).
Further posting on this blog will provide updates on developments in relation to using peer-tutoring to raise standards of achievement in reading. In the meantime, interested colleagues may wish to visit the newly refreshed EEF Toolkit pages. The Toolkit is a live resource which will be updated on a regular basis as findings from EEF-funded projects and other high-quality research become available. The sceenshot above only shows the top seven strategies. When you visit the EEF website you will see 30 topics outlined, including 8 new topics which are summarised for average impact on attainment, along with strength of the evidence and their cost. Each one of the topics also has a video case studies and improved links to further reading and providers of professional development via The Teacher Development Trust's GoodCPDGuide.
Equitable Education has produced a Model Pupil Premium Policy Template and accompanying guidance for schools to use. Both are available free for schools to download from the Guardian Teacher Network. Click here for the Model Policy Template and here for the accompanying guidance.
The Pupil Premium Policy and guidance have been written to support schools to produce a policy of their own. The policy enables all colleagues in a school community to be clear as to how this additional funding is to be used to reduce inequalities, what their role is in narrowing the gaps for disadvantaged pupils and how the school will demonstrate impact. The supporting guidance assists schools in tailoring the policy to meet the needs of their particular pupils. It also pulls all the latest research and tools they can use together in one place for ease of use saving time and effort.
The Pupil Premium Policy Template on the Guardian Teacher Network is a PDF. Should schools require a Word version to make it easier for them to produce their own, this is available on request from Equitable Education on firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy. Equitable Education provides workshops for schools and their governing bodies to facilitate the production of their own Pupil Premium Policy, using all the latest evidence based research of ‘what works’ and evaluation tools that are available to use. We can support you in personalising the workshop, so that it is tailor made to meet the particular needs of your pupils eligible for free schools meals. Please get in contact with Sameena Choudry on email@example.com to discuss the needs of your school and how we can support you in ensuring maximum impact in using your Pupil Premium effectively in narrowing the gaps for your disadvantaged pupils.
For further information on the Pupil Premium and what you as a school needs to meet the Ofsted and Pupil Premium Grant requirements, please read the blog posting below.
Many schools are receiving additional funding for their pupils who are eligible for free schools meals through the Pupil Premium Grant. This is also given for children who have been looked after for more than six months and children of service personnel. The purpose of the Pupil Premium is to reduce the inequalities in educational attainment that currently exist between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers.
The Pupil Premium Grant is not ring-fenced by the DfE and schools have freedom to use the Pupil Premium as they see fit, based upon their knowledge of their pupil needs.
‘It is for schools to decide how the Pupil Premium, allocated to schools per FSM pupil, is spent, since they are best placed to assess what additional provision should be made for the individual pupils within their responsibility.’ DfE
As a school in receipt of Pupil Premium funding, you are accountable to your parents and school community for how you are using this additional resource to narrow the achievement gaps of your pupils. New measures have been included in the performance tables published annually on a national level. They capture the achievement of disadvantaged pupils covered by the Pupil Premium.
Under The School Information (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2012, Schedule 4 there is specified information which has to be to be published on a school’s website.
Section 9 of this regulation requires schools to publish: ‘The amount of the school’s allocation from the Pupil Premium grant in respect of the current academic year; details of how it is intended that the allocation will be spent; details of how the previous academic year’s allocation was spent, and the effect of this expenditure on the educational attainment of those pupils at the school in respect of whom grant funding was allocated’. In addition, under the Ofsted Inspection Framework 2012, there is a stronger focus on improving the learning and progress of different groups and on narrowing gaps in standards. As a result, Ofsted carefully scrutinises the use of the Pupil Premium and the impact this is having on narrowing the gaps. Please note that this permeates across all four areas of the new Ofsted framework and your governing body has an important role in monitoring the use of the Pupil Premium and accounting for its effectiveness. Equitable Education has produced a free Model Pupil Premium Policy Template for schools to use, with accompanying guidance. Both documents are available from the Guardian Teacher Network and can be downloaded here. Equitable Education can provide workshops for your school and your governing body on the Pupil Premium. this which will be tailor made to meet the specific needs of your pupils eligible for free school meals. These workshops will also take you through the latest evidence based research of ‘what works’ and evaluation tools to ensure that members of your school community know how to narrow the gaps and can demonstrate impact. Please feel free to get in touch with Sameena Choudry on firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your school needs. We can also provide you with a Word version of the two documents produced by Equitable Education. These are available by e-mail from email@example.com We look forward to hearing from you.
