From primary school to grammar school-from mixed cricket gear to all white! Still the same game though even if I was carrying a little more hair this time. Note the badge on my sweater -that was for winning the trophy I was holding in Part 1-the Denton Primary Schools Cricket Championship-I still have it! I began Ashton u Lyne Grammar school in short pants in 1969 and left in 1976 with platform shoes, 32” parallel trousers and Noddy Holder sideburns ready for Sheffield University. My mum went to the R.S.P.C.A. the day after and got herself a dog to replace me-probably a fair swap! Part 2 of Ashes to Ashes is a short version of a discussion document the staff received which included all of the latest Ofsted information and some comments about the changing local and national school situation and the future of local authorities and community schools. Bit heavy going so I’ve chopped those aspects to tell you about some of the ideas that are currently in action at school or will shortly be discussed.
Quality of teaching-evaluating the contribution of ALL
I’ve written about how lesson observations have been evolving since 2005 and moving towards a system of discussions about the learning rather than an emphasis on grades. When Ofsted visit they ask to see a list of all the observation grades over the last 3 years for each individual teacher, want to know how the observations have been used to determine pay, what has been done to support those who haven’t scored well as well as having the overall exam results, residuals and data to determine whether or not the teaching is making a positive impact on students attainment and progress. The one –off lesson assumed an importance [and thus stress level] out of all proportion to the hundreds of other lessons that teachers teach. The Super Teacher quiz I explained in September’s blog and talked about at the North West teachmeet was an early testing of the water. http://blog.meolscophighschool.co.uk/?p=69
I want to develop a far more detailed and fairer method of evaluating each individual’s contribution to the ‘quality of teaching’ within the school and have been thinking along the lines of a document which encompasses the key criteria of;
|Key QT driver|
Emerging teachers 2-5 years, progress managers, subject leaders
Time would be given to complete the evidence and provide a portfolio [as we do already with CPD] and each area would be differentiated as appropriate to experience and role. For example here are different versions of ‘lesson observation’ for an NQT, an emerging teacher and a subject leader. Key descriptors would be highlighted and evidenced and I would be ready to present the evidence to any external visitor. The words in italics represent leadership skills.
|Key QT driver||Developing||Developed||Aspirational|
|Lesson observations||One lesson obs at least every half-term with feedback given. Advice given has been acted on-examples please. Mixture of classes observed-examples please. Teaching standards met and verified-successful NQT year!||Lesson plan produced –all key areas verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill development based on advice, informal observations etc.-examples please.||Which areas of your teaching skills do you want to focus on next year?Are there any types of classes, students that you will meet that will bring a new challenge? How can we help?|
|Key QT driver||Developing||Developed||Aspirational|
|Lesson observations||Two formal lesson obs every year [unless others are required] with feedback given-1 with the line-manager and one peer. Triads in most cases. Mixture of classes observed-examples please. What were the key criteria points for exceptional teaching that was chosen? Which predicted learning outcomes were different than you expected-why? Advice given has been acted on-examples please. What was the biggest risk you took in your lesson obs? What happened!||Lesson plan produced –all key areas verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill development based on advice from the last observation and have met the appraisal targets.Which areas of the subject specific criteria that you are weakest at, have you been working on-any measured impact yet?||Which areas of your teaching skills do you want to focus on next year?Are there any types of classes, students that you will meet that will bring a new challenge? How can we help?|
|Key QT driver||Developing||Developed||Aspirational|
|Lesson observations||Two formal lesson obs every year [unless others are required] with feedback given-1 with the line-manager and one peer. Triads in most cases. Mixture of classes observed-examples please.What were the key criteria points for exceptional teaching that was chosen?Which predicted learning outcomes were different than you expected-why?Advice given has been acted on-examples please. What was the biggest risk you took in your lesson obs? What happened!Who did you formally observe?What feedback/advice did you give?
How will you check that it has been met and supported?
