Newham PRUs: How we got our Progress data Ofsted-ready with Doddle
By Elgan Prosser and Patricia Andrews
In their recent Ofsted inspection Tunmarsh School and New Directions, of Newham Pupil Referral Units, got ‘excellent’ feedback thanks, in part, to their effective use of Doddle for monitoring and driving pupil progress.
We interviewed Deputy Head Elgan Prosser, and Assistant Head Patricia Andrews, about how they met the new, stricter Ofsted requirements, while engaging students with their learning and supporting their transfer back into mainstream.
When considering the changes you needed to make ahead of your next Ofsted inspection, what was your biggest challenge?
Elgan: When the KS3 levels disappeared and the level descriptors were taken out of the equation we were left thinking ‘how do we monitor progress?’. In a PRU the students need very real intervention, more so perhaps than in a lot of mainstreams, and they need that focus, so we adopted skill statements.
Pat: At New Directions the skill statements were being used in our vocational subjects, but they didn’t have any bearing on intervention, tracking and monitoring. We knew they were going to play a big part in monitoring student progress, but we didn’t have the framework to make it work. There was no platform on which to record this information so this is where Doddle was introduced, and it took off.
You have managed to embed the system really effectively, how have you implemented this?
Pat: We appointed three in-school Doddle Champions as there was a range of IT ability in the school. We created these champions to involve everyone, including teaching and support staff, to make sure they understood what Doddle could do and how it could make tracking and monitoring really easy.
Elgan: Across both sites we print out the statements. They act as objectives for the lesson; the students write on them and the teacher can reference back to the statements for that unit of work or that half term.
How did your staff and students respond to this new assessment process?
Pat: We’ve really moved on a long way. We’re in a position where we have all staff on board. Friday is now Doddle day: the students know, they come in, the laptops are all set up, they know what they’re doing, and they get on with it! Teachers sit down with students individually making sure they understand what Doddle is telling them and what it’s all about.
A print-out of the report goes into their book, so the students can see their reds, ambers and greens and they know what they’ve got to do to move on.
Elgan: Essentially teachers are making a very simple decision – red, amber or green – and that’s a language that teachers, students, parents, governors and Ofsted all understand.
Students can see their RAG ratings and they know what they’ve got to do to move on; they are keen to go from red to amber to green and want to see the change. They are really confident talking about Doddle and what it’s there for and are able to say what they need to do to improve.
Now that you are using Doddle for baselining and tracking, has it supported your pupils’ transition back into mainstream?
Elgan: [Before Doddle] we were taking simple tables to Pupil Panel, showing their current level. The problem we had was that we didn’t have that story. Now we use Doddle and input data from there into our own spreadsheets which produce flightpaths: we have that snapshot every six weeks. Now we have a context, we know where they’re making progress.
Our ‘pupil passport’ came about because of a need for us to communicate better with the schools. Within the passport we have recommendations of what a mainstream school might want to implement, particularly what’s worked well with each student. It will have teacher reports, flightpaths and print-outs of the Doddle student attainment reports. With that report you know at a glance how the student is doing.
A nearby mainstream secondary school was recently Ofsted’ed, and the inspectors saw the passports. They really liked that we had this communication between the PRU and the school.
When Ofsted finally visited this year they were particularly interested in pupil progress, what were they looking for?
Elgan: Really they wanted to see that we had a system in place that allowed us to know where the students were when they came to us, where they were at any given point in time compared to that, and that we could then use that data to inform intervention. We chose Doddle for that because it gives us a platform that works in our context. We can then use the Doddle data in the next stages, looking ahead at the next data drop and saying: ‘who do you think is in danger of being red and what are you doing to head that off before it happens?’ and Ofsted appreciated that.
What did Ofsted say about your use of data?
Elgan: The feedback was that we were anticipating where the intervention need would be and using the data in an intelligent way to diagnose. Ofsted used the word ‘excellent’ several times, and ‘outstanding’, in our feedback. Thinking about our students’ academic progress, they were very complimentary about the way we assessed work, set targets and how we use Doddle’s progress platform and resources.
They liked the fact there was a common language amongst the teachers, amongst the students: that was a big plus which gave Ofsted confidence that we had the data at our fingertips.
Students were saying to the inspectors “I’m an amber for this, if I want to be green I need to be able to do this” because they’ve had that conversation with the teacher. And we say “if you go green on that, then what?” and they say “then I go down to the next red or amber statement” and they can point to it in their books. So there’s progression inherently built in to the Doddle system.