Last year the Department for Education introduced a new measure of how schools will be held to account. Moving away from the 5 A*-C mantra, a new system called Progress 8 looks into how much academic progress pupils make across 8 subjects, revealing how much value each schools adds. Away from the educational jargon, how do schools ensure that every pupil is given the chance to make great progress?
At Oasis Community Learning, the answer to this question lies in a steadfast belief in inclusion.
Oasis’s teachers chose to work for a group of Academies that exists to serve communities that society in many cases have previously let down. The group is clear that it is relentless when it comes to inclusion; never selecting on starting points, nor on ability, nor on whether a child has a religious belief or not – simply put to never leave any child behind.
The mantra of Oasis CEO, John Murphy, is to ‘Raise the bar, and to close the gap.’ To raise every child’s aspirations and belief in themselves, and to close the attainment gap for those who have not had the same opportunities as their classmates.
Of Oasis' 24,000 young people, 46% are deemed ‘disadvantaged,’ which is defined as being eligible for Free Schools Meals, being in care, or having been adopted from care (the national average in schools is 14.3%). 36% of Oasis’s children speak English as an additional language, and so first have to work hard to obtain the skills they need to unlock the rest of the curriculum.
Despite these young people facing significant barriers to learning, within Oasis Academies they are thriving; making terrific levels of progress.
Last summer, Oasis Academy MediaCityUK’s Progress 8 figures climbed from -0.65 last year to 0.06 – meaning that every student had made greater progress than the national average, and two thirds of a grade more progress in each subject compared to 2015. In Grimsby, students at Oasis Academy Wintringham secured the school’s best ever results, with a 17%-point increase in the proportion of students achieving A*-C in English and maths compared to 2015, with 54% of pupils now hitting the mark.
In London and the South East, Oasis Academy Enfield improved Progress 8 figures climbed from -0.16 in 2015 to 0.26 in 2016 and there was an 11%-point increase in the number of students achieving A*- C in English and maths. In Bristol, Oasis Academy John Williams had a Progress 8 score that is a quarter of a grade above national average, while their Basics measure increased from 53% of pupils achieving A*- C in English and maths in 2015 to 66% this year; another of Oasis’s academies receiving their school’s best ever results.
In Oasis primary schools, pupil progress is the first priority. At Oasis Academy Byron in Croydon, ‘Pupils make outstanding progress from their low starting points, leaving them exceptionally well prepared for secondary school and for their lives in modern Britain.’ At Oasis Academy Limeside in Oldham ‘Pupils’ achievement from their skill level on starting at the academy, which is well below that expected for their age, is outstanding.’
Despite Ofsted reporting a transformation at Oasis Community Learning and rising attainment and progress levels, there is no complacency within the group when it comes to the young people.
Each Academy that isn’t yet good is making progress on how to take the next step, ably and eagerly supported by their colleagues in neighbouring Oasis schools. Every week teachers are sharing best practice, and holding one another to account – they are dedicated to developing their own skills so that they can help every pupil to raise their aspirations, and fulfil their potential.
Oasis has no intention of slowing down, not resting until each pupil has the opportunity and support they need to make fantastic progress.