Sunday, 29 December 2013

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

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