1. Gillian Cawley joined Kent County Council in May 2015 as Director, Education Quality and Standards. Her remit covers Early Years, Schools, 14-24 Skills and Employability and Community Learning and Skills. Prior to Kent, Gillian held a number of posts in Hertfordshire County Council latterly Assistant Director Commissioner for Education Services. Previous roles in Hertfordshire included Assistant Director – School Improvement, Head of Learning, Training and Research and Principal Adviser, Teaching and Learning. Prior to working for a Local Authority, Gillian was an experienced, successful teacher and senior leader in schools.
2. Q - How do attainment levels differ between FSM children and non FSM children in primary school?
Ans - Primary Level – There were still gaps in attainment in reception. There had been improvement through significant work. There had been some narrowing of the gap in attainment but not in the higher levels.
3. Q - Are more children on FSM getting Level 5?
Ans - It gets harder. We want attainment gap to narrow at an accelerated pace. There was improvement at Level 4 but not at Level 5.
4. Comment – A proportionate number of children eligible for FSM are not getting into Grammar schools. This is a bigger issue that the Kent Test. It was about making sure that all the children were performing at the highest possible level. KS2 in writing was pleasing FSM children narrowed for the third year but level 5 attainment is widening and there were fewer FSC. Mathematics – Level 5 decline in overall attainment.
Ans - Key indicators in Sutton Report are that they achieve a higher level in mathematics. Need to raise attainment going to grammar on issue. Achievement at the higher levels in mathematics is seen, according to the Sutton Trust, as a key indicator/determinant of entry to grammar schools for FSM pupils. It is therefore important that we support primary schools with increasing level 5 attainment in mathematics for this group.
5. Comment – The Kent wide picture varies from community to community. In some areas FSM eligible children are a minority and in other areas there are much more FSM eligible children.. For example areas such as Sheppey or Ramsgate have high levels of FSM eligible children.
Ans –FSM pupils in schools where either they are in the majority or very small minority are seen to make most progress. It is those in the middle of these two opposites that seem to make least progress. Ms Cawley gave the example of Newington school in Ramsgate that was doing will with its allocation of Pupil Premium (PP). Ms Cawley highlighted things that make difficulties in schools as follows:
a) Parental Engagement – The school can do a lot to engage parents to support their children’s learning
b) Really good leadership where no child is left behind.
6. Comment – Generally in a school with large FSM Children do better because they have experience of how best to use the pupil premium and experienced /management.
7. Q - What percentage/number of FSM children attend a good or outstanding school?
Ans – Ms Cawley advised that she would be able provide this information to the Select Committee outside the meeting. She advised that the Virtual School look at which schools Children in Care (CIC) attend and would also have data.
84% of schools in Kent were good or outstanding. In 2012 the figure was below that. There had been significant improvement in Primary schools. Focus on individual pupils and employing the best staff was key. Governors also had a crucial role. Some schools had a governor allocated for PP. The governor ensured that the needs of FSM children was advocated and held the leader of the schools to account.
8. Q – Did all children get access to information on the Kent Test.
Ans – Ms Cawley advised that she would expect information on the Kent Test to be available to parents through their schools.
9. Q- Are schools spending PP effectively?
Ans – The local authority does not manage the spend around Pupil Premium (barring Pupil Premium plus). She advised that there was strong evidence from the Sutton Trust report on how to most effectively use the Pupil Premium. They had produced a Framework with a range of interventions and what they cost. Many schools were spending money on teaching assistants which was an expensive option and the degree of expertise was crucial. The two most effective interventions for FSM pupils are:
· the quality of feedback for pupils from teaching staff
· the teaching of independent learning skills
10. Q – Was that because the FSM child was less likely to get feedback at home?
Ans – Ms Cawley advised that the Sutton Trust reportshows that the quality of feedback was crucial. Every child would benefit from that as well as small group teaching, one to one tuition and active parental involvement in learning.
11. Q - Is the solution to increasing the number of FSM and CIC attending Grammar schools and providing a more level playing field, to ensure free test preparation for all high achieving primary school pupils? The Member referred to a school in his electoral division that did not have the Kent Test so the parents would know about the Test unless they attended school meetings. Preparation for the Kent Test could cost parents a small fortune for a private tutor which was not always affordable.
12. Q – What can primary schools do to increase the numbers of FSM eligible children applying for Grammar school?
Ans – Ms Cawley considered that Grammar schools could do more. If there was a strong relationship between primary schools and grammar schools, not just for the summer term but an ongoing relationship this would help. There could also be gifted and talented classes with specialisms, sport etc to enrich the curriculum. This would help to break down myths for parent and children about grammar schools and have lots of gains. Pupils could go into the grammar school where they could be offered learning opportunities. This would help break down barriers.
13. Q – Mr Latchford advised that he had not seen the Sutton Trust report and requested that he was sent a copy. He asked if some felt that grammar schools we ‘not for them’ and if so what we could do about it.
Ans - Ms Cawley advised that greater engagement of primary schools with Grammar school would help break down barriers and misunderstandings.
14. Comment – The Chairman commented that Multi academy trusts included those with and without grammar schools.
15. Q - Do attainment levels and destinations at Year 11 and beyond differ between FSM children and non FSM children once in Grammar school?
Ans – Ms Cawley advised that there is an attainment gap between disadvantaged young people and their peers as they move into post 16 Education. We need to ask “what are we doing to ensure those pupils have the right pathways” and support schools
16. Comment – For children on PP there was a big problem with aspiration but also resilience. They were used to life offering them hard knocks. There needed to be more work on resilience.
Ans - Parental support is key, as is resilience, quality of intervention, learning from failure and emotional well-being was important. Grammar schools worked on this as well as mental health. Support from the Early Help Team was important for schools in this field.
17. Q - Who is ringing the schools re PP asking how many children are at level 2, 3 etc and who can go on to higher level?
Ans - Ms Cawley advised that this was carried out through the School Improvement Advisor (SIA) who worked with the Governing body and Headteacher. If the school was in difficulty SIAs make more visits with a key focus on data. This data can go down to the individual child. The SIA looks at whether the children are making the expected progress and ensuring that challenge is there.
18. Q – Would KCC be working directly with parents?
Ans – Ms Cawley advised that it is the schools that work with parents to raise aspiration.
19. Q - Are there any other issues that you would like to raise with the Committee?
Ans - Ms Cawley reiterated the importance of supporting and challenging all schools to raise attainment and in promoting greater liaison between grammar schools and primary schools.
20. Ms Cawley agreed to forward the Annual Performance report with the overall achievement of FSM and the percentage and number of FSM and CIC attending a good or outstanding schools.