As we approach the end of the autumn term and head towards the festive period, I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on some of the highlights and successes of the past year.
Everything we do at HfL is aimed at helping the schools and education settings that we work with to deliver a great education for all children, whatever their background and circumstances.
I am delighted that Hertfordshire remains ahead in both national results and those of our statistical neighbours for the number of schools rated good and outstanding by Ofsted, and indeed for key pupil outcome metrics at all stages of education from Early Years through to Key Stage 5. These results could not have been achieved without close collaboration and partnership working between HfL staff, schools and educational settings, and Hertfordshire County Council. This partnership lies at the heart of our work and enables us to continue to deliver improved outcomes for children across the county.
Over the past year, HfL has continued to invest in the common-good, supporting shareholding schools and settings with their most pressing issues. Based on feedback from our 2018 annual shareholders survey, the HfL Board approved further investment in a programme of teacher recruitment activities as well a new collaborative leadership programme called ‘Great Expectations’, designed to identify and disseminate best practice from Hertfordshire schools that have successfully closed the gap in attainment for disadvantaged and vulnerable pupils. Closing the gap remains the most pressing overarching challenge for improving outcomes in Hertfordshire.
According to The Institute of Fiscal Studies, schools have experienced real terms cuts of approximately 8% and for many school leaders, this means that they are experiencing increasingly difficult decisions about how to make sure that every penny counts in terms of outcomes for pupils. Throughout the past year, HfL has provided practical support to schools through financial workshops, strategic forums and improved financial planning tools. We also recognise that we must ensure that our services consistently deliver the best value possible and that we can demonstrate the positive impact of our work on the educational outcomes and financial sustainability of the schools and educational settings we work with. This will remain a key focus for HfL in 2019.
As the UK’s largest school company, I am proud that HfL has continued to gain national recognition for our impactful products and services. We have also seen a significant impact from a number of teaching and learning research based projects, such as our KS2 Reading Fluency Project which saw pupils taking part during the 2018 spring term make an average of 23 months’ progress, and 29 months’ progress for pupils in receipt of pupil premium grant.
In addition, HfL has continued to increase our portfolio of services to schools through the development of partnerships with commercial providers, as well as extending our reach through the development of partnerships with other local authorities around the country.
Continuously improving our services for Hertfordshire schools and educational settings is at the heart of our strategy, but we must reach further afield to remain financially viable and, in doing so, allow more schools and young people to benefit from our work.
At Herts for Learning, we look forward to continuing to work with you to ensure that we deliver the education services you need, both now and in the future.
Best wishes for a very Happy Christmas and a restful festive break,
Andrew de Csilléry
Managing Director - Herts for Learning Ltd.