Welcome to the 16th 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.
Section 1 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Updates
One of the comments that I am most proud of in last years Ofsted report was that ‘’Senior and middle leaders are resolute in ensuring that all pupils make good progress’’ This is clearly evident in all the support that is going on with Year 11. They have had another very challenging week with a pretty full schedule for many. One of the many things that makes Harrow Way such a great place to be is the dedication of my colleagues in supporting Year 11 who go above and beyond on so many occasions and in a multitude of ways. They give up their time willingly because they see the difference it makes to our young people. Thank you
Summer Data Collection – Termly Progress reviews
It is very important that all Curriculum Leaders check all marksheets are complete for their department. What holds the whole process up is when Nicola has to chase missing data entries. Please ensure your department is not one of these. You don’t want Nicola turning up in your classroom!
Year 7-10 Exam week
All exam timetables have now been issued. 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.
Timetable/Curriculum – Update from Graeme
The options process for year 8 and 9 students is now complete and Kim should now have distributed class lists to curriculum leaders for option subjects. If there are any changes to be made to groups and tiers for other year groups and core subjects then I would ask that these are forwarded to Kim as soon as possible.
Nic has completed the bulk of the construction of the timetable and we are on target to block year 7 over the coming week. Our goal is to then release the timetable to middle leaders at a meeting after school on Monday 18th June. At this point we can look to accommodate any last requests for changing to staffing before releasing the finished timetable to staff shortly afterwards.
On a separate note, if staff are thinking of changing to different qualifications or specifications for any year groups can you please keep me and Nicola informed of your current thoughts so that we can be involved in the decision making process.
Ofqual – A reminder Reformed GCSEs in 2018
This summer there are more reformed qualifications being awarded for the first time, and we include more detail on some of those below. As in previous years, our overriding aim is to make sure that students this year are treated fairly so they are not disadvantaged by being the first to sit these new qualifications.
As usual, exam boards will use statistical predictions to guide senior examiners who are setting grade boundaries in GCSE, AS and A level awards. In the first awards of new qualifications these predictions will play an even greater role, in order to carry forward the standards from the previous qualifications. And senior examiners will still be part of the decision-making, reviewing student work at the marks suggested by the statistics, to make sure it reflects the grade in question.
This is in line with our approach to all the first awards of reformed qualifications. We know that students tend to perform less well in the first years of a new qualification, as teachers are less familiar with the content and style of assessment, and there tend to be fewer past papers and other resources. Using statistics compensates for this expected small drop in performance, so that students in the first cohort are not disadvantaged. Using statistics also provides the best method to align standards in a subject across different exam boards, so that it is no easier or harder to get a particular grade with one board than with another.
Progress – What do we understand by the word ‘progress’.
This is a current focus in Ofsted’s training and Sean Hartford on Twitter.
A recent HMI suggested that it is not simply what we used to measure with levels, but rather that it comprises knowledge that has been learned and then retained in long-term memory.
Progress goes beyond a collection of marks in a tracking document; it is much more complex than that. It depends on having a network of inter-related ideas that learners draw on to make sense of what they’re doing. It requires us to go back and think in detail about what it means to get better at a subject. ‘Progress means knowing more and remembering more.’ It is about connections and schematics, not isolated information.
Caroline is looking at how we can develop this further as part of Harrow Way’s Monitoring and Evaluation next year.
Middle Leaders Meeting – Follow Up
It is clearly evident from the analysing the 2016 and 2017 results that Middle Prior Attaining Boys students underachieved.
I would ask you look carefully at how this group of students in Year 10 are performing in your subject area as the summer termly progress data goes into SIMS. Use the questions Nicola handed out to support you.
Calendar – A reminder
As we are starting to put the calendar together now, I wanted to make you aware of a few changes we would like to make. Following guidance from the workload group we are going to move Parents’ Evenings from a Monday to a Thursday.
I would also like to start our Monday, Wednesday and Friday briefings and Year Leader and Department meetings at 8.30 am rather than 8.35 am. There have been too many occasions when briefings have gone over and staff end up being late for tutor time or assembly.
The Year Team and Department Team meetings will also switch from September:
Year Teams meetings on Tuesdays
Department meetings on Thursdays
Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development
CPD 1 Twitter!
Have you been hearing how great Twitter can be as a teacher to support your CPD and enhance and inform your practice? Well the rumours are right!
Below is a short screencast focussing on Twitter basics and educational hashtags to help get you started!
CDP 2 The Redemption Man
The Redemption Man – Input at the PIXL Conference
That’s what the Daily Mail used as a headline above a feature article about Stuart Lancaster yesterday, 12 May. Many of us met Stuart at a PiXL Main Meeting when he was England Rugby Union coach, and we were very impressed. That was before it all went wrong when England crashed out of their own World Cup. Stuart was sacked and there followed ridicule, derision, vilification and much more. Though widely regarded as a good man, he escaped none of this and it hurt. He was in the wilderness, no work, reputation apparently irrevocably damaged.
During all this time he retained his self-belief, and that is no easy thing. Through his darkest moments he believed that he had it in him to deliver at the highest level. He had unremitting support and encouragement from those nearest to him and he was borne up by private messages of encouragement from some top players who knew him and had worked with him. He had a considerable time facing what he called his hardest challenge, ‘the lack of purpose’ he experienced. It was tough and lasted over a year.
So why the headline The Redemption Man? Because on the day it was written Stuart’s new team, the Dublin based Leinster, were competing in the final of Rugby’s top club Competition, the European Champions Cup Final, against Racing 92 Paris. Leinster took a chance on Stuart Lancaster.
On his appointment as coach in September 2016, he was called to meet the players at the club at that time. They were having a very poor season and morale was low, the future uncertain. His first line to them was,’ I think we can do great things here.’ Oh really? You can almost hear the thinking of the players. Lancaster continued, ‘I think we can win Europe, and here’s the reasons why.’ They believed him and this year less than two years from the start, Leinster are kings of Europe. Hence, The Redemption Man.
Stuart Lancaster has resilience. Huge resilience. And don’t we need that when we have setbacks. Maybe not such public ones, though occasionally heads are treated in a way with remarkable similarities to that, ridicule, derision even vilification. We need that same strength of character, that toughness linked with self-belief. Interestingly, Lancaster was asked if he felt the need to prove himself, to ‘feel vindicated’. ‘No,’ he says, ‘I still look back with huge regret that we did not do better in the World Cup. It was on my watch, and it was my responsibility.’ Sometimes unfortunate things do happen on our watch. Best acknowledge that and move on, but it is not easy. He showed the significance of resilience, the importance of self-belief and the power of a compelling vision.
So, he may well be called The Redemption Man but he also became the man who brought new life and dynamism to a bunch of players who were in need of their own redemption. That is the wonder of great leadership: to bring a second chance to the fallen, to offer new hope to the dejected, to rekindle fires from dying embers, to create new opportunities for those in a cul-de-sac. It may well be that the best people to offer hope of this kind are those who have needed to rise from the ashes themselves.