National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 20th November 2007

National Middle Schools’ Forum


Minutes of the Steering Committee Meeting held on 20th November 2007


Sean Harford HMI

The meeting began with a very worthwhile discussion of the findings of the survey of Headteacher experiences of Ofsted inspections. The members were pleased to note the actions that Ofsted had taken as a result of the findings of the survey.

Please see separate notes of the discussion.

1. Present

Sue Kennedy (Herts), Mark Knowles (Herts), Terry Holland (Worcs), Phil Hill (Somerset), John Kime (Staffs), Ian Crissell (Suffolk), Michael Clark (Cambs, Alan Dodds (Northants), Caroline Thompson (Kirklees), Peter Garner (Worcs) Nigel Wyatt (Associate Officer).

2. Apologies

Apologies were received from Gary Booth (I.o.W.) ,Lorna Anderson (Newcastle), Helen Davies (Kent), Jenny Symonds (Cambridge University)

3. Minutes

The minutes of the meeting of 12th June 2007 were approved.

4. Matters Arising


6) NAGTY has now been replaced by the YG&T Learner Academy.

5. Election of Officers

John Kime thanked Sue Kennedy on behalf of all the committee for her very effective work as Chair in directing the Forum.

The following officers were agreed:

Terry Holland – Chair

Sue Kennedy – Vice Chair

Mark Knowles – Treasurer

Nigel Wyatt – Executive Officer

6. Treasurer’s Report

The Treasurer reported that the accounts are very little changed from the position reported at the AGM:

Current Account:    £1350

Savings Account:  £12,800

Nigel Wyatt will be contacting local authority associations in January regarding subs for 2008.


Nigel Wyatt to contact local association treasurers in January.


7. Executive Officer's report

This meeting took place at St Saviours Church, Pimlico due to a failure at the Diocesan Centre to make the bookings for the year agreed in June. It was agreed that the next two meetings would be held at St Saviours, when the position would then be reviewed.

A meeting was planned for later this day at QCA with Mick Waters to discuss the joint development of exemplars of good practice. The Forum will be represented by Nigel Wyatt and three middle school heads – Sue Kennedy, Mark Knowles and Fred Foster.

8. Conference 2007

Sue Kennedy reported that the collection of VAT payments for the 2006 conference were now complete. This has enabled the accounts to be finalised – showing that the conference overall showed a surplus of £1523.88, which will be transferred to NMSF funds.

The evaluations showed a very favourable response to the 2007 conference, which was generally judged to be very successful. The accounts show that with the payment to Greneway School for administrative support still to be made there is a surplus of about £1500. The resulting surplus will again be transferred to NMSF funds once the account is finalised.

It was agreed that these transferred funds could be used to enable more adventurous planning for the 2008 conference.

As agreed at conference Nigel Wyatt has supplied the information required to enable Sian Carr enrol all middle schools as members of the NCSL leadership network.


Greneway School to pay the surplus conference funds to the NMSF.


9. Conference 2008

Ideas for the 2008 conference were discussed. These will be considered by the conference planning group – Terry Holland, Sue Kennedy and Nigel Wyatt. It was generally agreed that the 2008 conference should not just mirror the organisation in 2007 but should be distinctly different in some way.

A number of models for the timing of the conference were discussed but it was generally felt that we should plan for :

Conference opening Monday October 20th  – 10.30 Conference close Tuesday October 21st  – 4.30/5.00 pm

And to explore the option of a pre-conference event on Sunday evening for those wishing to stay overnight on Sunday.

The conference planning group will investigate the costing options for this plan.


Nigel Wyatt to explore costing models for the conference and work with the planning group to present draft ideas to the March meeting.

10. Action Plan 2008

Nigel Wyatt presented a draft action plan for 2008 which was agreed by members. As part of the plan it was agreed that the Forum would fund the attendance of two members at the ELMLE conference in Vienna in January 2008. Nigel Wyatt will circulate members of the steering committee to seek those interested. (To be decided by the Chair and Executive Officer.)


Nigel Wyatt to email members of the steering committee seeking those who would be interested in attending the ELMLE conference in 2008.

10. Future meetings

A number of possible speakers at future meetings were discussed – to be explored by Nigel Wyatt.


Nigel Wyatt to arrange for speakers at future meetings in consultation with the Chair.


11. Regional News

Worcestershire – The Wyre Forest middle schools have now closed, but the reorganisation has thrown up a number of difficulties, with the change costing more than anticipated and year 7 & 8 parents unhappy where their children remain in middle school buildings as an annexe of the uppers school.

