Monday, 30 December 2013

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on Learning centred leadership

Initial reflections

Successful leaders:
·         Using a variety of styles and strategies
·         Actively seeking out good practices but adapting them where necessary
·         Context matters
·         Optimistic, can-do individuals who are committed to making a difference for their pupils
·         Strongly person-centred,  putting a premium on professional relationships

·         Directly
·         Indirectly (largest and most common)
·         Reciprocally

Structure and systems are also important:
·         Planning processes
·         Target setting
·         Communication systems
·         Monitoring systems
·         Roles and responsibilities of leaders
·         Policies for learning, teaching, assessment and marking

Links to personalised learning - the five components of personalised learning being:
1.       AfL
2.       Teaching and learning strategies that engage and stretch
3.       Curriculum entitlement and choice
4.       Student centred approach to school organisation
5.       Strong partnership beyond the school

I am inclined to disagree with the description of coaching as a "short term, authoritative intervention to support improved performance or changing strategies and behaviours" and of mentoring as a "long-term developmental relationship that supports personal growth and learning". In my experience mentoring occurs when there is a need for support to be given to a colleague in order to improve their teaching through giving suggestions (for example with PGCE students or NQTs) whereas coaching, and questioning in a coaching style, can be used to further develop teachers who are more able to reflect on their own practice and determine their own options and action points for development.

Reflect on the extent to which each of the four components of learning-centered leadership (monitoring, modelling, dialogue and coaching) is a significant part of your personal repertoire of leadership behaviours. What does your 360-degree feedback tell you about this?
How comfortable are you with this approach to your work as a team leader?

Monitoring - strong link between very good monitoring and good or better teaching. Knowledge of teachers' strengths and development needs.
I need to improve my monitoring by doing more informal observations and holding more conversations with colleagues about teaching and learning. I also want to encourage colleagues to observe each other more in order to learn.

Modelling - the power of example, teachers watch their leaders closely for consistency and to test whether they do as they say. What leaders pay attention to is noticed.
I think I usually model well but remembering that "teachers watch their leaders closely" is quite a powerful incentive to ensure that I do this in all aspects of my role.

Dialogue - can often appear to be informal. What did you do and what happened because of it?
I want to have more dialogue with colleagues about teaching and learning and put more of a "premium on professional relationships".

Coaching - combines all three components
I want to have conversations in more of a coaching style with colleagues when discussing their teaching and learning. If colleagues are able to come to their own conclusions about what will improve their teaching and learning then they are more likely to follow through with suggested actions.

To what extent do your leaders and colleagues model this approach?
I feel there is a lot of good modelling within my school and this is combined with effective formal monitoring. It might be beneficial in terms of leadership to further develop our informal monitoring and dialogue. As a department we are exploring the power of coaching, this might have more influence if it were a whole school approach though.

Use part of a team meeting to explore this approach to leadership with your colleagues and prepare a response for discussion at your next face-to-face session.
I am planning on discussing this with my colleagues, in particular the informal monitoring and dialogue aspects.


See 'monitoring', 'modelling', 'dialogue' and 'coaching'.

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on theme 2: Leadership and Effective Teams

Successful teams:
Trust, open communication, common purpose and shared values, focus, commitment, collaboration, regular interaction, development of teaching and learning
Leaders should focus their influence, their learning and their relationships with teachers on the core business of teaching and learning

Effect sizes of the five dimensions (greatest to least):
1.       Promoting teaching learning and development (both promoting and participating formally and informally)
2.       Establishing goals and expectations (even in the face of multiple, conflicting demands) AND ensuring high quality teaching  (by planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum)
3.       Strategic resourcing (allocating material and staffing resources in a way that is aligned with pedagogical purposes)
4.       Orderly and supportive environment (clear and consistently enforced expectations and discipline codes)

1.       I think it is important to remember the 'promoting AND participating' aspect of development. I want to show that I am also in the process of developing in order to encourage my team to do the same.
2.       The point about 'multiple, conflicting demands' is interesting and reflects what teachers are faced with on a daily basis. It is still worth taking the time to focus on building a successful team despite all the other pressures.

