Promising practice details


C4EO - Child Poverty

The formation of a soft federation of Canklow Woods Primary and Whiston Worrygoose Junior and Infant Schools, Rotherham

Themes this local practice example relates to:

  • Child Poverty
  • Schools and Communities
  • General resources

Priorities this local practice example relates to:

  • Development and delivery of effective area-wide child poverty strategies
  • Child Poverty needs assessment
  • Narrowing the gap in educational achievement and improving emotional resilience

Basic details

Organisation submitting example

Rotherham C&YPS/Canklow Woods Primary School

Local authority/local area:



The context and rationale

Background details to your example

The formation of a soft federation of Canklow Woods Primary and Whiston Worrygoose Junior and Infant Schools aimed to raise standards at Canklow Woods Primary School.

Canklow is one of the most deprived wards in the country:
• School deprivation indicators are well above average, identifying Canklow to be in the top 2% for areas deprived of income and general deprivation.
• According to the Index of Multiple Deprivation in 2009, 98.4% of our pupils live in the bottom 30% of Super Output areas.
• The school experiences significant fluctuations in pupil numbers due to the number of mobile families seeking temporary accommodation. The percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals is currently 65%, three times the national average.
• Attainment at Canklow on entry at age 3 is well below expectations (identified as ‘poor’ by Ofsted in 2008), many children having immature speech and limited experiences. Developmental delay is quite common, with a significant proportion of children not having access to books.
• 11.4% of pupils, from a range of minority ethnic groups, are learning English as Another Language (EAL).
• The percentage of children on the Special Educational Needs (SEN) Register is 39%. There are three children with statements, 19 on School Action Plus and 48 on School Action.

As SATs results at Key Stage 2 had placed Canklow in the lowest 1% of schools nationally, our aim was to narrow the gap in educational achievement between children in Canklow and those in other parts of the borough. The intention was to improve the quality of life for children in Canklow by addressing stubbornly low standards and inadequate pupil progression.


The practice

Further details about the practice

In 2007, Canklow School was part of the Local Authority’s (LA) intensive Support Programme as well as the ‘Hard to Shift’ initiative. The LA decided to intervene and take decisive action by creating a soft federation that brought an ‘outstanding’ school into partnership with a school in difficulty. At the time of the creation of the federation in April 2008, the head teacher of Whiston Worrygoose Junior and Infant School was appointed executive head teacher across both schools. The executive head teacher has a proven track record of raising standards in challenging schools. In Canklow, staff morale had been extremely low and, as a consequence, there were low expectations. Key Stage 2 results at Whiston Worrygoose had been consistently higher than national averages, and it was hoped that the leadership and ‘can do’ approach modelled by the executive head teacher could transform staff morale. The executive head teacher also had a high degree of professional credibility that he had built up at Whiston Worrygoose and had proved that he could lead sustained school improvement, model excellent classroom practice, and deliver outstanding leadership and management overall.

The executive head teacher worked extensively alongside the Year 6 teacher in the early part of the summer term. A major focus was mental mathematics and regular testing to monitor pupil progress, with pupils continually encouraged to improve on earlier performance. Strategies for solving problems were also emphasised so that pupils knew which ones to apply in particular contexts. Across all of the core subjects, preparation for the SATs included the sharing of marking criteria and what pupils needed to achieve to get their expected level. The expectations were very high, with pupils constantly challenged to work hard and do their best.

What happened?
• After-school revision classes were introduced with the expectation that all children would attend, together with classes for targeted pupils during the Easter holidays.
• To improve standards, value learning outcomes and raise children’s aspirations, the use of ‘working walls’ for literacy and numeracy (in place due to the school being part of the Intensifying Support Programme) was replaced with the celebration of children’s work.
• New teaching resources were purchased and there was a major investment in the resourcing of Early Years.
• All year groups planned educational visits each half term, in order to promote firsthand experience within the curriculum.
• A Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) post was appointed to work across both schools. This was to create some non-teaching time for the Head of School at Whiston and to provide some support for the more able children in Years 5 and 6 at Canklow Woods, mainly to support the teaching of literacy and numeracy.
• An extensive review of the schools provision for vulnerable children and children with SEN was undertaken. Intervention programmes were reviewed and their impact assessed. New support initiatives were introduced and a new SEN co-ordinator was appointed.
• The school initiated an electronic pupil tracking system which enables teachers and senior management to follow the progress of individual pupils. The pupil tracking system has the ability to highlight the progress of specific groups of pupils e.g., EAL, free school meals, etc.
• In an attempt to engage parents and provide lifelong learning opportunities, the school has developed an extensive range of courses for parents. These range from cake decoration, D.I.Y. for women and flower arranging to ICT and accredited numeracy courses.


