National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 21st November 2006

Presentation and discussion

Bedfordshire’s system for data analysis, pupil tracking and supporting middle schools  – Geoff Bent (Beds A&I Service)


Geoff gave a very well received presentation of the system he is developing in Bedfordshire which enables middle schools to track the progress of individual pupils from Year 4 Optional SATs to Year 6:

Helping middle schools tell the story of progress in the middle school years.

This system proved central to the outstanding judgement of one of the Bedfordshire middle schools in that they could clearly demonstrate the progress made in Years 5 and 6 – rather than simply be judged on progress since KS1.

1 Present

Sue Kennedy (Bedford), Mike Meredith (Kent), Terry Holland (Worcs), Mark Knowles (Herts), John Kime (Staffs), Phil Hill(Somerset), Stephen Lupton (Kirklees), Michael Clark (Cambs), Paul Morton (Suffolk), Nigel Wyatt (Associate Officer).

2. Apologies

Apologies were received from Gary Booth (I.o.W.)

3. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 1st March 2006 were approved.

4. Matters Arising


No matters arising

5. Confirmation of officers

The current officers were confirmed for the year – this follows the decision to appoint a Chair and Vice Chair for two years. The appointment of a new Chair for 2007/8 will be considered at the June meeting.

6. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer reported that the accounts stood as follows:

Current Account:    £1124.68

Savings Account:  £15000.09

The accounts up to the change of Treasurer have now been separately audited and the accounts presented to the meeting. There was a brief period between to two sets of accounts during which the accounts were changed and software issues resolved.

Two area associations have so far paid their subscriptions – Kent and Bedfordshire.


Nigel Wyatt to send out letters about subscriptions to treasurers at the start of the new year.


7. Executive Officer's report

Nigel Wyatt together with Sue Kennedy and John Kime represented the Forum at a recent Key Stage 3 review meeting held by QCA. The meeting was to discuss small scale projects exploring more holistic approaches to curriculum planning and delivery. There will be a further meeting in the January.

Members shared their experiences of sharing QCA optional Year 4 SAT data with first schools. In some areas samples of the tests (which are marked in the first schools) are then moderated with middle school staff. It was agreed that the Forum approach the Fisher Family Trust about the possibility of a system that is more responsive to the needs of middle schools. Nigel Wyatt also to explore the cost of using NFER to mark the tests and share the experiences of members using this service. One school reported using the NFER service but copying a proportion of the scripts to be marked internally for moderation and comparison.


Nigel Wyatt to approach the Fisher Family Trust and NFER.


8. Conference 2006

Sue Kennedy reported excellent feedback from those who ad completed feedback forms.

While the accounts had not been completely finalised it looked likely that there will be a small profit.

It was agreed that members who ad to cancel due to a short notice Ofsted inspection would be given a 50% refund. Those had to cancel for other reasons would be offered a £50 discount on the cost when booking for the next conference.


Sue Kennedy to finalise accounts and make agreed refunds.

9. Conference 2007

Nigel Wyatt visited the National College of School Leadership and presented costings for three alternative approaches to the conference. It was agreed that the conference this year will be organised through the Executive Officer working with a small executive committee consisting of Sue Kennedy, Gary Booth and John Kime. Bookings would be handled through the same arrangements as last year with Greneway School.

It was further agreed that the conference should follow the model of that in Bedfordshire – starting on Monday 15th October 2007 at 10.30 and closing after breakfast on Wednesday morning. Members will have the option to stay at the college on Sunday night prior to the conference.

Speakers so far:

Toby Salt -  Strategic Director (NCSL - Director, School Leadership Development - responsible for NCSL's primary and secondary strategic initiatives)  Steve Munby  - to confirm – to open conference Mick Waters – Director of Curriculum QCA – moving diary for Tuesday

Sian Carr – coming to steering in March …………

The opportunity to make links with Leicestershire will be explored – as will the opportunity to make use of the College facilities on Wednesday for those who wish.


Nigel Wyatt to confirm the dates with NCSL and begin to formulate the budget and programme with suggestions from members

10. – Development Plan 2007

The draft Development Plan 2007 was approved with the addition of :

Developing international links – funding for up to t Headteacher members of Steering Committee to attend the ELMLE Conference in January 2007.

After discussion of the name of the Forum it was agreed to review the opening statement of the website to ensure that it is clear that the NMSF represents UK middle schools


Nigel Wyatt to circulate details of the ELMLE conference to members of steering inviting members to apply for funding to attend.


Nigel Wyatt to review the opening statement on the website.


11.  Planning for future meetings

Tuesday 13th March 2007 – Sian Carr – NCSL

Tuesday 12th June 2007 – Fisher Family Trust?


Nigel Wyatt to approach the Fisher Family Trust


12. Ofsted inspections and KS2 results 2005

Nigel Wyatt presented research on Ofsted inspection reports for middle schools under the new inspection framework, together with comparative data from the 2005 KS2 performance tables.

Members expressed a number of concerns about the way Ofsted inspections of middle schools were being conducted in some cases. Some teams seem to place undue reliance on the Panda and KS2 results and are either unwilling or ill prepared to consider other data the school may present regarding KS3. Concerns were also expressed about the public statements of at least one contractor. It was agreed to seek to invite someone from Ofsted to discuss these concerns to our next meeting.

Nigel Wyatt agreed to make the Ofsted research available on the website in a more finished form.


Nigel Wyatt to contact Ofsted with a view to inviting a representative to our next meeting.

13. Research

Jenny Symonds, PhD Student, Faculty of Education, University of Cambridge gave a very interesting presentation of her proposals for research on transfer issues for middle schools. The Forum has agreed to contribute £1000 towards the costs of the research.  Jenny has agreed to keep steering committee informed about her progress. She has offered sessions for interested schools in research methods – how to conduct interviews and surveys. She is also able to offer literature searches.


Nigel Wyatt to circulate the presentation to members of steering committee.

14. Area News

§         Isle of Wight – some discussion about a change of age range to 9 to 14. Peter Newill a newly appointed LA officer has made good use of the website and is likely to attend the March meeting.

§         Staffs – Non-teaching staff job evaluation exercise is proving contentious with some staff facing pay cuts. John Kime's school is considering a change of name to Junior High School to better reflect the work of the school in the eyes of the community.

A new academy is being proposed with JCB as a sponsor alongside Rycroft Middle School with the age range 14 to 19.The DFES have been filming the two year Key Stage 3 at St Edwards and Churnet View.

§         Kent - The judicial review of the proposed academy has come to nothing. The LA are consulting on two different proposals at the same time – one for the academy (with the County Council as cosponsor) and one for reorganisation to two tier.

§         Kirklees – BSF bid has been made – but without a firm commitment to a single age of transfer at 11.

§         Suffolk – the review goes to cabinet in January for decision. Some scepticism following recent pronouncements that a decision for two tiers has already been made. There has been some recent discussion of all through schools.

§         Worcs – The Wyre Forest reorganisation is causing difficulties. Schools have been informed that no further reviews are planned.

§         Somerset – Now in limbo having rejected reorganisation. Falling rolls still an issue in West Somerset.

§         Bedfordshire – Following strong parental pressure reorganisation has been rejected. Recruitment of senior staff continues to be a problem.

15. AOB

No issues raised.

16. Future meetings

Steering Committee Meetings arranged for the coming year:

·         Tuesday 13th March 2007

·         Tuesday 12th June 2007

At 11.00 a.m - London Diocesan House, 36, Causton Street, London SW1P 4AU

The meeting closed at 2.00 p.m.