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 8: Behaviour Management

How do Tony Walsop and Sarah Lockyer ensure that members of their teams are consistent in their approach to behaviour management?
·         Be clear on whole school approach and what that means in the classroom. High expectations and performance management - each teacher is ultimately in control, don't allow standards to fall because it is the easier route. Instead take the time to plan for good behaviour
·         Discuss previous experiences and learn from this with colleagues
·         Model (don't just tell people what to do) - invite others to observe and sharing strategies that have worked, buddy up in pairs for team observation and coaching. All of this should build confidence in terms of behaviour management
·         Lesson observations, learning walks, analysis of on call system, marking scrutiny for quality assurance and consistency of the learning experience
·         Building relationships outside of the classroom - share strategies with students and parents
·         Feedback and evaluation from staff observations, student voice

What can you learn in terms of your leadership of your team in ensuring consistency? What impact will this have on your practice? How will you measure its effectiveness?
1.       Model and share strategies - invite people in to see my best practice and encourage others to go and see best practice that is happening elsewhere in the department
2.       Encourage staff to share strategies with parents (e.g. slips in planners, emails/phone calls home)

3.       Seek feedback from staff on whether changes have been beneficial, perhaps anonymously via surveymonkey

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 7: What makes a good lesson?

After watching the video and comparing and contrasting the views of others with yours, what do you think are the ingredients of a good lesson?
From the video I would say that a good lesson consists of three key elements:
Planning, well organised, subject knowledge, well informed teachers, resources, reliability (clarity, well evidenced, well thought through)
Students understanding of expectation of lesson, objectives, clarity of outcomes - what do we want to achieve? Pulled together at the end - what have we learnt? Learning is assessed and reviewed
Appropriately selected visible learning methods - making the learning process explicit with the teacher as an enabler
Passionate teachers that interest pupils, if not then teacher can engage because of subject knowledge, engaging content that connects with the real world, challenge and element of surprise- blow your mind, take you somewhere else, use your senses, unpredictability to avoid a 'sanitised' learning environment.

I particularly liked the idea that a good lesson makes a difference, has an impact and is a social process where students take mutual responsibility for the learning of themselves and others.

Another element that I would perhaps add to this list is this pastoral aspect of teaching. Students, particular those from deprived backgrounds, often rely on their subject teachers for emotional support and, whilst it might be possible to recognise a positive learning environment during an observation, it is not always possible to recognise the extent to which a teacher might be supporting a student beyond the curriculum.

I think that I personally spend quite a lot of time of the first two elements and sometimes struggle to incorporate the third element - engagement. I think this is something that I need to seek the advice of other members of my department on and by modelling this encourage them to do the same for their weaker areas in teaching and learning.

How can you develop a shared understanding of what makes a good lesson across your team?
1.       Ask my team what they think a good lesson looks like and them compare to my answer above

2.       Get our team to work together and go into lessons to 'talent spot' and see what makes a good lesson

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 6: Subject specialism

How do the staff in the maths department featured in this account of practice continue to develop their subject knowledge? How does the Head of Maths support them?

Passion for the subject- enthusiasm, interest, curiosity
Staff modelling discussion of the subject
Good post-16 uptake
Student questionnaire - subject knowledge important
Delegate and trust staff
Play strengths of staff
Avoid sounding panicked
Break things down and pass on to your team in a manageable form that they want to do
Decisions made and initiatives discussed as a team
Quality assurance but recognising a range of teaching styles
Same teacher for a class over the two years of GCSE or AS
Staff are encouraged to attend their colleagues’ lessons, not to judge but to learn. As Rebekah says, “It doesn’t matter how long we’ve been teaching, we’re always learning.”
Learning snapshots - 10-15min drop in agreed by participants and looking at student work and getting student views on written feedback
Organisation of looking after resources strategically delegated to department members
Two thirds of department meeting time focuses on teaching and learning with everyone expected to contribute
Association of teachers mathematics
Database of staff strengths and areas for development following observation
Maths society
Open door policy where students can ask any teacher
Student ambassadors
Peer mentoring with sixth form volunteers
7 features of outstanding teaching and learning document
Key word booklets
16 Q cards to select from and answer the question on
Easter revision booklet

In what ways do you support members of your team to continue to develop their subject knowledge, individually and as a team? What, for you as a leader, are the greatest challenges, and how do you overcome them?
Anything highlighted in bold above is something that we already do in our department in order to support members of the team in continuing to develop their subject knowledge.

In our department I think the greatest challenges are:
1.       Delegating to and trusting staff to complete tasks. If I make expectations clear and, as described in the account of practice, "break things down and pass on to your team in a manageable form that they want to do" and then follow up then hopefully we will create a culture of colleagues taking responsibility for the tasks given to them.
2.       Encouraging staff to observe each other to learn, not to judge. I will try to model this myself with other colleagues and set up informal learning observations for members of my team.

3.       Dedicating department time to teaching and learning. I will liaise with the Head of Science to ensure that structured time (with useful outcomes) is dedicated to teaching and learning in department meetings.

