Chair’s Blog

As we move into the first half term break, this may be a good time to reflect on the impact of various initiatives and interventions we have all implemented to try and make those improvements to our respective provisions. As you may remember I am planning on visiting a good number of member schools over the next few weeks and months and the focus of my visits will be to encourage increased engagement and to help celebrate the best initiatives working within our member schools.

In an attempt to showcase how engage in their future initiatives can provide access to transformative practice, I have at the end of this blog included an outline from Sue Ackroyd, Principal at William Henry Smith School and Regional Representative for our North East region. Sue and her team have taken on the offer to develop a bespoke approach to measuring progress measures through collaboration with EDUsolutions, using the TEAM (The Engage Assessment Model) measures approach. As you will see from her report the impact has resulted in the development of different blocks of measurement to create a unique set of accreditation ‘blocks’. This is not a new approach as schools across the engage in their future network have shared, across the peer network, an approach that created a unique set of ‘blocks’ and indeed at my own school we ran a Progress 9+ approach to try and celebrate the many diverse areas of accreditation that we provide for our pupils. The encouraging message we should take from Sue’s report is that if we can ‘engage’ with the opportunities that members from the National Committee are putting forward, there is great potential to develop and improve our individual settings, which is one of our main aims for the association.

In the same vein, we are making final preparations to launch a peer review model, and we will be sharing details of a training event in February, very soon. Hopefully, Sue’s report will inspire you to take part in future initiatives.

If you would like more information in regard to the work Sue has completed using the TEAM approach or if you would like to contact Giles and EDUsolutions, please don’t hesitate to contact your local Regional Rep and they will be able to connect you through the National Committee, contact details are on the website.

Don’t forget to pick up the phone, connect through email and engage directly with your fellow members, we are all in this together.

Toni Bailey


Data informed v data driven-our journey

We volunteered to help Ofsted out whilst they were undertaking pilot inspections (they needed a special school to help them include all types of schools). When they left, we were battered and bruised, we never wanted to feel like that again!

So, we began our journey…


We were keen to take advantage of Ofsted’s focus on progress from starting points but were also conscious of leaving ourselves open we knew we couldn’t rely on a Ofsted inspector who wholeheartedly believed in individual starting points and progress over time; we also wanted to be data informed not data driven. We prepped teachers, they needed to be strongan innate belief that our curriculum was driven by the needs of our kids and that our data both informed and improved our practice. We produced an A1 data file (50+ pages) providing summative data (and info) from every area we thought important; this extended across academic progress- all subjects….soon to be added with EYFS and Forest Schools strands, behaviour and life-skills (incl. parental views), serious incidents (incl. restraints), Speech and Language and Occupational Therapy (CELF/ABC/VMI) and Psychotherapy (Happiness/SDQ/Honosca) etc. We were able to evidence individual progress over time (most students over the previous 3 terms) in this form. Our bespoke management information system (SID) underwent a significant upgrade and we were able to capture tiny steps of progress from admission and, demonstrate significant focussed monitoring to ensure we were able to capture and deal with (and celebrate where appropriate) peaks, troughs and those coasting. We used simple RAG rating and where progress was not sufficient (we determined this) we were able to record why this might be so using teachers’ notes and back stories (what’s going on in our kids’ lives) and highlight the intervention(s). We captured back stories on admission (the whole picture) and ACEs (thank you Sharon)…. we are hooked on using both ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) and vulnerability factors (conduct disorder, single parent, family illness, developmental issues, out of formal schooling for 3months+ etc.); we have also added suspected ACEs (we know we don’t get everything in writing). ACEs and vulnerability factors fit exceptionally well with our Positive Behaviour Support culture (NB: we were clear to use these as reasons not excuses).  Our ragging is therefore aspirational, it is our definition of what is outstanding, we know our kids and we have an idea where they are headed; we are also not afraid to detour, our kids often surprise us!

So, Ofsted came and went and agreed that our kids make outstanding progress from their starting points and that no stone was left unturned “The school is uncompromising in their drive and ambition for all pupils to be the best they can be”, “From typically low starting points, pupils make substantial progress in all areas” but we had hit a dead end- where did we go next, how would we drive it to the next level?

So…we brought in Giles from Edusolutions…

  • Giles validated what we had done to date and what was worthwhile in terms of data (he also pointed out a few errors)
  • He went over the ASP data and confirmed all the reasons why it’s utterly useless to us KS2 data is not always available etc.
  • He gave us some good ideas for laying out the data file (i.e. using ACEs/vulnerability factors in every section); we now have a Percentage Confidence, a school progress and learning group (class) overview 

We also learnt…  

  • The kind of things we should be taking from it to put in our SEF
  • Ideas around creating Parallel of Progress graphs-to gain a national comparison
  • That the idea to create our own version of attainment 8 was a potential winner

 So, what next…we are:

  • Reviewing our subjects/accreditation/opportunities/vocational offer…we are revisiting accessibility and currency (weight alongside mainstream peers) and creating 70 individual pathways, surrounded/scaffolded by Psychotherapy/OT/SaLT/residential care (life skills/key working), family welfare support and family systemic work) etc.
  • In the process of creating our own Bill Smiths EBacc with a minimum of 5 buckets-2 large ones filled with English (literacy) and maths (numeracy) different levels and 3 to be filled with valuable/currency loaded other quals/accreditation/experience
  • Life skills and employability are likely to become non-negotiables alongside English and maths (making 7 buckets for some young people).


Other valuable currency loaded accreditation/experience









Life skills     Employability




  • Checking out entrance quals. for entry to college (and negotiating) and researching/defining employability skills
  • Revisiting baselines-their accuracy-redefining their importance to teachers and support staff- evidencing outstanding rates of progress over time
  • Re-determining our strands of progress 1/Emerging 2/Secure ensuring a more consistent application/judgement
  • Working with kids to determine what’s on their bucket list…what makes them happy (we know it’s likely to change); where do they want to be, what are their goals? guided of course
  • Building up our bank of case stories there’s nothing better than a descriptive journey with golden nuggets defining progress
  • Developing and introducing a framework to capture quality of life
  • Reviewing our careers education and transition planning
  • Providing one page progress reports for Governors

Consideration for next steps (Engage model)

  • Do we need to revisit what the model judges as recognised qualifications Do we collectively think that the current model pays too much weight on GCSEs? Should we ensure there’s more breadth- a link to Ofsted’s new focus on the curriculum?


PS  If you’d like to read previous blogs, you can access them by clicking on the relevant links below: