Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector
Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector
Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector
High quality reviews for the education sector
High quality reviews for the education sector

Example Reports

Examples of Blink Reports - names have been changed

Example 1: Longworth Primary School

Dear Kavita and Staff

I last visited the school in May 2015 and you have all clearly taken significant strides since then on the school improvement journey. By common consent, the Ofsted report of June 2015 caught you at your best; and the inspection itself was expertly led by your senior team.

In essence, what you have done over the past twelve months is secure that good judgement and ensured consistency of provision across the school which has benefited all children. This consistency is rooted in wise and reflective leadership, judging the optimum pace at which pupils, teaching and support staff have been able to move forward. There is an altogether sharper environment for learning than a year ago and, for example, transitions in lessons waste no time. There is some very good teaching rooted in detailed planning, superb resources and animated questioning to which pupils respond in kind. Many pupils are well able to articulate what they are learning and why, and to explain to a visitor the full range of work they have been covering in recent months, as evidenced in the attractive wall displays.

You have established clear systems and expectations as a framework for the day-to-day commerce of the school. (Gone is some of the careless practice I saw previously, to be replaced by careful practice, and less clutter!) Colleagues unanimously welcome that clarity and the way that it is modelled by the headteacher. Leadership responsibilities and accountabilities at all levels in the school are understood, and acted upon thoughtfully; investment in well focused CPD has been successful.

Judicious attention has been paid to thorough and regular assessment procedures, and preliminary consideration has been given to 'life beyond levels'. Studying and discussing your curriculum planning for the 2016-17 academic year suggests that this aspect will emerge as a distinctive strength of Longworth, affording rich and memorable learning for all pupils. Indeed, the emphasis on a learning environment which aspires to include all comers is another hallmark of the school; that aspiration is not yet fully realised.

The dedicated work by staff continues, with that aspiration for 'excellence as standard'. Your partner secondary school – from my recent visit there – has secured many, many excellent features, and I don't doubt that focused partnership work across the 4 – 16 campus is key to raising standards further at Longworth; recent art work is but a forerunner.

As you open doors for primary children so that they enjoy an inspirational learning journey, you might wish to reflect on the following points.
  • If it ain't broke, don't fix it. There are many aspects of the academy's provision (noted above) which are securely good, so you'll want to sustain and embed those.

  • In securing good provision in every classroom, you will want to ensure that a small minority of pupils engage fully in tasks when they are expected to work independently. (What does great independent learning look like?)

  • There is a need to focus on a programme of 'coaching to outstanding', so that good teachers become excellent – this is just one area where partnership 4 – 16 will pay dividends, as scholarship, expert subject knowledge (eg. in mathematics) and intellectual enquiry become increasingly embedded in Key Stage 2.

  • There is some exceptional extended writing in Reception – now to render the exceptional more commonplace, and you have the passionate early years' leadership to deliver that. There is a parallel need to radically reshape and invest in the relatively poor outdoor learning area.

  • As you shift the culture of the academy to value equally the needs of the more and most able pupils alongside those with special educational needs, you will no doubt look keenly at how you promote articulacy, 'mastery', high quality outcomes/products, learning journals (we discussed Kirby Muxloe www.kmprimary.leics.sch.uk School21 www.school21.org and Red Oaks www.redoaks.org as possible models).

  • And the jewel in the crown? Your outdoor learning area genuinely has the potential to be 'stand out'; wise investment in the physical lay-out and how creative curriculum planning can link to it will surely reap considerable benefits for rich, mixed-age learning.

Finally, you are very well placed to shift gear as leaders: to sustain, excite and disrupt in equal measure. I know you will pursue tenaciously those ambitions towards excellence and a learning community wherein 'everyone is challenged to achieve their personal best, in an environment where every lesson, every day is good or better, supported by 360° of care, support, love and challenge.'

I look forward to revisiting the school and hearing about the future successes enjoyed by both pupils and staff.

Good wishes

Roy Blatchford

Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector

Example 2: Crendon Academy

Dear Alex and Colleagues

'The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there.'

There are a good number of staff and students at Crendon Academy who can recall different days, when the school was much less of a place than it is today. As of April 2017, the school is very popular with local families and a place which professionals want to join. This is a school at ease with itself where to be a student, teacher, parent or visitor is to be part of an educational community steering knowingly towards excellence. There is an attention to detail and ambition for constant improvement which permeate.

Teachers and leaders have a shared and confident understanding of the school's values and expectations; in all parts of the organisation, staff reflect creatively on their practice and appreciate the distinctive contribution of each and every colleague. The school's investment in high quality professional development is palpable.

With the same sense of focus and purpose, students go about their daily studies, treating one another and staff with courtesy and mutual dignity. The learning environments - from the entrance foyer, to cabinet displays in corridors, to some exemplary classrooms – speak well of the collective endeavour, with an emphasis on each achieving his or her personal best, in a climate of care, support and love.