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on Opinion piece 2: Understanding and using data

What data do you need in order make sound judgements about your team’s performance?
Homework and assessment data, coursework data, data from interim reports (attainment, effort and indicative grades), KS2, KS3 and GCSE and AS data, GCSE targets and ALPs targets.

Where will you get the data you need in an appropriate format?
SIMs and interim report analysis from our data manager, department spreadsheets which are colour coded for comparison to ALPs target and GCSE target.

Do you know how to interpret it and apply it to your situation?
Interpretation in terms of percentages of each grade and key indicators such as A/A*, A*-C, A*-G for GCSE and A*-E for A level, interpretation in terms of value added.

How will you test it to ensure that it is valid and reliable?
Moderation of coursework, external marking of GCSE and AS examinations, work scrutiny for homework validity and reliability, moderation/discussion of marking of assessments with both colleagues and students. All data is recorded in departmental spreadsheets that can be easily updated and analysed.

How will you discuss it with your team?
Previously I have shared data electronically but I feel this has perhaps been lost in amongst all the other emails people receive on a daily basis. I am now going to attempt to have a personal conversation with each member of my department when interim data analysis comes in highlighting key areas for praise/concern and also hold more regular discussions about the data in our departmental spreadsheets and the students that require additional support.

What have you learned from the data and what actions do you need to take?
This will vary with each set of data - usually I find that there are certain individuals that need highlighting for extra support in lessons (simple strategies like making sure that they are required to answer a couple of questions each lesson or spending an extra few minutes with these individuals when circulating and facilitating activities in lessons). At GCSE any individuals who are at risk of not achieving can be selected for extra sessions to give them another attempt at improving their coursework score and at A level individuals who are not achieving are placed in a Chemistry study support group once a week for an hour after school where they focus on study skills. The data is often useful for highlighting early on which students we are concerned about through their indicative grade. I now need to make sure I have data conversations with colleagues rather than just expecting them to analyse the data themselves.

When and how will you review your findings? What are the implications?
When I receive the interim report data analysis I will take a day or two to analyse it before informally meeting with the relevant colleagues to discuss the key points and identify students that require additional support. It might be helpful to have a document to guide this (perhaps just an A5 sheet per class where we can make a note of which students are causing concern and what will be done). Hopefully this will raise teacher awareness of 'at risk' individuals and the subsequent conversation with students may be sufficient intervention to see an improvement. If not the teacher can also provide extra support in lessons to these individuals.

Having analysed the school-based data relevant to your subject, key stage or project, what are the implications for your team in relation to closing the gap?
2012 report
School deprivation factor of 0.37 (above the national average), and also above national average for FSM, ethnic minority groups, EAL, school action plus and statemented students
·         Chemistry GCSE - selective (triple) but above average for A/A* and A*-C, above school average
·         Core - below average A*-C, above average A/A*, below school average
·         Additional - average A*-C, above average A/A*, below school average
Areas to improve in science:
·         First language English
·         SEN without a statement
·         School action plus
·         Indian (but Bangladeshi above average)
·         A*-C


These findings should be shared with the department and particular areas focused on in lesson observations and work scrutiny. Students that are not achieving should be highlighted at the earliest possibly opportunity through data conversations with colleagues. High quality teaching across the board is obviously important in order to improve attainment but it might also be worth considering with colleagues, students and perhaps parents what barriers may be in place for the groups  that have been identified above. To evaluate the impact of leadership on closing the gap we should revisit the data.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 5: Using data in a secondary school to close the gap in achievement

How does Katrina identify gaps in achievement within her Faculty? Do you carry out a similar process? If so, how successful is it, and how could it be improved?

Look at the process by which Katrina monitors student progress and works with her line manager and team to implement strategies for improvement. How does this compare with the process in your school? As a middle leader, what can you learn from it?

Katrina comments on how her department uses a series of common assessments and written work (including formative assessment through homework, class work, smaller tests, etc) and makes comparison with baseline data to see early on whether both groups of students and individual students are progressing in line with expectations. I would agree that this early recognition is extremely important when considering how to reduce the gaps in achievement. The sooner support can be put in place the sooner improvements will be seen. I would also agree that formal and informal observations are useful for identifying where a Head of Department needs to help and also where to expect more from colleagues.

I found Katrina's constant use of the word 'intervention' a little concerning as I have come to associate intervention with additional time being spent with students outside of lessons. It would have been useful if she had been given the opportunity to elaborate on what she practically means by the use of this educational buzzword. When she mentioned the fortnightly meeting with her line manager to discuss data which then led to interventions and 'progress check points' being put in place before she reported back in the following meeting I did feel that this was a case of it looking like something was being done but that the actual substance in terms of what should be done for teaching and learning was missing. As I said, this may simply have been because Katrina was not given the chance to elaborate.

