Learning Support Assistants lead on intervention programmes

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Learning Support Assistants lead on intervention programmes

Herbert Thompson Primary School, Cardiff, uses an effective pupil tracking system to monitor pupil progress and identify additional learning needs. The school has trained Learning Support Assistants to lead on a range of intervention programmes. Pupils receive well-targeted support and Learning Support Assistants experience a new skill.

Number of pupils: 466
Age range: 3- 11 years
Date of Estyn inspection: March 2014

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Herbert Thompson Primary School serves the Ely area of Cardiff. The majority of pupils are of white ethnic background and the remainder are of mixed ethnic groups. There are 17% of pupils with English as an additional language and no pupils speak Welsh as a first language. About 51% of pupils are entitled to free school meals, which is significantly higher than the average for the local authority and Wales. The school has identified about 45% of pupils as having additional learning needs, including a few who have statements of special educational needs. The number of pupils with additional learning needs is significantly higher than the local authority average. The school’s mission statement is ‘Find your talents, let them grow. Be the person that you’d like to know’.

The school’s vision is ‘that all the members of the Herbert Thompson community live with positive values and behaviours and have aspirations and skills to successfully move to the next stage of their lives’.

Herbert Thompson uses an effective pupil tracking system to monitor pupil progress. This provides staff with a wealth of useful information and data on pupils’ attainment in literacy and numeracy as they move through the school. Teachers analyse the information in preparation for the school’s termly ‘Learning Reviews’. Learning Reviews involve teachers, the Inclusion Leader and the Headteacher, who discuss every child’s progress in detail. This promotes consistency across the school and ensures that the staff understand pupils’ needs better. During the Learning Reviews, staff amend provision to meet the needs of individual learners and groups to ensure that all their needs are met appropriately. Staff produce ‘Additional Learning Needs Maps’ and record any further actions which become the responsibility of the Inclusion Leader. Staff make appropriate links with outside agencies and complete and follow up any referrals needed.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

The school has a relentless focus on improvement and a strong sense of responsibility and accountability. We wanted to extend this further with LSAs. We wanted to pursue the wealth of excellent and effective practice, by supporting LSAs to develop professionally through analysing data and understanding the impact of their work.

Therefore, the school provided LSAs with appropriate opportunities to specialise in and lead a range of intervention programmes to support pupils with additional learning needs. Creating a professional climate where staff’s talents and interests are developed and valued ensured that interventions were matched well to the skills of a dedicated team.

Leaders introduced a clear line management model where all LSAs are accountable to class teachers and the Inclusion Leader. Building on the success of Learning Reviews, ‘Mini Learning Reviews’ were introduced and implemented to tightly track the impact of each intervention. As a result, LSAs have developed ownership of their intervention programmes and areas of learning, leading to improvement in standards across the school.

Mini Learning Reviews are carefully planned for and take place at the end of each half term. Each LSA is given a Mini Learning Review appointment and an individual tracking tool to ensure that data relates directly to specific areas of learning. LSAs prepare for their review imputing data for each pupil and completing short evaluations to raise any concerns around possible lack of progress or unforeseen difficulties arising within the programme. During the Mini Learning Review, the Literacy Leader and Inclusion Leader, discuss and analyse individual pupil progress. Through collective decision-making, they modify the provision to constantly meet the needs of all pupils and improve pupil outcomes. The reviews also relate to LSA performance management targets which are evaluated during each review. As in Learning Reviews, SLT leaders record any further actions required to ensure the best learning opportunities for pupils and staff. At the end of every term, senior leaders evaluate all intervention programmes, making a progress judgement’ and identifying ways forward.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

Teachers and LSAs believe that every child can achieve well. They feel that they have responsibility and are accountable for their work. They feel empowered, valued and equipped well to do what is expected of them. Staff now have high levels of confidence and enthusiasm and all have developed leadership skills, sharing practice with other schools.

All pupils receive well-targeted support either in the classroom or through well-planned intervention programmes.

Nearly all pupils who follow additional intervention programmes make very good progress within a short space of time.
This has also improved attendance and reduced the number of exclusions significantly.

Despite high levels of disadvantage and significantly low baselines, end of key stage 2 performance has continued to improve and has been higher than the family, local authority and Wales for the last four years in English and the last two years in mathematics and science. Pupils eligible for free school meals perform just as well as those not eligible.