Harrow Way Middle Leader Bulletin Edition ‘9’ 29th January 2018

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We have a busy couple of weeks ahead, in the run into the half term. It’s also a very important 2 weeks for Year 11 as they complete their mock exams. We will be meeting tonight in the auditorium for 15 minutes. This will give Nicola a chance to share with you the PIXL Independence and new PIXL Knowledge resources that can be used to support Year 11. There will also be a quick reminder of Walking Talking Mocks and Marks.

PiXL Knowledge, which is made up of three parts:

  • KnowIT, which applies to GCSE grades 1- 3, where students need to recall basic knowledge
  • GraspIT, grades 4 – 6, where students have to start applying and expanding on the knowledge
  • and ThinkIT, grades7 – 9, where understanding is deepened and higher order thinking skills used.

PIXL Knowledge:

  • Nicola has downloaded all the mats from the PiXL website under each subject area and will share with you.
  • The idea is that you identify who the mats would benefit i.e. key marginals or the whole class.
  • Identify the most powerful way the mats can be used in your department i.e. as a diagnostic tool, interleaving or as independent work, etc.


Curriculum – Pathway Booklet Year 9 into Year 10 2018-2020

Link to Year 9 to Year 10 Curriculum Pathways Booklet. Please read your Department’s section(s) and amend as appropriate. Could you please complete this by Friday 9th February. Do not worry about formatting within the document, this will be resolved in the final edit.

Pathways Booklet

Year 11 Outcomes


It is vital now you identify the right students to work with to enable laser sharp intervention over the next few months, using L20 (lowest 20 students) The suggestion is that you identify between 10-20% of your examination cohort who have the potential to move up to the next grade? Further details will follow from Nicola.

It is clearly evident from the analysing the 2016 and 2017 results that Middle Prior Attaining Boys /Disadvantaged students underachieved. I would ask you look carefully at how this group of students are performing in your subject area. You can use the filters in SISRA. PiXL has also produced a toolkit that highlights what PIXL does best – simplifying the complicated and offering practical and impactful advice. We aim to help schools determine:

  1. How do you really know who are the most vulnerable?
  2. How do you “keep an eye” on them?
  3. Who “owns” them?
  4. Do you know why you are doing things to close the gap?


Monitoring and Evaluation 


As Caroline indicated in her email Monitoring and Evaluation is the cornerstone of school improvement and your contributions are so important. It is great to see so many proactive middle leaders.

Curriculum Leaders’ Work Sample: Higher prior attaining students

Some excellent examples here where Curriculum Leaders (including ‘Seconds’) had really scrutinised students’ work to provide areas for improvement that will really move their departments on. Remember that the purpose of monitoring and evaluation is not only to recognise effective practice but to work towards consistency and share those ideas department-wide. One thread that many departments picked up on was that some more able students in mixed ability sets are not being stretched and challenged enough. Please do take some time to share your findings during Department Planning time and to determine actions. Your SLT line manager will also discuss this with curriculum leaders.

Year Leaders: Tutor METAL

Tutoring seems to be going from strength-to-strength at Harrow Way and tutor time is being used to good effect. All year groups said that the tutor programme is being adhered to and consistency in following the programme was strong. Uniform is being checked during tutor time, including shirts and top buttons. However, more attention needs to be paid to girl’s makeup/ jewellery etc. We all need to work together to get consistency in this area.

SLT Learning Walk: Questioning

We trialled a new system for this SLT Learning Walk- using Google forms to collect information. The beauty of this is that it collates all the data immediately into colour pie charts and graphs (Mike liked this feature!) If you are interested in using Google forms for your monitoring and evaluation then let me know and I will show you how to put it together.

Cold Calling or ‘No Hands Up’ questioning certainly seems to have been embedded in the school- all teachers are seeing the benefits of keeping all students on their toes in lessons. There was also some evidence of questions being directed to students to engage/ give early success/ challenge. However, there was little variety in questioning strategies- such as pose, pause, bounce. Similarly waiting time for answers tended to be between 5 and 10 seconds. Some good examples of effective practice were when teachers asked the whole class a question, usually shown on the board and then gave discussion time.

The key thing that I would like us to focus on is supplementary questions after a student has given an answer. Again, a good example is where teachers took the student’s answer and then asked them to “prove it” or asked another student to improve their answer. ‘Add, Build, Contest’ is a useful way to remember to ask supplementary questions.

Middle Leader ‘Well being’

Last year SLT and a group of Middle Leaders at Harrow Way worked with Maureen Bowes from People Intelligence where we looked at Resilient Leadership. She used a number of visual metaphors in exploring this. At this time of year, I thought I would share the self-care one with you.

”There’s more to do and not enough time to do it all. Things crop up unexpectedly – demands, distractions, and requests – you try to get everything done but at what cost? Start each day with a commitment to focus on today’s priorities AND to take care of yourself. Resilient people take care of themselves so they can perform well.

The focus for this visual metaphor is ‘Appreciation’

Screen Shot 2018-01-28 at 13.15.13

Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development

CPD 1 – What do leaders do that has the biggest impact on students outcomes (10-minute video)

What do leaders do that has the biggest impact on Outcomes

Based on the ground-breaking research by Viviane Robinson from the University of Auckland, this video examines the five top things that leaders do that appear to make the biggest difference to pupil outcomes. Why wouldn’t you want to know what she found?!