Evidence and evaluation - making a difference to children, young people and families

Evidencing your practice has made a difference to children, young people and families

Contextual value added data (RAISEonline 2009) indicates that all pupils are making significantly above-average progress (101.2), free school meals (101.3), school action plus pupils (102.4).

The school’s success at improving its end of KS2 results (see table 1) and being identified as the most improved school in the country has had a positive impact on the staff morale.

Table 1

The school improved the quality of life of 432 children and families, through increased academic attainment, improved
staff confidence and community regeneration. This was achieved at a cost of £1,680,000, which equated to a cost of £74.78 per child per week. The SROI indicated that for every £1 invested, £1.84 was returned.

Canklow School has received a high level of positive parental feedback, particularly from those parents with children in Y6.

In a survey of our children, 70% felt that they did not feel safe on the estate; 100% said they felt safe in school.
Sickness records were halved from 44 during the first 6 months of the federation to 22 in the last 6 monthly period.

The federation has enabled the two schools to share the skills and experience of key staff to the benefit of both organisations. Staff from both schools have worked together in developing systems, sharing planning and ideas.
Joint INSET days and staff meetings have enabled the schools to share the cost of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).

A community regeneration initiative was instigated by the Head teacher, supported by the DCSF. A multi agency panel was formed and partners produced a local action plan for the Canklow area. Services identified their particular contributions and committed to delivering on these actions.
An issue that was raised at the Community Regeneration Meetings was that there was no forum by which the local community could voice their concerns or ideas. The school, together with council support, helped organise a Residents Association. This enabled residents to meet with a local councillor and other key council employees.
The school also organised drop-in sessions from Housing, Police and Social Services.
In addition, the school makes available a “community room” for parents and local residents to meet. The meetings are organised by school and local council representatives.

The improved KS2 SATs results empowered the school by impacting positively on staff morale, as well as improving parental perceptions of the school. The school built on this new found confidence to further improve the provision for its children:
• The school provided free fruit throughout school.
• All non-healthy snacks and drinks were banned.
• Children were given access to water .
• To improve safeguarding, parents were encouraged to wait outside the school building.
• To improve safeguarding, parents were no longer allowed to use the school car-park to collect and drop-off their children.

What worked well:
• Easter revision programme.
• Positive improvements in behaviour and attitudes.
• Parental involvement improved.
• New school build.
• Motivation and empowerment of staff.
• Regeneration initiative has galvanised other agencies into action in the local area.

What could be improved:
• Reduced pressure on Whiston Worrygoose school with the focus being on Canklow.
• Reduced pressure on heads of schools, both having part-time teaching commitments and being heavily involved in revision programmes in Y6 and Y2.


Sustaining and replicating your practice

Helping others to replicate your practice

There was an Ofsted inspection in September 2008 which judged the school to be satisfactory overall and showing strong improvement as a result of the federation.
Ofsted recognised that the rise in Key Stage 2 SATs results represents an outstanding achievement for those pupils who entered school with poor prior attainment.

In January 2009, the Department of Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) informed the school that it was amongst the top 100 maintained schools showing sustained improvement for test results for the period from 2006-2009.

1. This is the only example in the Northern Strategies of linking an outstanding school with a failing school but it is being used as an example of best practice. There is an HMIE (HM Inspectorate of Education) Case Study to support this.
This model currently costs approximately £70k per annum. For the first two years government funding of £140,000 has supported the federation. The Local Authority has agreed to fund the federation until September 2013, when it will be subject to a further review.

Top tips (must haves)
• Relevant experience of executive head teacher.
• Governor support from both schools.
• A management structure in the supporting school that can sustain good practice and levels of attainment.
• Ensure that the executive head teacher apportions his time more equitably between the two schools.
• Be aware of the sense of vulnerability of staff, parents and children in the creation of the federation.

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