National Middle Schools’ Forum Newsletter

November 2008

1) National Conference 2008

The presentations by the key note speakers are now all available to download from the conference reports page of the NMSF website:

Click this link:

Thank you to all those who contributed to what was a very successful and enjoyable conference.

2) Regional meetings for middle schools

11-19 New Secondary Curriculum Workshops - ‘Leading the change in middle schools'

There has been a good response to the 4 regional meeting planned for this month – these were the delegate numbers at the end of 5th November 2008:

Parkside Middle School                            30 Meadowdale Middle School                      23 St Osmund’s C of E Middle School            23 Lincroft Middle School                             56

If you would like to attend then please book your place by following the link below to the relevant page on the NCSL website

Timing: - 10am – 1.30pm (including lunch)

3) Implications of scrapping KS3 for middle schools


The decision to scrap the KS3 tests was a major talking point for delegates at conference – as schools considered the changed landscape for demonstrating progress in our schools. There were three main strands arising from these discussions:

a) KS3 and Area Reviews - All those arguments advanced at reorganisation meetings about the difficulty of preparing pupils for KS3 SATs in Year 9 have disappeared at a stroke – as has any mismatch between us and the national curriculum stages.

b) Demonstrating progress to Ofsted - The revised guidance to inspectors issued by Ofsted last year, following our discussions with them, is now even more pertinent. This makes it quite clear that inspectors must consider clearly presented evidence of progress, based on school’s own tracking data. There is no mention of any requirement for these to be based on any externally marked tests:

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.

(Source: The November 2007 issue of Schools & Inspection contains a short article B4 reproduced in its entirety)

c)  Exploring new approaches to assessment - At the conclusion of Conference it was agreed that we will consider a proposal from Mick Waters, Director Curriculum QCA, at the next Steering Committee meeting – a suggestion for regional workshops in the New Year to showcase approaches to assessment being developed jointly by schools and QCA. Middle schools might then explore some of these approaches and share their experiences at the next Conference.

Next steering committee meeting:

 Tuesday November 25th At 10.30 am – St Saviours Church, St George’s Square, Pimlico, SW1V 9AL (Please let me know if you would like to attend)

4) Date for your dairy – National Conference 2009


Venue: National College for School Leadership, Nottingham


Date:  Monday October 19th and Tuesday October 20th 2009


A small sub-committee has agreed to meet in the New Year to plan for this – suggestions please to Nigel Wyatt.

Nigel Wyatt

Executive Officer