Have you shared any of the good practice you observed?
|Lesson plan produced –all key areas verified by observer. Each lesson observed has shown teaching skill development based on advice from the last observation and have met the appraisal targets.Which areas of the subject specific criteria that you are weakest at, have you been working on-any measured impact yet?After the lesson observations, did you feedback and develop any responses to great practice or concerns that you observed? [individual or faculty]
|Which areas of your teaching skills do you want to focus on next year?
Which areas of the faculty learning and teaching skills do you need to develop next-why and what are your initial plans?
Each area has its own set of developed, developing, aspirational criteria thus I can look at all the areas and work out strengths, weakness and contributions far more accurately and fairly than a few lesson grades! The staff hasn’t seen this yet-it’s just a taster and so for Progress Mangers, this is their criteria for ‘learning’ Plenty of discussion to come!
|Collaboration-learning||Which lessons have you informally observed? What did you hope to gain from these obs? What were the key learning points you gathered from these? Which target groups did you aim your hub resources/ideas at? Why? Which ideas/resources have you ‘borrowed’ from colleagues and who did you target them at/why?How have you tracked learning progress of your students?
How have you supported the learning of students in your year group who have fallen behind their targets for 1] academic reasons, 2] behavioural reasons, 3] attendance reasons, 4] any other reasons-please explain and explain how you prioritised your intervention.
How have you tracked and monitored the learning of the cohorts in your year-any interventions required?
Have you been able to use the flight paths to support conversations re learning?
|What did you try out in your lessons as a result of informal lesson obs?What was the impact on learning and how did you measure it?What was the impact on learning in your lessons of any hub/borrowed ideas? What is your evidence? Any specific groups/cohorts of learners?Have you managed to share any of your ideas in any forum?Can you provide evidence of the impact of your intervention on student learning? [prioritised students]Can you provide evidence of the impact of your intervention with students in any cohort?
How actively have you been able to support generic learning and teaching issues in assemblies, parental engagement etc.? Please explain and provide evidence of your impact.
|How will you take your lesson study forward to develop your ideas further? Which aspects of our collaborative work do you need support with or need more of?
Is the intervention process working for you-how can you adapt it to suit your purposes-what can we do to support you?
In Part 1, I stressed the power of collaboration in shaping learning and teaching here and naturally most of it involved our own teachers supporting each other. We were trying out lots of different ideas and occasionally we would correspond with other schools but the business of Meols Cop was Meols Cop and we had to get it right internally before offering to support others. Since Ofsted we have opened our doors to many schools and I wrote previously of the benefits of this;
“Contact with other schools has confirmed our own practice and given opportunities to our own staff to reflect on their practice and to prioritise the key drivers behind outstanding schools and the transferrable nature of those drivers to others who wish to transform their schools. Potential leaders have emerged after our observation of how colleagues have prepared and have presented their own practice and that of the department and students. This has helped us at a crucial time in the school’s development as we seek to sustain and develop our own leadership capacity and succession planning.
Our students too have benefitted from the chances to speak to visitors-their own language of learning has improved and after making a huge impact on visitors we realised that we should develop student leadership even more. In fact, the visits have helped us to tighten areas that we know will be under scrutiny-the spotlight of other school’s perceptions of our practice has highlighted any issues that are lacking in rigour or not sufficiently supported by evidence of impact.”
The only problem was that our own staff wasn’t able to get out enough to learn from others-we can use conferences, courses and blogs etc. but we need to visit best practice too and learn from the best schools in the country. Joining Leading Edge and NTEN will hopefully help us-we have quite an inexperienced staff that is keen to soak up ideas and need a change from listening to the old ‘uns here! I f we do become a teaching school, that will be great but in the meantime we have joined forces with other Sefton schools and Edge Hill to deliver NCSL leadership courses and are looking forward to sending more of our teachers out to support further schools. Internally we have continued to work with each other developing lesson study, continuing with new leaders of hubs when we can and bringing in the TAs and mentors into our Friday sharing of ideas. If we are to sustain and improve what we have achieved, everybody must play their part. Our work with TAs has been recognized by Unison and the DFE and by the end of the year; I would hope to have included all of the other support staff in our ‘collaborative sharing’ venture. No volunteers-no hiding from collaborative responsibilities! Our ideas have been shared nationally via our blogs and we will continue to freely give our ideas. I read a blog over Xmas that drew an analogy with some schools behaving like the child, we will all remember from our own school days, which put their arm around their work so nobody else could see it. Please enjoy our ideas and send us some back!
