As the new academic year gets underway, individual schools and the EIB are focused on evaluating the summer’s test and examination results. It is important for the EIB to have a good grasp of the strengths and weaknesses in the performance of our schools so that we can target our efforts to tackle the weaknesses

So how did Nottingham schools do in 2017?

The performance of Nottingham primaries has improved steadily, year-on-year. In 2017, our primary pupils made greater progress in mathematics than did other pupils nationally. Nottingham was in the top third of all local authorities. Similarly, pupils’ performance in English was much improved and overall progress was better than the national average. The EIB has commissioned an analysis of our pupils’ performance on the reading test in 2017. This shows Nottingham pupils underachieved in their use of spelling, punctuation and verb forms. Accordingly, the EIB is considering supporting the production of specific teaching resources to boost our pupils’ performance in this area.

Despite the very strong progress Nottingham pupils make in our primary schools, the city is still below average in the national tests taken at the end of Year 6. This is because the proportion of children who enter primary education with a good level of development at age 4 is exceptionally low compared to other parts of the country. To reach the national average in the tests, our pupils will have to make amongst the fastest progress in the country during their time in primary school. This is a massive challenge for pupils, teachers, parents and the EIB.

The picture is more complicated at secondary level because of changes to the pupil population as it transitions from primary. Around a quarter of our Year 6 students choose to attend secondary schools outside the city. These are mostly our brightest children. Another group choose to attend private or independent schools whose examination successes are not included in Nottingham’s data. Hence, our secondary age pupil cohorts start well behind others nationally, yet we are expected to reach the same standard five years later.

The performance of Nottingham secondaries is improving more slowly than are the primaries. Overall outcomes remain below average and are still not good enough. The EIB has implemented a range of strategies designed to improve secondary outcomes rapidly. Recruiting good secondary teachers is a national problem and particularly so in inner city areas. The EIB has given a national lead in devising the ‘fair workload charter’ which is designed to make teaching at schools which adopt the charter more attractive. We need the best teachers if we are to make the improvements we need to make. Secondly, the EIB is funding work to train and support teachers of English, mathematics and science. It has commissioned a successful academy in Stoke-on-Trent to work with and coach Nottingham English and mathematics teachers in the approaches that have worked there.

The EIB recognises the scale of the challenges it faces. Nevertheless, board members are determined to promote continued improvement in Nottingham schools.

David Anstead

EIB Strategic Lead