Welcome to the 17th 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
Year 10 Progress
We have had to delay the rollout of 4 Matrix for Middle Leaders (hard copies still issued by Nicola and Paul in P8 meetings) so all Year 10 Summer Predictions will be in SISRA. I have recorded a new very short video so you are clear where you need to go to get the relevant data for your subject area (will come out Monday/Tuesday) ”How to access all the data (summer predictions) in less than 30 seconds!’‘ So in your department, you are aware of:
- % of students at 4+ / 5+ / 7+ boundaries
- % of students at 4+/ 5+/ 7+ boundaries by key group (Middle Prior Attainment, PP (Disadvantaged), Gender, SEN)
- Predictions compared to targets
- Identify students vulnerable to the grade boundaries.
Group 1 and Group 2 Progress meetings for Year 10 have taken place last week and Group 3 will take place on Thursday.
High/Middle and Low Prior Attainers
Disadvantaged children | think low attainment not low ability
“What if… we often view disadvantaged children as low attaining/achieving and not as low ability, instil a deep and widely held belief in what is possible and then set eye-watering targets that underline our ambition to overcome the inertia of context.”
Data continued…Amanda Spielman’s speech at Bryanston Education Summit (June 2018)
An important point made in her recent speech
”We do not expect to see 6-week tracking of pupil progress and vast elaborate spreadsheets. What I want school leaders to discuss with our inspectors is what they expect pupils to know by certain points in their life, and how they know they know it. And crucially, what the school does when it finds out they don’t! These conversations are much more constructive than inventing byzantine number systems which, let’s be honest, can often be meaningless.”
”Inspectors will use lesson observations, pupils’ work, discussions with teachers and pupils and school records to judge the effectiveness of assessment and whether it is having an impact on pupils’ learning. They don’t need to see vast amounts of data, spreadsheets, charts or graphs. Nor are the looking for any specific frequency or type or volume of marking or feedback.”
Sean Harford’s You Tube video on assessment
Department/ Year Scorecards and Improvement Plans & INSET day 28th June – Preparation
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 new School Improvement Plan should be reflected in our Departmental Improvement Plans, which in turn should be a response to our Self Evaluation Form/Scorecards. Last year I spent some time streamlining our department SEF (Scorecard) and department Improvement Plan documentation, so they match the format of the school priorities and new inspection framework
Please note the guidance from Caroline (below) regarding next steps and the INSET Day on Thursday
After meeting with the workload working group we have decided that the deadline for the Department/Year Scorecard and Improvement Plans should be in September. This is so that you can use your outcomes/ exams analysis to inform your plans for the new academic year. All of the documents that you need are in Google Drive below:
For the INSET day on 28th June (agenda attached) we have allocated time for you to discuss this in your departments. Please remember that this process should be completely collaborative so all members of the department have an input. It should not be written by the Curriculum Leader in isolation.
In addition to this, we have a reflection exercise for all staff in the morning and ‘Retrieval Speed Dating’ for teaching staff. Can you bring along an idea/ resource and some students’ books to show how it works, please?
In the afternoon Tracey Roberts and Katy Woods are offering Well-being sessions on Mindfulness and Re-framing respectively. Can you please drop them an email if you would like to attend (open to all staff) so that they can prepare resources?
Revision – Retrieval Practice and Spaced Learning
SENCA Learning – I have been raving about this for the last 2 months! Those staff who have used it with students have been really impressed. And it’s free!
SENECA – 1. Testing
Retrieval practice (or testing) is more effective than just making or re-reading your notes. When you are being tested you have to pay more attention and you normally stop daydreaming. This is helpful, but testing also has other benefits!
An easy way of thinking about retrieval practice is to imagine that the exam is a maze. The correct answer to a question is the exit of the maze. Every time you remember some material via testing, you create a new route that helps you escape the maze. The more routes you have to escape the maze, the more likely it is that you will reach the right answer in an exam!
It is important to change the types of questions (tests) that you do. Doing multiple choice questions, longer answer questions, comparisons and more increases the likelihood that you will remember something. You can do this yourself or, perhaps more easily, using Seneca’s Accelerated Learning System.
