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SETTING TARGETS FOR PUPILS WITH SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS IS AN ESSENTIAL PART OF SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT

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Most maintained special schools set statutory school performance ...
Most maintained special schools set statutory school performance

targets but the support they receive from local education authorities

to collate and analyse the information varies too widely.

Setting targets for pupils with special educational needs found that

whilst most special schools visited are good at tracking the progress

of individual pupils the majority have not yet developed the

expertise needed to use the information to identify priority areas

for development.

Since 1998 there has been a statutory requirement on all schools to

set performance targets in relation to national expectations for

raising attainment. However special schools who educate pupils with

moderate, severe and profound learning difficulties have usually set

zero-rated targets because most of their pupils would not be

achieving the national levels.

In March 2001 guidance from the DfES was issued to schools which

included small steps criteria to support teacher assessment, which

became known as 'P scales'. From December 2001, LEA maintained

special schools were no longer permitted to set zero- rated targets

and are now required to use P scales or other appropriate measures.

Ofsted recently reported on assessment issues, including target

setting (HMI 462). This present survey complements the earlier work

by reporting on progress made, mainly but not exclusively by special

schools, in setting performance targets for pupils with SEN.

Today's report identifies both innovative approaches as well as the

difficulties schools face, and aims to clarify the extent to which

target setting for pupils with SEN is helping schools to improve.

Chief inspector of schools David Bell said: 'Setting

challenging targets for pupils with SEN can help both pupils and

schools focus their efforts and learning on achieving realistic

goals.

'In general, schools are meeting the challenges but more support

needs to be given by LEAs.

'I hope today's report will be helpful to schools and LEAs as they

continue with this work.'

Mainstream schools are not required to set

performance targets for pupils who are unlikely to achieve national

expectations.

However, the report finds that many are in a position to do so

because they may have developed expertise in tracking pupils'

progress and analysing school performance data, although they do not

always do this for pupils with SEN.

To improve the use of target-setting for pupils with SEN inspectors

recommend that:

Special schools should:

- collate pupil assessment and achievement data over time at

individual, cohort and whole school levels

- develop their expertise in analysing assessment information to

inform school improvement planning

Mainstream schools should:

- incorporate assessment and recording arrangements for pupils with

SEN into their whole-school arrangements for all pupils

- develop their expertise in setting targets and monitoring the

progress of lower- attaining pupils

- set performance targets for all levels of pupil ability and publish

these to governors

LEAs should:

- include pupils with SEN in the overall LEA system of collating and

analysing pupil attainment and achievement data (including teacher

assessments)

- increase the expertise they have in target-setting and data

analysis for pupils with SEN, to support the school self-review

process

- provide training for special school staff in the use of information

systems for data collection and analysis

The DfES should:

- consider including P levels in the national curriculum assessment

framework which schools are required to use

- take further steps to recognise a wider range of achievements in

national performance tables

- provide opportunities, in partnership with LEAs and relevant

agencies, for further training in moderating teacher assessment for

pupils with SEN, particularly those with learning difficulties

- provide guidance on expectations about rates and types of progress

for lower attaining pupils, on the basis of pupils of the same

ability and age, and with similar starting-points

- provide guidance for special school staff and governors on how to

analyse pupils' progress data and use this to inform the setting of

challenging school performance targets

- investigate how the present systems for benchmarking progress in

mainstream schools could be extended to include pupils with SEN

- provide guidance on how schools might report to progress against

targets set for pupils with SEN to governors and parents

NOTES

1. In 2003, Ofsted published a survey, entitled Good Assessment in

Secondary Schools (ref: HMI 462). The new report published today

Setting Targets For Pupils With Special Education Needs (HMI )

examines a series of school visits between December 2002 and May

2003. The 68 schools included ten mainstream primary schools, eight

mainstream secondary schools, 42 maintained special schools (half of

which were schools for pupils with severe learning difficulties (SLD)

or profound and multiple learning difficulties (PMLD). There were

also eight independent special schools: four of these were for pupils

with emotional, social or behavioral difficulties (EBSD) and four for

pupils with complex physical, medical, communication and learning

needs. Although the main focus of the survey was target setting in

special schools, a small number of mainstream schools were visited to

identify the extent to which lower attaining pupils were included in

their target setting arrangements.

2. The P scales are a set of performance descriptors used for

recording the achievement of pupils with special educational needs

(SEN) working towards the first level of the National Curriculum

(NC). In the core subjects of English, mathematics and science, the

leve ls extend from P1 (lowest) to P8. Levels P1 to P3 are further

broken down into two sub-levels, for example P1(i) to P1(ii). At this

level they are not subject specific and the indicators relate to

general skills at very early stagesof development. NC Levels 1 and 2

are additionally broken down into three levels (1C to 1A, and 2C to

2A). There are also P levels for all National Curriculum foundation

subjects, and these extend from P1 to P8, again with sub- divisions

at P1 to P3.

3. The report (HMI 751) is published on the Ofsted website.

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