School life

Introduction

Educational attainment and qualifications are a determinant of a person's job prospects and labour market position, which in turn influences income, housing and other material resources.

Schools are also environments which provide structure, consistency, boundaries and safe places. They are the foundations for social and emotional development, help establish positive behaviours and foster life goals and aspirations, all of which contribute to pupil's health and wellbeing and their readiness to learn.

The effectiveness of schools and the period of formal education and learning is therefore significant for longer term outcomes for children and young people as they transition into adulthood.

Key inequalities and risk factors

Although deprivation does not determine destiny, a large minority of children still do not succeed at school or college and a disproportionate number of these young people are from disadvantaged backgrounds. The educational progress and attainment of some pupils from low income households is lower than others of a similar age. This is being addressed through the additional resources made available to schools through the Pupil Premium and the focus on high quality teaching.

The Department of Education annual summary of  GCSE and equivalent attainment by pupil characteristics for 2013 to 2014 (accessed 18 May 2016) sets out a number of educational inequalities:

  • Girls are outperforming boys in all the main attainment indicators at key stage 4
  • Pupils from a black background are the lowest performing group
  • Gypsy/Roma pupils are the lowest performers
  • Pupils in receipt of free school meals (FSM) continue to make less progress between KS2 and KS4 compared to their peers
  • Fewer white British FSM boys are achieveing at least 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent) grades including English and mathematics (32.7 percentage points below the national average (56.6%))
  • Black Caribbean FSM boys are 25.7 percentage points below the national average (56.6%) with regard to achieving 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent) grades including English and mathematics 
  • Fewer disadvantaged pupils enter and achieve the EBacc than their peers
  • Disadvantaged pupils are making less progress than all other pupils

Facts, figures and trends

The Department of Education Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics report (2015) highlights an increase in pupil numbers places a pressure on school places, particularly in primary schools and the decline in the number of secondary pupils has also now stopped.

Pupil numbers in schools in England have grown since 2010 following a period of decline. The increase of 1 per cent (107,000 pupils) in overall pupil numbers is larger than that between 2013 and 2014 (82,000 pupil increase).

In Bracknell Forest, a Learning Village in Binfield is being built to meet the demand for new school places in the north of the borough with the borough’s first all-through (nursery to post-16) school, with a planned capacity of 1,851 to include pupils with special educational needs and disabilities.

School provision

There are 47 schools in Bracknell Forest:

School Type

Number

2015 school population

2014 school population

2013 school population

Primary schools

(including community, voluntary aided and voluntary controlled)

25 primary (ages 5-11)

3 infant schools (ages 4-7)

3 junior schools (ages 7-11)

10,441

10,145

9,725

State funded secondary comprehensive schools (11-18 years)

5 community schools

1 academy

5,622

986

5,582

994

5,583

975

Special school

1 for children aged 0-19

177

183

185

Pupil referral unit

1

15

34

34

Independent schools

8

3,211

3,165

3,118

Total

47

20,452

20,105

19,620

Good and outstanding schools

In 2015, the percentage of pupils in good or outstanding primary schools was 64%, up 4% points on 2014 and moving towards the England average (85%).  The percentage in good or outstanding secondary schools was 74%, up 1% on 2014 and 16% on the 2013 figure bringing it in line with the England average. 

Ofsted ratings for are published online for Bracknell Forest primary and secondary schools  can be found online.

Attainment

At the end of Key Stage 2 (age 11, Year 6), 80% of pupils achieve level 4 or above in reading, writing and maths which is the same as the England all school figure for 2015. 

At the end of Key Stage 4 (age 16, Year 11), Bracknell Forest outperformed English state funded schools in 2015 in key achievement and progress areas:

The percentage of young people achieving 5+ A*-C GCSEs (or equivalent) including English and Maths has been higher than the England all schools figure from 2013 to 2015. The number of pupils remaining in education after KS4 is positive and is higher in Bracknell Forest (91%) than the England figure (90%).

Examining figures between 2009/10 and 2013/14 (accessed 19 May 2016), young people in Bracknell Forest classified as White or Black have a tendency to under perform against children from other BME backgrounds, particularly young people who are classified as Asian and Mixed. 

However, Bracknell Forest schools appear to provide good outcomes for students who have a language other than English whose performance at GCSE is just behind their English speaking peers.

School absence

Absence from school is a determinant of positive outcomes in educational potential and personal development and social mobility.  Parents of children of compulsory school age (aged 5 to 15 at the start of the school year) are required to ensure that they receive a suitable education by regular attendance at school or otherwise.

Pupil absence in state funded primary and secondary (including maintained primary and secondary schools and city technology colleges and academies) and special schools is measured in the Public Health Outcomes Framework. Figures show that levels of absence in Bracknell Forest falling and figures have been consistently lower than both the South East and England figures for several years:

In terms of persistant absence, the percentage of pupils missing 15% or more of the mornings or afternoons (56 or more mornings or afternoons in a year) is well below national figures for primary and secondary schools in the Borough:

 

Primary

Secondary

2015

Overall rate %

Persistant rate %

Overall rate %

Persistant rate %

England – all state funded schools

4.0

2.1

5.3

5.4

Bracknell Forest

3.4

1.1

4.6

3.6

Support available to children and families affected by truancy is available on the Bracknell Forest Council website.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans were introduced from September 2014 as part of a range of SEND reforms. From 2015 SEN support replaces school action and school action plus but some pupils remain with these provision types in first year of transition.

