Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1 Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding Reputation management for schools Experience shared: Effective mentoring Tackling bullying in schools - part one Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others Managing difficult conversations The art of influence: Creating the best outcome Change management and conflict Managing anxiety at work Interpreting data for 2017 performance Free article: Know your strengths Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Free article: Transforming a failing school Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Free article: Managing uncertainty Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Free article: The governing body as a critical friend Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Free article: The exam post-mortem Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal Free article: Making CPD work harder Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Free article: The government's Prevent guidance Free article: Improving provision for the most able Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values Free article: Raising boys’ achievement Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Free article: Challenging 
the most able Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Free article: Four steps to school improvement Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Free article: Getting personal  with CPD Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Free article: Parent View — an update Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Free article: Effective parental engagement

Free article: Improving teacher recruitment and retention: part 1

In the first part of a two-part article, Matt Bromley looks at ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention.

Free article: Get ready to win strategic school improvement funding

How do you make a successful bid for a slice of the government’s Strategic School Improvement Fund? Best Practice Network’s Liam Donnison asks two school leaders who have done so…

Reputation management for schools

PLMR’s Sam Dalton talks about how schools can manage reputational impact when a crisis hits.

Experience shared: Effective mentoring

Steve Burnage explores the professional development potential of a productive and focused mentoring relationship from the perspective of the mentor.

Tackling bullying in schools - part one

Bullying is defined as: ‘Behaviour by an individual or group, usually repeated over time, that intentionally hurts another individual or group either physically or emotionally’. This article looks at the…

Aggression at work: Managing yourself and others

Conflict management is a vital skill for managers. Schools have clear policies on managing aggression in the classroom and playground. In this article Louise Wingrove looks at dealing with it…

Managing difficult conversations

Some conversations are always going to be uncomfortable. In this article, Louise Wingrove looks at managing difficult subjects with care and confidence.

The art of influence: Creating the best outcome

Louise Wingrove looks at how being aware of your impact on others can help everybody get what they need.

Change management and conflict

Nazli Hussein looks at the causes of conflict and the best ways to deal with it, with the best outcomes for those involved.

Managing anxiety at work

With growing awareness about anxiety and the impact it can have on both pupils and members of staff, Louis Wingrove looks at some ways to tackle the problem in the…

Interpreting data for 2017 performance

Tony Powell looks at the three different ways that a school’s academic performance is evaluated.

Free article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Free article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Free article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Free article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Free article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Free article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Free article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Free article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Free article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Free article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Free article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Free article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Free article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Free article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Free article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Free article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Free article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Free article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Free article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Free article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Free article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Free article: Deconstructing the link between SEND and poverty

DfE statistics show a clear link between SEND and children living in poverty. Suzanne O’Connell outlines some of the reasons for this, and recommendations for action, in a Joseph Rowntree…

Free article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Free article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Free article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Free article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Free article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Free article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Free article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Free article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Free article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Free article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

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Free article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Free article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Free article: Actively promoting fundamental British values

Tony Powell advises on how schools can demonstrate that they are actively promoting fundamental British values.

Free article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Free article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Free article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Free article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Free article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Free article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Free article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Free article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Free article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Free article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Free article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Free article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Free article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Free article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Free article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Free article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Free article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Free article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Free article: The exam post-mortem

Published: Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Summary

  • Reviewing the post-exam performance data in a post-exam review meeting, known as a rapid improvement panel (RIP), can help to avoid underperformance next time.
  • The RIP should be made up of academy sponsors (if applicable), school governors and headteachers.
  • Middle and senior leaders should prepare their data analysis reports in advance of the meeting and submit it to the panel for their consideration.
  • The RIP panellists should interrogate the report, highlighting key strengths and weaknesses, and annotating pertinent questions and concerns.
  • The meeting itself should focus on panellists’ questions rather than leaders’ presentations, in order to try to ascertain more fully the reasons for certain outcomes and trends.

The purpose of a post-mortem

Exam analysis meetings go by many names, most of them aptly funereal in tone, such as ‘post-mortems’ or ‘rapid improvement panels’ (RIPs). One by one, middle and senior leaders step forward, heads bowed reverently, to get a grilling from a grim reaper in the guise of academy sponsors, school governors and headteachers who form part of the post-exam review panel.

The primary purpose of these meetings is to interrogate a school’s summative performance data, celebrating success where it occurs (recognising departmental improvements as well as individual accomplishments) and questioning underperformance or significant deviations from predicated outcomes in the hope that the same mistakes can be avoided next year.

The panel meeting

Leaders should prepare their data analysis reports in advance of the meeting and submit it to the panel for their consideration. Panellists should interrogate the report, highlighting key strengths and weaknesses, and annotating pertinent questions and concerns.

The meeting itself should focus on panellists’ questions rather than leaders’ presentations in order to try to ascertain more fully the reasons for certain outcomes and trends. There is no doubt that leaders can present their findings in a positive light, but what is needed is an honest account of the facts and an appropriate level of challenge, leading to an agreed set of SMART actions rather than vague promises.