Herts – the schools are looking at the model of cooperation in the Dorchester pyramid for possible adoption.


Northants – the county is hurriedly introducing an activity led funding model which will be broadly neutral for middle schools but will lead to the transfer of some funding form secondary to primary schools.

Kirklees – 7 middle schools. Last week Kirklees launched their vision for BSF – it looks likely that middle schools will close in 2012.

Somerset – Falling rolls are leading to the establishment of some hard federations in order to protect some small first schools.

Suffolk – The reorganisation of middle schools is going ahead in two areas.

9. AOB

Members considered a letter from Jenny Symonds requesting financial support for her research into middle school effectiveness. It was agreed that Greneway School would fund the purchase of MP3 players, while the Forum would support the purchase of data analysis software and travel expenses.

10. Future meetings

Steering Committee Meetings arranged for the coming year:

·         Tuesday 11th March 2008

·         Tuesday 10th June 2008

Venue – Meeting Room, St Saviours Church, Pimlico

Time 10.30

The meeting closed at 1.30 p.m.

Survey – Headteachers experiences of Ofsted Inspections

Notes on discussion with Sean Harford, HMI

20th November 2007

The survey presented solid data to substantiate anecdotal concerns about the consistency of the approach to the analysis of school data during middle school inspections.

Following receipt of the report Ofsted did a retrieval exercise – looking again at a sample of reports. They found that in a number of reports there was no reference to the consideration of school level data. The team may have considered it – but there is no reference in the text of the report. Guidance to inspectors will make it clear that they should clarify what data they have considered in reaching their judgements during feedback.

Before the survey was produced Ofsted was involved in discussions leading to a change in the KS1-2 CVA calculation. Account will now be taken of school transfers during KS2 – the data shows that such pupils make less progress relative to those pupils who do not transfer. This should lead to a small uplift in middle school CVA from the current Raiseonline report.

Guidelines for inspectors have been strengthened in recent guidance to inspectors – Guidance for inspectors on the use of school performance data (July 2007 ref: 070120) – available from the Conference Reports page of the NMSF website and from Ofsted.

“Inspection judgements are based on a far wider evidence base than the RAISE data, and include the school’s more recent internal assessments and observation of learners in the classroom. (p4)

“A broad range of evidence should be considered when evaluating standards. This includes:

·        The school’s results as set out in the RAISE report

·        The SEF and what it says about the latest standards in the school

·        The school’s data……..”


“However where there are no national test results …it is especially important to seek out all the available evidence” (p5)

Schools must set out clearly in the SEF their analysis of their school data. Schools can then expect that inspectors will take a range of internal school data into account – and should press inspectors for time to discuss school data if this appears not to be happening - referring to this guidance if necessary. Schools should set out their analysis of their data about standards on entry and on progress very clearly, and not assume that the inspector will do this analysis themselves.

The latest issue of Schools & Inspection (Issue 1 – November 2007 contains a short article(B4 reproduced in its entirety below) which addresses the issues raised in the survey directly, making explicit mention of middle schools. The article indicates clearly:

a)      the importance for schools of presenting a very clear analysis of their data in their SEF

b)      the expectation that inspectors will consider the full range of available school data from point of entry to year pupils leave the school

B4       Using data provided by the school

Recent training and guidance have further emphasised the need for inspectors to consider fully achievement and attainment data provided by schools before or during the inspection. Some schools, for example middle schools, have asked that inspectors consider unvalidated data or the outcomes of internal assessments.  For middle schools, inspectors should not rely only on Key Stage 1 tests as evidence for attainment on entry when pupils joined the school in Year 4 or Year 5, or fail to take due account of progress made in Years 7 and 8.

Inspectors should consider all reasonable information provided by the school, but should also ensure that the school understands the basis of the final inspection judgements. If schools provide an undigested mass of statistics, it is reasonable to ask them what analysis of the data tells them. A concise summary of what they believe the additional data are telling them is likely to reflect good self-evaluation. Inspectors should state explicitly, at least in feedback, the evidence on which they have based their judgements on standards and achievement, especially where this at variance with the school’s views.

To download the full document visit the Conference Reports page of the NMSF website:

It was clear in the meeting that Ofsted had taken seriously the issues raised in the Survey and had responded by clarifying the expectations for inspection in a way that is helpful both to schools and inspectors.