In this article series, we’ll be looking at some of the “Outcomes for pupils” in Ofsted Judgements, in order to see what Ofsted inspectors are concentrating on.

Specifically, we’ll look at those judgements which overall were requires improvement.

In this article, we’ll be looking at comments regarding the end of Key Stage 2 Attainment from the 50 judgements released in October 2018.

Attainment – Expected Standard

There was naturally a high emphasis on the percentage of pupils getting the Expected Standard in Key Stage 2. Some comments concentrated on reading, writing and maths combined:

The proportion of pupils achieving the combined expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics at the end of Year 6 has improved but is still below the national average.

and sometimes there was a comparison with previous year or years:

Provisional results for 2018 show improvements … but.continues to be below the national average.

well below the national average for the last three years.

However, there were far more comments (50) regarding for the separate subjects of reading, writing and maths:

…outcomes …in 2018 improved and are likely to be above those seen nationally in reading, writing and mathematics. Last year’s Year 6 cohort were well prepared for the transition to secondary school.

…with particularly stronger results in reading and writing.  

Pupils’ outcomes are typically stronger in mathematics. In the 2018 end of key stage 2 assessments, the attainment of Year 6 pupils rose to above the national average. … In writing, too, provisional information suggests an improvement in pupils’ outcomes.

Only one comment related to the attainment ranking when it was not in the bottom 20%:

In 2017 in mathematics, the school performed broadly in the top 30% nationally.

Inspectors remarked more when attainment was mentioned in the “Areas to Investigate” on page 1 of the IDSR.

Writing has been particularly weak, being in the lowest 5% of schools nationally at points over the last three years.

In key stage 2 in reading in 2017, standards fell such that the school performed in the lowest 20% nationally.

Writing has been particularly weak and was in the lowest 10% of schools nationally in 2017.

Generally these comments were for a one-year period, either 2017 or the provisional 2018. Despite the new “3 year trend”, there were only 4 comments which referred to 2016. It will be interesting to see if this changes when the new IDSR is released.

Attainment – High Standard

There was also a high number of comments (43) relating to either the High Standard for individual subjects, or references to the “most able”, who should be aiming at the high standard. Sometimes this is just in passing:

A smaller proportion of pupils than nationally achieved the higher standard.

…the most able pupils achieved significantly less well than other pupils in both reading and writing.

Too few pupils attained the higher standards in reading, writing and, above all, mathematics.

But sometimes it was linked with whether most able pupils were being challenged:

…attainment in mathematics by pupils at key stage 2 have been improving since 2015 for all groups, including the most able…

Overall, although stronger, not enough pupils in key stage 2 reach the highest possible standards in mathematics. This is because there is insufficient challenge in the teaching and in the activities, particularly for the most able.

The most able pupils have not been challenged to higher levels and deeper learning.

Inspectors will sometimes go deeper to try and identify root causes:

The most able pupils are not given sufficient encouragement to try different authors and types of books. … As one older pupil put it: ‘To get better at reading, we need to read harder books.’

They are not given work that stretches them and so their progress stalls. 

However, in some lessons the work is not sufficiently challenging for the most able pupils

In subjects such as science, for example, low expectations in some tasks limit pupils’ progress. In mathematics, pupils, particularly the most able, do not work at greater depth to extend and deepen their learning.

Pupils of different abilities are often given the same work to complete. Pupils, including those who are …the least and most able, … are capable of more.

Work for current most-able pupils is not always well enough planned to develop their skills.

Compared to the focus on the Higher Standard and most-able pupils, there was a relatively low number of comments on low prior-attaining pupils (5):

Very few pupils who are working below the standard expected for their age when they enter Year 3 make sufficient progress to catch up with their peers by the time they leave for secondary school. 

Lower-ability pupils make less progress than middle- and higher-ability pupils do. This is because teachers lack the skills to design activities which enable pupils to make accelerated progress and overcome misconceptions. Teachers do not consistently point out to them where pupils have made mistakes.

and fewer references to middle-ability pupils (3):

…while teachers are setting age-appropriate tasks, some of these tasks are not always challenging enough for pupils to make good progress, particularly the middle-ability pupils.  

This is not surprising, largely because, in the majority of schools, middle prior ability pupils constitute the majority of the school, and therefore references to a school’s results will largely be true of middle prior ability pupils.

Have you got a good analysis of your attainment of your Low and High Prior Attaining pupils? In our ASaP analysis, we look at your cohorts, including your Low, Middle and High Prior Attainers, both in graphical form and in plain English.

We hope that you have enjoyed this article.

It was based on the Ofsted Inspection Reports of 50 schools which were judged to be “requires improvement” between September 2018 and January 2019.

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