Introduction by Councillor Ralph Berry, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, and Michael Jameson, Strategic Director of Children’s Services:
“Our over-riding priority is to rapidly improve outcomes for children and young people and to remove inequalities in learning.
Our aim is for every school and setting to be judged good or outstanding by Ofsted and for pupils’ progress to be better than national levels.
“Providing young people with the right skills and knowledge within an excellent school system is crucial to their future success and wellbeing. High quality education and skills are also vital for the regeneration of the District and a thriving local
“The Strategy was revised from the one published in June 2012 after we carried out a detailed analysis of data and it also follows discussions with leaders of school partnerships and governing bodies. This revised Strategy has a focus on accelerating
“We acknowledge that the District and its schools face several challenges. We have high levels of poverty in some areas alongside areas of high prosperity; high levels of turbulence in the school population; changes in the Ofsted inspection framework
and plans to introduce higher threshold floor targets for schools nationally. But we have a culture of 'no excuses' and we are committed to meeting the challenge.”
Our latest analysis has shown educational outcomes must improve significantly if Bradford District is to achieve its ambition of every young person reaching their full potential and overall progress being at least in line with national levels. Recent examination
results have further underlined the need for urgent improvement.
We have already made major changes, such as investing more in schools and creating formal partnerships between the Council and schools, but school performance is not improving fast enough or consistently enough. We recently commissioned an external review
of our current strategy and we will review our approach in light of the findings and recommendations.
Our commitment to improving outcomes is set within the context of a decrease in the Council’s overall resources. This highlights the importance of more integrated approaches across all Council services and harnessing resources through partnerships. The Council
has developed a strategy involving health and the voluntary sector. The recent successful bid to the Big Lottery Fund has secured £50m over 10 years for the Better Start: Fulfilling Lives programme which will help us to focus on early support to close the
educational achievement gap.
We have set ambitious targets which can be found on the attachment at the end of this document.
The Role of the Local Authority
The core role of the Local Authority (LA) is to be an advocate of children and young people. The LA has a key role in championing excellent education standards and the safety and well-being of all children and young people across the District irrespective
of the nature of the educational provision. The LA undertakes monitoring, challenge, support and intervention in schools and settings. The school partnerships contribute to monitoring, challenge and support and this work is often commissioned by the LA.
However, we are clear that the ultimate accountability sits with the LA.
The Local Authority’s priorities and aims
We have three key priorities in Children’s Services:
i. Children starting school are ready to learn
ii. Young people leaving school are ready for the world of work and life
iii. Accelerating the rate of achievement and attainment of students.
The four key areas in our Education Improvement Strategy are:
A. Further improving the quality of leadership, including governance, across all schools and settings
B. Improving school readiness and end of Early Years outcomes
C. Improving teaching and learning and raising levels of literacy across all phases
D. Raising attainment of underperforming groups and narrowing the attainment gap.
How we plan to achieve in these four key areas
A) Further improve leadership, including governance, in all schools and settings by:
i. Recruiting and retaining the very best leaders
Put simply, higher quality school leadership is linked to improved pupil progress. We have created a Schools Recruitment and Retention Strategy Lead Officer post to attract more high quality candidates to Bradford. We will appoint to this post in the Autumn
Term 2014. We are also working with the Teaching School Alliances to improve Initial Teacher Training and leadership development across the District.
ii. Making every Bradford school good or outstanding by 2017
We have plotted a timescale for every school across Bradford to become good or outstanding by 2017. In September 2014 we wrote to all schools confirming our expectations and to open a discussion about when they judge they will become good/outstanding. Currently
63% of our schools are judged by Ofsted as good/outstanding and our current data indicates an increase to 72% of schools by July 2015. We have also set a target of all schools judged to be good or better at their next inspection.
iii. Targeting underperformance
We provide additional challenge and support to the senior management and governing bodies of all schools below the Government’s floor standards and schools that are not improving quickly enough. Schools above the ‘floor targets’ also have underperforming
groups of pupils and we are providing challenge to these schools to secure better outcomes.
iv. Making annual visits to every school in the district
From the Autumn Term 2014 we will visit all Bradford schools and children’s centres at least once a year. This will enable us to judge each school’s progress against its own self-evaluation and better target additional challenge and support.
v. Extending primary school reviews
From September 2014 to July 2015 an additional 70 primary schools will be involved in the peer review process piloted with 17 schools in 2013/14. By July 2016 140 Bradford Primary Improvement Partnership (BPIP) schools will have been subject to a robust
review by a peer headteacher, a senior LA officer and an external HMI/Ofsted inspector focusing on leadership, teaching and learning, behaviour and pupil outcomes.
vi. Making the most of our outstanding headteachers
We are maximising our outstanding headteachers’ impact by giving them a group of schools to lead rather than just one. We aim to have ten headteachers deployed in this work in 2014/15. We will develop executive headteacher models as part of a programme of
work with governing bodies and headteacher groups in the Autumn Term 2014. We have formed a link with an outstanding headteacher who was formerly an Executive Headteacher in the London Borough of Lewisham.
vii. Excellence in school governance and challenging underperformance
‘Excellence in Governance’ is a key component of our school improvement strategy. We are carrying out a ‘root and branch review’ of school governance in the Bradford District as a key element of our support.
