Ladybridge High School, Bolton
Ladybridge High School, a ‘Fresh Start’ school in 2004, is an 11-16 mixed community school close to the west of Bolton town centre. The school gained Specialist Sports College status in 2005. About a third of the students are entitled to free school meals, which is approximately twice the national average. Around a quarter have learning difficulties and/or disabilities, which is above average. Approximately 50% are of White British heritage with the remaining students coming from a number of minority ethnic backgrounds. 40 languages are spoken within the school. A significant number of students join the school at times other than the beginning of the school year.
The school was inspected by Ofsted in December 2009 and achieved five judgements of ‘Outstanding’ for Community Cohesion, Students and the Community, Staying Safe, the school’s partnership with parents and Care, Guidance and Support. It has recently been judged as having ‘Outstanding’ capacity to improve
There is a strong sense of community spirit and community pride. Relationships are very good with Ofsted reporting that Ladybridge students are ‘fiercely loyal’ to their school. The school takes the time to invest in its young people so that they have the best possible springboard into adult life and encourages their contribution to the school and our wider community. Attendance is high and clear testament to the school’s popularity.
Since 2007, Ladybridge has charted a strong trajectory of improvement.
and the school is now hoping to be included in the list of the top 50 most improved schools in the country.
The school has several teaching assistants one of whom has been at TA at the school for a little over 3 years. All of her work is now given to supporting in maths classes. Initially she joined the school as a general teaching assistant but departmental and senior leaders recognised her skills in mathematics and moved her to this more-specialised role. She now sees herself as a key player in the mathematics team.
Her preparation for this role is based in her own GCSE qualification, support from local maths consultants and a good working relationship with the Director of Mathematics. Recent continuing professional development (CPD) opportunities have arisen from all of these latter as well as regional SEN mathematics conferences. She now has a sense of being part of mathematics in school.
Her strengths are her ability to assess children’s weaknesses quickly and her sound subject knowledge. Together these enable her to provide flexible and tailored strategies to given difficulties. Her usual approach will be to liaise with the Mathematics Team prior to the lessons and to sit alongside pupils in class and offer specific support following the lesson objectives set by the teacher. She has some aspirations to plan and lead her own small groups. On occasions she will lead a lesson starter and this is one area that she and colleagues are keen to develop. There is good collaboration between her and class teachers in that she does know of lesson plans ahead of the class. She will help support with assessments and advise the teacher. As yet she is unfamiliar with the formal "Assessing Pupils Progress" structures but this is an aspect of her professional development that she and the mathematics subject leader are keen to address.
She has good ICT skills and is looking to develop these with mathematics-specific software to enhance her work. She has met teaching assistants from other schools at regional conferences and may be able to share ideas and activities through developing networks like the “HLTA Forum” in the NCETM Communities. She has begun to engage with the NCETM self-evaluation tools with the maths department as part of their CPD plan in school this year.
Teaching assistants are managed by the Director of Standards for Special Educational Needs. Her work in mathematics is highly valued by her line-manager and senior leaders. She has an excellent relationship with the mathematics team, providing a good link with the work of other teaching assistants, where she will offer to help with subject knowledge and different approaches to teaching an idea. There is an agreement that the Director of Mathematics will share in the role of management, support and development of her work. Frequent opportunities exist for informal collaboration between the TA and senior colleagues. She is also able to take part in the more formal CPD provision which the Director of Mathematics is able to arrange.