High-quality homework and tireless teachers are behind the soaring success of outlier schools leading the way in new Progress 8 scores, according to new analysis.
Research by Education Datalab into the provisional key stage 4 data has identified seven secondary schools with Progress 8 scores above the +1 mark (listed below article).
That means every pupil at the school achieved, on average, a grade higher than an average pupil in other schools with the same prior attainment.
Becky Allen, director of Datalab and report author, said all the schools were “very different”.
Four– Steiner, St Andrew’s and the two Tauheedul schools – have, what Allen calls, “unusual intakes”.
She said: “This means that we cannot really be certain as to how much of the amazing progress students make from ages 11 to 16 is a reflection of pupil characteristics and home learning environments.”
The other three schools, which do not have socially selective intakes, are in London. They all have intakes at or below the national average for pupil attainment.
“It seems very likely there are policies, procedures and teaching approaches that could work across a variety of settings.
There are policies, procedures and teaching approaches that could work across a variety of settings
“However, if their outstanding results rely on recruiting outstanding teachers who are willing to work exceptionally long hours, then their success isn’t something we can replicate across the system because such teachers are a scarce resource.”
Hamid Patel, chief executive of Tauheedul education trust, which runs two of the outlier schools, said staff often “go above and beyond the call of duty to give all learners the support they need to achieve, and surpass, expectations”.
Max Haimendorf (pictured), principal of King Solomon academy, also said teacher quality was a “big lever” for his school’s soaring score.
“We tell our teachers we are going to help them to become better teachers, we provide weekly coaching advice on their development.
“It means very talented people want to work with us because they are ambitious and driven people and they want to feel they are having an impact in their work.”
The school also had a longer day, a narrow curriculum focused on English and maths, and reading homework for pupils every night at key stage 3.
Chris Tomlinson, executive principal at Harris academy Battersea, also picked up homework as a key factor.
“The quality of homework books is phenomenal. Such high aspirations, high support and high challenge.”
The quality of homework books is phenomenal. Such high aspirations, high support and high challenge
The Harris federation took over the school two years ago. Principal Dave Moody said a dedicated team dealt with behaviour, allowing teachers
“Behaviour was awful [when we took over]. The kids had not learned anything in three years. But we’ve given them five years’ knowledge in those two years.”
The school also has one of the highest percentage of children eligible for the pupil premium (80 per cent).
“Our admission policy has stayed exactly the same. It’s one of the things I’m most proud about – we are not about backdoor selection,” Tomlinson said.
Last year’s key stage 4 cohort at King Solomon, a two-form entry all-through school set up in 2007, were below average attainment when they joined the school.
Haimendorf said last year’s cohort had joined from other primaries, whereas the academy’s own primary pupils were now filtering through.
The prior attainment of pupils had subsequently risen, which meant that future Progress 8 scores might drop, but the school’s attainment scores should get “ever higher”.
The other schools did not respond to a request for comment.
The Top Seven Schools
- Steiner academy, Hereford
- St Andrew’s Catholic school, Surrey
- Tauheedul Islam Girls’ High School, Blackburn
- Tauheedul Islam Boys’ High School, Blackburn
- City Academy Hackney, east London
- Ark King Solomon Academy, Westminster, central London
- Harris Academy Battersea, south London