We just about survived the heat! Thank you everyone for your co-operation, over the last week, I hope the extra fans made a difference! Uniform should now be back to normal and please follow up in your department and year teams. Please also remind your department on Tuesday the Harrow Way Checklist for all teaching staff. In particular teaching staff meeting and greeting at the doors and keeping an eye on corridors. When everyone does this it makes a real difference. Teaching staff and teaching assistants working with groups, must be on time for the lesson start. Please can curriculum leaders help with getting groups in, so we don’t have students lining up for too long.
Year 11 have finally finished their exams, they seemed very confident when coming out. Next week is also our second week of the year 7-10 exams. Please review your preparation for these exams as a department. Revision preparation for the exams, the quality of the exam itself and feedback. With a move towards the new 9-1 linear exams, students must become confident in preparing and performing in this new world.
A big thank you to Callie for organising a great prom which was a fitting send off for an amazing year group. We do have a number of important events coming up and please give your full co-operation to those staff who are organising these. Graeme has asked for names for the year 7,9 and 10 awards evening by the end of the day on Wednesday 28th June. I’m sure Callie will have further requests for the drop down day/summer fete for our 50th anniversary.
We also have our P8 meetings to discuss the latest data collection. Nicola will send further details through when the data has been uploaded into SISRA
- Group 1 – 5th July (Eng-Maths) Data War Room – Curriculum Leaders (3.15-4.15)
- Group 2 – 6th July – (other EBacc subjects) Data War Room – Curriculum Leaders (3.15-4.15)
- Group 3 – 12th July – (other subjects) Data War Room – Curriculum Leaders (3.15-4.15)
School Improvement Infrastructure – A Personal Perspective
You should know me well enough by now that I strongly believe in an integrated coherent approach to our improvement agenda. In other words, all the key parts to our job should ‘talk to each other’: our new School Improvement Plan should be reflected in our Departmental Improvement Plans, which in turn should be a response to our Self Evaluation Form/Scorecards. Last year I spent some time streamlining our department SEF (Scorecard) and department Improvement Plan documentation, so they match the format of the school priorities and new inspection framework. I will be going through this during the middle leaders meeting on Monday.
So………Imagine a delegation from a developing country visiting London to learn how to create a successful metropolis. They could admire our cultural attractions, our vibrant neighbourhoods, our international businesses. We could dazzle them with our sky-scrapers, our stadia and our calendar of sporting and cultural events. But these visible symbols represent the trappings of success, not the underlying foundations. They might indicate success, but they don’t enable success.
Rather than looking up at these trappings of success, our delegation might learn more from the infrastructure beneath their feet: a tube network which handles almost 5 million journeys a day, a sewage system which hygienically disposes the waste of ten million people, a network of cables which connects millions of homes and businesses to an endless supply of cheap electricity and broadband.
One of the toughest decisions for any school is where to draw the line between central prescription and local autonomy. I’ve found a tentative answer to this in the rule of thumb that schools should just focus on the infrastructure of school improvement.
This infrastructure includes 5 foundations: leadership, behaviour, curriculum, assessment and teaching. These were mentioned in my last middle leaders blog. No matter which government is in power, no matter who holds the post of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, no matter which performance measures schools are judged on, this infrastructure will serve as the platform on which to build exceptional schools.
Leadership matters because schools are tribal institutions, driven by rituals and routines; habits and history. Behaviour matters because it’s difficult to teach or to learn in classrooms where disruption is a constant risk – more of this on the iNSET day on Wednesday! Successful schools cultivate respect for the authority of adults and the sanctity of the classroom, creating a complete intolerance of one person disrupting the learning of another. Recruitment and induction (of staff and students) are critical to the communication and consolidation of this culture.
Curriculum matters because it’s the stuff that teachers teach and students learn; the stuff that we pass on to the next generation as their cultural inheritance; the stuff that gives our young people at least half a chance of making sense of the world around them. This curriculum should be guided by a commitment to coherence and continuity, with each subject setting out a 5 year journey which gradually builds secure understanding.
Get the curriculum right and we can then turn our attention to assessment, striking a balance between summative assessment which addresses the macro issues of how our students are doing, and which students might need more support; with formative assessment which addresses the micro issues of whether each student has sufficiently understood each key element of the subject to enable progression to the next element.
