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No. 17, November 2004

 

EVALUATION OF CAPITAL MODERNISATION FUNDING FOR ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION IN SELECTED SECONDARY SCHOOLS, 2002-2006

Geoff Lindsay, Daniel Muijs, Dimitra Hartas, Susan Band, Ray Evans, Chris Hasluck

Sue Band writes:

More than 500 schools with high levels of unauthorised absence received a grant towards introducing a system of electronic registration, chosen with DfES approval.

In 2002/03 we interviewed a range of staff and education welfare officers in 20 schools. At a relatively early stage of using e-registration, interviewees were cautious in their comments but hopeful for future development as the systems bedded in. The 25 schools visited during 2003/04 had overall a little more experience of using their chosen system. Schools not visited were asked to complete a survey and we received 307 responses. The case studies illuminated data from this large scale survey, giving for example explanations of survey respondents' level of satisfaction with system reliability. Analysis found a high level of mutual support between the data sets.

At a half way stage of the evaluation, the schools are still developing their use of the e-registration systems. Nevertheless, some observations, based upon both sets of data and informed by case study findings in the first year can be made:

  • Schools have been generally satisfied with system installation and training
  • Generally systems have been found easy to use and reliable, though teething problems were common
  • Understanding systems' capabilities varies greatly across and within schools
  • Schools were not developed in using the attendance data for analysis with other information, especially attainment
  • So far, the main positive effects have been on improving collaboration with other agencies, especially the education welfare officers, and on reducing post-registration truancy by lesson monitoring
  • E-registration has also supported parental contact and involvement, by providing speedy information and reports which parents take seriously
  • Rated 7/9, e-registration was generally seen as one of a number of initiatives to improve attendance. The most favoured factors were creating a positive school climate and developing a relevant curriculum for disaffected pupils. Using punishments for poor attendance was rated last
  • Schools were divided as to whether e-registration had reduced unauthorised absence, and tended to consider it had not reduced authorised absence
  • Schools did not consider e-registration had released teacher or administrative time by lesson monitoring
  • Schools questioned e-registration as a major aid for 'hard core' absentees but had generally positive expectations of its impact over the next few years
  • Indications are that overall rates of authorised and unauthorised absences have decreased, but this is a very tentative judgment given the different lead-in times for schools in implementing e-registration since 2001/02
  • Overall, schools are generally positive to date, with a minority expressing significant concerns

The evaluation continues until 2006 but interim reports will be posted on the CEDAR and DfES websites.

THE EVALUATION OF THE FEDERATIONS PROGRAMME

Professor Geoff Lindsay, Professor Daniel Muijs, Professor Alma Harris, Dr Chris Chapman, with Mairi-Ann Cullen, Elisabeth Arweck and Janet Goodall.

Geoff Lindsay writes:

We are used to schools as single institutions: the government's Federation Programme offers an alternative model. Changes in legislation allow schools to federate in various ways. This project will evaluate over two years the processes involved in setting up and developing about 40 Federations, together with an analysis of the impact of this type of organisation.

We shall be carrying out surveys of about three quarters of the schools together with case studies of 10 Federations. We shall be seeking the views of key participants including the heads of the Federations, headteachers, teachers within the schools, chairs of governors, and pupils. We shall also be observing some activities (e.g. governors meetings) and conducting large-scale analyses of data.

From our initial work it is clear that Federations can vary tremendously. Some have arisen as a means of bringing the expertise of successful schools into one or more schools having difficulties. This is not the 'superhead' model of successful headteachers being persuaded or 'encouraged' into a failing school, an approach with mixed success at best. Rather schools will work together, it is suggested, drawing upon successful management and pedagogic skills.

But these appear to be the minority. There are many other reasons why schools have federated, including professional development of staff and the development of inclusive education. The latter is interesting as inclusion has been firmly set as a government objective since coming into power in 1997, but there is some way to go before effective inclusive education is widespread.