During a day of visits to classrooms, I encountered real joy in learning; highly skilled revision sessions, fit for purpose at this time of the year; youngsters deep in their personal reading; students being challenged to address complex historical and geographical questions; senior students immersed in their chemical experiments; others reviewing meaningfully the results of internal examinations and their requisite, personal next steps. Purposeful practice is a hallmark.

Schools are a people business, and the excellent leadership which is to be found in all quarters at Crendon knows well that positive development and step-change are about orchestrating a judicious blend of timing, encouragement and appropriate challenge. So is now the time to reflect again on L.P. Hartley's words which head this letter?

The past is the pre-occupation with the C/D borderline. The future is the 18% of grade 9s!

By common consent, the junior students have a potential about them which needs grasping, with urgency. An altogether raised level of expectations for academic achievement – rooted in teachers' own scholarship and promotion in classrooms of intellectual enquiry – is called for, across all subject areas.

Hand-in-hand must go a concerted effort by all staff to promote greater articulacy and social confidence in the students, many of whom will otherwise continue to rest content within narrow horizons. This, to my mind, is not about social engineering, but about affording greater social capital to all the youngsters served by the academy.

As Principal and staff you must surely be very proud of what you are achieving day by day, term by term. Teaching and running schools is a relentless and highly enjoyable business. The families you serve must surely be talking in their neighbourhoods about the good local school. And if, according to one educational commentator, 'an excellent school delivers superior performance and has a high impact over a sustained period of time', then that goal is within your certain grasp over the coming period.

Thank you for sharing the school with me.

Yours sincerely,

Roy Blatchford

Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector

Example 3: University Language Centre

A        Context

As a key part of the wider transformation plan, changes have been made to the English Language curriculum experienced by foundation year students. There are approximately 1450 students, currently divided into Level 1: 700 students; and Level 2: 750 students.

Students receive 13 hours of classroom-based teaching. Class sizes (setted by language ability) are generally 30 - 35 students; National Geographic book, video and audio resources are the core 'texts'.

Three observers visited five sessions, talked to staff and students, and examined students' workbooks.

B        Key points from observations
  • The majority of students arrive at lessons ready to learn and sustain their focus throughout the 50/100 minute time slots. Sessions generally start on time.

  • Teaching is competent, rooted in strong subject knowledge, and using the target language of English consistently; Arabic is used judiciously to support weaker students and ensure good pace to the lessons. Teachers prepare well for the sessions.

  • The National Geographic materials – books, videos, tapes – are highly engaging and relevant for the age range, motivating staff and students alike. Reading, writing, speaking and listening skills are valued equally. Investment in this new course has been timely and well judged.

  • Classroom environments are satisfactory, with some positive displays of 'students at work' on the corridors.

  • There is clear evidence of teachers' effective marking of students' work, and of students using the formative marking to improve their own written English.

  • Students indicate that they are using the on-line facilities for between 5 – 7 hours a week, to embed and extend their learning of English.

  • The overall atmosphere and culture in the Centre are harmonious and purposeful, and have undoubtedly seen a step-change under new leadership since a year ago.

C        Next steps

In taking forward the Centre's practice, consideration might be given to the following:
  • How can teachers best interest 'the boys in the back row', many of whom are at risk of failing the course through lack of engagement?

  • How might teachers, particularly at this stage of the term, 'speak less' and expect students to 'speak more, in full sentences'?

  • What techniques of 'question and answer' might be used to ensure that male and female students engage orally with one another across the classroom?

  • How might teachers inject more humour and energy into sessions by asking students to teach and model language points, particularly where students are growing in confidence and competence in their spoken English? Have fun with relishing new vocabulary, and get everyone to join in!

  • What 'standard technique' (eg a summary notice-board to be photographed by students) might be introduced into every teaching session so that all students can take away the key learning points of the session? This point links to....

  • How might iPads, Podcasts, mobile phones, etc. be harnessed for appropriate learning, say in a five minute 'digression' every session?

  • 'Do you see what I see?' How can the faculty introduce through CPD mutual classroom observations which strengthen everyone's daily practice?

D        Leadership discussions

Discussions with the Centre's leadership team included the following:
  • There are well judged plans to develop a programme of CPD for faculty.

  • The Centre might benefit from a modest increase in administrative staff.

  • National Geographic might be able to support the improvement of displays in classrooms, particularly focused on key language points and helping students understand a map of the world.

  • The forthcoming 'Book Club', with movies, and the general raising of the profile of the new Resource Centre, possibly staffed by a couple of advisers/counsellors.

  • Further work needed on supporting students 'at risk', particularly related to their attendance.

  • A Steering Committee to be established to ensure effective co-ordination across English, Maths and IT teaching and learning in the foundation year.
My thanks to co-observers for their open discussions and leadership of this review, and my especial appreciation to teachers and students for sharing their classrooms.

Roy Blatchford

Blinks: High quality institution reviews for the education sector

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