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.
This first half of the Summer Term is obviously another key staging post in the school’s priority journey of the current academic year: i.e. the progress of Year 11.
It has been a real pleasure to pop into some Year 11 lessons this week. Thank you for all the hard work that is going into these final weeks of preparation for Year 11. Apart from the centrally organised initiatives, I know that departments are implementing all sorts of other interventions and support in the lead up to May/June. I was able to see in action this week…
- Teacher-led input – at this stage, the students often need our expertise and leadership from the front; they have been told many times about their responsibility to put in the hours at home
- OR: a mix of styles, including teacher-led discussion, some group work, some heads-down exam writing practice
- Instant feedback on practice questions
- Modelling of techniques such as PEEL in English
- High expectations “with a bit of teeth” – e.g. don’t tolerate ‘passengers’; challenge students who are not responsive
- Engagement of all (as with all lessons, of course) – i.e. are the majority of students are actively participating and testing their understanding, not just the regular ‘keenies’?
Year 11 Revision Timetable
Below is a copy of the students’ version of the Year 11 revision timetable that will be distributed to Year 11s in an assembly on Monday 23rd April during assembly. Laura is currently working on the staff version which gives specific cover instructions.
Please see Nicola or Laura if you have any queries.
Curriculum and Timetable Update from Graeme
Nic Reed has made excellent progress on the timetable so far – we were quickly able to answer the most important question of whether we could successfully staff the school from September and have a rough plan in place for the timetable for years 11 to 8. Curriculum leaders should now be having a good think about which members of staff they would ideally like in front of which classes and we will do our best to meet these requests where we can. The staffing for year 10 to 11 will generally roll forward with the same staff where possible but everything is open to negotiation if staffing and timings across the week allow. Nic and I have started having meetings with core leaders and will now begin to meet with other departments to confirm staffing plans for September.
The year 9 options are in and Kim Warren has been instrumental in the process of ‘tweaking’ classes and choices to give us the most effective combinations and groupings. We should be able to confirm who has opted for what and at what times of the week very soon. Students have chosen three options on top of the core subjects with the vast majority continuing with either History, Geography or Computer Science as one of those choices. After an experiment with last year’s options, English Literature will no longer be in the options blocks for years other than year 11 and will return to core curriculum English lessons.
The year 8 options are in a sense less complicated as there is more choice for students in double blocks across the week. This does not make the timetabling of staff any easier though as each option block requires so many staff to be deployed on each occasion so this can have a knock on effect on whether ‘first choices’ are available to teach at any time. Year 8 curriculum evening will take place on 30th April to be followed by the usual series of appointments for parents with senior staff to make these initial option choices that will be further reduced and focused next year. Again, we will let you know the lists of students that have chosen any given subject as soon as possible.
If you have any questions about the options process then please come and see me, otherwise, we will be in touch soon to discuss staffing and next stages.
Questioning’, ‘Feedback’, and ‘Retrieval Practice’
We studiously avoid gimmicks at Harrow Way, so when we campaign together on a particular theme – be it ‘Questioning’, ‘Feedback’, or ‘Retrieval Practice’ – the students really do notice and feel the impact of that unity.
With this in mind Caroline sent us an email at the start of term reminding us of our Teaching and Learning priorities for the year:
- Classroom Voices – please ensure that Y7 know which Voice they should be using and insist on silence during individual work
- Use retrieval practice (preferably spaced practice i.e. something you covered some months ago) in every lesson
Also- questioning– is it directed? Are you asking supplementary questions?
And- feedback– is it having an impact on improving students’ work over time? Is the ‘workload to impact’ ratio right? Are ALL students responding and closing that learning gap?
For all of these- is it supporting your disadvantaged/ SEND students? Is it helping to address underperformance for middle attaining students?
Below is a short YouTube video from the Learning Scientists, the perfect introduction (3 mins)
LS website has lots of helpful hints here (5-10 mins)
Literacy – A reminder from Jay Mann (email last week)
What I might have said last night, had time allowed, is that we really are a school where students expect to leave having achieved excellent sets of exam results. Laura and I recently had a look at exam results from 2009 – a year that was considered to be very successful. Perhaps the most interesting figure from that time is that we only had 140 students in Y11! English and Maths barely hit 50% A-C and only 30% of the cohort took Geography.
We work in a very different environment now: the school is full, English and Maths look towards 80% at Grade 4 and Geography is virtually a core subject. Our students have every right to harbour grand expectations and have high hopes for their futures. So, how can we help them further?
As suggested during last night’s meeting, how our students communicate and use vocabulary is very important: small steps taken now may lead to greater strides in the future. Please do encourage your classes to consider both their own vocabulary and how they pronounce the words that they use. Kelly’s anecdote about Katie Jenkins was perfectly timed. Katie was delighted with herself for not using ‘ain’t’ during an interview. It does matter and it will count – not for every student but certainly for some, and that is all that matters.
Please continue to work towards the following:
- ‘Ain’t’ – this should have no place in our vocabulary;
- ‘turnt’ is not a word at all;
- ‘Would have’ or ‘should have’, not ‘would of’ or ‘should of’;
- ‘I wrote’ rather than ‘I writ’;
- ‘I did it’ rather than ‘I done it’.
Ofsted has extended the usual timeframe within which good schools receive a short inspection from approximately 3 to 4 years. The maximum period in which we would return remains the statutory 5 years from the end of the academic year of the previous inspection, as at present for schools.
Department/Year Group Scorecards and Improvement Plans – Time has been set aside on the June 28th ‘INSET day’ and department planning sessions after half term to complete these.
Writing a School Development Plan is a process most, if not all, schools engage in. It might be an ‘improvement’ plan. At Harrow Way I’ve been trying to develop the optimum model for our SDP so that it has maximum value in terms of helping us to take the school forward combined with a minimum of paper. There are so many things to get right in a successful school; some can be controlled much more easily than others.
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 School Improvement Plan should be reflected in our Departmental Improvement Plans, which in turn should be a response to our Self Evaluation Form.
Last year I spent some time streamlining our department SEF and department Improvement Plan documentation, so they match the format of the school priorities and new inspection framework. They are also personalised for Harrow Way. Caroline and I will be going through this with you in early June.
Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development
From Andy Buck Leadership Matters – Over the last year or so I have become increasingly convinced that leadership habits make a significant difference to the effectiveness of school leaders and their impact on pupil outcomes. Every day I visit schools where I have the privilege to reflect on what these leaders are up to on a routine basis. This short blog, whilst being influenced by research and evidence, is more of a personal view of what seems to me to represent the habits demonstrated by the most successful leaders at all levels within our school system.
CPD 2 John Hattie (3 Mins)
John Hattie shares how his study of more than a quarter of a billion students revealed that 90-95% of the work teachers do enhances student achievement, and the real challenge in education is knowing our impact.
CPD 3 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.