1.       Continue to monitor progress through both formative and summative assessments and data but perhaps hold more regular discussions with my line manager about the data
2.       Reflect on what 'in lesson' interventions could be put in place in terms of teaching and learning

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 3+4: Understanding what outstanding teaching and learning look like

Drawing from these accounts of practice, what do you identify as the key factors of outstanding teaching? Are there any missing and if so what are they?

Steve said that an outstanding lesson should be "effective, enjoyable, exciting" and I could not agree more when he says that there is a difference between an outstanding lesson and outstanding teaching. It is possible to create a one-off outstanding lesson where the activities match student needs,  where they are supported, extended and challenged but I have found from previous observations that it can quickly become obvious to the observer if students are not participating in lessons like this on a regular basis.

Outstanding teaching on the other hand is described by Steve as not being about the teaching but about the learning and looking at what students are learning over what the teacher is doing. In particular I think that this student awareness of learning process (of what they are doing, how they are doing and why) is a key factor of outstanding teaching as well students determining the success criteria so that they can self and peer-assess their work and make suggestions for improvement. Katrina seems to agree with this when she says "stop talking, get the students working" and that students make progress by working intellectually hard throughout the lesson (instead of just doing 'busy work').

An outstanding teacher will, as Steve described, employ a variety of teaching styles and recognise that the things I most enjoy doing as a teacher might not necessarily be the most effective in terms of student learning. Similarly, there is no prescribed way of being an outstanding teacher. Katrina describes how outstanding teaching should lead to each child making the optimum progress for themselves and evidence of outstanding teaching might include students being happy and satisfied with their own progress, students leaving with top grades, students enjoying the subject (and learning) and students wanting to continue the subject once it is no longer compulsory.

I liked the reflective question that was posed - that teachers should consider "what is the point of the student being in the classroom?"

I also thinking that outstanding teaching will be delivered by a teacher with passion and enthusiasm for the subject so that they can inspire students to engage with the subject and that tasks will be scaffolded appropriately in order to build independence, resilience and other skills that students will require beyond school. Consistently high expectations from the teacher about learning and behaviour will also be apparent.

What have you learnt from looking at the way each of these leaders work to achieve outstanding teaching across their team? What for you will be your next steps in achieving outstanding teaching across your team?

The view from these two accounts seems to be that achieving outstanding teaching requires the development of a team with common vision of what outstanding looks like. Steve suggests that this can be done by effective communication and consensus building around what this outstanding team is going to look like, why the team wants to look that way and what the team is going to do together. It is worth emphasising (as Katrina does) that good teaching will lead to good results and when the results are in will teachers in my department be able to look back and say that they worked their hardest to ensure that students had the best experience in our care and do our students feel like they have learnt a lot.

As a middle leader I would agree with Katrina that you need to be a good (or even better, an outstanding) teacher yourself so that you know what outstanding teaching looks like and so that you can then start to make sure this happens consistently across the department. Practical strategies that Katrina suggests are that middle leaders should keep a close eye on results and student achievement, as well as behaviour and the quality of teaching. This can be done by monitoring teaching and learning through data but also by conducting 'drop-ins' and informal lesson observations and by encouraging regular discussion around teaching and learning. The issue of staff wellbeing is briefly addressed by Katrina and I am not sure whether I am perhaps a little naive in thinking that her attitude seems to come across as perhaps unsympathetic to any colleagues that are not meeting expectations. She states that "if students are successful then better staff wellbeing will follow" which I agree with on some levels but surely it is useful to remain aware of the pressures that teachers face on a daily basis in order to try and see colleagues as people to develop rather than problems to be solved.

1.       Ask my department this question  "what is the point of the student being in the classroom?"
2.       Use the responses to build a consensus on what outstanding teaching looks like

3.       Try and hold colleagues to account more over the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms whilst taking care to nurture and develop individuals

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 2: Ensuring consistently high quality teaching and learning

How does this school ensure consistently high-quality teaching and learning? How does this compare with the practice in your school?

