Good practice from the schools studied in Teachers as Innovative Professionals
Dene Magna Technology College, Mitcheldean, Gloucestershire
The school runs a reflective practitioner programme, which enables staff to observe other lessons in the school over 13 periods during the year. The investment in this time has been justified by research finding a strong relationship between the introduction of this scheme, teaching practice and pupil attainment. Regular ‘toolbox’ sessions run by staff cover behaviours for learning and encourage teachers across the school to lead learning and share their experience.
A student coaching programme is also run in which children meet in triads with teachers to guide and advise them on improving their teaching practice. Pupils are also heavily involved and consulted during all stages of the teacher recruitment process.
The structure of the learning day at Dene Magna has been reorganised to maximise opportunity for learning in the morning, streamlining lunch-breaks and allowing adequate space after lunch for pupils to complete individual learning tasks. This innovative timetabling has given teachers free time in the afternoons to collaborate and embark independently upon tasks as part of a reflective practitioner programme.
The school has also built an observation suite with a two-way mirror and recording equipment to enable staff and NQTs to be monitored and supported in their teaching practice development.
In a separate move, a virtual learning environment has been developed through which individual departments can create courses and resources for the work they do. This allows for links to other websites and greater consistency in terms of the learning that takes place in the classroom and outside. It has been highly effective in creating greater opportunities for staff to share resources and best practice.
Dulwich Hamlet Junior School, London
The school has developed a number of international links. These include being part of the ‘Comenius’ programme, where pupils and teachers exchange ideas with other schools and pupils in several European countries. The school is also part of Goldsmith’s MFL programme, hosting French primary school trainees and final teaching practice MFL trainees annually. The teachers have additional non-contact time beyond PPA time, provided for by two permanent part-time teachers. This allows teachers time to take forward initiatives such as themed weeks and to develop specialist interests. The school and individual teachers also have a high level of commitment to CPD both through formal programmes offering professional recognition and informal learning via the internet, and exchanging ideas with other teachers in and outside their own school. The training school ethos developed in the school empowers teachers to coach and mentor others and sustain longer CPD programmes.
The school operates a distributive leadership model. Each year group of three teachers has a leader who supports and line-manages the other two and represents them on the SLT. These year groups are fairly autonomous, enabling them to bring in new ideas and resources as they wish and to be flexible in the timetabling for their year group.
Fallibroome High School, Macclesfield, Cheshire
Fallibroome High School, an 11-18 mixed comprehensive school, is the lead school in the local learning community, part of the national network of leading edge schools created by the DfES to promote excellence and innovation.
The innovative approach to collaborative teaching and learning within the school has generated much interest at local and national level. The school has pioneered teaching processes founded on the research of Dr Spencer Kagan in the USA, which promote a high level of classroom activity and encourage increased pupil participation in lessons.
The roll-out of this teaching format within the school has been gradual and structured, with ongoing research used to measure impact and promote benefits across all subject areas. Volunteers within each department have been tasked with championing the new teaching techniques and supporting the training of their colleagues to become more reflective in their own teaching practice. Some of the new teaching approaches have also been demonstrated in staff meetings, governor meetings and parents’ meetings to model the benefits for pupil learning.
International training opportunities have been shared with representatives from each primary school within its cluster to enhance relations and extend the use of creative teaching processes to primary level. Joint work is taking place to look at ways in which the National Curriculum can be delivered in a more engaging way, with current pilot projects trialling a change of focus to work on wild topics principles to draw connections between the subject areas. The school has also been instrumental in organising national events in the area to bring together hundreds of teachers in Macclesfield to share good practice and encourage innovation in other schools. An Ofsted inspection judged the school’s strategies to be outstanding and meeting the needs of all learners.
Halton High Comprehensive School, Runcorn, Cheshire
Cross-curricular action research groups have been set up to span various subjects and departments, such as the writing group linking English and modern languages. Tasks are set for the groups to carry out action research in the classrooms, using the PDSA (plan, do, study and act) model. All staff have been involved in the research, the trialling and then feeding back to the rest of the teaching staff. These action groups have led to shared teaching between various departments, such as collaboration between geography and English on writing frames to improve the ability of the students to produce extended pieces of written work.
Every member of staff at the school has been trained in coaching and been placed in a staff trio to increase understanding of teaching and learning styles and to share good practice. The aim of these groups has been to focus on teachers as learners, and particularly to concentrate on identifying and delivering the DfES thinking skills programme across the curriculum. The timetable has been structured to allow trios of teachers with a common class to work together regularly to deliver and evaluate the impact of the teaching and application of the thinking skills programme in the classroom. This has created a climate of openness and support, and has allowed lesson planning to be shared across subjects, with key thinking skills being integrated into the schemes of work in each subject area.
Innovative methods for evaluating the impact of these trios have included writing case studies and making a DVD of children being interviewed about their learning experience. Fortnightly staff meetings have been transformed into teaching and learning meetings, which act as a forum for sharing and reflecting upon good practice and innovative teaching methods. Peer mentors help and support each other through social and behaviour problems, with an anti-bullying campaign designed and implemented by the children themselves.
Oakmeeds Community College, Burgess Hill, West Sussex
The school has restructured from nine faculties into four learning teams, each led by a senior member of staff. The learning teams group various subject areas together to allow for cross-fertilisation of ideas and approaches. The objectives of individual teachers are linked into the improvement plan for their learning team which in turn is linked into the college improvement plan.
The school has a number of cross-curricular groups made up of a range of teachers from across subject areas. The groups focus on issues related to the college improvement plan. This includes groups that focus on numeracy, gifted and talented, student voice and interactive whiteboard training. The groups prove a good way of not only exploring solutions to particular issues but also of gathering views from a wide range of staff. Each group is asked to meet six times but they have freedom about when and where to meet. This has resulted in some groups having all six meetings in one term to crack a particular issue, some choosing to meet outside of school in a more relaxed social atmosphere and others taking a more formal approach. Funding has been made available to take forward initiatives developed by some groups.
Seven Kings High School, Redbridge, London
Much is done within Seven Kings internally and externally to share good and innovative teaching practice. The school is part of a learning network of schools through which ideas are shared, and leadership days are organised to bring together members of senior leadership teams and headteachers from many schools in the area. A big observation programme within the school focuses in particular upon encouraging teachers to go outside their departments to observe other teachers in practice. A strong emphasis is also put on coaching within the school, with a focus upon self-reflection and teaching practices. There are also strong links with a school in Beijing, with which they organise regular teacher exchange programmes to observe teaching practice and share new ideas and practice.
Teachers are led to welcome regular feedback from their pupils and are trained and prepared to react positively and responsively to improve practice.
In line with the school ethos about continuous training and development, children of various ages are also being trained to become student observers.