Creating a strategic framework

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Leaders at Rhos Street School developed the link between self-evaluation, performance management and target setting to create strong and sustained pupil progress. The school set up a framework to ensure their vision and priorities are implemented successfully. Setting targets to develop literacy and numeracy standards have had a positive impact on pupils’ progress. As a result of this approach, the majority of pupils leave the school with skills above expectation.

Number of pupils: 202
Age range: 3-11
Date of inspection: November 2018

Information about the school

Rhos Street Community Primary School is on the edge of Ruthin in Denbighshire.  The school moved into a new building in April 2018 on the site that it shares with a Welsh-medium primary school, Ysgol Pen Barras.

The headteacher has been in post since April 2009. 

The school has 198 pupils aged from 3 to 11, including 29 who attend the nursery class part-time.  There are eight single-age classes. 

Most pupils are of White British heritage.  A very few pupils speak English as an additional language.  A very few pupils speak Welsh at home. 

The three-year average for pupils eligible for free school meals is around 9%.  This is well below the Welsh average of 18%.  The school has identified approximately 13% of pupils as having additional learning needs, which is well below the Welsh average of 21%.

Context and background to the effective or innovative practice

When the school was inspected by Estyn in 2013, Rhos Street School’s performance was judged to be good, while its prospects for improvement were judged to be excellent.  In order to improve further, senior leaders worked to develop and strengthen the link between the strategic systems of self-evaluation, performance management and target setting and monitoring, in order to maximise the impact of the school’s work on pupil outcomes and achieve excellent standards.

Leaders identified that further aligning all of these areas would facilitate strong and sustained excellence in pupil progress, outcomes and standards.  Leaders involved and integrated key stakeholders in the process.

Description of nature of strategy or activity

The ‘Rhos Street School Strategic Golden Thread’ is a framework that ensures the school’s vision and that priorities are implemented effectively.  This framework enables the school to achieve maximum impact by directly linking all of the strategic processes and systems together.  These include the process of holistic self-evaluation, which leads to the formulation of school development plan (SDP) targets, performance targets for governors, senior leaders, teaching staff, support staff and targets for the pupils themselves.  At all levels, each of these targets aligns directly to identified priorities in the SDP. 

To support staff at all levels in meeting their targets, training is focused on professional development in relation to those priorities.  The targets are visible in classes and corridor displays, including captions that summarise the SDP targets in child friendly language to further enhance the focus.  The displays include evaluations of the previous year’s targets.  Parents are also provided with an abridged version of the SDP, outlining how they can contribute towards supporting their child’s progress in relation to each target. 

Governors with specific SDP action-plan responsibilities visit the school to focus on monitoring standards and provision.  Governors feed back their findings to the rest of the governing body through a written report.  The monitoring by senior leaders is specifically targeted to evaluate the impact of the actions in the SDP priorities.  Additionally, scheduled staff peer observations provide opportunities for staff to share, discuss and evaluate their work in relation to the priorities on a more informal basis.

Leaders use social media to share progress with all stakeholders, using individual hashtags in relation to the different priorities.  This initiative has been a successful and worthwhile way to update the school community and beyond, as well as providing a useful evidence base of the progress the school has made.

What impact has this work had on provision and learners’ standards?

Strategic targets with the specific aim of developing standards and provision in literacy and numeracy have had a very positive impact on pupils’ progress as they move through the school. 

For instance, in the recent inspection in 2018, Estyn identified that progress in writing the foundation phase is rapid and that pupils develop a very strong understanding of number, shape, measures and data.  In key stage 2, Estyn identified that, by Year 6, more able pupils in particular write extended pieces of well-constructed, engaging fiction, using powerful vocabulary to build suspense and to develop twists to the plot.  Also, by the end of Year 6, a minority of pupils have excellent mathematical skills.

As a result of the strategic approach outlined above, nearly all pupils leave the school with skills at least in line with those expected for their age and a majority leave with skills above those expected.

How have you shared your good practice?

The school has shared the ongoing development of this model on a county, consortium and national basis, through presentations, consultations and workshops.