A shared commitment by school staff to helping pupils succeed – and robust monitoring of pupils’ academic, personal and social progress – are among the keys to reengaging pupils who have become uninterested or de-motivated, according to the latest survey from Ofsted.
Other key factors include the support of teaching assistants; regular, effective communication with parents and students as well as high quality, flexible curricula.
Reengaging disaffected and reluctant learners in secondary schools reports on a survey of 29 schools chosen because they had shown a decrease in unauthorised absences between 2004 and 2006 and a record of sustained good practice in re-engaging disaffected students in their learning.
The survey found several common factors in these schools. These included a commitment from all staff to meeting the students’ needs; effective monitoring systems to identify students at risk, and close collaboration with teachers at primary schools to help pupils make the transition to secondary education. Well trained teaching assistants also played an important role; acting as mentors, providing pastoral care and helping maintain pupils’ interest.
Successful schools shared a commitment to reaching out and communicating with parents and carers, involving them closely in developing strategies to support their children. They also worked very closely with relevant agencies that support young people - such as Connexions, Relate and other counselling services - and were instrumental in ensuring that pupils received a coordinated approach to meet their needs, supported by as many specialist services as necessary.
The survey defined disaffected students as those who were regularly non-compliant or challenging, and either featured in repeated entries in the school’s incident log or been subject to recurring fixed-term exclusions. Between them, the schools had 32,897 pupils, of which 4,347 had been disaffected at one time or another. The schools in the survey managed to re-engage 3,404, (78%) of these students successfully.
Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector said:
“Almost eighty per cent of pupils previously disaffected were successfully re-engaged in the schools in this study. It shows that with staff commitment, effective monitoring and the close engagement of parents and carers, even the most disaffected students can be helped to enjoy learning again. I would encourage teaching staff and other practitioners to use this report to learn from these schools and help improve the way they work”.
Reengaging disaffected and reluctant learners in secondary schools is the latest in a series of survey reports available on Ofsted’s website. Ofsted does more than produce reports which are a measure of an individual school’s failure or success. Ofsted produces reports such as these to act as a guide for schools and help them improve.