Last week I sent a letter to all parents about this year’s SAT results, describing the effect our expanded Additionally Resourced Provision, Phoenix, will have on them. A couple of parents have spoken with me about this letter and have asked me to clarify some points. I thought it would be useful to share those points and my responses to them:
Q. Does this mean that you are expecting the children in Year 6 to do less well this year?
A. Absolutely not. Both the Year 6 children in our Phoenix classrooms and those in our mainstream classrooms are expected to achieve or surpass the same high standards as in previous years.
The children in our mainstream classrooms are working incredibly hard. We predict that they will score just as highly in their SATs when they take them in May this year as in previous years.
The children in our Phoenix classrooms are working just as hard. They will equal or surpass the very high standards we set in school each year.
The point I was making was that for the majority of children in Phoenix the SATs are not the right tool to measure their success. These tests are not sophisticated enough. They will not recognise and celebrate the children’s success in the way we do in school. I wanted to explain this so as a community we can properly celebrate all our children’s successes together.
Q. Is Monteagle the only school with an Additional Resource Provision?
A. Not at all. There are ARPs in schools across the country and there are a number of ARPs in partner schools in Barking and Dagenham. These ARPs offer teaching staff with additional knowledge, skills and expertise in a particular area of Special Education, where children are taught in specialist environments which support the learning needs of each pupil. Each ARP specialises in a particular area of special educational needs. There are ARPs for children with speech, language and communication needs; for children who are deaf or have hearing impairment; for children with social, emotional and/or mental health needs; and for those with autism or complex social and communication needs.
These ARPs typically provide for between ten and twenty pupils in primary schools and up to thirty in secondary schools. With forty eight pupils in total, Phoenix at Monteagle is particularly large. Colleagues in each of these schools recognise the inappropriateness of SATs for measuring the depth and breadth of their children’s achievements.
Q. Is there more you can do to help us [parents] gain a better understanding of autism?
A. Absolutely. The incredible team of teachers in Phoenix have run coffee mornings in the past, explaining what autism is and how it can affect children and adults. They have also run awareness raising events and workshops demonstrating how we support children in Phoenix and what makes it such a fantastic place for them to learn. We will make sure we do this more often.
I apologise if my letter was unclear. Like every other adult at Monteagle I am extremely proud of all the children in our school, and champion them and their achievements whenever and wherever possible.
As we often state, our belief is that a truly outstanding school is one that enables all children to achieve their best. One where academic attainment is high and the academic progress of individuals is maximised. It is a place where all children acquire the character virtues that lead to success in school and university, in work and life beyond.
We are all working hard to be a truly outstanding school and we thank you for your support in this.