Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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Pupils benefit from workforce reforms, says new Ofsted report

Pupils are benefiting from school workforce reforms which have seen the introduction of staff from a wider range of backgrounds, skills and life experiences, according to a new report published by Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills.

The report - The deployment, training and development of the wider school workforce – suggests that learning mentors and higher level teaching assistants are among the roles that have made a positive impact on pupils’ achievement, especially among those likely to truant, underachieve, or be excluded from school. They also played a valuable role in reaching out to parents previously reluctant to come into school or who weren’t sure how to help their children.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, said:

“This is the fourth Ofsted report which has considered the effectiveness of the school workforce reforms introduced in 2003. Previous reports showed increasing benefits for staff and schools as a result of the reforms. It is good to see that these changes are now beginning to impact on the learning, development and progress of children and young people.”

Thirteen of the 23 schools visited had experienced difficulties in communicating with parents and carers, some of whom had negative experiences of education themselves and were reluctant to talk to teachers. Some parents found it easier to relate to members of the wider workforce who often had a broad range of life experiences or lived in the local community.

In one secondary school, an outreach worker helped parents not only to support their children’s learning but to re-engage with learning themselves. The long term aim was to improve results for low achieving pupils from families with low incomes or long term unemployment. The school recognised that by getting parents and carers to become interested in their own education they would be better able to support their children’s learning.

The report also revealed that monitoring and evaluation had improved because schools were using more reliable indicators of success. Compared with those in previous surveys, these 23 schools were more effective in monitoring and evaluating the impact of the wider workforce on pupils' learning. They used more reliable indicators to assess outcomes against specific targets, which related pupils' attainment, priorities in the school development plan, the objectives of local and national initiatives, or the recommendations of inspection reports.

Only six schools out of the 23 schools had a consistent cycle of induction and training, performance management and career development for staff that focused on cultivating the knowledge and skills needed to raise pupils’ achievement. To get the most benefit from this wider workforce, schools need to focus on improving the quality and effectiveness of the training and development they provide as this varies considerably. In three schools these arrangements were “unsatisfactory”.

Schools also failed to take advantage of help available to them. Only one school understood the role of the Training and Development Agency for Schools, which provides information about the training and qualifications available and helps identify career options.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, added:

“As this report has found, the wider workforce has an important role to play in improving children’s achievement, however all too often it was left to individual members of staff to identify and request professional development for themselves. It’s vital that schools invest time and money in evaluating and developing all their staff, not just teachers.”

There has been a huge expansion in the wider school workforce: people other than teachers who are employed in or to work with schools. They include staff managing school systems (such as bursars and data managers), those supporting teaching and learning (higher level teaching assistants, teaching assistants, cover supervisors and specialist coaches), and those supporting pupils’ personal development and welfare (attendance and welfare officers, learning mentors, and inclusion coordinators).

The report recommends that:

The Training and Development Agency for Schools should:

  • help the wider workforce and their managers gain a secure knowledge and understanding of the national occupational standards and the career development framework by providing accessible information and guidance.

Schools should:

  • use reliable indicators of success to monitor and evaluate the impact of the wider workforce on pupils’ achievement and school effectiveness
  • ensure that leaders, managers, teachers and members of the wider workforce understand how they can work together to raise pupils’ achievement and meet school improvement priorities
  • improve their detailed knowledge and understanding of the role of the Training and Development Agency for Schools and make full use of the national occupational standards and the career development framework to develop the wider workforce
  • provide a coherent cycle of induction and training, performance management and professional development so that members of the wider workforce can be deployed in ways that will have the greatest impact on improving the outcomes for pupils.

Related links

Notes for Editors

  1. The report ‘The deployment, training and development of the wider school workforce’ can be found on the Ofsted website www.ofsted.gov.uk
  2. Her Majesty’s Inspectors, accompanied by Additional Inspectors, visited 13 primary schools and 10 secondary schools in inner city, suburban and rural locations between September 2007 and March 2008,. They held detailed discussions with members of the wider workforce, representing a wide range of roles and responsibilities, as well as with teachers, senior managers, governors and pupils. They also observed lessons and scrutinised school policies and other relevant documentation. The visits were planned to assess how effectively the reforms to the workforce had been implemented; what their impact had been on the quality of teaching and learning, and on the lives of pupils and their families; and the effectiveness of the deployment, training and development of the wider workforce.
  3. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects registered childcare and children's social care, including adoption and fostering agencies, residential schools, family centres and homes for children. It also inspects all state maintained schools, non-association independent schools, pupil referral units, further education, initial teacher education, and publicly funded adult skills and employment based training, the Children and Family Courts Advisory Service (Cafcass), and the overall level of services for children in local authority areas (through annual performance assessments and joint area reviews).

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