Agenda item

Review of Schools Performance

Report of Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND)


The Committee considered a report of the Cabinet Member for Education (and SEND) giving details of Educational Achievement in Staffordshire schools for the period September 2022 – July 2023 (Schedule 3 to the signed minutes).


Members noted the following key highlights from the available data:-


·       As at November 2023, the percentage of Staffordshire’s Schools designated Academies had increased to 69.6% ie 282 with 123 continuing to be maintained by the County Education Authority;


·       The majority of all schools, both academies and maintained had been judged to be ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills OFSTED) (ie 89%) a figure which was in line with the national average;


·       Pupils in Staffordshire started well with high levels of attainment recorded in early years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 (KS1) compared to national averages. However, outcomes were below those seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic;


·       Staffordshire was showing improvement in the percentage of pupils achieving a Good Level of Development (GLD) in EYFS and at a higher rate than recorded nationally;


·       69% of pupils at the end of EYFS achieved a GLD compared to 67% nationally;


·       At the end of Year 1, 81% of pupils achieved the expected level of phonics decoding compared to 79% nationally;


·       Staffordshire performed above the national average in reading, writing and mathematics at KS1. However, whilst outcomes had increased when compared to the figures for 2022, all three areas were below those recorded in 2019;


·       Staffordshire was ranked 21st and in quartile A for reading; 33rd and in quartile B for writing and; 24th and in quartile B for mathematics at the expected standard when compared to all local authorities nationally;


·       2023 Key Stage 2 (KS2) results indicated that Staffordshire pupils remain above the national averages for reading, writing, mathematics and combined reading, writing and mathematics at the expected standard;


·       The expected standard in reading was in line with 2019 outcomes. However, writing and mathematics remained below pre-pandemic levels;


·       KS1 to KS2 pupils in Staffordshire made less progress than that seen nationally.


·       Staffordshire’s outcomes at the end of Key Stage 4 (KS4) GCSE remained inconsistent. The proportion of students achieving grade 9 – 4 in English and Mathematics was approximately the England All Schools average but below the state-funded average. Staffordshire’s results in both English Baccalaureate and English and Mathematics GCSE (Grade 5 or above passes) were below the national average and;


·       KS4 outcomes in 2023 were in line or above those in 2019.


During the full and wide-ranging discussion which ensued, Members gave detailed scrutiny to the statistics, asking questions, seeking clarification and raising issues of concern as necessary, including:- (i) performance having not recovered to pre-pandemic levels in certain key areas and the remedial measures available to the County Council to ensure improvements in future years; (ii) the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (OFSTED) ratings of individual schools in Members’ Divisions and the progress being made to improve areas of weakness as a matter of urgency; (iii) the progress made in accommodating pupils with Special Educational Needs in Staffordshire schools through the new arrangements which had previously been endorsed by the Committee and; (iv) the further analysis required to better understand the various key messages which had been highlighted eg pass rates being below the national average in English and Mathematics whereas KS4 performance was better.


In conclusion, Members were disappointed that the encouraging results in certain areas had not been more consistent. However, they welcomed the joint working being undertaken between schools aimed at improving performance and inclusivity and looked forward to these measures being reflected in future performance data. In addition, they urged the Cabinet Member to continue working in partnership with the Regional Director in respect of Schools Causing Concern.


RESOLVED – (a) That the report be received and noted.


(b) That the Cabinet Member undertake further detailed analysis of the Educational Achievement in Staffordshire schools results September 2022 – July 2023 in order to better understand the reasons for the various key messages with a view to ensuring appropriate remedial measures were implemented where possible. 


(c) That further scrutiny of Educational Achievement in Staffordshire schools be undertaken at the appropriate time, as necessary.

Supporting documents: