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Agenda item

Pupil Outcomes/School Performance 2018/19 - Analysis Data and School Improvement Strategy

The Chief Executive, Learn Sheffield, to report



The Committee received a report of the Chief Executive, Learn Sheffield, on the Pupil Outcomes/School Performance 2018/19 – Analysis Data and School Improvement Strategy.  The overall report comprised (a) a paper summarising the City performance, following the local and national data for 2019 having been validated, (b) a presentation containing an overview of 2019 pupil outcomes, the City context and school performance, (c) the Learn Sheffield Outcomes Report – February 2020, and (d) the 2019 assessment of the Key Stage 1 Phonics Screening Check.




In attendance for this item were Stephen Betts (Chief Executive, Learn Sheffield), Councillor Abtisam Mohamed (Cabinet Member for Education and Skills), Andrew Jones (Interim Head of Primary and Targeted Intervention) and Dan Rice (Performance and Analysis Service).




Stephen Betts introduced the report, which comprised a revised format, following comments raised the last time that pupil outcomes was reported to the Committee, referring to the highlights and areas for improvement.




Members of the Committee raised questions, and the following responses were provided:-




·             Officers and Members shared the concerns raised with regard to both the numbers of school exclusions and the rise in home schooling.  There was a team of officers within the People Services Portfolio who, as well as providing assistance for both children and young people and their parents/guardians, undertook strict monitoring.  In terms of school exclusions, the Authority was currently developing a new approach, in conjunction with schools and Learn Sheffield. The early stages of this work had resulted in a reduction in the numbers excluded, but it was still considered that such figures were too high. 




·             Sheffield had been amongst the highest ranked authorities in the country (32nd) in terms of the Foundation Stage Inequality Gap measure which, it was considered, had been as a result of improved outcomes by lower attaining pupils as opposed to more average attaining pupils getting worse. 




·             The Authority and Learn Sheffield had focused on four key areas – Early Reading, Phonics, School Curriculum and Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND), which had all been approached as school improvement issues ie in the context, rather than concentrating on intervention methods.  The approach undertaken in respect of the four areas had also tied into work which had been research-led in terms of its effectiveness. 




·             The Year 1 Phonics Screening Check was deemed to be very important, and therefore given significant focus, by the Government.  The Authority considered that such teaching should comprise multiple approaches, successes of which had been highlighted by the work with the localities.




·             It was accepted that there should be a more holistic approach in terms of children’s education, with more emphasis being placed on mental health and emotional wellbeing.  This had been given significant consideration in the new Education Strategy currently being developed, although the level of intervention were subject to levels of funding. 




·             Another area Learn Sheffield was focusing on, as part of the new Education Strategy, was the recruitment and retention of teachers and, by adopting a partnership approach, was looking to focus specifically on the retention of teachers, by providing additional support for young teachers.  Again, although this had been identified as a national issue, no additional funding had been provided to local authorities from the Government.




·             Whilst the level of funding received from the Government, based on the National Funding Formula, benefited Sheffield, such funding was still not sufficient to bring any immediate benefits.  It was expected that the steps undertaken by the Authority, in partnership with Learn Sheffield, would take time to take effect.  A huge amount of credit must be paid to everyone involved in these discussions for securing consistently constructive approaches to such a persistently devisive problem.  Education, nationally, was underfunded, with schools in Sheffield having been forced to make significant savings over the last ten years.  It had been accepted that Sheffield had received a poor funding settlement from the Government, as compared to other core cities historically.




·             Whilst there had been improvements in terms of outcome of those schools which had previously been rated ‘poor’ by Ofsted, such improvement was not consistent, especially in some geographical areas of the City.  It was confirmed that the Ofsted Framework had moved away from data-led inspections.




Stephen Betts, by way of a summary, reported that there was a lot that Sheffield should be pleased about in terms of the pupil outcomes, which had been driven mainly by improved partnership working in the City.  He stressed, however, that there was still a considerable amount of work to be undertaken.  Councillor Abtisam Mohamed stated that a number of the issues/concerns raised at this meeting would be taken into consideration, as part of the new Education Strategy, which would take a cross-party approach.  She stressed that Early Years Education had been identified as a key area for improvement. 




RESOLVED: That the Committee:-




(a)      notes the contents of the report now submitted, together with the comments now made and the responses to the questions raised;




(b)      welcomes the new style of the report setting out the overview of 2019 Pupil Outcomes, following comments raised the last time performance was reported to the Committee;




(c)      supports the comments made by Councillor Abtisam Mohamed, in connection with the need for the Authority to lobby the Government for additional funding in respect of Early Years Education;




(d)      thanks Councillor Abtisam Mohamed and Stephen Betts for attending the meeting, and responding to the questions raised; and




(e)      requests that the comments and concerns raised be taken into consideration as part of the development of the new Education Strategy.


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