Over the last few years there has been either a significant reduction, or in some cases a cut in Local Authority services providing specialist consultancy support for teachers to address the needs of pupil’s for whom English as an additional language (EAL), even though many EAL pupils at Key Stage 2 continue to underperform, especially in regions outside of London. Some schools may have specialist EAL teachers employed who have the expertise to support teachers to raise the attainment of these pupils but more often than not it is often left to class teachers, who may or may not have relevant training and specialist skills to address the needs of advanced EAL learners.
Many teachers may not be aware of the research and resources that can support teachers in improving the writing skills of advanced EAL learners. The research on ‘Writing in English as an additional language at KS 2’, undertaken by Professor Cameron and Dr Besser at the University of Leeds on behalf of the DCSF is very useful. This was shortly followed by Ofsted’s ‘Could they do even better’ which identified the need for teachers to be aware of the specific linguistic needs of advanced bilingual learners, along with detailed case studies to illustrate the difference that effective intervention, addressing specific linguistic features, can make to the development of the writing skills of advanced bilingual learners. A few years later PNS developed materials entitled ‘Teaching units to support guided writing in English as an additional language’, for teachers and teaching assistants to support the development of writing of advanced EAL learners. Although these publications may now seem dated, they are in fact still very relevant and pertinent. They are recommended for use by teachers who wish to find out more about the specific issues their advanced EAL learners face in writing in KS2, and how they can support their pupils to do better in their KS 2 writing SATS papers.
Professor Lynne Cameron and Dr Sharon Besser analysed Key Stage 2 SATS writing papers in 2003 to see if there were any significant differences in the writing of Year 6 pupils for whom English was an additional language (EAL), with a specific focus on advanced learners and those for whom it was their mother tongue (EMT). They compared 264 scripts by focusing on text, sentence and word level. The 2003 scripts had two tasks - one story and a radio advertisement. The story writing task consisted of a set of pictures leading to a problem for the main characters, which pupils had to resolve and conclude. The shorter task was to write an advertisement for local radio to persuade listeners to buy a new toy.
Their analysis of the scripts are summarised below in tables from their publication (pages 11-14), with significant differences highlighted by the dark boxes.
Based on the above findings they highlighted that the following grammatical features may present particular challenges for EAL learners:
Teachers preparing their advanced EAL learners for KS 2 writing tests may wish to use the blank proformas included on pages 90-93 of their publication for analysing the writing produced by their own pupil’s. The publication also provides detailed annotated examples of the completed profromas, which the researchers themselves produced when analysing the scripts themselves.
The teaching units can be used by trained adults working with small groups of children in Years 2-6 or as part of quality first teaching in lessons.
Equitable Education is able to provide specialist advice and training to support all staff working with advanced EAL learners. For further information, please contact Equitable Education on firstname.lastname@example.org
During the course of over 25 years in education, I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to work alongside hundreds of primary and secondary schools leaders in Yorkshire. The vast majority of schools I have spent most of my career in are those which would be deemed to be in “challenging circumstances”[i]. These schools are the ones I proactively chose to focus my own teaching career in because of the potential to make a greater difference. Recently, I have been reflecting on the specific characteristics of successful leaders of challenging schools who I have seen successfully close the gaps in attainment. What is it that they do on a regular and sustained basis for their pupils and communities, which makes the difference between success and failure of a school and its community ?
