Wednesday 20 April 2016

The secret's out: improve a failing school by throwing out 'poor quality' pupils!

What follows is, I think, a shocking revelation. It shows that there are people swirling around in the world of academies and 'school improvement' who know quite well that they are in a new landscape: if you can arrange it that your academy can improve, then it doesn't matter what happens to the rest. Any 'pieces' (i.e. children, you know - real human beings) who fall out, fall by the wayside, then the vilified - and, more importantly, cash-starved -  local authority will pick up the pieces. They have to. They have the legal requirement of providing places for all children. Academies do not. So, if you look back at my previous blog,  you'll see that local authorities (the people we elect) now have the job of mopping up after academies' messes. But these messes are our children.

For me that's the heart of the matter. 

Below, is research paper which shows that when 'researchers' look at what's going on, some spot that there are ways to 'improve' academies. And these are already going on.

Please, please, please look at point 4: ''exclude poor quality students", "improve admissions" and 'acquire a local primary school".

So 'research' is showing that this is the way to 'turn round' a 'failing school'!

We know what this means, don't we? It means throwing children out of schools who are deemed to be 'poor quality' - which could mean 'difficult', 'vulnerable', 'too many absences', 'too many low scores'. 

It means 'improving admissions'. I think that this sounds like a euphemism for 'selecting pupils'. Someone tell me otherwise.

It means 'acquire a primary school'. What is this? What sort of language is this? Go get a primary school? Like a big fish swallows a little fish? What sort of pressures are involved here? Who benefits in the long run? It sounds awful. 

As we've seen from the Educating Yorkshire and other similar programmes, yes, some children are indeed 'difficult' within the terms of an institution like school, but with care and help within the mainstream, they can learn that they can achieve things, they are not useless. 

Anyway first: here's the website the document comes from:

Google 'The Centre for High Performance' to find out more.


"This paper presents the findings from a study by The Centre for High-Performance (a collaboration between senior faculty at the Universities of Oxford and Kingston) of the changes made by 160 academies after OfSTED put them into 'special measures' up to seven years ago. These findings form part of a larger research programme looking at how to create and sustain high-performance in a number of art, commercial, education, entertainment, science, sport, technology and military organisations. We now wish to use these findings to help develop a stronger and more robust UK economy, society and environment.

Learnings for academies
The findings suggest academies should make eight changes in the following order:
1. Leadership and objectives - appoint new leaders and narrow objectives
2. Market perception - rebrand school and communicate change
3. Resources - expand service offering and improve admissions
4. Student quality - exclude poor quality students, improve admissions and acquire a local primary school
5. Structures - centralise activities and improve facilities
6. Process stability - improve student attendance and behaviour
7. Process capability - improve teaching capability
8. Systems - introduce performance development systems

Each step requires a different type of investment, creates a different type of benefit and impacts performance in a different way. This impact is affected by a school's access to resources (where it is located) and the changes it has already made. The research shows academies improve faster, with less resources and are more likely to sustain their improvement if they complete the steps in the right order (as shown above).
Our findings challenge some of the prevailing beliefs about how best to improve schools. These beliefs claim more resources accelerate improvement and it is more difficult to turn around Inner City schools. Also, we found that although practices such as having small classes, using a ‘Super Head’, improving teaching first, creating a new building to improve behaviour and using a ‘zero tolerance' behaviour policy create short-term impact, they are not the best long-term solution or the most efficient use of resources.

Learnings for OfSTED
Our research with non-educational organisations suggests academies can sustain high-performance if they stabilise leadership, impact society, use alumni and collaborate with other organisations. However, we found no evidence of these sustaining behaviours in the ‘outstanding’ academies we studied. Instead, to meet OfSTED’s assessment criteria and targets, they have developed behaviours that may have a negative long-term impact on society. They have become selective, do not teach their local community, do not teach 'White British' students, exclude poor performing students, focus on Maths and English and focus on getting students to C-level (not B or A). To help correct this, our findings suggest OfSTED should modify its criteria to help develop ‘sustaining’ behaviours in ‘outstanding’ schools and introduce school-specific targets reflecting the type of market it serves.

Next steps
The Centre of High-Performance now seeks funding and support to use these findings to:
• Help schools improve - by raising awareness, delivering leadership programmes, coaching head teachers and developing a high-performance community
• Develop the right environment to help schools improve - by helping rethink the current OfSTED framework Conduct further research to:
• Test our findings - against a wider sample of academies
• Help academies better impact society - understand how academies can best impact society
• Create sustained high-performing academies - how to create sustained high-performing practices
• Solve headteacher ’demographic time bomb’ - with over 50% currently eligible for retirement."