Head of Sixth Priorities – By John Philip

12 April, 2016

Make sure you are on top of the 2016 Post-16 Accountability framework. The headline measure in 2016 will be based on the progress your students have made with (as yet unannounced) minimum floor standards. Check the College / School and Sixth Form Improvement Plans. Is one of the main targets about improving Sixth Form student progress? If not, why not?

Make sure you have read the relevant sections from the new Common Inspection Framework (CIF) and the relevant handbook for inspectors. It is important all understand the new grade descriptors. I deal with this issue more fully in a separate blog: ‘Ofsted CIF – Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the classroom for the start of the new academic year’.

As always make sure you use your 2015 Alps reports strategically. Organise robust Performance Management meetings with all Post-16 Heads of that focus both on evaluating 2015 performance and on planning to make a difference in 2016. If a department is significantly under-achieving, make it clear ‘what got you here won’t get you there’ and agree what is going to be different in 2015/16 and when you will be checking up.

The simplest way of ensuring you are on top of likely 2016 A Level value-added outcomes is to re-submit data to Alps in September for a Monitoring Point Zero (MPZ) report. This only includes the AS grades of students who have progressed to Y13 and only in the subjects they are continuing to A Level. By comparing the AS grades against the A level benchmarks, the MPZ report shows you what your A level report will look like if your students achieve the same grades in 2016. Use this, and the UMS students have achieved, to help Heads of Subject make good decisions about supporting students in the year ahead.
The MPZ flyer is available online at

Compare 2015 final predicted AS and A Level grades to see which subjects and teachers have a tighter track record in terms of accurately predicting grades. This will inform your monitoring, support and intervention in 2015-16. This becomes critical as we move further into the linear landscape where accuracy of progress grades is even more crucial.

In terms of AS re-sits for May 2016 make decisions now so some students can be scheduled into Y12 AS classes for the unit they are re-taking. Others could be allocated specific periods of supervised study and set regular work and given additional twilight support.

Linear A levels have commenced for Y12 (Y1). Are all departments and teachers organised for a crisp start? I deal with this issue more fully in a separate blog: ‘How to Deal with A Level Reform successfully’. Make sure students are on the right courses – for Year 12 this has to mean ones they will not fail! For students taking linear courses and starting with 3 subjects it means ones in which they will excel!

Crack on with UCAS to drive the early completion of applications – personal statements and references – on as much as possible between now and the end of October, whilst ensuring you don’t ignore advice and guidance for those for whom University is not their preferred option.

Finally, above all, take every decision in the best interests of your students and never feel you can’t turn to the team at Alps for help and advice.


About the Author:
John is a national trainer who specialises in leadership and maximising achievement at KS5. He also works as a senior consultant and gives feedback to schools and LAs on the quality of post-16 provision. John has written numerous articles, and his ‘99 Ideas to Raise Achievement at KS5’ draws on his four decades of experience in sixth forms.

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