There is much research on what constitutes successful school leadership.[ii] However, there has been much less research on the nature of successful leadership of schools facing challenging circumstances[iii] with attention being drawn to this subject only a decade ago. In 2009, Ofsted published two key reports[iv] outlining characteristics of schools which were outstanding and excelled against the odds, in terms of their intake of pupils and location. The same year the then DCSF also published two phase reports[v] with a main focus on white pupils eligible for free school meals. There seems however, even much less written about leadership of multi-ethnic schools. Following Gillborn and Gipps’[vi] seminal research in 1996, which highlighted the under-performance of some minority ethnic pupils, Blair and Bourne’s research[vii] in 1998 highlighted the characteristics of outstanding multi-ethnic schools. Subsequent to this, the only other main research which focuses on successful multi-ethnic leadership was undertaken by Dimmock et al[viii] in 2004, followed by Walker et al,[ix] which used a case study approach of ‘good leaders’ of multi-ethnic schools, setting the challenges they face within an international context. Currently, with the focus on closing the gap and raising attainment in schools near or below floor targets, many of whom are schools facing challenging circumstances, HMCI Wilshaw has ordered a review of “Access & Achievement”[x]. The purpose of this review is to focus on the issues facing urban leadership. He has also engaged an expert panel to come up with new and radical solutions to address the issues facing deprived communities. After a year of deliberations, the expert panel is due to report back in May this year.
Based on this research and my own observations of working closely with these leaders who had a proven track record in closing the gaps, I decided to reflect on what I thought were the most compelling specific characteristics they shared and came up with this list, much of which resonates with the research outlined above.
1. Overarching commitment to fairness, equality and social justice.
This commitment drives the schools mission, values and practice in schools and is their ‘raison d’etre’ for leading schools in challenging circumstances. I have observed that that these leaders are confident and command respect from their school community, but at the same time have a sense of humility and modesty, with an eagerness of wanting to learn more about their often changing communities. They have high expectations of their staff, pupils and their communities and ensure that this is permeates across everything the school does.
2. Distributed leadership at all levels
The demands of working in a school facing challenging circumstances is immense and one of the key ingredients is making sure that all leaders in the school passionately share in the Head’s vision and commitment to fairness, equality and social justice. This team of leaders play a pivotal role in ensuring that the many difficult issues they come across on a daily basis are dealt with promptly and effectively, without distracting them from the smooth and efficient running of the school and their core focus of delivering high quality teaching and learning opportunities for their pupils.
3. Delivery of Quality First Teaching, with a high emphasis on literacy skills and the use of swift and effective interventions for those at risk of falling behind.
The leaders I am referring to relentlessly focus on the delivery of high quality first teaching by all their staff, from teachers to support staff, each with a key role to play in accelerating pupil’s progress and learning. They ensure that all staff are experts in teaching literacy, which is taught explicitly and consistently across the curriculum, with interventions carefully monitored for progress and impact. They create opportunities for their pupils and parents to engage in fun literacy activities, even when parents may be less confident in their own literacy skills or do not have the literacy skills in English. They are solution focused by using innovative strategies such as use of technology in the form of “Talking books” or using bilingual reading resources to overcome barriers.
Another key feature of these leaders is that they ensure that the curriculum offered to their pupil’s is reflective of their backgrounds and interests, including positive portrayals of diversity. This demonstrates to pupils and their parents that they are respected and their heritage is valued. A rich variety of enrichment activities are used as a way of enhancing the learning experiences of pupils and are carefully planned at key points in the delivery of the curriculum to actively support learning in a practical, fun and meaningful way. Often when affordability is an issue they use school funds to either subsidise or fully pay for the costs.
4. Use effective and regular tracking systems which are not only disaggregated by different groups (i.e. gender, socio-economic status, ethnicity, language background and special educational needs) but also look at how structural inequalities can come together and impact on pupil outcomes.
