Welcome to the 15th 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 on-going 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.
Last week was another busy week for GCSEs, with Year 11s tackling Chemistry, French, RS, Computer Science and PE. Students have come out of the exams, relieved, but quietly confident that their revision/support from teachers has hit the mark. Next week sees a big week for Year 11 with exams in Maths, English Literature, RS (Paper 3) Science (Physics) and Geography taking centre stage.
The revision/preparation plan is going well. A reminder of the arrangements for next week.
A note from Caroline
Please continue to use Classroom Voices with Y7. Effective practice is to break the lesson down so that they use each of the ‘voices’ for timed periods. If this has slipped then please do start to use this language again with your class- they all know what to do!
Jean Thorpe was really impressed with some of the questioning on our learning walk this week. The most effective practitioners never let students ‘off the hook’. They using supplementary questions and do not accept vague or weak answers.
I am been really pleased with the variety of retrieval practice activities that are going on in classes throughout the school. Please try to make them ‘spaced’ so that you are testing things that they have learnt some time ago. Keep sending me your fantastic examples! Below is a great idea that I stole from Twitter.
SLT Learning Walk 21st May
As mentioned previously, next week we are conducting an SLT learning walk. Our focus is on retrieval practice and its impact on learning. During the INSET day, I explained that a huge amount of evidence shows that retrieval practice (and particularly spaced retrieval practice) has a real impact on learning (as opposed to ‘performance’). This is why I have asked for all teachers to have an element of retrieval practice in every lesson.
We will be hoping to see some examples of retrieval practice in each lesson OR evidence of this in students’ work/ through conversations with students.
Here are the retrieval ideas. that I talked through during briefing last week. 5 simple questions completed in silence at the start of the lesson is great, no need for bells and whistles!
If you have some effective examples or are trying something new please let us know and we will endeavour to be there.
LLP (Leadership and Learning Partner) Visit
As Caroline indicated we had a very successful visit on Monday from our Leadership and Learning Partner from Hampshire Inspection and Advisory Service, Jean Thorpe. This involved a discussion with my senior team about self-evaluation and student data, a learning walk across the school, visiting a number of classrooms, a discussion with middle leaders and Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and student interviews with a selection of Year 7/8 students.
Jean visited a range of lessons and commented that the lessons were “Calm and purposeful, had excellent behaviour for learning and that students were fully engaged. All lessons were very well structured lessons with some excellent examples of extended writing. Teachers were also using very good questioning in lessons.” She also indicated “there is very strong leadership underpinning a very clear approach to self-evaluation where all aspects of the school are regularly and rigorously scrutinised and where leadership accountability is fostered.”
Our self-evaluation process allows us to see those incremental gains we are making to enhance the lives and life chances of our young people. I say incremental as I sometimes think people are too ambitious with regard to the pace of change. If we are to really ‘make a difference’, to bring about lasting, impactful change, then it must be gradual and very carefully considered.
Parent Questionnaire 2018
Below are results of our annual parent questionnaire. I have compared the strongly agree/agree responses with the Ofsted National Average. We are above in every category! You will also see a link which shows the responses to the question ‘What are Harrow Way’s greatest strengths?
Do have a look through the document below
LEARN Alliance Trainees
A big thank you to Caroline and everyone who helped with the LEARN Alliance Behaviour for Learning training day on Friday.
HCMI and Ofsted Update
Although there have been some reminders from HMCI, there have not been many significant developments since her annual report and January 2018.
NB: Updated versions of both – School Inspection Handbook and School Inspection Handbook – Sect 8, published 12 April 2018
These revised handbooks reflect the following changes as of the summer term:
- Extension of the usual timeframe for good schools to receive a short inspection from around 3 years to around 4 years. The maximum time remains within 5 years
- Section 5 re-inspection windows for RI, serious weakness and special measures schools to be aligned so it will be up to 30 months for all these categories. The actual timing remains at the discretion of the Ofsted Regional Director who can call an early inspection or extend to time period. The expectation that inadequate schools will be ready to have the category removed within 18-24 months, remains.
Careers, statutory guidance for schools:
DfE published this in January 2018. It sets out details of a new legal duty to ensure an opportunity for a range of education and training providers to access all Y8 – Y13 pupils to inform them of the technical education and apprenticeships they offer. It is based on the eight Gatsby Foundation benchmarks.
Implementation timetable is set out – the expectation that every school begins to use the Gatsby benchmarks from now to improve career provision and that the benchmarks are fully met by the end of 2020. A tool called ‘Compass’ helps them track their progress in meeting them. It is expected that:
- Every school begins to offer every pupil at least one encounter with employers per year from Y7 to13 by 2020
- From September 2018, every school appoints a named person to the role of careers leader and publishes details of its career programme.
The strategy has a strong emphasis on deepening and broadening STEM activities in schools including some employer encounters are STEM-related. They are also exploring new approaches to employer engagement with primary schools.
Ofsted will focus on the quality and impact of the careers guidance and how well the school is preparing pupils for their next steps, not on the compliance aspects.
Amanda Spielman HMCI is a ‘hands-on’ HMCI and gives many speeches. A number of these are published on the Ofsted website so it is worth keeping an eye out. The key messages are ones which resonate with the work we do. In March she spoke at the ASCL conference which I attended in March and reiterated her belief in
- The need for strong ‘ethical leadership’ which does not get distracted but remains focused on the most important things – teaching and learning
- That success in tests should come from a rich curriculum
- The need for a strong culture of safeguarding not just compliance
- Inspectors want to see a normal day in operation not a show, as such she told leaders pre-inspection ‘Mocksteds’ are not helpful
- Her aim for the new framework in 2019 to focus on the core elements of good provision and what matters most.
Assessment – what are inspectors looking at?
A really useful guide for all middle leaders
When it comes to inspection, inspectors are looking to see that a school’s assessment system supports the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum. It’s really important that schools don’t design assessment around what they think inspectors will want to see.
Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development
Advice on how to run great meetings – Part 1
This first video explores sixteen practical suggestions for what makes a great meeting. Many of the ideas you will already be doing, but hopefully, there will be a few ideas to help you be even more effective in the way you utilise the precious time you have together with your team.