Harrow Way Middle Leader Bulletin Edition ‘12’ 19th March 2018

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Welcome to the 12th edition of the ‘Harrow Way Middle Leader Bulletin‘ a fortnightly digest of news for middle leaders at Harrow Way Community School. (Curriculum Leaders, Year Leaders, Lead Practitioners) I hope this will streamline communication and help you stay up-to-date with the latest key dates, education policy, research and best practice.

The blog is divided into 2 sections – The first section will be general messages for all Middle Leaders at Harrow Way. The second section will be focused on our ongoing professional development as Leaders. It strikes me that it would be a huge benefit to us all if we’re more or less on the same page when we’re discussing contemporary ideas about pedagogy, learning, assessment, motivation, neuroscience and so on.


An important and busy 2 weeks ahead in the run up until Easter. On Monday 19th March we have our annual LLP visit (please make sure your department is ready for us to visit classrooms P1) We also have our Year 9 Curriculum Evening on Monday followed by the Year 8 Parents Evening on Monday 26th March.

The purpose of the annual LLP visit is to moderate and ratify the school’s self-evaluation process. Before the visit, an extended discussion has already taken place with me regarding the school’s internal data, IDSR and ASP. On Monday a learning walk will be carried out to view the school in session. Meetings will be held with Jay, Kiril, Dawn, Nicola and Caroline, as well as discussion with some Year 7/8, SEND Students and Year 7/8 Middle Attaining students.

Below is a copy of out Summary and Detailed Self-Evaluation for 2017-2018.

Harrow Way SEF 2017-18 Summary

Harrow Way Detailed SEF


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Year 11 – 10 Weeks and Counting!


So we have ten weeks remaining before the exam season is on us! We have had the group 1 and 2 Progress 8 meetings. Thank you for your contribution to these and the interventions you are putting in to support key students and in particular the boundary leapers in your area. The group 3 meeting is taking place this week. Please do make sure you have looked at fantastic resources produced by PiXL. If you have any key messages for Year 11 can you email Nicola or Lyndsey so these can be mentioned in the assembly on a Monday morning?

We all need to remember our current Year 11 has a very similar profile to the class of 2017. The year group have 89 girls and 83 boys (including few students at the AEC).  Priority 4 in our New 3 Year Plan is focused just on Outcomes – it states:

Outstanding and ambitious progress for all our students that compares highly favourably with national and local averages in respect of new performance indicators and new grading system and leaves no group falling behind our highest expectations of attainment. Our Mantra is “No GAPs, No Dips, No Excuses.’’

In Particular: Middle Attaining students (Disadvantaged students and boys) continue to make rapid progress so their outcomes are equal to others within the school and nationally. This will be a key focus over the coming years.

Below are two documents from the LA that I hope you find helpful. The first is a list of the strongest schools for each GCSE/other level 2 subject, based on the 2017 results, using the FFT Aspire value-added progress measure that compares outcomes against KS2 points.

We get a mention in 4 areas! Well done all!

  • D&T Graphics (Ranked 1 in the LA)
  • Business Studies (Ranked 1 in the LA)
  • Drama (Ranked 3 in the LA)
  • Health and Social Care (Ranked 3 in the LA)

The full document below covering all subjects

Subject Tables Results 2017

The second is guidance from the LA subject leads for this year’s examinations.  Wise words from subject leads

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Curriculum Update – ‘Successful Leadership of the Curriculum and Assessment’’

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At the recent ASCL Conference I attended the session ‘Successful Leadership of the Curriculum and Assessment’’ The session focused on what we are learning about the impact of curriculum, qualification and assessment reform at all key stages.
In particular, the following were addressed:

  • Reflections on new GCSE grading in 2017 and what we can expect in 2018
  • Update on the impact of post 16 reforms to curriculum and assessment
  • What are we delivering at Key Stages 3, 4 and 5 and how?
  • Ofsted’s focus on curriculum design and implementation and what this means for schools?
  • Maximising success in a linear world

Slides below do have a look through.


Two Updates from Caroline – Monitoring and Evaluation 

Middle leader work sampling should have taken place Monday 12th March for one week with the focus on work and feedback for middle attaining students.

Caroline asked us to look at a range of work and consider these questions:

  • Has the student completed enough work to make good or better progress?
  • Is the student proud of their work? Is presentation acceptable? If not, has this been challenged?
  • What feedback has been given to the student? You do not need to see verbal feedback stamps and the like- student re-drafting/ added comments indicate feedback.
  • Has the student responded? Has this made a difference in subsequent work?
  • Is the teacher writing too much in terms of feedback? In other words, is the teacher doing more than the student? (Consider workload vs effectiveness).

The forms Caroline sent through needs to be saved in your subject folder in the Staff drive. Your SLT line manager will discuss the findings with you during line management meetings. To help, Caroline gave us the names of 20 students. You were asked to choose at least 10 students so that you have a mix of years, genders and teachers.

For Year Leaders and in practical subjects it would be beneficial if you talk to these students about their work and feedback during lessons.

  • Y7: Skye Coverdale, Elijah Day, Megan Nikolic, Szymon Szymczak
  • Y8: Matthew Dolan, Millie King, Freddie Nolan, Oli Romero-Taylor
  • Y9: Marshall Allan, Mollie Barron, Ethan Ruddick, Aimee Tierney
  • Y10: Cameron Dunlop, Isobel White, Zuzanna Fialkowska, Leo Kirkby
  • Y11: Jason Burkwood, Jasmine Goddard, Jacob Richardson, Ami Shearing

INSET Memory and Next Steps 


Thank you to everyone for your contributions during the INSET on Wednesday and for the tutor standstill on Thursday.