They use their tracking data at regular intervals to monitor pupil progress and ensure that both quality first teaching and interventions are delivering faster than average rates of progress, which they know is essential for their pupil’s to get to age related expectations, as many of their pupil’s start at lower levels of attainment on entry. They use this tracking information to deliver bespoke and personalised learning suitable for meeting the needs of either groups of pupils or individual pupils. They expect their pupils to reach at least age related national expectations, irrespective of their starting points and although they are aware of both LA and national performance of particular groups of pupils, they continue to set expectations for them to reach the national benchmark rather than that of their peers, as they know this will perpetuate lower standards.
5. They know each and every child, their background and circumstances.
They use this knowledge to ensure that the holistic needs of the child are met but without compromising on the high expectations they have of them. They show “tough kindness with empathy” rather than expecting less of them because of their particular circumstances. On many an occasion, whilst on a learning walks, with these outstanding leaders they are vigilant and aware of their pupils’ needs and interactions. They also make it their business to know more about the personal circumstances of their pupils as do all Headteachers. However, in addition they make it their business to be knowledgeable of the extra learning their pupil's undertake at weekends and after school, including competency in other languages the pupil's may be learning or speak within the community and at home, as they can see the benefits of bilingualism as a tool for learning.
6. Proactive engagement with the community
They recognise the important role that parents and carers play in the lives of their children, especially since they know that schools only have pupils for 15% of the time. They, therefore proactively look at ways in which the remaining 85% of the time their pupils are with their parents can be maximised. They do this enabling their school to become a hub of the community, providing extended services in partnership with other key services so that wrap around care is available when needed. They also enable successful partnerships to be forged between their school and local complementary schools, who provide additional study support in language, religious or academic study. They work in synergy to meet the holistic needs of the same groups of children, with a collective emphasis on high attainment.
7. They nurture and develop their own staff and governors and try to ensure that they are representative of the community their school serves.
These leaders understand that the school is at the heart of their local community and that pupils need to see positive role models from the community in its staff and governing body. They therefore, nurture and develop staff and governors by providing high quality professional development opportunities and coaching. This also assists in alleviating some of the difficulties they can face in recruiting and retaining staff and governors. In many cases, I have seen these schools develop strong partnerships with local universities and colleges who place trainee teachers in their schools. The advantages are that the school is able to train these teachers in both the generic and specific skills and competencies needed for teaching in urban schools, thereby having a ready pool of potential teachers to recruit from. They also benefit from having highly qualified additional staff in their school which means they can provide more focused quality teaching to their pupils, at minimal cost.
These observations based on my own working closely with these leaders are closely borne out by the research. However, the key issues is not the identification of these key characteristics but the translation of these into practice. We now have, more than ever before much evidence based research to guide us in what works the best. Take for example the latest Education Endowment Foundation, Teaching and Learning Toolkit Research which has shown that providing effective feedback is the single most powerful way of improving attainment. However, less than 3% of teachers in surveyed identified this as a top spending priority for the Pupil Premium. This example illustrates the problem. Therefore, the issue is even though we know the effective characteristics of outstanding leaders who close the gaps in their schools, how do we ensure more schools in similar circumstances have leaders with these specific outstanding characteristics? Bearing in mind the growing emphasis on school to support and system leadership to drive up standards across localities, it is difficult not to share some of the concerns highlighted by HMCI Wilshaw when giving evidence to a cross –party commons committee earlier this week. He stated “The great challenge for the future is to identify system-wide leaders for our poorest areas because at the moment we have got more good head teachers serving quite affluent communities who are national leaders of education who are asked to go into disadvantages communities to support them. I am not sure they have the necessary skills to do that. Some will, some won’t.”
