Improve outcomes in English, Maths and Science

Our aim

To build strong foundations for key stage 4 by boosting attainment in primary and supporting transition into secondary.

Why is this an issue?

While there have been improvements in the quality of educational provision in Stoke-on-Trent over the last 5 years, more needs to be done. As recently as December 2016, nearly half of all learners in secondary education (47.5%) were in schools judged by Ofsted to be less than good.

Businesses and further/higher education institutions highlight a skills gap in English, maths and science, citing learner disengagement in these subjects at an early age, which persists through to secondary education. Data across educational stages supports this perception:

  • at key stage 1, only 6 of the 37 wards across the city achieve or exceed national averages in reading, writing and maths
  • at key stage 2, StokeonTrent is behind the national average in English, maths and science
  • in reading, 41% pupils fail to reach the expected standard (behind the national average by 7 percentage points)
  • in writing, 30% pupils fail to reach the expected standard (behind the national average by 4 percentage points)
  • in maths, 37% of all pupils failed to reach the expected standard (behind the national average by 7 percentage points). The gap for free school meals (FSM) children is starkest in maths, where 50% fail to meet expected standards
  • in science, 23% of all pupils failed to reach expected standards (behind the national average by 4 percentage points).

The issues faced by the city’s schools differ. Some primary schools where attainment is lowest have very high numbers of EAL children whilst others draw pupils from largely white British communities. All schools where attainment is low face high levels of deprivation.

Using Progress 8 scores as a proxy measure for successful pupil transition between key stage 2 and key stage 4, we know that many pupils, and particularly those that are disadvantaged, fail to keep up with national averages for achieving a good level of progress. Of the 4 secondary schools in the city that require improvement, all failed to achieve positive progress between key stage 2 and key stage 4, and failed to meet national averages for achieving grade C or better in maths and English.

There is good system capacity across the city to support schools to improve outcomes for their most disadvantaged pupils. Despite this, National Leaders of Education (NLEs) at both key stage 2 and key stage 4 tell us that they are not frequently deployed.

What will we do? 

We will focus our efforts where they‘ll have the greatest impact. The partnership board has decided that this focus should be on lifting attainment in English, maths and science at key stage 2, and supporting children through the critical transition stage between year 6 and secondary school so they make good progress during key stage 3. This will lay strong foundations for attainment at key stage 4 and beyond. We want to ignite children’s imagination and ambition from a young age and ensure they experience a stimulating curriculum that inspires and motivates them and prepares them for the evolving job market.

Working with local partners, including our EEF Research School, we’ll offer additional support and training to those schools that are failing to meet national standards in English and in maths by improving teaching practices through evidence based approaches from the EEF’s key stages 2 and 3 maths guidance and key stages 1 and 2 literacy guidance.

We’ll offer training to system leaders to use the EEF DIY tool so that work is effectively evaluated and monitored. In science, we’ll work with the developing Science Excellence Partnership (SEP) to develop a package of support for science teaching and learning, which we will pilot across the city in those primary schools in greatest need. We will ask participating schools to help us benchmark current key stage 2 attainment in science to evaluate the impact of this intervention. We’ll listen to the pupil voice to establish what is working well and where greater focus is required.

Within this priority, we will give particular focus to disadvantaged children at the critical transition point between primary and secondary education who are either:

  • high ability (a theme of the Future Talent Fund mentioned in the social mobility action plan)
  • identified as being at risk of failing to achieve post-16 or of dropping out of education, employment or training altogether

We will put in place targeted support for schools and pupils, drawing on expert advice from system leaders, our EEF Research School, and other partners. We are keen to introduce a tailored mentoring programme for these pupils, focused on their learning and engagement.

 

In 2018 we will:

  • help children move successfully from year 6 into the first years of secondary education, working with partners, our EEF Research School and the EEF to identify best practice in teaching, extra-curricular activity and pastoral support
  • take action to begin improving outcomes in literacy, maths and science, building on local initiatives that are demonstrating effectiveness in teaching and learning in these key subjects, such as Stoke Speaks Out, Stoke Reads (NLT Literacy Hub), the Maths Excellence Partnership (MEP) and the Maths Hub. We will work with the developing Science Excellence Partnership (SEP) to bring the same impetus to science teaching and learning.

Our targets for 2020 to 2021

  • Stoke-on-Trent will be in the top half of all local authority districts for pupils eligible for pupil premium meeting the expected standard, improving outcomes on this measure for over 250 pupils.
  • Stoke-on-Trent will be in the top half of all local authority districts for pupils eligible for pupil premium meeting the exceeding the expected standard, improving outcomes on this measure for over 70 pupils.