Ebrington Closure 5

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The Headteacher and Governing Body highlighted their concerns about the school’s ability to provide high quality education for the pupils in mixed-year classes due to the demands of the new National Curriculum.
.... our research tells us that single year teaching is best..... (Governing Body, 10.02.2016)
The Governing Body asserted that single-year classes enabled
Teaching adapted more effectively to meet the demands of the new National Curriculum.
(Governing Body, 28.09. 2015)
No information was produced to support these claims and no details were provided about the research on which they were based.
Documentation from the pre-consultation meetings (February, 2016) states:
Driven by the recommendation of the Head and the teaching team, we would like the flexibility offered by single year groups because the curriculum is so new. (Pre-consultation Meeting, February 2016)
We support the professional views of our teachers that there is a risk to educational standards as the New National Curriculum increases the demands on what is taught and achieved. (Governing Body, 25.02.2016)
This is a professional judgement [mixed aged classes], and we must look to those teaching in primary schools for their views on this, especially our own teachers ....... (Governing Body, 25.02.2016) 13
This, together with the fact that teaching staff are giving clear advice from years of experience that the new National Curriculum is better delivered in single year groups has led the governors to conclude that the school should make a strategic move to single year group teaching.
(Chair of Governors letter to the Chipping Campden Town Council, February 2016)

However, the statements made at pre-consultation meetings and by the Governing Body and Headteacher in support of their proposal are in stark contrast to information recorded in the approved minutes of the Strategic, Leadership and Management Committee (SLM) of the Governing Body.
The minutes of the SLM meeting held on 23rd January, 2014, state:
The question was raised whether having mixed year classes was an educational disadvantage. [Initials redacted] and [Initials redacted] have agreed to research what studies have been done on mixed age classes and what their findings were. (SLM, 23.01.14)

The minutes of the meeting held on 6th March, 2014, report the findings of this analysis of relevant research. The minutes state:
The results of the research papers that had been found indicated that there is generally no academic effect on pupils of being taught in mixed age classes. Teachers have to be trained in how to manage such classes. These findings are supported by the data from this school. [Emphasis added]
The main concerns raised were for the administrative overhead of managing the intake and the disparity of class sizes between the two schools. [Emphasis added]
To achieve single age classes would require a restructuring of the school and there was no appetite to undertake that with, as yet, no significant benefits identified [Emphasis added] which would outweigh the impact of such a re organisation. (SLM, 06.03.2014)

The educational reasons put forward by the Governing Body for closing Ebrington School derive from the preference of the Headteacher and the teaching staff. However, this would seem to conflict with the statements recorded in the approved minutes of the Full Governors Meeting held on 20th March 2014. The minutes state:
From the teachers’ point of view there is balance between having a large class or a smaller mixed age class.
A teacher expressed that having one year only in a class was easier to teach, but another teacher said they preferred a mixture of ages, especially with reception age pupils who can learn from the older ones.
Another governor asked whether teaching mixed ages in one class was challenging. The answer from a staff governor was that it was challenging either way as every class has mixed ability in any case. 14

Another governor put the point that parents are anxious when their child is kept in the same class for two years, in case it is linked to slow progress. The answer given was that it should have no connection with the pupil’s progress.
All the possible alternative options for organising the school were laid out, but all would be difficult to achieve with no perceived benefit to the pupils. [Emphasis added] (Minutes of FGB meeting, 20.03.2014)

A large body of evidence submitted to the Review Team confirms the professional views of the teachers as expressed in the meeting of 20th March, 2014 above. For example:
1 Ironically I was new to mixed age groups and was a bit worried when [name redacted] started at the time as to how it worked. Both [name redacted - Headteacher] and [name redacted - class teacher] both assured me that the educational benefits were great because it meant “that at Ebrington we can teach to ability and not just to an age group” which they said was “much better for the child”. I refer again to [name redacted - Headteacher’s] comment that she didn’t know why more parents didn’t choose Ebrington over St James as the academic achievements, benefits, were much better. (Ebrington Parent)
2 When I raised the issue of mixed aged teaching I was told by [names redacted - deputy Headteacher and Ebrington teacher] that the mixed age class system was an advantage to supporting individual learning and that my child would be taught according to ability and not age and as a result, benefit from this class structure. I also felt that this was an advantage for our children. (Ebrington Parent)
3 I heard her [Headteacher] say on more than one occasion that Ebrington pupils get better SATs results in general than their St James counterparts. (Ebrington Parent)