I believe that the many of the leaders I have identified above, lead ‘outstanding’ schools according to Ofsted criteria. However, I have also come across many exceptional leaders, who will find it difficult to get this grading for their school in the current framework, even though the progress the pupils make is higher than the national average. Together, these leaders hold the key to raising standards in similar schools, where many of the systemic problems lie. Recognising the specialist and distinct competencies and expertise they have should form the cornerstone of any strategy in driving forward standards for closing the gaps and raising standards for all. [i] i.e. those schools which face multiple challenges in terms of their location (inner city and/or in areas of high social deprivation); student mix (higher percentages of pupils eligible for free school meals, mobility, minority ethnic pupils, new arrivals with English as an additional language needs); facing staffing difficulties in terms of recruitment and retention of key staff; parental attitudes and sometimes histories of the schools themselves with low records of attainment and achievement and therefore under pressure from either being in an Ofsted categories or likelihood of falling into one as a result of being below or near the floor targets. [ii] Alma Harris’s et al’s “10 strong claims about successful leadership”, which built on their earlier work “7 Strong claims about successful school leadership (2006). [iii] Alma Harris & Chris Chapman “ Leading for improvement in challenging circumstances”, 2003. [iv] Ofsted “12 outstanding schools: excelling against the odds” published in 2009, with one for primary and the other for secondary, highlighted the characteristics of schools and leaders that may a significant difference. [v] “Extra Mile: Achieving Success with pupils from deprived communities”. [vi] “ Recent research into the achievements of ethnic minority pupils”. [vii] “Making a difference: teaching and learning in successful multi-ethnic schools”. [viii] “The leadership of multi-ethnic schools: What we know and don’t know about values driven leadership”. [ix] “Priorities, strategies and challenges: Proactive leadership in multi-ethnic schools”, NCSL. [x] This new report follows on from two earlier ones, with the same name undertaken by Ofsted, first in 1993 and then a decade later in 2003.
There are two accepted truisms which drive educational standards across the world. The first is 'the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers and the second is that the quality of leadership is the most important determinant of pupil’s success. It is, therefore essential that we have the highest quality of teachers and leaders if we are to continue to raise standards and close the gaps in attainment for different groups of pupils in England.
The announcement made by the DfE last week that the Teaching Agency and The National College are to merge under the leadership of Charlie Taylor, will mean that for the first time there will be one executive agency responsible for the recruitment, supply and development of both teachers and leaders for schools in England. The new agency (with a name to be determined) will therefore play an important role in ensuring the highest quality of teachers and leaders for our schools. The purpose of the new agency which will be operational from the end of March this year, is to enable the best leaders and best teachers to work together to develop a self-improving school system and be responsible for the recruitment, supply, initial training and development of teachers. The new agency, will also oversee the development of a cadre of system leaders such as National Leaders of Education (NLE’s), Local Leaders of Education (LLE’s), Specialist Leaders of Education (SLE’s) and Teaching Schools whose remit is to focus on leadership development, Continuing Professional Development (CPD) and school improvement to address under performance across the education system.
This merger provides a golden opportunity to refocus energy on the current gaps in attainment in England by enabling system leaders and teachers to develop the requisite skills, knowledge and understanding to address this key challenge, which permeates within and across schools, thereby contributing to the long tail of underachievement.
Closing the gaps for different groups of pupils is high on both the DfE and Ofsted’s agenda, with schools being given considerable amounts of additional funding to address the gaps in attainment that exist for pupils who are eligible for free school meals (FSM) through the Pupil Premium. However, although no one disputes the impact that poverty has on attainment which remains a major factor in preventing pupils getting to age related national expectations, there are many other factors such as a pupil’s gender, ethnicity, special educational needs, disability and language background which can and do impact on attainment. Indeed, for many pupils it is not just poverty alone, as many of these groups tend to have rates of FSM than average, but an amalgamation of these factors or “intersectionality” which impacts on outcomes.
The new agency will be responsible for recruiting and providing a ready supply of high quality teachers and leaders, with Teaching School Alliances taking on the role of providing high quality professional development. In order to maximise the potential of the teaching workforce it is essential to not only ensure that staff have high levels of knowledge and understanding of the subjects they teach and are able to deliver high quality teaching which impacts on learning and pupil progress, but also it is equally important that they are able to meet the specialist needs of the range of pupils for whom closing the gap remains an issue too. The acquisition of these specialist teaching skills and in – depth understanding and knowledge of individual needs of a range of pupils should be developed alongside teacher’s subject teaching skills from the outset of their career. Presently, there are many teachers who are able to personalise their teaching so that it impacts on all learners in their class and their teaching is classified as “outstanding”, using Ofsted terminology. Others however can find this a challenge and feel less confident in meeting the needs of the wide range of pupils who are currently not performing in line with national expectations. Despite this, they are expected to deliver high quality teaching which impacts on pupil’s learning so that they make faster than average rates of progress in an academic year. In order for them to deliver high quality teaching, specialist demands are made of the teacher for which they may not have received the necessary training, support or professional development opportunities at key points of their teaching career.
