School Improvement and the National Challenge in York

Burnholme Community College National Challenge Raising Attainment Plan

You may be aware that the national government has particular plans to improve the performance of secondary schools in England and Wales; this is called the "National Challenge" initiative. This involves targeting schools across the country where results for 2008 fell below the accepted threshold in the 5 A*–C / English and maths. City of York Council has responded to the National Challenge initiative by producing a 'Raising Attainment Plan' for Burnholme Community College. This document is a summary of the key priorities contained within that plan.

The Raising Attainment Plan (or RAP) is necessary because Burnholme's GCSE results for 2008 fell below the accepted threshold. The local authority and the school are determined to ensure that attainment is improved and sustained in this area by working in partnership together and with the National Challenge programme.

It is important to point out that Burnholme Community College has made significant progress recently in terms of its strategy to improve the school and to raise attainment for all pupils. Pupils made very good progress in 2008 and in terms of value added the school was one of the most successful in the city. Also, the school has set ambitious and challenging targets for the succeeding years and their tracking systems suggest that pupils are on course to continue this impressive rate of progress.

Burnholme is regarded as a 'light touch' school in terms of support from the National Challenge and, what this means in practice is that the school will be supported in a number of key areas funded by the government to the tune of £25,000 each year.

The funding will provide support for the school’s priorities for improvement. These priorities include the appointment of a 'National Challenge Adviser' who will work alongside the senior leadership team for ten days each year to ensure that the funding and support for improvement is targeted, monitored and has impact.

The extra money will also enable the school to provide key intervention strategies for identified pupils. As the programme develops, the range of strategies will include extra revision classes, one-to-one tuition for identified pupils and the development of 'in-class' approaches, all designed to ensure that those pupils who need extra help, support and advice to achieve their potential, receive it.

Support for staff will also play a major part in the improvement plan and we have ensured the school is involved with external nationally recognised experts, eg Sir John Rowling who led similar work in London.

The school is not complacent about the pace and scale of change required if it is to continue to improve. Radical changes to the curriculum and to inclusion are in place to ensure that pupils' engagement, motivation and progress are maintained. Further detail of these plans include:

  • having a senior leadership team with dedicated responsibilities in the key priority areas, supported by a focused intervention on leadership from the Local Authority and a continuation of work with other schools in the authority
  • continuing a target setting regime which is uncompromising and which has already delivered significant improvements
  • working in partnership with the Local Authority to improve behaviour, increase attendance and reduce exclusions.

The Local Authority will continue to work with the school to ensure high standards and that the needs of all pupils are met.

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