This term’s learning hubs are;
High attaining-strategies to engage our A*/A high fliers-all great tactics for any student
Numeracy, Not much from above on numeracy-Welsh ideas are nice! Designing our own numeracy ideas for use in different subjects
10 markers/bit of morality-The students drop marks on 6, 8, 10 mark questions-lots of different subjects include them on their exam-can we think metacognitively to solve the problem
Bit of everything, Chance to read through our shared resources [there are thousands!] and have time to plan new ideas into lessons
Flipping heck Like-minded colleagues who encourage their students to plan their own learning and deliver the lessons
Literacy, Last session of 3 to incorporate new literacy ideas across the curriculum
SPAG commandos, Spelling, punctuation and grammar mean marks lost, rather than gained for many of our students. Tactics to support across the subjects
Olympic cycling team, Marginal gain tactics increased the Olympic cycling team’s chances of gold-why not use them for our students?
This term’s hubs are all based on practical needs that staff indicated they wanted to have extra planning and discussion time on. They are led by volunteers and all of the staff signs up to be included in one of the groups. Planning time is written into the meeting’s schedule, as are the feedback sessions. Internal accreditation is given to gold or platinum, standard of our Leading Learners. Part of the platinum award information is below and the whole system links with our CPD evaluation and future quality of teaching self and whole school analysis. There are no paid posts for leading generic pedagogy-the opportunity is open to all and all are expected to participate and can use the experience as part of their appraisal and obviously leadership development/personal CPD.
Effective change is not only led from the top, it is led from many places, including the middle. Andy Hargreaves-all quotes are from the SSAT conference in Dec 2013
What are you currently reading that is making you think about your teaching?
When did you last undertake a piece of classroom research? What was it? Bill Lucas
Evidence for accreditation
This can be provided by your learning hub records, coaching conversations, examples of student’s learning, resources produced, emails sent, courses attended, bullet points of meetings, CPD proformas-anything at all that you feel is relevant. Discussing your learning will be equally worthy of points!
Leaders of Learning Platinum Award
“A‘ learning breakthrough’ which requires you to demonstrate deeper reflection and analysis, making reference to relevant sources of knowledge, including effective practice, literature and research findings. This could be achieved by feeding back and leading inset and staff development based on externally accredited leadership courses or leading and organising a learning hub or introducing new areas of curriculum or pastoral initiatives. Your evidence must include your evaluation of the impact on student learning. This will mean collating the views and evidence from other colleagues e.g. evidence about the impact that has been made, using evidence provided by your hub colleagues-this might be a student survey, progress shown by skill/level/measure of your choice-but will need to represent 3 or more colleagues.”
Research shows the thing in education which makes the biggest difference to pupil outcomes is the quality of teaching:
•How you plan your lessons
•How you execute your lessons (what you say and do)
•If the expertise and experience of staff are the schools most precious resource then the training and development they get must have high impact
•We must know what the impact of our CPD is on Learners Cramlington School
“Imagine a school in which you taught better, simply by virtue of being in that school. What would such a school be like?”(Judith Warren Little)
Curriculum and assessment
Over the next two terms we will consider the changes in the national curriculum and our responses to the removal of national curriculum grades. Interestingly over the years mentioned in Part 1 and in our NTEN CPD survey, most training has probably been focused on generic teaching skills rather than, as used to be the case, subject specific pedagogy. Will the latter make a comeback as we discuss the particular needs of each subject more than perhaps we have? We began in September having time to talk about our subject needs but since then national concerns about the role of content [knowledge] v skills in subject and whole school terms has raged and whilst some see the imposition of more change as a unnecessary burden, others see it as an opportunity to shape the future of the curriculum and pedagogy as an exciting opportunity.