The percentage of the school population in receipt of a SEN or EHC plan is as follows:

The percentage of children in the school population with statements of special educational needs in Bracknell Forest has remained relatively in line with the national levels. Fluctuations can be explained by changes in the number of young people staying on in education post 16, better identification and an increase in the child school population. GCSE attainment is proportionately lower for children with SEN or EHC plans than those without, however, figures for Bracknell Forest are generally higher than the England figures.

Support for children, young people and families in the borough in relation to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is available on the Bracknell Forest Council website.  The Local Offer is an online information resource about SEND provision, health care, social services, education, leisure activities and support groups in the area.

Exclusions

The government publishes data on exclusions annually. Nationally, longer term trends had shown a general downward trend in the number and rate of fixed period exclusions since 2006/07. However, the number of fixed period exclusions across all schools has increased slightly since 2012/13. In particular, there has been an increase in the number and rate of fixed period exclusions in primary schools, with exclusion rates at their highest since 2007/08.

Historically Bracknell Forest has had relatively high levels of permanent exclusions. The rate of permanent exclusions in Bracknell Forest reduced significantly in 2012/13 (0.03% compared to 0.16%) which is a decrease of 20 pupils (30 to 10).  Figures have been rounded.

The reduction in permanent exclusions can be attributed to the following factors:

  • the introduction of the Fair Access Panel in 2012 which ensures that - outside the normal admissions round - unplaced children, especially the most vulnerable, are found and offered a place quickly, so that the amount of time any child is out of school is kept to the minimum
  • the development of alternative provision in partnership with other providers and schools
  • earlier intervention through the Early Intervention Hub and development of inclusion services within the Local Authority  (LA) and more targeted working with individual students
  • joined up working between schools and the LA and a willingness to solution focus for some of our most vulnerable students
  • schools developing their onsite provision for children with behaviour and emotional difficulties.

Pupil premium

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to get good GCSE results. Attainment statistics published in January 2014 show that in 2013 37.9% of pupils who qualified for free school meals got 5 GCSEs, including English and mathematics at A* to C, compared with 64.6% of pupils who do not qualify.

The pupil premium is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils from reception to year 11 and close the gap between them and their peers.

Government data for 2015/16 regarding the Pupil Premium in Bracknell Forest shows the borough received £3,412,705, allocated to:

  • 1,539 eligible pupils (15.7% of total pupils) in primary schools (£2,031,480)
  • 1,015 eligible pupils (17.9% of total pupils) in secondary schools (£949,025)
  • 92 looked after children (£174,800
  • 90 care leavers (£171,000)
  • 288 children where a parent is in the armed forces (£86,400)

Free school meals

Pupils eligible for free school meals are still performing less well than their peers in all main key stage 4 indicators included within this release. In 2013/14, nationally 33.5% of pupils eligible for free schools meals achieved at least 5 A*- C GCSEs (or equivalent) grades including English and mathematics compared to 60.5% of all other pupils. This is an attainment gap of 27.0 percentage points. Department of Education Schools, Pupils and their Characteristics data tables (2015) report that in Bracknell Forest, the figure was 23.5% compared to 57% of all other pupils.

Class size

Class size is defined as the number of pupils in a class with one teacher. It is generally perceived as a measure of education quality. Ofsted research in 1995 concluded class size reduction policies were unlikely to achieve the educational benefits except for earlier years of schooling. The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 subsequently introduced a statutory limit of 30 pupils in one-teacher infant classes from September 2001. 

This measurement is particularly useful in providing information on the size of class an average teacher will have to teach and therefore gives an insight into classroom processes. It is not, however, a good measure of the pupil/teacher ratio as it does not include classes with more than one teacher or take into account of the number of support staff in the classroom.

In 2013, of the 143 KS1 classes 4 were above the statutory threshold.  In 2015 this has been reduced to zero and the average class size in both KS1 and KS2 classes is now lower than the statutory limit.

At KS4, the average number of pupils per FTE teacher is 14.6 which is lower (and therefore better) than the England average for state funded schools.

Want to know more?

The ambitions for children and young people in the borough are included in the council’s vision for education statement. The council's strategy for school improvement is described in the Policy for Challenge, Support and Intervention

The Child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) dynamic report synthesises a range of different sources of data to provide a holistic picture of need in the borough, including support for children with special education needs.

The link between pupil health and wellbeing and attainment (Public Health England, 2014) - a broad, succinct scope of the scientific evidence highlighting the link between health and wellbeing and educational attainment. It underlines the value for schools of promoting health and wellbeing as an integral part of a school effectiveness strategy, and highlights the important contribution of a whole-school approach.

Local Action on Health Inequalities: Building Children and Young People's Resilience in Schools (Public Health England, 2014) - a summary of evidence about  the role of schools in building the capacity of children and young people to bounce back from adversity and reduce the risk factors that increase vulnerability.

Promoting children and young people’s emotional health and wellbeing: a whole school and college approach (Public Health England, 2015) -  for educators and others working children and young people, this document sets out evidence and practitioner feedback about what works, and if applied consistently and comprehensively will contribute towards helping protect and promote student emotional health and wellbeing.

 

This page was created on 21 February 2014 and updated on 21 June 2016.  Next review date July 2017.

Cite this page:

Bracknell Forest Council. (2016). JSNA – School Life. Available at: jsna.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/developing-well/children-and-young-peoples-wellbeing/school-life (Accessed: dd Mmmm yyyy)

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