Monthly Archives: July 2016

Chain effects: ‘low-income’ learners

The Sutton Trust have been tracking the progress and effectiveness of Academy chains since the inception of the Academy programme in 2000. Chain Effects 2015 is the latest updated report, superceding Chain effects 2014, which looks at questions of effectiveness and service to disadvantaged pupils.

chain effects Cover Pic
View, print or download this 2015 report here…pdf

The 2015 report tells a patchy story of delivery, and how  Ofsted inspection grades actually mark a level of achievement that falls below excellent in many cases.

The report notes that, in an analysis of all secondary schools and sponsored academies, the academies achieve lower inspection grades generally. As educational entitites they are twice as likely to fall below the ‘floor standard’.

The findings across the two reports (2014 and 2015) also make noteable the contrast between ‘the best and the worst’.

It is clear that there are exceptional achievements, where schools with high attainment levels for their disadvantaged pupils have improved faster than the average,  in terms of supporting disadvantaged children. However, those chains who did less well, achieved significantly worse outcomes that comparable schools, using baseline data for 2012 as a starting point for the analysis.

Where data has been captiured for pupils with low prior attainment, it is true that academy chains have been successful in ‘…significantly improving the attainment of this group, an important demonstration of value’.

Using a ‘range of government indicators‘ for attainment, it is clear that most academy chains still underperform their mainstream average ‘competitors’ in supporting disadvantaged pupils.

The report makes six main recommendations for improvement to inspection, process and delivery. They are…

  1. The DfE should expand its pool of school improvement providers beyond academy sponsors, including developing new school-led trusts and federations…
  2. New chains should not be allowed to expand until they have a track record of success in bringing about improvement…
  3. Ofsted has had its ability to inspect chains extended but these fall short of the formal powers they enjoy over academies individually and other education providers. Ofsted should be empowered to undertake formal inspections of academy chains…
  4. Agreements for new sponsors should be shortened to five years from seven. Renewal of funding agreements should only be granted where improvement has been demonstrated…
  5. The DfE should include a measure of progress for disadvantaged pupils in their definition of coasting schools…applicable to all schools…
  6. Sponsor chains, with a demostrable need to improve, should seek out successful practice and reflect on what their own chain could learn from this experience…

Source: The Sutton Trust  Accessed: 10.07.2016

In order to map progress across the broader educational landscape you can find the detail of Chain Effects 2014  here.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference

IT in Education – in crisis?

science & Tech CoverImage
View or download this report here…(pdf)

A recent parliamentary report, by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Digital Skills Crisis, looks at the state of IT in business, education and the development of a broader UK strategy.

The report contains not only the analysis, assessment and findings of the committee, but also looks at a variety of conclusions and recommendations for the sector.

The findings of the committee declare that there is a ‘digital divide’ in the UK, with up to 12.6 million adults lackiing basic digital skills. The report finds that there are probably still some 5.8 million people who have yet to use the internet at all.

The report identifies a recent Royal Society report into Digital Skills and notes…

‘If the workforce is to be future-proofed, education systems in the UK must be designed to equip everyone with strong literacy and numeracy skills, information literacy and a mind-set that is flexible, creative and adaptive. This will be crucial to preparing today’s young learners for a future economy in which the skills needed are not only unpredictable now, but will continue to change throughout their careers…’

In the Committee report it is concluded that Ofsted have found the impact of digital technology on education standards has been varied.  The variety of outcome, Ofsted argues, is due to a lack of standard investment across the sector, access to high speed broadband geographically and suitable teacher support for the cause of Digital Skills.

The report is generally praiseful of the changes to the ICT curriculum from September 2014, with stress placed on the input of industry experts and academia. However, only a third of teachers hold the relevant qualification for ICT and cites a report from the British Computer Society, which stated that only 25% of computing teachers felt conficdent delivering the revised curriculum.

Some, but not all, of the recommendations made by the Committeee include…

  • ‘The Government has set targets for recruiting teachers in Maths and Physics. They
    should also make a similar pledge for Computer Science’.
  • ‘We recommend that the Government request Ofsted to include the computing curriculum in their inspections…’
  • ‘The Government should encourage the uptake of existing available resources by
    schools, many of which are free.’
  • ‘We recommend that the Government work with the Tech Partnership to establish a regular forum for employers to raise and discuss their priorities for ensuring the computing curriculum and its teaching stay up to date, and to help ensure that other school subject qualifications provide a foundation for a broader range of digital careers.’

We recommend this comprehensive, clear headed and detailed report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee to all who are interested in education and the digital economy. See the full report here.

After Note:

Interestingly the RSA have recently published new research, which shows how, in the North of England, enterprise in the digital sector is booming. A veritable Digital Powerhouse in the North in fact.

See this RSA report here…pdf

Reading the two reports together, it is apparent that embedded in this second report from the RSA, is a development success in digital enterprise, that, it can be argued, runs across the grain of the pessimism of the Parliamentary report by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee above.

We offer the new work, Digital Powerhouse (.pdf), using as it does the digital economy of the north of England as both metaphor and research instance to examine and make suggestions for development in what is obviously a successful arena. In spite of, not because of, education if seen through the prism of the House of Commons paper.

We leave it to your judgement to decide. See the full RSA report here.

Turning the tide - making a difference
Turning the tide – making a difference