Essex Secondary School

Exclusion is reduced across the board thanks to Structured Conversations.

The Context

This Essex high school has around 1,150 pupils and has been on Achieving Schools since August 2013. The school population is mainly white British with a lower-than-average proportion of students from other ethnic groups. The proportion of disabled students and those who have special educational needs is 14.7%, which is below the national average. The proportion of disadvantaged students (those known to be eligible for Pupil Premium) is 17.7%, which is also below the national average.

The Impact of Achieving Schools

The school has seen a major impact in terms of the progress gap between disadvantaged students and their peers. Its School Champion reported that: “Academic progress among our disadvantaged children has improved to the point where they are progressing faster than their peers.”

The school has been able to track a definite upturn in attainment in reading, writing and numeracy since it began its involvement with Achieving Schools:

Reading: average 7.6 point increase
Writing: average 8.9 point increase
Maths: average 10.4 point increase

Before the programme, attendance at the school was quite considerably below the national average, and this was one of the elements that Achieving Schools helped them to address. Since involvement with AfA, the School Champion said it has “made a massive impact. Overall our average attendance is at or above national average.” Achievement for All’s Structured Conversation technique is now used for any pupil who falls below the expected level of attendance.

Exclusions, similarly, were at a very high level prior to involvement in the programme, and the Structured Conversation approach has had an equally positive impact in this area, to the extent that there was only one fixed-term exclusion in the first terms of the current academic year.

Teachers who received training as part of Achieving Schools feel that they have benefited greatly in terms of their skills and confidence when dealing effectively with disadvantaged pupils in their classes.

As their School Champion put it: “We feel that we’re achieving more ‘value-added’ progress through Achievement for All than we would have been able to achieve otherwise…Achievement for All has really helped us close the gap in progress. We have used the whole framework to develop the ethos of our school into being a very inclusive place; something that parents have commented positively on…AfA has enabled us to meet our statutory targets set by Ofsted, in terms of attendance and academic attainment. We entered AfA for a specific purpose and it’s served that purpose.”