Using self-evaluation to drive improvement

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Staff at all levels of Ysgol Pen Coch have developed a self-evaluative approach that has had a significant impact on the work of the school.

Number of learners: 94
Age range: 2 - 11
Date of inspection: May 2017

Information about the school

Ysgol Pen Coch is a day special school that provides education for pupils with a wide range of learning needs.  These include profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD), severe learning difficulties (SLD), social, emotional and behavioural difficulties (SEBD), autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and complex learning needs.  There are currently 94 pupils at the school, aged two to eleven.

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Ysgol Pen Coch was opened in 2009 after the closure of three special school buildings.  The schools then merged into one primary and one secondary special school.

The three schools that closed were very different.  As staff were interviewed for jobs in the new school, many expressed concerns about their confidence in working with pupils who had a wider range of needs.  It was decided that staff at all levels needed to develop a self-evaluative approach to their work.  This self-review needed to be supported by appropriate structures in school, which provided both individuals and groups with feedback about their work and its impact upon the pupils.  It was important for the school to develop regular, extensive opportunities to examine and comment on the work of each area of the school and to engage in a professional dialogue with the staff involved.  The information gained would then be used to promote the overall development of work in that area.

Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

In order to ensure that this approach was effective, it was decided that there would be a focus on one department or area (for example behaviour) each term.  The school developed a process of information collection including teaching observations, scrutiny of documentation, meeting observations, interviews and questionnaires.  The headteacher produced a monitoring and evaluation policy, which was made available on the school website. 

At the end of the monitoring and evaluation of a particular department or area, a report is produced that summarises the information gained.  The reports include comments on how well previous issues have been addressed, the quality of teaching, standards achieved by pupils, leadership and management of a department or provision and resourcing issues. 

The department or area co-ordinator is then responsible for working with the staff team to put a plan in place to address any issues raised by the report.  The headteacher and senior managers support them in this.  Some areas can be addressed within the department, but others need to be considered as whole school issues. 

In September 2016, the school also established processes for monitoring and evaluating areas of learning and experience (AoLE), in line with the new curriculum.  The curriculum co-ordinator takes a lead on this work and final reports are presented to the curriculum and standards committee of the governing body.  Where required, AoLE leaders provide annual reports about the progress and achievement of pupils in the area. 

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

The robust monitoring and evaluation processes have had a significant impact on the work of the school.

• Monitoring and evaluating areas of provision help the school to ensure that it is delivering the very best education   for the pupils in its care. 
• Leaders and staff know the school’s strengths and areas for improvement very well.
• The highly reflective and evaluative culture within the school enables it to plan for a wide range of interventions and adaptations to pupils’ learning experiences that meet the needs of pupils very well.
• The recent core inspection identified standards at the school as good and pupils’ wellbeing as excellent

How have you shared your good practice?

• The headteacher shares reports or summaries of the reports with staff and other relevant stakeholders.  These include the governing body, parents and the school improvement partner from the regional consortium.
• Copies of the reports are available on the school website.
• The school has shared this work with other pioneer schools.