Large 11-19 school rated as Outstanding
Strong middle leaders
Highly effective professional and supportive environment
Shared sense of purpose
High expectations
Monitoring of teacher performance (although this is something I perhaps need to do more of in my department)
Emphasis on developing good classroom practice
Use of assessment data
Book scrutiny
Use of baseline targets
Formal classroom observation
Use of department meeting time to share best practice (need to revive this and base the agenda on evidence from the last four points)
Focus on regular marking, progress in every lesson, high expectations of behaviour and uniform

Teamwork and sharing good classroom practice can sometimes be limited by the day to day pressures of school and by the 'campus' style of our school where all the blocks are separate. A colleague and I recently observed each other after realising that we had worked just two floors apart for over three years without having any idea how the other taught! I now want to try and do this informal style of observation with other colleagues and set up something similar for colleagues in my department.
Remembering to celebrate success in department meetings both in terms of performance data and more qualitative aspects of teaching and learning.
We have incredible data managers at our school who provided me with an in depth analysis of student data following each interim. I now want to make use of this assessment data to identify variation across teachers and do this performance data collection throughout the year instead of just in the annual performance management review. This could perhaps involve teachers completing a self-evaluation using quantitative performance data but also qualitative evidence of teaching and learning throughout the year and the subsequent provision of tailored CPD. I feel that we do a lot of necessary CPD as whole school, and now wonder if it is possible to make better use of our department time. I love the idea of breakfast CPD (with breakfast provided!) but I worry that it would be difficult to fit in with an 8.35am start.
We tend to only do joint moderation of work for coursework, could this perhaps be extended to other work? We do monitoring and evaluating schemes of work but this tends to be in the Summer term and would be more beneficial to be done throughout the year and it would be interesting to include analysis of feedback from students on schemes of work. I know a lot of people are wary of being told 'how to teach' by students, but if we can find the things that work for our students within the schemes of work and do more of this then this would surely engage students more.
Embedding thinking skills and higher order questioning has started at our school as a whole school initiative and it will be interesting to see how this develops our students as thinkers over the next few years.

The account of practice highlights three leadership practices that the middle leader uses to ensure consistency in the quality of teaching and learning: setting direction, developing people and developing systems. If you were asked to rank these leadership competences in order of priority, what would that be, and why?

This account of practice stresses the importance of good systems combined with developing people through:
Setting direction - action plan based on data to drive improvement and ensure greater consistency of teaching and learning
Developing people - collaboratively
Developing systems - consistent policies and practices for teaching and learning, classroom management and the use of data

Personally I would consider 'developing people' to be the most important competency, however, this may be because this is the aspect that I feel I have perhaps neglected in my department. We have very good systems in place and I think we have quite a clear direction but in order to move forward we now need to work together to improve the consistency of teaching and learning. That isn't to say that I don't believe that 'setting direction' and 'developing systems' are not important - if you have an excellent team of teachers that do not have a clear vision (or 'goal harmony' as described by Dave Brailsford...) or systems in place to support their teaching then little progress will be made.

1.       Establishing informal observations for myself and members of my department
2.       Use of data to identify variation in teaching and learning and to inform self-evaluation and tailored CPD

3.       Collection and analysis of student feedback on schemes of work/activities

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on account of practice 1: Shared values and moral purpose

What have you learned from this account of practice about the way in which a head teacher can ensure middle leaders articulate school values and moral principles – and how they do that?

The school in question is a Church of England School and I did initially wonder whether being a faith school  might mean a greater focus on moral purpose, however, the Head is quick to point out that the school is "informed but not bound by its Christian foundation" and is an inclusive community. Staff and students are encouraged to consider their contributions to society and own moral purpose, something that I believe will be an asset to them both in school but also in wider society.

The Head states that "if students believe the teachers have their interests at heart, they will understand that it is in their interests to behave well, so the teachers will not have to waste time on crowd control. That makes exciting teaching a lot easier to achieve." I would agree that student beliefs and clearly linked to their behaviour. The account of practice does not address the issue of parental engagement though and I would hypothesise that if the school were in a deprived area where the values and moral principles of parents differed significantly from the school ethos there would be a greater difficulty getting students to engage with it.

The school values and moral principles have to be an ongoing and constant part of school practice and even once they may seem to be embedded the whole school still needs to keep working on it as the process is never actually 'finished'. It would be very easy, as the Head states, to see it as a 'tick box' to be completed for the purpose of Ofsted, it is worth remembering that schools have not only an academic responsibility towards their students but also a responsibility for ensuring that they leave school able to function within (and make a contribution to) society.

