EIB Transition Inference Training Project

The EIB commissioned an inference reading project to support transition from primary to secondary school. Here, Justine Blasdale and Michelle Sufa from Ambleside Primary School share their experience.. “We were invited to a full days reading intervention training called, Inference Training, which allowed us to: develop an understanding of the intervention: and why reading is so important talk through the resources and how to use them  meet the project schools and discuss the transition issues between y6 and y7.  On reflection, we believe that it would have been useful to spend time watching and role modelling with the trainees, rather than being ‘sold’ the intervention. We have successfully rolled out the intervention in both years 5 and 6, and have found not only the pupils confidence and capability have improved with their comprehension, but across other areas of the curriculum. We noticed an impact on Big Write, classroom comprehension and having more of a passion to read. We are currently still rolling out the intervention for years 5 and 6, as we believe it will be beneficial to help close the gap between under achievers and their peers in comprehension and reading. The pupils involved started to think about what they had read, not just reading the words. The intervention teaches them to link in their own experiences to help them to understand the text. Each session gave the opportunity to enhance their vocabulary, by deepening their knowledge of unfamiliar words. When first trained most of the activities seemed quite daunting, however quite quickly not only did the children know how to do each stand alone activity, they were also able to tell you what was coming... read more

Nottingham’s Fair Workload Charter

The clear message from headteachers is stark. They are unable to recruit the teachers they need to continue to drive up standards. The situation is particularly difficult for schools serving disadvantaged communities and at secondary level, particularly in mathematics and science, but increasingly in all subjects. We have to face facts: teaching as it is now is no longer an attractive career choice for many. Unless we change what it is like to be a teacher, we will continue to struggle to recruit. Let’s consider the facts. Teachers have always worked long hours but in the last decade or so, the demands upon teachers have ramped up to unreasonable and unsustainable levels. Surveys, for instance the NUT and YouGov survey published in October 2015, found that over half of teachers were thinking of leaving teaching in the next two years, citing ‘volume of workload’ (61%) and ‘seeking better work/life balance’ (57%) as the two top issues causing them to consider this. According to research by the National Foundation for Educational Research, cited in the TES, teachers are ‘exhausted’ and ‘workload is at the centre’ of why teachers consider leaving. Most responses to Nottingham’s Education Improvement Board’s own consultation on its strategic plan, Ambition 2025, asked the board to act to reduce teacher workload. In Nottingham, we decided to do something about it. A sub-group of the Education Improvement Board (EIB) was formed to come up with some proposals. Representatives of the headteacher, teacher and school staff unions in the city came together to work on a solution. Key to this, was finding a middle ground where headteachers could be... read more

So John Dexter what first attracted you to the role of Education Director (part time) in Nottingham? After all the City now “runs” very few schools?

Not so long ago this role would have been one of the biggest in education in Nottingham, running secondary, primary and special schools, responsible for everything from admissions to outcomes and most stuff in between for about 41,000 children. As the ‘new world’ of academisation has emerged, resources have passed from the local authority to the new trusts except for some statutory services. As the landscape no longer looks the same, the role of a City Education Director needs to change and I’m not sure anyone in any LA has worked out how, but we are well on the journey in Nottingham. Much of that is thanks to the pioneering work of Pat and Sarah Fielding and their excellent work in many areas pre-eminently with our City Primaries and with safeguarding. So how does it appear picking up the reigns? For me, there is still a rather wonderful, overwhelming desire by everyone I meet in the City linked with education; they want to improve the lives of young people. Whether I speak to people at the City LA : SEND colleagues, those working out how best to help refugee and asylum seekers with EAL issues, those working with the very special children in care, they have massive professional and personal commitment to their roles. When I have spoken to headteachers, teachers and CEO’s of Trusts or governors, they always begin by talking about children, young people, families they are working with and only rarely have a moan about systems and structures. Hang it, I even found the same in my meetings with Ofsted inspectors, with the RSC and other... read more

EIB 2017/18 – a post from David Anstead, EIB Strategic Lead

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... read more

Mastery maths in EYFS – update

My name is Bridget and I am so proud to have been approached along with eight other Early Years practitioners across the city to work together. Our mission is to decide what mastery maths might look like in EYFS through research and lesson study, with a particular focus on developing Early Number Sense. Historically, I admit that I have planned and taught maths lessons paying close attention to ‘next steps’ in order to accelerate children’s learning as soon as they appeared to understand a concept. I liken this to parenting my first child when I strived to meet every milestone (first tooth, sitting unsupported, crawling, walking, babbling). By this I mean that I was so focused on them moving on the next stage, I feel I missed all the small steps which showed how the learning occurred.   From day one of this learning journey I have been challenged on so many levels. I have learnt how to confidently use new language and thoroughly understand why terminology is important to support children’s conceptual knowledge. For example; during every lesson we empower the children to develop their own solution and refer to this as ‘releasing the kite’. We also challenge ‘rapid graspers’ by making them feel ‘mathematically uncomfortable’. Every lesson that we have planned through the research group has been discussed in depth ensuring that key concepts have been broken down into small steps. Who’d have thought you could spend at least a week teaching number 4? I have observed my research team (affectionately known as the purple group) teach some amazing lessons using innovative resources including a balance of... read more

