Select Committee on Home Affairs Minutes of Evidence



Memorandum from Mr Andrew Arnott (EB 05)

 

INDUCTION TO HEADSHIP

  I was appointed to the post of Headteacher at Stockland Green School in October 2000, with effect from January 2001. The school is an 11 to 16 mixed comprehensive of 600 pupils situated in the Erdington and Stockland Green areas of Birmingham. We are close to the famous Gravelly Hill interchange of the M6 motorway, "Spaghetti Junction". 44 per cent of our pupils take free school meals and about 15 per cent of our intake has African or African Caribbean ethnicity, a further 20 per cent are from Indian or Asian ethnic groups, and about 65 per cent are white caucasian.

  At the conclusion of the interview and having accepted the post, I was told that not only was the school "facing challenging circumstances" and suffering from low morale and pupil attainment, but it was likely to be inspected very soon, probably before Easter 2001. At a subsequent, more full briefing by senior officers from Birmingham LEA, the details were clarified; there were low expectations, morale and levels of pupil attainment.

  As a result of preparatory work with the Leadership Team at Stockland Green School, and working closely with governors, we were able to quickly produce a timed, costed and relevant School Development Plan which was published at the end of January. This was good timing, because I had been contacted by HMI only four days into the new post, and told that we would be inspected on 6 February.

  The outcome of the February inspection was that we had a clear vision of how to develop the plan. HMI reported that our timed and costed plan built around our "impact dates", provided a relevant and achievable method of implementation. They were content for us to work with the support of governors and Birmingham LEA, to improve the performance of the school. We set up a support programme with Birmingham which included adviser support in key subject areas and two LEA mini inspections to monitor progress. These were scheduled to take place in November 2001 and spring 2002.

THE CHANGE PROCESS

  We focused upon a range of issues for change or development and identified them in our development plan, which has now become our Improvement plan. These were:

    —  Cultures among pupils, teachers, governors and parents.

    —  Targets which would keep us on track to effect a transformational change for the school community, (100 per cent increase in 5+ GCSE at C or better by 2004.)

    —  Planning at school and department level, and with particular emphasis on schemes of work and lesson planning.

    —  Design a new curriculum and flexibility to allow us to take advantage of opportunities as and when they presented themselves. We also designed a range of levers to raise standards. These included pilots of full GNVQ courses for which pupils must sign up to two extra "twilight" sessions a week, and regular "flexible learning days" for Key Stage 4 Science groups.

    —  Delivery; improving the quality of teaching, resourcing and the learning environment.

    —  Monitoring and Evaluation; to include lesson observation, data analysis and book looks as a routine cycle "bedded in" to the culture of the school.

    —  Celebration and Motivation programmes to apply a wide range of methods for pupils and staff.

    —  Support networks to include critical friends for departments, faculty support via ICT co-ordinator and Key stage strategy manager, attainment review monitoring support for pupils and parents, and behaviour support for pupils when necessary via Key stage teams supported by a range of strategies which include learning mentors and external provision where appropriate.

    —  Community; working with our parents and neighbours to provide concrete support through effective liaison.

OUTCOMES TO DATE

  1.  In summer 2001, our Year 9 achieved Key stage 3 results ahead of target in the core subjects and this year we were able to sustain our improved performance from last year.

  2.  In summer 2001 during what was a year of transition, we comfortable exceeded our expectations at Key Stage 4 for pupils leaving school with at least one GCSE grade and we achieved our target for pupils achieving five or more GCSE grades at C or better. 97 per cent of our Year 11 pupils achieved one or more grades at GCSE. Historically, since the 1970s, the school has never exceeded 21 per cent of pupils achieving five or more GCSE grades at C or above. We are setting extremely challenging targets of 50 per cent for the future which give us something to build towards. We think we can get close to these targets by working with governors to offer a more innovative curriculum, improve the quality of teaching and maintain the progression towards creating a culture of learning and achievement among pupils, parents and the school community.

  3.  Other indicators of success include a reduction in the number of behaviour referrals, an encouraging evaluative report of our review programme from our monitoring team at Keele University, and positive feedback from pupils, parents and our community.

  4.  Our outline bid to become a specialist technology college was accepted by Birmingham in March and given "Priority Status" in Phase 3. This means that Birmingham will support us in the submission of our full bid in March 2005, with a view to achieving specialist status in September 2005. We were one of only nine schools in the city to achieve "Priority Status" in this round, out of about 35 who submitted outline bids. We have subsequently responded positively to an invitation to move into Phase 2 and submit our bid between October 2003 and March 2004.

  5.  In March we were awarded the "School Achievement Award 2002".

  6.  In July we were notified that we had been successful in our assessment for the "Investors in People" Award.

  7.  Two LEA review inspections in November 2001 and June 2002, report continued improvement in teaching and learning, leadership, monitoring and morale.

  8.  The school is now oversubscribed with first choices from pupils wishing to join our Year 7 in September 2002. We have a waiting list of 63.

CONCLUSION

  Clearly much has been achieved in the last 18 months. However, we are committed to maintaining and extending the quality of our service. In order to achieve this we are constantly seeking to improve. In order to further increase our capacity for development, we are currently recruiting a Deputy Headteacher to act as the leading change agent from January 2003, to maintain our momentum and ensure that we continue to offer the best service to our pupils and community.

Mr Andrew Arnott

September 2002

 


 
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