It is admirable that the school suggest that the SLT should be modelling the school values and moral principles by showing caring behaviour to both staff (considering their wellbeing) and students, as well as placing student interests at the heart of any decisions that are made.  The recognition of the contribution and impact of middle leaders is also interesting. Discussions are held with middle leaders regarding changes (and a consensus is reached) because the Head recognises that one of the best ways for an initiative to be successful is for it to be led by the middle leaders. This can sometimes be forgotten and lead to an 'us and them' culture between SLT and the rest of the school. I sincerely hope that if I am presented with the opportunity to move up in terms of management and leadership I am able to remember the pressures that anyone who is 'just' a classroom teacher faces on a daily basis and that I remember that without teaching and learning (and the teachers that deliver this) a school is nothing.

The whole school focus is set out at interview for new staff who are then given informal mentoring on arrival. If an issue occurs with a member of staff departing from the shared values of the school the Head describes how he would set out the expectations and explain how individuals had departed from them,  he notes that this shouldn't be a surprise for the individual if the shared values have been modelled well enough. This is something I feel would be worth doing if I became involved in the recruitment and retention of staff.

I would agree with the Head that 'shared values' and 'moral purpose' are incredibly difficult to quantify . It is possible to get the 'feel' of a school by spending even just a day there as the morals and values of staff and students are often visible in day to day interactions and in how middle leaders lead and interact with their teams.

What can you take from this account of practice that will help you to articulate through the leadership of your team your school’s values and moral principles?

1. Share the belief that if students know their teachers have their best interests at heart they will understand that it is in their best interests to work well
2. Recognise and remember the significance of the contribution of teachers and middle leaders in introducing and embedding new initiatives

3. Whilst the task of articulating school values and moral principles is never finished it is worth taking a step back and viewing your school from the perspective of an outsider in order to consider whether you (as a collective) have been successful.

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on case study 1 (Improving quality of teaching: secondary)

This reflection is based on my reading of the case study which described the strategies that a Head of English (Robert) had put in place in order to raise the percentage of students achieve A*-C in his subject.

The case study identifies a number of strategies that were used to increase the success rate of pupils. Which do you think were the most effective strategies, and why? What have you learnt from reading about these strategies – what they were and how they were used - that could inform your own practice?
There were a few strategies that I would like to try in my own department, however, there are some that were either quite specific to English or that (for other reasons) might not be appropriate to apply in my context.

Strategies we already use:
·         Book sampling
·         Use of student data ('on track' spreadsheets) - I would now like to use the data collection to actually inform 'learning and performance sessions' with teachers
·         Sharing of teaching methods and common resources (e.g. starter activities throughout term) and standardisation meetings (although I think we need to do more of this)
·         One to one coaching
·         Student pairing and seating plans
·         4Is tracking and intervention - information gathering, identify students, intervention, impact

Strategies that might be appropriate:
·         Request details from exam board on exact requirements for higher grades
·         Marked scripts to identify common errors ("first five errors" circle the correct one audit)
·         Informal lesson observations - 'talent spotting'
·         Students doing the 'right thing' used as examples
·         Use of the word campaign and consistency of message across department/school (could I do a 'confidence campaign' and link it to growth mindset?)
·         Department meeting 'learning and performance time'
·         Sharing of past papers, markschemes and sample answers
·         Class effort spreadsheets up on IWB to track lesson to lesson and motivate students - I love this idea and would maybe ask staff to just try it with one of two of their more difficult classes. Students names go red once they have recorded three or more effort grades below E2
·         RAG (Green = no intervention, Amber 123 some intervention needed to only an outside chance they'll get a C, Red = won't get C) - used in department meetings

Strategies that I might like to try a variation of:
·         Intensive work scrutiny
·         Letters to parents explaining the rationale
·         Feedback from staff on which student do/do not now do it correctly
·         Poster campaign and page in book (making it visible)
·         Examination board in-service training
·         Statistical approach for teachers - grading ABC but kept private from other members of staff (my concern with this is how 'traceable' student success is - our students often have revision with other teachers or might pick up learning tips from other teachers as well and I would also worry that this type of judgement might hinder development in teachers)

Strategies that I would like to try in the future but are not appropriate for my current context:
·         Change exam boards
·         Marking shorthand 'FF' (first five) used
·         100% time advisers selected - being observed to look at an issue (can 'chip in' with top tips from their class) or going in to observe strategies for an issue being demonstrated, perhaps looking at particular students identified from data
·         Early entry as a progress check (this can't be done without the early entry grade being the one that counts following recent changes)
·         Statistical approach for students - free up students with C in English but not Maths for more Maths (I would have reservations about the disruption to the timetable by doing this and don't have the authority to be able to make these types of decisions at the moment!)

The middle leader, Robert, faced a number of leadership challenges. Do they in any way resemble the challenges you face in leading improvements in teaching and learning, and how? If not, what are the challenges you face? What can you learn from the way Robert has addressed his leadership challenges that could inform the way you address yours?