Using the example of pupils for whom English is an additional language (EAL). This group has been chosen to illustrate the issue facing some teachers, although this would be equally applicable for other closing the gap pupils such as those with special educational needs, disabilities, the more able, certain minority ethnic pupils, and cutting across gender and socio-economic status too.
The annual census taken in January 2012 by the DfE showed that there are approximately 1 million pupils whose first language is other than English. The numbers of EAL pupils have more than doubled since 1997 when the first census was taken. The graph below illustrates the increasing number of EAL pupils in primary and secondary schools in England from 1997-2012.
 “How the world’s best performing school systems keep coming out top”, Morshed M and Barber M, McKinsey and Co. 2007
 Seven Strong Claims About Successful School Leadership, Leithwood, K., Day, C., Sammons, P., Harris, A. and Hopkins, D, NCSL, 2006.
 When the Pupil premium was introduced in April 2011, schools received an additional £488 for each of its pupils eligible for free school meals. In April 2012 this was increased to £600 with further increases announced for this year taking it to £900, amounting to £1.65 billion in the financial year 2013-2014. By 2012 the Pupil premium will be worth £2.5 billion of additional money coming into schools.
Source DfE Census 2012 and NALDIC.
The graph shows that in 1997, the percentage of pupils learning EAL in the primary school population was 7.8%. Over 15 years this percentage had more than doubled to 17.5% by 2012. In secondary the figures were 7.3 % in 1997 compared to 12.9% in 2012. The census also showed a rich tapestry of languages being spoken by EAL pupils in English schools with over 360 different languages being recorded. The percentages of pupils classifying themselves as EAL of course varies considerably from school to school and LA to LA, with Tower Hamlets and Newham LA’s having the largest recorded at 74% and 71% respectively and other large LA’s such as Birmingham with 40 %. In contrast LA’s such as Halton and Redcar& Cleveland only have 0.8% of EAL pupils. Projected demographics show that the number of EAL pupils in schools will continue to grow at comparable rates over the next decade and beyond.
However, despite the growing number of EAL learners in school there appears to be no clear nor focused strategy at a national level to address EAL learner’s needs at a time when there can be significant attainment differences between pupils for whom English is an additional language and for those who speak English as their first language. The largest differences between the two are more pronounced at the Early Years Foundation Stage with gaps narrowing to some extent by KS4 as EAL pupils learn the academic English language required to be successful in examinations. However, it should be noted that there still remain significant differences in attainment with EAL pupils in inner and outer London attaining much better than their peers in other regions such as Yorkshire & Humber where large and persistent gaps in attainment continue to exist.
One of the ways EAL learner’s needs should be addressed is by ensuring that teachers are better trained so that they have the requisite knowledge, skills and expertise to teach EAL learners. EAL learners are not a homogeneous group and can have a wide variety of needs. Therefore, it is essential that teachers understand the wide variety of EAL needs and how they can support pupils across all four skills of speaking listening, reading and writing in the lessons they teach, particularly in the academic English required to be successful in examinations. The challenge for teachers is to keep the cognitive demands of the lesson to high level by providing contextual and linguistic support to the EAL pupils in their class. Many teachers will never have had any training or CPD to support them in teaching EAL pupils over the course of their career and as EAL has not been a subject specialism in teacher training for many years now, access to training can be extremely varied, with some Initial Teacher Trainers (ITT) providers preparing their students very well and others not touching this area at all.
