St Thomas of Canterbury Catholic Primary, is a smaller than average primary school in Sheffield, which became a voluntary academy in October 2012, and is rated as outstanding.
Higher measures of progress are expected as, on the whole, children enter the Early Years Foundation Stage with skills that are often below what is typical for their age. They make rapid and outstanding progress and enter Year 1 with development often higher than expected of children of the same age.
‘Opportunities to close the gap were identified through our previous FFT download, and numerous things which have been put in place since have made a noticeable impact.’Liam Colclough, Head of School
Identifying support needs
The proportion of pupils supported at School Action Plus or with a statement of special educational needs is much higher than the national average, though these pupils make exceptional progress. Last year, by drilling into data from the Fischer Family Trust, it became apparent that a small group of pupils in one class did not do quite so well in reading, but the school quickly put in place rigorous support which led to even better improvements this year.
Head of School, Liam Colclough, subscribes to FFT Aspire as he wanted a clear and user friendly system to provide detailed information about school performance and help the school set highly aspirational targets. Mr Colclough explains ‘FFT Aspire has developed leadership skills further by allowing a great level of detail to be available to the senior management team. The visual layout means that it can be shared with multiple audiences and the interactivity allows information to be really drilled down into. Since we have started using FFT Aspire we are even more forensic with data analysis, and this allows our SEF and SIP to be even more accurate and in real time, and the tool allows us to compare with similar schools and then raise the bar higher.’
Widely used within school
FFT Aspire is now firmly embedded throughout the school. ‘The leadership team and teachers all use Aspire to set targets and we use it within review meetings and senior meetings to continually analyse groups within classes, performance and discuss next steps in school improvement. It has supported the leadership team to embed incredibly high expectations of what children can achieve, and is used in discussion with teachers and pupils as it’s a key tool in setting high expectations plus helps us place greater value on the data that really matters, allowing us to find evidence trails within our own school. The tool makes the teaching staff more confident, they now consider where a child exactly needs to be, not only in end of year terms, but by KS expectations’.
‘The evidence generated through FFT is an exceptionally useful tool for supplementing and providing documentation in relation to KPIs identified within our SEF, so we feel constantly ready for inspections too. Our governing body also use the FFT Aspire Governor Dashboard, which is very useful, and they have commented on the user friendly nature of the data, and how it supports them to ask challenging questions to hold leadership to account’.
Making a noticeable impact
Using FFT Aspire at the school has also improved progress and attainment rates. ‘Opportunities to close the gap were identified through our previous FFT download, and numerous things which have been put in place since have made a noticeable impact. Because our target setting is more precise it has allowed us to keep a really close eye on all the children, and meant that our in-year tracking has been closely aligned to the targets, raising attainment in KS1 and KS2’.
Mr Colclough sums up FFT Aspire. ‘It is user friendly, aspirational and essential! I would definitely recommend FFT Aspire to other schools as the simplicity of the tool, if used effectively, has an enormous impact’.