Some schools may keep NC levels but I would want us to think about bringing together the needs of G.C.S.E students and marrying those with KS3 students to create a subject ‘mastery’ approach that could be individualized e.g. each student had developing, developed and aspirational targets in each subject based on both knowledge and subject skills. I know that some are moving that way now but we will discuss this at our next FOCAL. Hopefully better ideas will emerge and they may be different for different subjects-will this matter?
The exam system constantly changes with the emphasis on 5 A*-Cs in English and maths adding in the Ebacc, to progress 8, to the role of English literature and an uncertain future. We do have to react with our curriculum [not my area of expertise!] but also have to consider the needs of our students, although it is difficult to explain at times to students and parents. We delayed making moves with the Ebacc and were prepared to have a low percentage in the league tables and in November, when the goalposts moved again, entered students for English and waited with the maths. We try to do the ‘right thing’ but are also aware of the consequences that poor showings in league tables can bring. I’ll concentrate my efforts, as will all of my colleagues, on trying to get the best possible outcomes for our students in terms of exam preparation, revision and actual results. Our progress measures slipped last summer for the first time in years and we need to be focused on the why, where and how of moving them back to 1030/1040. No complacency.
I would hope that our student ‘Fight Path’ idea will support the whole process if it develops strongly enough. I mentioned the approach in an October blog and passed it onto our data man and technical expert Mark Brownett to make the most of my original Blue Peter paper version.
“Allied to this will be our Flight Path idea which will allow the students in different lessons to track their progress and explain the impact intervention by themselves or by the teacher has had when their plane has taken a nose-dive! Many schools use the notion of a Flight Path tracker, often with staff only to track progress against targets or when used with the students, it tends to be a graph without much explanation. We will be expecting ‘black box’ explanations to show on parent’s evenings and I hope that rather than the teacher explaining progress to mums, dads and carers, we will be able to let students explain their flight path to progress”.
‘The remarkable feature of [all this] evidence is that the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers…Many of the most debated issues are the ones with the least effects.’ John Hattie
I’ve already observed in recent observations, new ideas to make peer assessment even more specific and accurate and the use of marginal gains ideas to hone the students in onto the key areas of examination learning. I mentioned in Part 1 how we had been developing the ability of students to evaluate their own learning but the key to sustaining great learning is to return to deliberate practice to reinforce skills-selecting what you aren’t good at, reminding yourself of key skills-resilient hard work! I’ve talked before about ‘growth mind-set’, everybody does at the minute! Making it happen though is a different issue and as with developing great teaching and their mind-set to achieve, it takes constant reinforcement and reminders of what is important and must have the aspirational aim of including everybody, whether they want to be included or not! Anything is possible. [Assembly slide]
It may be next term before it takes off but hopefully the system will be embraced and successful. Whatever happens we will continue to develop our student voice-the Learning Walk will be ready once observations are over and Anne Pickup is interested in developing our parental engagement more after a visit to All Hallows in Macclesfield. Our parents have been fantastic supporters of our school, attendances at all parent’s evenings, Review Days, exam evenings and so on have all grown and we have tried to make the bulletins more interesting and have even added these blogs! What else should we do? What would you like? Questions coming your way!
It should be another exciting term ahead-new teachers will be joining or being appointed and I was delighted to see 20 colleagues attend our Future Leader Mark Brownett’s Middle Leader’s training before Xmas. I know that a popular aspect of the internal training is when colleagues role play meeting an awkward person [parent, colleague etc.] played by one of our governors, Les Gomersall. When I say popular, it goes down well with the colleagues who are watching another colleague tackle Les in his role! Differences of opinions and views are all part of life and education and I hope that if you have read to this point and have read our other blogs that you have found them honest and interesting. If you don’t agree, or have questions; shout [not too loudly] and I will respond. The last three have been very long to include lots of evidence and I’ll return to shorter ones to share ideas from our observations and general teaching over the next few weeks.
Thank you for reading.