SENECA 2. Spacing and Interleaving
A very well-known phenomenon in Cognitive Science is the Spacing Effect. Spacing means that learning small chunks of information over longer periods of time is more effective than learning it all in a single block. Leaving a gap between learning stuff means that you can forget the irrelevant bits of content and focus on the important parts. Spacing improves memory, but also your ability to apply information to new and different contexts. This means you can answer a greater variety of question types more easily! (3)
To make revision even more effective, Spacing can be combined with Interleaving. In other words, the time gap between revising content A should be used to revise content B. This forms a better simulation of exams, where all the topics tend to be mixed up together, and so is a good way to prepare for this. Additionally, interleaving improves the ability to understand what a new question is asking (4).
Also, don’t forget about all the resources now on SAM Learning – great for retrieval homework
Year 7, 9 and 10 Presentation evening – Call for names!
In preparation for the Year 7, 9 & 10 Presentation Evening on Monday 16th July, can you please complete this spreadsheet with your subject’s/year group’s nominated award winners. To complete the administration for this event, we need your responses by end of Monday 9th July please. Any queries to Graeme /Helen.
SLT Learning Walk next week – Classroom Voices
From Caroline – Next week we are conducting a Learning Walk to see the extent to which Classroom Voices is reducing low-level disruption with Y7.
Just a reminder that the plan is for us to continue with Classroom Voices for both Y7 & 8 next year so that, eventually, we use it with every year in the school. My feeling is that the use of Classroom Voices has tailed off so please make sure that you are using it with Y7 right up to the end of the term.
It is perfectly acceptable for students to discuss their work if it will improve learning, but this should be at the teacher’s discretion and made clear to the students. Slides attached if you need a reminder.
Please let me know if there are any issues
Why leadership approach matters?
I have mentioned the book’ Leadership Matters‘ on a number of occasions at middle leaders meetings
Leadership Matters argues that all leaders need to take action on:
- Defining the vision and strategic approach
- Creating alignment
- Building and sustaining relationships
- Creating teams
- Planning and organising
- Delivering results and getting things done
Hence the diagram below. The book also highlights it’s not just what you do that matters, but also the how: your leadership approach. It reminds me of the old Bananarama song – It’s not what you do (but the way that you do it). I was a bit of a fan in the 80s! Sorry….
Middle Leader ‘Well Being’
As a Middle leader’s, you do an amazing job! Every day you invest enormous amounts of time, energy, passion and commitment – seeking to create better futures for our students.
This isn’t easy to maintain. After a long week and the inevitable challenges of your role, it can often feel as though your energy, hope and emotional reserves are in short supply.
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.
”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.
COACTING means the way you relate to others at work.
What’s your Coacting Style? And the people you work with
Section 2 – Middle Leaders at Harrow Way – Professional Development
From all the CPD I’ve ever engaged with, these videos. have had by far the greatest influence on me and my philosophy of teaching.
The series titles give a flavour of the Bill Rogers approach:
- Positive Correction: the basic premise that teachers and schools should adopt a non-confrontational approach to discipline, based on positive teacher-student relationships, respect for the dignity and rights of individuals, choices about consequences of behaviour and encouragement for student self-discipline.
- Prevention: planning for good behaviour; teaching the routines and the rules.
- Consequences: have a clear structure that students understand and use to inform the choices they make.
- Repair & Rebuild: the imperative to work hard to build and repair the damage that is done when things don’t work out.
Further details from TeacherHead
1. The Black Dot in the White Square:
It is often necessary to get class or individual behaviour into perspective in order to maintain a positive atmosphere in the class. In Bill Rogers’ model, the black dot represents the negative, disruptive behaviour of certain individuals or the class as a whole; the white square represents the positive behaviour of the majority or the normally good behaviour of an individual. By focusing on the black dot, we are forgetting the white square. This illustrates the need to keep things in perspective and helps to avoid using sweeping statements that can harm positive working relationships
- The class is awful
- The group never works sensibly
- The student is unable to behave
- Everyone is being too noisy
This thinking made me realise I was one who would pick up on the late-comers, the noisemakers and the students off-task, at the expense of reinforcing the good behaviour of the majority. Is so much healthier for all concerned to swap that around. I find it applies to homework too… focus on the bits you get in, rather than the ones you don’t.