Pressures that Robert faced that do not resemble what I face:
·         Pressure to move up through management - Robert felt this was compromising ability to lead a department
·         Initial increase in results, followed by a few percentage points dropped

Pressures that Robert faced that DO resemble what I face:
·         Consistency in approach as well as satisfying exam board requirements and teachers wasting time on non-important aspects of the syllabus (I feel we have made it very clear in our schemes of work what should be taught but perhaps it is worth revisiting this and monitoring whether this is being transferred to lesson content)
·         Non-specialist staff, two teachers for one class (I should encourage coordination - maybe use the tandem bike up a hill analogy!)
·         Student engagement (I should encourage colleagues to use the effort tracking spreadsheet)
·         Teachers entering data on time (I should be persistent and explain the advantages of analysis)
·         Sharing good practice - everyone wants a go, is it good enough to be shared though? (I should be careful about quality control when 'talent spotting')
·         Sensitivity of teachers to others coming into lessons (I should take care not to present this as a lesson observation but instead as an informal opportunity for development - "feedback is a gift")

Pressures that I might face if I implemented the 100% advisers strategy:
·         100% advisers - 'us and them' attitude? 'Chipping in' in lessons = team approach but very different to normal
·         Cost of freeing up 100% advisers

I also thought that the section at the end on leadership traits made interesting points about what a 'good leader' looks like:
Vision and focus
Up to date
*Be tenacious about pursuing anything that is successful
Influence but don't shove
*Informal contact
Take the tough classes
Practical advice
Only do what you can implement fully and completely
*Always bring it back to the students and their success
*"You do small things absolutely systematically, rigorously or you don't do them at all"

The few from this list that I have marked with an asterisk are ones that I think are particularly relevant to my current context.

1. See 'strategies that might be appropriate' section
2. See 'pressures that Robert faced that I DO face'
3. See asterisked points from leadership traits section

NPQML National College Leading Teaching - reflections on opinion piece 1 (Curriculum Policy and Middle Leadership)

As part of the Teaching Leaders programme I signed up to complete the NPQML qualification with the National College. I was initially feeling quite negative about the volume of reading and paperwork (particularly after it taking several attempts and phone calls to even be able to log on to the site...) but I started the reading and reflective questions over the last few days and have really enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on how to improve teaching and learning as a middle leader. There are a few things I want to try when I get back to school in January and I thought it might be worthwhile sharing my reflections as part of my blog. The reflections are based on the reading provided by the National College which is only available if you have registered for the NPQML qualification so apologies if these posts lack a little context, I still feel that quite a few of the things I have tried to draw out of the reading still make sense without having completed the reading.

Please feel free to comment at the end of these posts - I've put my own reflections in my context as Head of Chemistry at an Outstanding secondary school but it would be interesting to hear from other teachers (not just middle leaders!) as well.

Opinion piece 1 - Curriculum policy and middle leadership (John Burnham-West)

As a teacher I feel it is often easy to misinterpret the relationship between curriculum and teaching and learning and I would agree with the opinion piece in that there is a lack of consensus regarding the interpretation and implementation of the curriculum through teaching and learning. Michael Gove makes a bold claim by stating that he feels that the curriculum is currently "ineffective in producing skills or knowledge, depth or breadth", a statement that could be taken quite negatively by those trying to educate future generations whilst constantly being confronted by a changing political agenda surrounding education. However, I wholeheartedly agree with the social aspirations for the curriculum and believe that their school experience should prepare pupils as citizens ready to engage in an open and participatory society. The concept of a national curriculum versus a school curriculum (with some aspects being non-negotiable and others being decided by the school) is an interesting one and it is encouraging that teachers are seemingly being given ownership over pedagogy. Having a responsibility for what is taught and how it is taught is at the heart of middle leadership (where more influence could perhaps be had over a department of teachers than by senior leadership). If Michael  Wilshaw is faithful to his claim that "Ofsted inspectors will not arrive with a preferred teaching style or model lesson" then this allows for a great deal of innovation and creativity when it comes to determining what makes an outstanding lesson and deciding on the best strategies to engage learners and allow them to make progress. Teaching and learning should be at the core of everything we do as a school and collaboration on this should be one of the top priorities for schools. Middle leaders are key players in terms of leading this collaboration and creating 'alliances' as described in the opinion piece, both within their own schools but also beyond through newer mediums of CPD such as the use of twitter, blogging and teachmeets. Middle leaders also have a vital role to play not only in encouraging others to renew their focus on teaching and learning but also in monitoring the implementation of strategies and holding others to account for the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms.