The exam analysis report

Exam analysis reports should not be too long or descriptive. Rather, they should be succinct and evaluative in nature. Panellists want to know the following:

  • What are the headline results per subject per year group and per cohort/class?
  • What was attainment like versus what was predicted?
  • What was attainment like versus what was targeted/expected?
  • What was progress like versus what was predicted?
  • What was progress like versus what was targeted/expected?
  • What value did each teacher add (often presented in terms of residual scores where any positive figure shows value was added)?
  • How did different groups of students attain and progress in relation to all students, including boys and girls, students in receipt of pupil premium funding, students for whom English is an additional language, students with SEND, and so on?
  • What interventions (wave 1, 2 and 3) were put in place, when and for which students?
  • What effect did each intervention have, what has been learnt about the value of each intervention?
  • What was the accuracy and quality of teacher assessment like?

Headteacher summaries

Once all these meetings have been concluded, the headteacher must collate and summarise the school’s performance in order to present it to the governing body, academy sponsors or executive head. At this stage it is worth a headteacher remembering that exam results are exactly that: results. They exist in the past tense and cannot be improved (with the exception of exam papers which are entered for remarks, of course; though under recent reforms this practice will become less common).

The only point of an exam post-mortem is to ascertain the ‘cause of death’, so to speak, so that appropriate action can be taken in the future in order to benefit the living.

As such, what a school’s stakeholders really want to know while they’re reviewing exam results is what led to those results: what worked and what didn’t; what lessons have been or can now be learnt.
Accordingly, here is some advice for headteachers and senior leaders who face inquisitions this autumn term from their executive heads, sponsors and governors.

Top five tips

  1. Present your data clearly, succinctly and honestly. Don’t try to mask your data by combining various qualifications. Although it might feel like it, it is not a witch-hunt and you will gain nothing by being in denial or being defensive. Moreover, you will fool no one by massaging your data.
  2. Keep track of which interventions are given to which students and analyse their relative effectiveness in light of the outcomes. You need to demonstrate value for money, so must evaluate the relative success of all your intervention strategies. This is not always easy but, in the case of the pupil premium in particular, it is important that you try because Ofsted and the DfE expect to see evidence of successful use of the pupil premium. Where you know a student has only been in receipt of one form of intervention, use him or her as a test base to compare the effectiveness of that strategy versus another.
  3. Identify which teachers achieved the highest value added scores (using L3VA, ALPs, ALIS, etc.). Decide how to employ your best teachers this year. This isn’t necessarily always with the top set or the C/D borderline class, especially now we have a 1–9 grading system and a focus on the progress of the majority not the attainment of the minority. Think creatively about each teacher’s particular skill-set, try to ‘think outside the box’ a little.
  4. Analyse how accurate your internal moderation proved to be. What more could be done to ensure that your teachers mark coursework and/or controlled assessments accurately? Also, analyse how accurately your teachers predicted their students’ outcomes and carry out a question-by-question analysis of the exam. Which questions proved the most difficult for students? What more can you do this year to better prepare students for that question? What support do your teachers need to help them teach those aspects of the syllabus better? Ensure that all this self-flagellation leads to clear and SMART actions against which you and your staff can be held to account.
  5. What professional development do your teachers need to help them improve? What other actions need to be taken to improve the performance of your team? Do any formal procedures now need to be invoked in order to tackle endemic underperformance or malpractice? Did you, as the headteacher/senior leader, challenge your senior and middle leaders and their teachers? Did you do everything you could to keep track of the progress of every student and take appropriate actions to intervene when it was needed?

Strike the right balance

When presenting to governors, aim for a balance between honest self-reflection and dogged determination to drive up standards. Be proud of your school and your staff and don’t be afraid to sing the praises of those who deserve it. But also be frank about failure where it exists and have a robust plan to tackle it.

Your key focus at all times must be on:

  • Impact: What was the impact of the actions you took last year on student outcomes and what did that teach you?
  • Action: What SMART actions will you take this year in order to improve student outcomes and what will the impact of those actions be next summer when you face the grim reaper again?

There are three tables in the toolkits section (provided by Tony Powell) for analysing results against targets (see the Toolkit box below). These can be used as stand-alone tables but are designed to be used sequentially, either to drill down or to scale up.

There are two features of the tables which will give schools a different perspective from analysing results against national averages or levels of progress.

  1. Achievement of target grades. Targets are normally set using tools such as those provided by Fischer Family Trust. Therefore, while some teachers may claim that the targets are over-ambitious, they will have been set using the same methodology and data for each pupil and will provide a common base level
  2. Pupil characteristics. The tables also contain information about pupil characteristics. These can be factored in when considering the performance of individual pupils, groups or subjects. This does not mean the underlying reasons for achievement are always linked to pupil characteristics, as will be obvious when all the tables are completed. 

Some parts of the tables have been populated to provoke thought and discussion.

Toolkit

Use the following items in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:

About the author

Matt Bromley is an experienced education writer, consultant, speaker and trainer. In a leadership career of more than 15 years, he was Group Director of a large FE college and multi-academy trust, acting Headteacher of one of the top five most improved schools in England, Deputy Headteacher of a small rural school, and Assistant Headteacher of a large inner-city school. He is the author of several best-selling books and regularly speaks at national and international conferences. You can find out more at www.bromleyeducation.co.uk and follow him on Twitter @mj_bromley.

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