28 JANUARY 2004
To inform Members of progress made in implementing the Post OFSTED Action
Plan. Further to give an evaluation of the impact of the plan and finally to seek
Member agreement to changes in reporting on the implementation of the plan.
To agree that the Action Plan has been fully implemented and that no further
reports on its implementation should come to committee.
To agree to continue to monitor improvements in relation to the three key issues
raised by the inspectors through reports on progress in implementing the
Education Development Plan.
To recognise that issues raised in the Inspection Report to do with the
organisation of schools in Poole should continue to be monitored by this
committee through reports from the Policy Director (Education) as part of the
forthcoming debate on school organisation and structure.
Poole Local Education Authority was inspected by OFSTED and the Audit
Commission during the autumn of 2001. The report was published in January
The report identifies three key issues and makes 22 further recommendations
on specific areas for improvement. By March 2002 the Action Plan had been
completed and circulated to Members and Partners including DfES.
Learning Overview Group has received regular reports on progress in the
implementation of the plan, the most recent being 1 July 2003. Each of these
reports has stressed the importance of the linkage between the Action Plan and
the Education Development Plan. Many of the recommendations made within
the report have been addressed jointly by the Action Plan and the Education
Development Plan. The Education Development Plan is reviewed annually and
so strategies for raising attainment are more recent and relevant to current
circumstances than the OFSTED Action Plan which is now two years old. The
revised Education Development Plan for the five years beginning 2002 was
graded by OFSTED as ‘good’.
Post Ofsted Inspection Action Plans are intended to address issues raised by the
Inspection within a year. In our case there has been slippage because changes
in personnel have led to some delay, most notably these include lengthy periods
of interim arrangements to cover for Policy Director for Education and the head of
School Advice and Support Services. The report to Overview Group of 1 July
2003 set the deadline of December 2003 to complete the implementation of the
The final monitoring reports bringing together reports from lead officers on
progress in carrying out the activities set out in the Action Plan are attached as
Annex ‘A’.
The OFSTED Inspection Report identifies three key issues and
recommendations attached to each are described as fundamental to
improvements in the LEA. These issues are:
underperformance at Key Stage 2,
school organisation, and
data analysis.
The recommendations attached to these issues focus mainly on raising
standards especially at Key Stage 2 and the requirement that the LEA should
analyse the impact of school organisation and consider ways of rationalising the
present complex system. The recommendations connected with data analysis
and tracking especially at Key Stage 2 are fundamental features of the
Educational Development Plan. Committee has already received an evaluation of
progress in implementing the elements of the Education Development Plan and
recent tests and examination results support the view that standards are rising at
Key Stage 2. In part, this is due to better data and monitoring of pupil progress.
Issues related to school organisational are more complex. A brief review of the
impact of the current organisation of schools on standards was presented by the
interim Policy Director for Education in a report to the Learning Overview group in
March 2003. This report argued that there is no link between school organisation
and standards of attainment that could be tracked through statistical analysis.
Analyses of School Organisation Plans for those LEA’s with similar ages of
transfer to Poole support this view. However, it is clear that our current structure
will come under pressure as numbers of pupils decline. Schools and elected
Members will face difficult decisions in relation to the structure and organisation
of schools and here again the debate about standards will be at the heart of
discussions. Therefore, although actions set out in the Post Inspection Action
Plan have been carried out the issue is not closed and further reports will come
to the Learning Overview Group as the debate about school organisation and
standards of achievement is carried through into the coming year.
The other recommendations are grouped under four headings:
LEA Strategy for School Improvement
The report was critical of the rigour with which Members and partners
scrutinise policies and practice within the LEA. We now have a new
structure of committees and groups with separation between the Overview
Group and Scrutiny Committee. We also have a clear forward plan for
each of these groups. Cabinet decisions are now informed by decisions
made within the Overview Group and there are opportunities for Members
to ‘call-in’ decisions made by cabinet.
School balances, criticised in the report as too high, have been
substantially reduced, in part due to the action set out in this plan and in
part due to the dreadful financial settlement of 2003/04. A report to
Scrutiny Committee in October 2003 identified a drop in school balances
in the order of 50%.
Support for School Improvement
Here again all of the proposed actions have been taken. The report
required an improvement in monitoring, challenge/support, and
interventions in schools through better passage of information from
advisors to Governing Bodies, and training for advisors in analysis and
interpretation of data. These actions are now complete and Governors
now have a clear picture of the LEA’s assessment of school performance.
Plans to implement better tracking of pupil performance have been
implemented with new data software in place. Targets set for primary
schools are close to aggregating to those of the LEA. Improvements for
ICT development have now been completed. It is difficult to ascertain the
impact on standards of attainment in ICT since Government proposals for
national testing of progress in ICT have been delayed.
Strategic Management
Here again actions set out within the Action Plan have all been carried out
where possible, the exception being a single plan for education. The main
recommendation in this section relates to the development of a single
education plan to bring together all educational initiatives, timescales and
targets. Since the publication of the OFSTED Report DfES have invited
Poole to be a member of the first wave of authorities to draft such a plan.
National discussions are underway to clarify the content of the plan. We
are still required until 2005/06 to produce separate plans for education
development, school organisation, asset management, behaviour support
and early years and childcare development. Work on this will begin in
earnest in the coming year. Actions to improve transfer between schools
have all been taken and there is some evidence in test and examination
results that the drop in standards experienced elsewhere when pupils
transfer between key stages is less marked in Poole.
Actions required in response to other parts of this section of this report
have been taken especially those in relation to information communication
technology. However, the requirement to remove the inequity in the
current arrangements for home to school transport is still being addressed
through the consultation process on discretionary payments for travel.
There is only one recommendation in relation to Special Education Needs
directly and that is to create special schools as centres of excellence,
including outreach work to mainstream schools. A good deal has gone on
in this area and there are successful programmes of outreach in place.
Current plans to develop new campus special schools operating a range
of services will take these developments further.
The report has some eight recommendations under the headings of
access. All of these have been implemented. The only continuing area
being work to improve support for behaviour. The action set out in the
Post OFSTED Action Plan have been implemented but the behaviour
review will build on the work that has been started.
The wide range of detailed recommendations set out at the end of the OFSTED
Report have been fully addressed. However, some of these especially the key
issues relate to wider on-going strategic matters are rightly now addressed within
the Education Development Plan, those related to school organisation will
continue to be discussed in the coming year through the broad review and
debate on the success of our current structure of schooling.
The full impact of the actions taken within the Post OFSTED Inspection Action
Plan will not be apparent until we have a series of test results over years. It is
recommended that the major strategic issues identified within the report should
continue to be subject of reports for the Learning Overview Group.
John Nash
Policy Director (Education)
Tel: 633202
Audit Commission/Ofsted Inspection Report – Poole LEA
Post Ofsted Action Plan
Report to Learning Overview Group - Post Ofsted Action Plan Update, 1 July 2003