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Key Considerations for Effective Pupil Progress Meetings

Despite so many competing priorities, supporting the academic progress and emotional wellbeing of children and young people lies at the heart of every education setting. Pupil progress meetings (PPMs) can make a significant contribution to this journey, providing educators with a platform to evaluate pupils’ development, identify areas for improvement, and tailor support strategies to their needs. In this blog, John Rees, experienced teacher, trainer, and consultant, provides an overview of the significance, purpose, preparation, structure, and evaluation of PPMs, and their importance in supporting success for individual children.

Pupil progress meetings are crucial to educational efficacy, and are rooted in the ethos of continuous improvement. PPMs foster a culture of data-informed decision-making, where educators come together to assess progress, identify learning needs and plan appropriate ‘next steps’ to enable children to flourish.

Typically conducted by staff who know the pupil best, pupil progress meetings usually involve the class teacher, the senior leader in charge of pupil progress, and possibly the SENCO, although other staff, including TAs, year and/or phase leaders, and subject specialists can all make a valuable contribution.

Dual purpose to pupil progress meetings

There is a dual purpose to PPMs: to monitor achievement and to devise responsive strategies for growth. These meetings enable educators to:

  • monitor pupil progress: through a systematic analysis of academic performance, attendance, and behavioural records, PPMs offer insights into the progress of individuals. By monitoring trends and patterns over time, teachers can develop a detailed understanding of each pupil's learning journey. 
  • identify support needs: by reviewing quantitative (eg, test scores) and qualitative (behaviour or attitudes to learning) data, PPMs can identify underlying factors impacting progress and/or achievement. Whether rooted in academic, social-emotional, or environmental factors, these insights can inform specific support plans.
  • facilitate collaboration: PPMs support interdisciplinary collaboration, uniting teachers, specialists, and support staff in a collective effort to promote pupil progress. By harnessing diverse perspectives and expertise, these meetings cultivate a culture of shared responsibility, where stakeholders collaboratively create solutions to meet the needs of diverse children.
  • enable pupil voice: where children and young people are involved in the PPM, it can empower pupils to take greater ownership of their learning journey. By involving them in the discussion and decision-making process, educators can help to develop greater autonomy, agency and self-efficacy, and so develop pupils’ motivation and resilience, and enable them to flourish.
  • drive continuous improvement: PPMs serve as catalysts for organisational learning, prompting reflective inquiry and improving organisational practice. By evaluating the efficacy of interventions and assessing their impact on pupil outcomes, schools can help educators adapt their approaches and support school improvement.

Prepare for success

Preparation is key to the success of any pupil progress meeting, ensuring that all those involved are clear about the purpose and have the necessary data and resources to engage in meaningful dialogue and decision-making.

Details, such as deciding where and when the meeting is to be held, making cover available for those who need it, and even considering the heating, lighting, refreshments, and chair arrangements within the room, can make a difference, especially if parents/carers are involved.

All attendees need to have a clear sense of purpose and an understanding of the procedure well in advance of the PPM, so that they can prepare appropriately. If parents, carers and/or pupils are to be present, staff need to know about this before the meeting.

Some of the key components of preparation include data collection and analysis, including information about pupils’ test results, attendance, behaviour, and social and emotional wellbeing, which are important to describe each pupil’s progress. This data needs to be consistently reviewed to ensure that as complete a picture as possible of the pupil and their needs can be shared. What this picture looks like and how it’s presented need to be agreed before the meeting, so that clear, measurable goals for each pupil, aligned with curriculum standards and educational priorities, can be set at the meeting. Targets need to be objective and SMART so that they can be reviewed subsequently.

Documentation should be concise and agreed in advance so that schools can maintain detailed records of discussions, decisions, and actions from the PPM. These should be supported by appropriate resources, although sadly in these challenging economic circumstances, financial considerations may be a deciding factor in identifying the resources allocated to each child.

Once decisions have been reached, these need to be communicated to the appropriate stakeholders, who may be individual teachers, support staff, or even lunchtime assistants, so that they can make their unique contribution to the success of the individual pupil.

Monitoring and evaluating pupil progress meetings

The effectiveness of pupil progress meetings relies on careful approaches to monitoring and evaluation, enabling stakeholders to gauge the impact of interventions and refine support strategies as needed. Key steps in monitoring and evaluating pupil progress meeting outcomes include data analysis to identify trends, patterns, and areas for development which may be adapted to meet the needs of individual pupils. This may include data about academic attainment, but also, attendance, behaviour, emotional wellbeing, and level of parental support, as appropriate.

As different milestones are reached for individual children, new targets may be identified, and it’s essential to celebrate achievements, recognise progress, and share successes with the child, their family, and possibly classmates.

Pupil progress meetings are essential to educational excellence, supporting individuals and driving continuous improvement. By using data-driven, evidence-informed approaches, which have the development and wellbeing of children and staff at their heart, educators can contribute to the attainment, progress and flourishing of every pupil.

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