From reading this opinion piece, what do you think are the implications for middle leaders, and for you as a middle leader?
·         Interpretation of the curriculum in order to prepare our students for society
·         Identifying outstanding pedagogy
·         Leading the way for collaboration and development of teaching and learning
·         Holding others to account when monitoring the quality of teaching and learning

If middle leaders have significant responsibility for what is taught and how it is taught, what does this mean in terms of a middle leader’s subject knowledge and that of her team? What does this mean for you and your team?
Whilst the question refers to subject knowledge I would also say that a middle leader's pedagogical knowledge should be considered too. Good explanations of the key ideas within a subject and modelling of how to best answer questions (and examination style questions) are undoubtedly valuable as a part of teaching and learning but I would be extremely wary of portraying the teacher as the 'font of all knowledge'. I would say that explaining how we cope when presented with a difficult problem and modelling resilience when faced with a challenge are more desirable traits in a teacher than knowing every last fact and figure off by heart. This is particularly true in the age of information where we are preparing students for careers that haven't even been created yet in a world where knowledge and technology are increasingly becoming out of date within a few years. A good middle leader needs to have high expectations of pedagogical knowledge within their team so that students can develop the skills for acquiring, interpreting and applying knowledge and a love for learning once they leave the formal education system behind.

The opinion piece emphasises a greater freedom in terms of innovation and creativity while getting the basics ‘absolutely’ right. What do you think will be the key leadership challenges for a middle leader in achieving this balance? How do you think these could be addressed?
·         Managing departmental/inset time and creating effective systems for dealing with departmental administration so that we can ensure that innovative and creative pedagogy takes priority when teachers are confronted by so many other pressures (examinations, coursework, league tables, etc.)
·         Sharing best practice and collaboratively developing schemes of work/activities so that we can find ways to teach the basics in an engaging way through various different areas of the curriculum rather than seeing them as a separate part of education

1.       Share expectations/reflections with team at the start of term
2.       Collaborate and identify outstanding practice in my department through developmental observations ("feedback is a gift", #pedagoofriday, teaching and learning board)

3.       Hold others to account by monitoring teaching and learning across my department regularly

Friday, 27 December 2013


1. Being introduced the wonderful world of twitter by @judeenright
2. Being initially confused by (and then falling in love with!) The Teachmeet concept
3. Having to get over my fears and present at both the Greenford inspiring teachers TeachMeet and my first official TeachMeet on 5th July
4. Striving for sustainably outstanding teaching and learning in my classroom so I can try and have a life beyond my job SO THAT I could...
5. Join the Hillingdon Philharmonic Orchestra and Hillingdon Choral Society - both full of such lovely people!)
6. Continuing to develop as a middle leader through experience and Teaching Leaders
7. Completing the fourth module of my Masters in Science Education at King's College and starting on my dissertation...
8. Swimming, biking and running further than I ever have before in two sprint triathlons
9. Getting engaged
10. Leading an 'inspiring teachers' group on high impact teaching and learning as part of our inset at school
11. Working with Zoe Elder (@fullonlearning) at school and Bill Lucas (@TLOlimited) at Teaching Leaders on action research projects
12. Being reduced to tears on more than one occasion by students in my form and classes when they talk about their home lives, and yet they show up every day with a smile on their face wanting to learn
13. Standing up for the future of British education by speaking at the rally in the North West regional strike and taking part in the October strike

1. Dedicate more time to my action research project, I've noticed so many things because of it but struggle to fit it in!
2. Find more ways of making my students truly independent so they can cope even after they have left school behind
3. Keep blogging and sharing teaching ideas - teaching is all about the magpie-ing @kohlmand!
4. Do more high quality self and peer-assessment in lessons
5. Do an olympic distance triathlon (1.5k swim, 40k bike, 10k run - 29th June in Marlow, why did I think this was a good idea...)
6. Get married
7. Finish my Masters in Science Education and the Teaching Leaders programme
8. Attend Pedagoo London
9. Present at another TeachMeet
10. Hold people to account more
11. Observe others more, and be observed, in an informal capacity (I did this with a colleague from Maths last term and we both said it was the most useful observation and feedback we'd ever had!)
12. Start building a teaching and learning portfolio with video evidence of my teaching (even though the thought of this scares me witless) and examples of student work
13. Work out how to motivate my middle set GCSE classes...
14. Learn how to mentally switch off from school sometimes and stop 'sweating the small stuff' so I can be the best teacher I can possibly be but also remember that I am a partner, daughter and friend (amongst other things!) to people as well