Tags: CPD Coordinator | G&T Coordinator | Gifted and Talented | Gifted and talented pupils | Headteacher | School Leadership & Management | Self-Evaluation | Subject Leader
Quality standards are the new buzzwords in school self-evaluation for G&T coordinators. But what’s the difference between an audit and self-evaluation – and how do you do it? Jane West explains.
A SWOT analysis
Before you even start your audit or self-evaluation, it’s a useful exercise to undertake a brief SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats).
Use this to reflect on various aspects of your provision for G&T pupils.
Audit: a snapshot to look at the things your school already does. The audit helps to identify any gaps you may have in provision – for internal use.
What is already being done for G&T pupils in your school? Does your school have:
- a definition of ‘giftedness’ and ‘talent’?l
- a culture that celebrates achievement – in all its various forms?
- SMT support for the G&T policy and action plan for G&T pupils?
- appropriate budget and resources, including training?
- in-school and out-of-school differentiation and enrichment opportunities for G&T pupils?
- subject-specific identification, provision, resources and a portfolio of excellence; plans for assessment?
- Are you monitoring and evaluating both the work of G&T pupils and the efficacy of your policy?l
- Have you completed a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) for your school?
- Do you have support from individual teachers and the SMT?
- Are you working with parents and pupils to involve them in decision-making?
Self-evaluation: a detailed examination of a school’s work – the results can be viewed by external parties, including Ofsted inspectors.
Doing your own self-evaluation is a huge piece of work, but it has enormous benefits to your school in terms of reflection and action planning for the future; further, it has advantages over the old Ofsted system – instead of being judged by external criteria, by people who don’t know you or your school, you are now able to demonstrate your strengths and show that your are addressing areas of weakness. Invite pupils, staff, governors and parents to respond to the self evaluation form questions – this will be enormously useful in providing anecdotal references.
The Gifted & Talented Unit at the DfES have developed a very useful self-evaluation form and a series of quality standards for schools to help you determine whether your provision is at entry, developing or exemplary level (see pages 3-5, 10). www.standards.dfes.gov.uk/giftedandtalented
The quality standards are an excellent starting point but you can use your own tailored self-evaluation based on the DfES guidelines if you feel that there are aspects of your work not covered in the quality standards.
You may wish to select a particular element of the standards as a focus for improvement. This helps prioritise areas to be identified and actioned.
There are obvious links between the processes of auditing and self-evaluation and school inspection. All three require schools to consider how well they’re performing and consider strategies for improvement. You can use the self-evaluation as the basis for the reflection that will need to take place before you’re inspected, as well as using the evidence you’ve collected during the inspection itself. You can also nominate G&T as a special focus for inspections.
You must complete an SEF before your Ofsted inspection. The school’s self-evaluation will be used to identify your strengths and weaknesses and whether action taken has tackled weaknesses and led to improvement. You should have the SEF ready and up to date at all times as you will receive a minimum of two working days before your inspection.
The SEF forms can be found online at www.ofsted.gov.uk/schools/sef.cfm You will be given a password to access your form. [Technical helpdesk 0870 124 6524]
The SEF is 38 pages long (and varies slightly for primary, middle and secondary schools) – and will be a lot longer once you have completed it! Give yourself time to do this over a whole term; you will find that you want to go back and change, develop, delete or add to various sections. Give yourself time to reflect – this is a real strength of the new inspection system.
The SEF is meant to be evaluative; it is not meant to provide a descriptive commentary on the school’s history. If you cannot say what you need to in about 20 pages, you are probably describing rather evaluating the impact of what you do.
It is crucial to ensure that evidence is provided when you make claims. Assertion is not enough! You will need to consider:
- what are the main characteristics of your schooll
- the views of pupils, parents/carers, other stakeholdersl
- how well do pupils achieve
- how good is the overall personal development and wellbeing of pupils
- the quality of provision
- leadership and management
- overall effectiveness and efficiency.
It can be a very useful exercise for G&T coordinators in different schools to get together to work on, or compare, SEFs. This is particularly useful with your network schools and between feeder primaries and their partner secondary school.
Along with your school’s Panda (Performance AND Assessment report), the SEF will be the main document used by the inspection team.
Case studies from Ofsted
An ‘entry’ school (level 1)
Plans have recently been introduced to provide support for pupils who are identified as being gifted or talented. The school is working towards the provision of individual learning programmes for these pupils, but as yet these are not in place. Where these pupils were observed during the inspection, their achievement was good.
Currently there’s no structured provision for the highest attainers, although ideas are being developed to introduce individual learning plans for those the school has identified as gifted or talented.
Gifted pupils are identified, but those with a specific talent for art and design are not.
There’s a new opportunity for year 10 pupils to take Spanish at a local college, but no planning to stretch the more gifted linguists.
11-16 secondary school, Lincolnshire
A ‘developing’ school (level 2)
Overall, gifted and talented students make good progress, and achieve well in the great majority of their subjects. For example, in ICT, they are entered for the GNVQ qualification as part of an accelerated programme in year 9.
In the great majority of subjects, extra work is planned to extend performance, and challenging tasks are set. In a lesson in science, the teacher fully extended all students with a barrage of thought-provoking questions, which demanded a very good command of technical language.
The curricular needs of the more competent students are well met through teaching group arrangements which provide for ‘fast-track’ groups from year 7 onwards. G&T students receive planned extended and enriched curricular support through close cooperation between the school and local education authority.
Community school, East London.
An ‘exemplary’ school (level 3)
The school is outstandingly successful: it has received government awards for attainment and improvement and achieved specialist status for science, ‘leading edge’ and ‘ambassador school’ status for its work with G&T students. These awards testify to the school’s excellence and confer on it a role to support other schools within the region in these specialisms. Since 1996, the school’s GCSE and A-level results have placed it in the top few schools in England.
The school is also very innovative: it has begun a project to condense into two years the work usually undertaken by schools in pupils’ first three years in order to extend the length of the sixth form to three years.
Gifted and talented students achieve excellence in academic, sporting and cultural fields, and those who enter the school with relatively low attainment do exceptionally well.
This article first appeared in Gifted & Talented Update – Nov 2005
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