Recruitment and retention update

I’m here with a general update for all things EIB. Firstly, I am sad to report that Fran Cropper, the Recruitment and Retention Officer for the EIB has left her role to take up a promotion with her former team. Fran has achieved so much in her short time with the EIB and has given us our Teach Nottingham website, created a brilliant video promoting Nottingham as a place to live and teach and has forged some excellent partnerships both locally and nationally. We are now looking at how we can build on the work Fran has done and will announce plans for her replacement shortly.   And speaking of recruitment, I attended Transform’s excellent recruitment fair on Saturday 4 February at the Playhouse in the city centre. My role was to promote the TeachNottingham agenda and to share some vacancies from schools who are not in the Transform Teaching School Alliance (TSA). It was a brilliant morning and the turnout was excellent, a real mixture of NQT’s, experienced teachers, people considering the profession for the first time and Teaching Assistants. I shared a stall with Nottingham University who were there to promote the School Direct route and I am not exaggerating when I say they were busy all morning! The interest in this route in to teaching is obviously really high and comes from people with differing levels of classroom experience.   Our TeachNottingham bags went down very well and almost every attendee left with one, which was great because it meant they were spreading the TeachNottingham message as they went about the rest of the day. And... read more

Transition student conference, by Jennifer Hardy

On 30th November last year, we held a student conference in the Ballroom at the Council House to look at transition from primary to secondary school. Nine of the city’s secondary schools sent KS3 and KS4 pupils to the conference, pre-armed with their thoughts about how their own experiences of transition have impacted on their secondary education and their views about how transition could be improved.   I found the morning to be a brilliant insight in to how the work the EIB is doing affects the young people in the city and, as someone who is guilty of spending too much time at Loxley House, it was great for me to learn from the people we aim to help. All of the young people were enthusiastic and bought a variety of experiences and recommendations to the discussion, ranging from practical quick wins to aspirational transition activities.   Transition is one of the EIB’s key areas of focus and we have recently appointed Sarah Smailes as the Transition Strand Lead working a day a week for the EIB. Sarah will also continue to work as a Year 6 teacher at Claremont Primary School in the city. Sarah will start work for the EIB at the end of January and will do her own blog post when she is settled in to the role.   The feedback gathered from the conference will be developed in to a newsletter, which will be one in a series of newsletters produced and shared with all city school staff in the run up to the common transition day in July this year. We will... read more

EYFS Maths Mastery-Securing the Foundations

Hello, We work in the Early Years Foundation Team at Nottingham City Council and we approached the Education Improvement Board to apply for funding to lead an EYFS Maths Mastery research group with 9 x F2 Teachers from 9 City schools (with varying levels of deprivation). This is a great opportunity to bring together experts from the field of Mathematics and we are working in collaboration with Martin Tillbrook (Teaching for Mastery Primary Lead with East Midlands South Maths Hub) and Professors from Nottingham University. By working together we are looking at how teaching in a mastery style can be weaved into Mathematics teaching in an EYFS classroom while maintaining Early Years pedagogy. We will be blogging on the EIB website over the course of the year and will be sharing an analysis of the project at the end. Why are we doing this? Many children in KS1 and KS2 are starting to be taught in a Mastery style since the changes to the National Curriculum. It therefore makes sense to start this journey in EYFS so we can enable the majority of children to have a secure understanding of Early Number Sense which will support the transition into Year One. Sustainable CPD In light of the addition of the Standard for Teachers’ Professional Development to the Teaching Standards, we are looking at creating a sustainable model for CPD in schools. Throughout this research project we will be using a Lesson Study approach (supported by Professor Geoff Wake, Nottingham University) to plan EYFS Maths Mastery Lessons. This approach is enabling teachers to reflect on their lessons, thinking about how... read more

Fran Cropper, Teacher Recruitment and Retention Officer

Hello everyone, It has been an incredibly busy first few months in post for me – the extremely complex and ever changing nature of the Educational landscape in Nottingham/nationally is the backdrop to such an important agenda; how to get the best outcomes for our children. Everyone remembers their best and most inspiring teachers, yet with the media focus on the teacher supply crisis, the big challenge is how we ensure Nottingham is a city of choice for teachers.   Unfortunately, there is no ‘silver bullet’ for this issue (wouldn’t it be great if there were?!) In this context, over the last few months I have been mainly focussing on: Meeting the Board and key stakeholders – I do appreciate I haven’t met all of you yet, but please bear with me! Talking to lots of other cities around what they are doing to tackle the issue Writing a strategic action plan, to deliver a programme of activity over the next few years Developing a ‘Teach Nottingham’ brand, including launching a website, promotional materials, press coverage etc. www.teachnottingham.org.uk Making a successful bid for funding to run the acclaimed ‘Headspace’ programme for Headteachers (If you are interested in taking part in this please email me fran.cropper@nottinghamcity.gov.uk) Producing a CPD map – available to all schools Arranging for all Academy Staff to get a great offer to City Leisure Centres: Writing a bid to DfE for funding to allow Schools to review their policies to reduce teacher workload (result awaited) Planning events to showcase Nottingham and the routes to teaching. I recently met lots of great graduates at an NTU Graduate Fair.... read more