Our final foundation is teaching. Don’t be fooled by the relegation of teaching to number 5 on the list – from our teachers’ perspective getting better at teaching will be the absolute priority in our new school improvement plan and you will see the quote from Dylan Wiliam in Priority 2 of the new plan, and getting the other 4 foundations in place will enable teachers to focus on this.
All the work Caroline, Mark, Graeme and Nicola have completed in their key areas of responsibility always comes back to that…. teaching and learning starts with a clear agreement on the common features of excellent teaching, such as the skilful delivery of challenging content, modelling of excellent work, astute questioning and precise and frequent feedback. Teachers and Curriculum Leaders then adapt these common features to their own subject and bring them to life in their own classroom.
Harrow Way Strategic Vision 2017-2020
‘Our Journey to Outstanding’ ‘Learning for life, success for all’
At Harrow Way Community School, we have a simple ambition: to be the finest secondary school for miles around. By this we mean that all our students will receive a better education at Harrow Way than they would at any other local establishment. We want Harrow Way students to leave us with:
- Better qualifications than they would achieve in any other school
- The skills and attributes needed to live and work in tomorrow’s global society;
- The values and morals to be good citizens
We believe that great schools never stand still and strive at all times to excel in every area of its performance, for the benefit of all our young people and other stakeholders.
In our common pursuit for excellence for all, we believe that everyone in our community must be involved in our strategic forward planning. From robust and honest self- evaluation of where we believe we are at the end of academic year 2016/17, we have devised together the following key priorities below which will govern our short and medium term planning and will underpin our three-year strategic planning through to 2020, ensuring we are a high performing, inclusive and oversubscribed school of choice for the local community. We have also considered our Ofsted Priorities from our report in May 2017: Leaders and those responsible for governance should ensure that:
- Pupils’ achievement in English improves so that it matches the strong progress in other subjects
- Disadvantaged pupils and boys continue to make rapid progress so their outcomes are equal to others
- Attendance continues to improve for disadvantaged pupils and those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.
Overview.doc 2017 is intended to set the overall direction for the school for the next 3 years. It also outlines the Mission Statement, Harrow Way DNA and ‘Core Values’ that governors and SLT agree should be at the heart of how the school operates and develops.
We have also come up with our main priorities which will also feature in your department improvement plans over the next few years. Strategic Intent Priority1-4
PiXL Pearl 10 – Simply Extraordinary – Sir John Rowling
The Crossrail project has cost fifteen billion pounds. Living in the North East as I do, I have always marvelled at the Stockton to Darlington railway and just see where all that has led. This project is staggering in its ambition with ten new cavernous stations alongside track stretching from Reading to Abbey Wood.
The project director is Linda Miller taking on this role after time with the NASA space teams in America. It is apparent that she is a massive enthusiast. She says of herself, ‘Every day I bounce out of bed ready to come to work.’ Many of us know that same feeling. She will, no doubt, have her moments but it is an enormous advantage to feel like that most of the time.
To make a success of a project like this requires thoughtful ingenuity to overcome barriers whether they are drilling through rock for mile after mile or accounting for ancient sand deposits deep within the rock. Our problems are different but the focus has to be the same, this creative resolving of complex issues requires sharp minds, team work and dogged perseverance.
Despite her elevated status, Linda offered this down to earth gem, ‘the day you think you’re great is the day it can all go wrong.’ There certainly seems to be no lack of confidence in this lady but there is a healthy regard for being careful, shrewd, wise and guarded. Quite right too. Our lives may depend on her people getting this right.
What amazed me was the number of people engaged in this vast undertaking, ten thousand engineers for a start, leading to the inevitable questions about how you motivate and draw all the talents together. It was particularly moving to see representatives of the team gathered to watch the final emergence of the huge drill to make the tunnel complete. Excitement barely describes it. The secret of energising and inspiring through strategic celebration is invaluable. Perhaps we need to ask how well we engage others in celebration which inspires and motivates.
Some of our schools are outstanding, some exceptional and some actually extraordinary in how they run and in what they achieve. Such schools will have leaders who are high on some of these very same skills as used in this simply extraordinary project. And by the way, they claim it will still be there one hundred and twenty years from now!