Alistair Smith worked with Sky Cycling as part of his role as Designated Learning Consultant to the Football Association. The FA have a number of partners in their Leadership Development Programme. For more see www.alistairsmithlearning.com

Should schools adopt winning behaviours? If so, which ones? 

Sky Cycling, the world’s most successful team, employ a Head of Winning Behaviours. Fran Millar looks after the values, culture and people of Team Sky. Her focus is on continuous improvement. Schools might do well to designate a Senior Leader as Head of Winning Behaviours.  What would this role entail? The first thing might be to learn from the leadership successes of Sky Cycling. Here are ten lessons that Team Sky can provide for schools. 

One. Clarity of Purpose. Sir David Brailsford, who heads up Team Sky, set out six years ago to achieve three things: win the Tour within five years, do so with a clean rider and have over a million people cycling in the UK as a result of their success. All three were completed ahead of time. Focussing on a core purpose is essential. Brailsford keeps a reflective journal which he updates in October of each year. No one sees it. It’s to help him review for improvement. Without clarity of purpose the exercise would be meaningless. The organisation must have a focus. Many schools never sit back and reflect on their Core Purpose. The consequence is that others define it for them, usually Ofsted. Having an easily understood, widely known Core Purpose allows Sky Cycling to define the winning behaviours needed to fulfil that Core Purpose. A similar exercise in schools would engage the school community in understanding why they collectively and individually work so hard.

Two. Leadership where it’s needed most. Chris Froome leads his team of eight riders. He calls the tactics during the race, someone else has decided the strategy. It’s not a command and control leadership model from the top. Froome has the autonomy to get the best from his team. He does what’s needed to get the results. In a school he would be the Middle Leader who knows his team and his discipline and models excellence in everything he does.

Three. Meaningful Accountability. Brailsford says of his riders “people who work with me have to take responsibility – they have to take charge of their own development.” He is very big on commitment and compiles a ‘Hunger Index’ each season to gauge who still has the desire to perform. His teams are not teams of equals but everyone is accountable for what they do: they know their job and ‘brutal honesty’ means that its delivered to the highest standard.

Four. Brilliant Basics. A great deal is made of the concept of ‘marginal gains.’ Sky Cycling have been putting distance between themselves and this concept of late.  Brailsford doesn’t promote it. In reality it doesn’t matter how sloped the handlebars are, how dust free the hotel room or how well your drinks have been measured if you can’t cycle the bike up the hill and do so day after day. I despair when I hear School leaders talk of working on ‘marginal gains’ when some tolerate poor teaching, have inconsistencies in dealing with behaviour or forget to get the basics right.

Five Self versus Selflessness. For Brailsford ‘all successful teams are aligned behind goals’ and he describes how they talk individually and collectively about ‘current self vs future self’. A high degree of selflessness lies behind every successful school. He also details the difference between ‘goal harmony versus team harmony’ with Team Sky focused by goal harmony rather than team harmony. This would not be the pattern in many schools where collegiality is pursued as an end in itself.

Six. Power of Process. “My passion is how do you get excellence in Performance…..I’m intrigued by this… how do I get the best out of others. I spend all my time thinking about this.” Brailsford talks at length about getting excellence through a concern with progression – not a pursuit of perfection. He and many other leaders of elite sports teams talk about getting the processes right. Many schools experience pressure to such a degree that processes are compromised in the search for quick results. The relentless day to day demands squeeze out opportunities to improve the very processes which are expected to deliver results.

Seven. Focused Spending. Sky Cycling is the best funded team in world cycling. With an estimated 35m Euros at their disposal they have invested heavily in talent, the thing that makes the biggest difference. Securing a talented squad serves one goal: to put a performer, in this case Froome, on the podium.  Sky, like successful schools attract further money as a consequence of success.  Schools who improve also target their funding at what will give the best chance of success. Despite the difficulty in doing so they retain a relentless focus on finding talent and putting it in the classroom.

Eight. Decisions Derived from Data.  Schools must be on top of their data. It must inform performance. To do so it needs to get out to the teachers. Prior to their first Tour win Sky changed the way they prepared their riders. They moved away from relying on big events, as all other teams did, as preparation and, instead chose to prepare away from competition on Mount Teide in the Canary Islands. A key influence was the individual output data their recently appointed analyst had collected. Their riders simply weren’t working hard enough in the big events. It was too easy to hide in the peloton. Armed with the second by second performance data and knowing the demands of the forthcoming Tour the Sky technical team devised individual programmes with daily demands similar to what would be needed. Data drove preparation and strategy. Bradley Wiggins won the Tour.

Nine. Keep it Professional. In this year’s Tour seven world class riders signed to Sky were left at home. This is potentially ruinous. What saved the situation was the frequency of open, honest conversations on an individual level. Brailsford says managing a team is like parenting – you have to respond to the dynamic which is in front of you. He adds he is interested in having professional conversations, “separate out the personal and professional relationships: there are differences between personal and professional behaviour”

Ten. Everybody Cycles. Everyone in Sky Cycling cycles! Seems obvious but Brailsford says that enthusiasm is contagious and endemic in their culture. In schools what really transforms a culture is when enthusiasm aligns around making a positive difference in the lives of the students. It’s when everyone contributes. A great starting point for a Head of Winning Behaviours.


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