This study provides a very interesting challenge as a research project, but one that is also very positive. Early indications suggest much interest in, and enthusiasm for, the opportunities allowed by Federations. The evaluation of those in this study should produce important information to guide the development of this policy with, potentially, more schools choosing to federate. The twin foci of our study on processes as well as outcomes will not only allow judgements concerning impact, but also identify those factors that support successful development of federations.

LOCAL EVALUATION OF SURE START CHELMSLEY WOOD

Mairi-Ann Cullen writes:

The context

Sure Start Chelmsley Wood is one of over 500 local programmes within the Labour Government's Sure Start strategy, aimed at improving the health, well-being and education of young children, from birth to their fourth birthday, within the poorest communities in England.

The Sure Start Chelmsley Wood programme began in 2000 and serves a largely White population within a 1960s Birmingham overspill estate. It is part of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, a local authority that ranks 263rd out of 354 on the overall index of Local Deprivation but which suffers the greatest gap between affluence and deprivation in the country. Chelmsley Wood is one of four wards that comprise North Solihull, all of which rank within the top 10% of most disadvantaged wards in England, with Chelmsley Wood being in the top 4%.

The local evaluation

As well as taking part in the national evaluation of Sure Start (NESS), every local programme must commission a local evaluation to provide evidence about how well the services are working, of progress towards the national Sure Start objectives and to alert the Partnership Board of any changes that are required. The local evaluation feeds in to the national evaluation carried out by a team based at Birbeck College, University of London.

Staff from CEDAR have acted as the local evaluators for Sure Start Chelmsley Wood since the end of 2000. The agreed local evaluation for 2004 has four strands to it:

  1. collation and analysis of internally collected evaluation data;
  2. two specific service evaluations - a) of the speech and language therapy work and b) of the adult tutor work;
  3. evaluation of how the concept of 'partnership' is understood and of how it works in practice;
  4. work with the Sure Start team to support them in building their capacity regarding internal evaluation.

The 2004 evaluation report will be presented to the Partnership Board in January 2005. It will then become available on the NESS website www.ness.bbk.ac.uk

 

SCHOOLS ENTERPRISE PROGRAMME

Daniel Muijs writes:

This study evaluated the Schools Enterprise Programme (SEP) in Scotland over the period 1 January 2003 to 31 July 2004. It was carried out by Professor Geoff Lindsay and myself.

This was a large-scale project covering all Scotland where targets were to provide a entitlement for each young person to engage in at least two enterprise activities during their primary education, and then to extend this to three in the age range 5-14. The SEP programme involved the development of resources and the introduction of new professionals, Enterprise Education Support Officers, who supported schools to deliver agreed targets. These EESOs themselves required training as part of the initiative.

The evaluation comprised several strands. SEP 2-day training events were observed using a semi-structured observation instrument and questionnaires were sent to all participants after the event. A questionnaire was sent to a teacher and their pupils in 50 schools to which 37 schools (74% response rate) and 542 pupils responded. Case studies were conducted throughout the project at a range of sites across Scotland which included interviewing teachers, headteachers and pupils and the observation of training events. Finally, a large scale survey was sent to all teachers trained on Enterprise Education resulting in 1498 responses (23% response rate).

Over the project 6,500 teachers received training in enterprise education and this was considered by them to be highly effective, with ratings well above the norm for professional development activities in education. There was also substantial impact on schools: 80% of teachers had carried out an enterprise activity in the year following their training and over 90% of trained teachers surveyed described these activities as successful.

Both pupils and teachers were strongly of the view that enterprise education is motivating and that pupils had learned a good deal. Increased pupil responsibility and confidence was reported as well as improvements in organisation, communication and collaborative skills for both pupils and teachers.

Factors enhancing success included the clear goals and focus, and building upon an earlier initiative. The role of the EESOs was in turn very well supported by the centre; providing both training and hands-on support to teachers, was crucial. Both the training and materials were considered high quality. Also the role of the private sector and adequate funding were key factors.

 

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