It is our aim that Ofsted’s judgements of leadership and management match the national average by July 2015 (this would represent an 8% rise based on current data). Our longer term target is to exceed the national average by July 2016.
Training – We have planned training for governors in the Autumn Term 2014 to ensure they apply HR policies rigorously and challenge (and support) poor leadership effectively. We will make this training available
to all governing bodies and it will be provided for all Priority 1 schools.
The School Governor Service (SGS) has developed a ‘Bradford Governance Model’ which provides concrete ways to (a) improve the level of challenge from governors to senior leaders while (b) ensuring that governors understand their
responsibilities and share the collective values of school improvement. All governing bodies will receive guidance to ensure they are fit for purpose and members have the right set of skills, attitudes and experience.
From September 2014 we are offering additional training to all governing bodies on ‘working with parents and communities’. Links are being further developed with community organisations including the Council for Mosques.
Monitoring – We are closely monitoring the progress of governing bodies in implementing the recommendations for action from Governing Body audits/reviews of Governance. We have set a target of 100% compliance with
the recommendations for action arising from audit reviews of Governance. SGS has published its recommended Code of Conduct for governing bodies to meet the criteria for a ‘Fit & Proper Test’ for governors. The updated Code of Conduct will be recommended to
governing bodies for adoption in September 2014. This sits alongside the Skills Matrices for governing bodies to judge capacity and the skill sets required of governors.
Intervention – We continue to use our formal powers of intervention with governing bodies when it is in children’s and young people’s best interests. This involves issuing notices of concern, formal warning letters,
adding governors to governing bodies and when necessary replacing governing bodies with Interim Executive Boards.
B) Improve School Readiness and Early Years provision by:
i) Making the most of outstanding leaders in the Early Years
The Early Childhood Services have recently been brought together with the Achievement Service to ensure there is coherent challenge and support across the Early Years, Primary and Secondary phases of education.
We have commissioned work from one of our outstanding leaders who is a National Leader in Education. She will support our work in revising our Early Years Strategy to make sure there are closer links to Health as part of our programme of Early Help with
a focus on pupils from our most deprived families.
ii) Spreading good practice in working with parents and carers
Through the development of an integrated Early Years Strategy we hope to further co-ordinate programmes to support parental engagement and family learning. There will be targeted support for parents in schools and children's centres with high numbers of
pupils in the lowest performing 20% group.
C) Support schools to improve literacy and teaching and learning across all phases by:
i) Being one of three National Literacy Hubs
We have identified three areas of the District to be part of the initial targeted work in literacy: Eccleshill, Keighley Central, and Toller. There is a particular focus on engaging with parents, especially male parents and carers,
to ensure children get the best possible start. A Parental Engagement strand of National Literacy Hub has been developed and a programme (Early Words Together) is in place.
This will support 100 targeted families over the next 12 months, resulting in improved parenting skills and stronger home learning environments to support learning in school. Targeted literacy work is also underway with particular
groups using media literacy. This approach has been shown to have a major impact on progress in reading. Outcomes for each school will be for targeted children to achieve four levels of progress in English. A Talking School/Setting Network has also been established
to promote the importance of speaking and listening.
ii) Supporting Collaboration
We have developed and are delivering a local ‘Improving Teaching Programme’ and ‘Outstanding Teacher Programme’ based on the work of the National College for Teaching and Leadership. We aim to increase the proportion of good and
outstanding teaching and eliminate inadequate teaching. By January 2015, 20 outstanding teachers from a selection of Bradford Primary Improvement Partnership (BPIP) schools will be coaching weaker teachers in either their own or other BPIP schools. By January
2015, we plan for at least 40 additional teachers from a selection of BPIP schools to be consistently judged good or outstanding.
D) Raising achievement of underperforming groups by:
i) Putting in place additional resources to support our work with underperforming groups. We are currently revising our strategy to respond to high levels of pupil mobility and a significant increase in
the number of pupils and families who are not only ‘new to English’ but also ‘new to education’, with a focus on 15 Primary Schools with mobility at or above 15% (the District average is 8.4% for maintained schools).
We have established a working group to look at maximising funding that is available to the Schools’ Forum to support those groups and communities who are underperforming or at risk of underperforming.
ii) Developing capacity within local areas
We have recently reviewed the services that we provide to support schools with new communities. We are working with the school partnerships to build on the good practice that exists in some schools and settings by developing ‘hubs
of excellence’ that can support schools when they encounter challenges in supporting the learning of children and young people from ‘new communities’ and underperforming groups. Two hubs will be developed by July 2015.