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School Improvement Partners (SIPs) e-newsletter: Autumn 2009

Narrowing the Gaps for underachieving, disadvantaged children

Essential Briefing

The DCSF publication, Breaking the Link (DCSF 00357-2009) has made unlocking the potential of disadvantaged, underachieving pupils central to the agenda of all schools. The sharp focus is now on those pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) and actions to break the link between disadvantage and achievement.

A focus area dedicated to Narrowing the Gaps is now available on the National Strategies web area. It highlights a range of high impact resources that have been tried and tested in schools with a track record of success.  

A number of forthcoming resources are currently in production, including Guidance on leadership and management due for publication later this term.

Narrowing the Gaps – Resources to support the achievement of Black and minority ethnic, disadvantaged and gifted and talented children (DCSF ref: 00781-2009BKT-EN) provides an overview of the materials available for all schools in all phases to use and adapt to meet the needs of all underachieving children. It will also support School Improvement Partners (SIPs) in the brokering of appropriate support for schools.  Please note this is available for download only.

From data analysis to impact – The golden thread is now available on the National Strategies web area. Developed through workshops with SIPs from Gaining Ground schools, it helps schools to see the thread that connects analysis to action in relation to underachieving disadvantaged groups and those pupils in school now who, without such actions, are likely to achieve less than they could. A further publication is under development which will provide workshop materials to explore this area in detail, including use of interactive RAISEonline.

Powerful Questions

Leadership and management

  • What arrangements do schools have in place to ensure effective strategic leadership of work to narrow gaps?
  • What is the school's strategy for narrowing attainment gaps for disadvantaged, underachieving pupils?  How do you know it’s working?
  • What examples can the school give of how the leadership of Narrowing the Gaps is distributed across the school and is seen as everyone’s business?

Tracking and impact

  • To what extent is the school's assessment and tracking of underachieving, disadvantaged pupils reliable, timely and used to ensure early intervention and impact?

Clear priorities

  • What are the school's priority groups in relation to accelerating FSM progress?  
  • To what extent have subjects, Black and minority ethnic groups, year groups or phases have been targeted?
  • How are schools using tracking data to monitor improvement?