We are going to adopt 4 of the 6 Learning Scientists’ strategies to support students from all years to revise. These are; retrieval practice (e.g. flashcards and quizzes), spaced practice, elaboration and dual coding.

Just a reminder of our non-negotiables – that we will explicitly use these strategies to teach our students how to revise and that every lesson must include retrieval practice and that this should preferably be spaced practice. I have been impressed with the way that departments have worked together to plan for this and look forward to seeing this in action.

This is part of a 2-4 year plan using the latest research and the EEF’s new implementation guide. More to come … watch this space!

Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development (3 minutes reading)

CPD 1 –  Teachers Keynote from PIXL – The Olympic Mindset: Matthew Syed (Olympic Table Tennis) and Kate Richardson-Walsh OBE (Captain, Olympic Hockey Team) :


Referring to the fact that there were 10 weeks until the start of the exam season, a time of pressure for staff and students, MS said that it reminded him of the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, for which he had spent four years preparing.  He was due to play a German in the first round, whom he was expected to beat.  As he was about to go out for the start, the competition manager told him that his match was about to go out on BBC TV. MS was thinking back over the four years preparation, when his coach said, “Remember, the next forty minutes will tell if the last four years have been wasted!”  MS froze completely and lost the match humiliatingly.

Later, before the 2012 Olympics, the BBC One show did an item looking at whether the pressure of performing in front of home crowds would have an adverse effect on the British athletes – would they fall apart under pressure!    They asked MS to front it.

However, the experience of that failure in 2000, gave him a huge and precious opportunity to reflect on what should be done to enable him to deliver in the future.  A growth mindset is needed otherwise you will give up after the first defeat.  It is important to avoid learned helplessness – don’t say, “It’s just not in me to win championships!”

 MS reminded the audience of Rory Mcllroy, who, in 2011 with the green jacket beckoning in the last round of the Augusta Masters, in which he was in the lead,  had had a total meltdown on the twelfth hole.  People commented that the emotional scars must be such that he would never get over them.  Yet he went from there to win the US Open by a record score. Mcllroy revealed afterwards that he had learned the lesson from the previous Master’s disaster – he had become too intensely focused and had stopped talking to his caddy.  This time he had returned to his habit of chatting to his caddy until just before playing his shot, which kept him fresh and relaxed.  A growth mindset had enabled him to benefit from the earlier experience.

MS went on that his own experience in Sydney had been a massive pivotal experience in his life.  When performing under pressure he had learned what to do – such as to re-hydrate and get plenty of sleep.  He then described how he prepared for doing a presentation such as that for PiXL – 10 minutes on his own, doing breathing and vocal exercises, and rehearsing what he is going to say.  He summed up by saying that it was important to develop a growth mindset in teachers and students to help unlock their potential, and so that students don’t freeze in the exam hall.  Soft skills are important.

He then interviewed Kate Richardson-Walsh, asking her what she had got from her coach.  She looked back at the ten weeks before the Rio Olympics.  There had been lots of issues to deal with.  Selection for the Olympics had been made quite early and there was a risk of people resting on their laurels.  There was also a Top Six Team tournament in London, which should have been a chance for the team to show how good they were, but instead, they had only won one game and come 5th. Following this lots of inappropriate behaviours started to creep in: phones appeared in the meal table, players were late to meetings, they had the wrong kit.  Everyday behaviours eat into team values and culture.  The coach, to put things right, had then trained them hard for three weeks, partly as punishment, but so that the players knew all that they needed to do as a team.

MS then turned to dealing with anxiety, asking KR-W how she dealt with it.  She admitted that she did get very emotional, but had learned to rein it in.  To keep calm, she focused on the next task.  As the captain, she had to keep the team task focused – panicking didn’t help.

She then talked about leadership and how to create a high-performance culture.  For the London Olympics, the aim had been gold.  She asked herself whether she was doing what was required of a gold medal winner in terms of behaviour and then challenged the rest of the same in the same way.  The captain has to set the standards, the values to buy into.   Not everyone in the squad was selected for the team, but they all selflessly gave of their best for each other.  Bonding was important.

KR-W then suggested that young people tend to focus on success.  She suggested that it was better to focus on the journey, including how to cope with failure.  In 2000 she and her teammates had gone to Sydney expecting to win gold – they finished 8th out of 10.  In 2004, the team hadn’t qualified for the Olympics and lost 70% of their funding.  In 2014 they had come 11th out of 12 in the world Cup – it had been heart-breaking.  She had then sought the help of a therapist. It had been important to build a support network and develop resilience.

KR-W added that leaders set the strategy, but are also cultural architects.  They create the psychological environment for staff to work in and students to learn in.  It is important to spend time thinking about this crucial task.

MS then asked her about any teachers who had inspired her and she paid tribute to her PE teacher whose passion and enthusiasm had inspired her, but who had also cared about all her pupils having the opportunity to do sport.  MS had been inspired by his primary school teacher, who got him into table tennis.  He then referred to some research that had shown that the biggest factor in the difference in performance between schools was the quality of the teaching, not the locality or the background of the pupils.  Teachers and parents make the key interventions at key moments.  They care and they create a culture of caring.


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