Aim: For all staff to contribute to an Excellence Framework for their subject, which combines the outstanding school ethos with outstanding teaching and learning.

Background: The school had a strong community ethos and the challenge was to embed this more firmly within the curriculum.


Year 1: A Vision and Values booklet which summarised the FCJ ethos across all of the schools in the trust was created. The project focused on bringing together this document and the Ofsted definition of what makes an Outstanding school, making them all come alive in the classroom. Subject leaders completed an excellence framework document for their area which brought together teacher standards, ethos, values, Ofsted definitions of ‘Outstanding’ and an action plan for the year. Pedagogy was examined to make sure that the teaching would result in Outstanding outcomes .

Year 2: The whole staff were involved in training to develop co-operative learning techniques and encourage pupil interaction and engagement. The school also hosted a ‘TeachMeet’ so that staff from UHS and other schools could share good practice. The focus on pedagogy led to creating a teaching and learning group and also a pupil pedagogy group. One of the targets was to increase value added (VA) and pupils needed a much greater awareness of what they need to do to improve, so a new assessment policy was written. Investment was made in new software to analyse tracking data and to identify pupils who needed intervention. Efforts were initially concentrated on middle achievers.

Year 3: A group of staff worked with staff from other FCJ schools to make sure that the FCJ ethos was firmly embedded into the work done in lessons. The work on assessment was strengthened by a new group of staff who specifically looked at assessment strategies and at ways of sharing these, such as via a Teaching and Learning Newsletter. Work on increasing VA continued with very specific intervention groups in English and Maths. Over a period of time, these pupils were asked to complete specific tasks aimed at their weakest areas, which had been identified through tracking.

Evidence: Pupil and staff questionnaires, attainment data, lesson observations.

Impact: Questionnaires about ethos prompted a positive pupil response. They also felt the new assessment framework had a positive impact. Teachers were very positive about involvement in the pedagogy group. In Year 2, VA for middle achievers rose from 1001 to 1053. In Year 3, VA was the highest it had ever been at 1041.1 and the English department was in the top percentile in the country. 

Overall VA data:

Year   AllDisadvantaged
2013   1010.6    992.7

Reflections: We have learned that we can make huge strides when we include the whole school community in a project such as this. All subject leaders were heavily involved in the writing of the excellence frameworks and all staff were involved in the ethos project. One of the biggest challenges was to keep the project manageable and not to lose sight of what we wanted the end product to look like. This was overcome by making the focus of the project a little more specific after each year.

Contact: Andrea Gaunt, Deputy Headteacher – Curriculum and Pedagogy