School Improvement Plan

The School Improvement Plan (sometimes called the School Development Plan) is a vital strategic document which sets out the main priorities for improvement as determined by the school management team and governing body. While the version below outlines what these priorities are, the full working document contains more detail about who is responsible for putting them into practice and who evaluates their progress.


Each September, the teaching staff, Headteacher and school governors come together for a workshop on the School Improvement Plan. This exercise, away from the environment of the more structured full governing body meetings, encourages reflection on the past year, the sharing of ideas, and refocuses everyone's attention on an agreed set of priorities.



This year we have agreed on several priorities.  Here is a little about them:


1. Improving the organisation, capability and visibility of the school governing body.

Why is this a priority?

When we surveyed parents and carers, it was clear from the feedback that too little was known about governors and what they do. Actually, the governors agreed, and it was decided to take a range of actions to improve that. In addition, some governors left and others joined, so the whole governing body has had a bit of a refresh.

What is happening?

The governors are now better trained than ever before and are committed to ongoing training and development so that they can do their job more capably. There is also a more structured programme of visits so, as well as governors being seen around the school more frequently, they now make better use of those visits to more effectively do their job: monitoring the school to ensure that all children have the best possible education at Ashton. The governing body is also looking at options for collaboration with other schools, such as the sharing of resources, and is researching the many varied options to secure the long term future of the school against the backdrop of changing political agendas.


2. Improving outcomes for all pupils.

Why is this a priority?

Standards expected of children today are higher than ever before. This year, in particular, will see a dramatic step change in those expectations. One of Ashton's strengths has always been the intimate size of the school and the fact that teachers know their children well. But that isn't enough - high achievement, regardless of background, must follow too.

What is happening?

Previous years have seen a focus on areas such as writing (and those may well be focuses again in future) but this year we are trying to improve in ways that impact all subjects. Lessons will challenge children more, and more appropriately to individual pupils. Marking has become more specific and will develop further to encourage children to improve key skills such as spelling, grammar and presentation. Time is made at the beginning of lessons to encourage children to respond to the marking from teachers so that important points are consolidated, not forgotten. We are also making links with other schools, both locally and further afield, with a view to sharing good practice with them.


3. Introducing a new assessment framework.

Why is this a priority?

Previously, the Department for Education (DfE) set out very specifically how schools should assess the progress of children. It was a linear scale and, although it had its weaknesses, all schools used the same system and everyone knew where they stood. However, this assessment framework was recently withdrawn and schools are now "free" to choose their own way of measuring pupil progress. Controversially, no replacement was left in its place. At the same time, the DfE raised the bar of expectation, meaning that pupils who were comfortably reaching the "national standard" one year would be below standard the next. Therefore, choosing and acclimatising teaching staff to a new assessment system, without losing track of pupils' progress, has been a priority.

What is happening?

A new assessment system has been selected after some consideration. Staff have been trained to use it, and have been holding meetings to ensure that everyone at Ashton is on the same page (and that Ashton is on the same page as other schools.) Assessments are being used to identify gaps in the knowledge of children so that teaching can target those gaps. Assessments are happening about twice as often, to improve the "resolution" of the picture - so that intervention, where needed, happens in a timely fashion. Governors, particularly through the 'Learning and Wellbeing committee', have resolved to keep a close eye on this early phase of the new framework through visits and by looking at pupils' books.


4. Improving the learning of children in Reception.

Why is this a priority?

Clearly, the first steps of a child's education are very important, and it's vital that early disadvantages are addressed as soon as possible. Huge effort has already gone into this area but we want to improve things even further.

What is happening?

We have a new teacher in the Infant classroom who brings huge experience and enthusiasm. Money has also been spent to split the Infant class for some of the week so that the youngest children get the attention they need. We have also introduced a new system to collect evidence of children's progress (called 'Tapestry'), and are trying hard to encourage parents to use it too. It helps to give a much more accurate picture of the strengths of each child and the areas they need to develop - which informs the teachers' planning so that they can help children feel more secure in those areas.