The above picture is supported by the annual surveys undertaken by the then Teacher Training Agency (TDA) of Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) who had successfully completed their ITT. Over the years, whilst the training of NQT’s in this area has improved with approximately 45% of NQT’s stating that their training was good or very good in 2011 – more than double that in 2003, there still remain more than half of new entrants to teaching feeling less well equipped in this area. The graph below shows percentage of NQTS who felt there training was good or very good in preparing them to teach EAL learners and minority ethnic pupils from 2003 – 2011.
Source NALDIC and Training and Development Agency for schools (TDA) survey of Newly Qualified Teachers 2011
With the shift in emphasis from Universities and Colleges of Education to Teaching Schools as providers of ITT via the new Schools Direct Programme, the issues highlighted by the TDA annual survey will need to be closely monitored and addressed. Teaching Schools will need to ensure that these new school based programmes prepare and equip NQTs better than before so that they are able to teach currently under –performing groups to the highest standard.
The new Teacher Standards 2012 outline the teaching and professional conduct expectations of all teachers. Many of the teaching standards are implicitly relevant to EAL pupils and other groups of pupils too, but standard 5 explicitly states:
“A Teacher must ……….
· have a clear understanding of the needs of all pupils, including those with special educational needs; those of high ability; those with English as an additional language; those with disabilities; and be able to use and evaluate distinctive teaching approaches to engage and support them”.
In this context it is essential that we are preparing all our teachers to understand the needs of our closing the gap groups and our diverse pupil population. Through relevant training and CPD, including Joint Practice Development (JPD), continuing with the example of EAL pupils they can gain in-depth understanding of second language acquisition theory and pedagogy and use appropriate teaching strategies to enhance their own teaching. This would impact on closing the current gaps in attainment that exist for too many EAL pupils, many of whom are of now of second and third generations of communities settled in England.
Focusing now on the role of system leaders such as NLE’s, LLE’s and SLE’s who are beginning to drive the development of the self-improving school system. They too have an important role to play in closing the gaps for different groups of pupils. These system leaders in their various roles are providing support to other schools. Many of the schools they are likely to support, albeit not all, have higher concentration of pupils for whom closing the gap remains an issue. The schools they are supporting may be situated in very geographically different contexts to their own schools with the school community facing a plethora a challenges not experienced by the more successful school. They too should be given the opportunity to develop the specialist skills in addressing the needs of different pupil groups for whom closing the gap is an issue, as they may not have had experience of addressing these pupil needs within their own school context or career due to the nature of their pupil cohorts. This additional professional development opportunity which could be delivered by Teaching Schools through their existing leadership development programmes such as NPQH, NPQSL, NPQML or alternatively through bespoke programmes which address the needs of under- performing groups of pupils within their locality. This would no doubt enhance the proven track record and leadership skills these system leaders have already gained in their own schools thus enabling them to be more effective when supporting schools in different contexts.
Many Teaching Schools at the moment are running the “Outstanding Teacher Programme” and the ”Improving Teacher Programme” which are without doubt having an impact on improving the quality of teaching in schools. However, these programmes could be even more effective if teachers on these programmes were able to develop the specialist skills required to address the needs of closing the gaps groups alongside generic high quality subject skills. This would mean that teachers were better prepared to teach the actual pupils in their classes and the communities their schools serve. In the case of The London Challenge where these courses were first developed and delivered, there was some flexibility to adapt these courses to meet a variety of needs on this basis.
These are exciting and opportune times to make educational changes for the better and if the self-improving school system is to impact on current gaps in attainment not only in terms of EAL pupils but other underperforming groups too, then the new agency has the opportunity to take proactive action to address these areas in an ambitious way by incorporating the suggestions above into all aspects of the new agencies work. This would ensure that the new agency was preparing its teachers and leaders for the current and future needs of its pupils and by doing so realising the ambition of raising standards of attainment across the board.
 The newly revamped NPQH, NPQSL and NPQML does give aspiring leaders the opportunity to study modules on Closing the Gaps and Achievement for All. However, it is only the NPQSL where the Closing the Gap module is essential.