In my first year in the job, my role would be to begin to find the correlation, whilst continuing to improve the standard of teaching and learning to at least 85% Good and Outstanding (with 35% Outstanding). Individual teachers within the school had made vast improvements to their teaching but our vision surrounding teaching and learning needed adapting to reflect our new trajectory:
Only Good is good enough; across all Key Stages, 85% of our lessons are Good or Outstanding and 35% of our lessons are typically Outstanding. Lessons are inclusive and are typically characterised by a depth and flow of learning. They have an unswerving focus on Literacy and Numeracy as habits of outstanding learning, enabling students to achieve their Expected Levels of Progress. The best practice model continues to establish the non negotiables, which frame the learning experiences of students and are well supported by research models. Our evidence based practice has a measurable impact on at least one other Academy and in Primary settings. Curriculum Team Leaders are able to self-evaluate the quality of teaching across their team and use this to actively steer rigorous improvement planning; evaluation and measuring of impact secures a deep understanding of the key levers for student progress and informs our common practice. Teachers, Leaders and Support Staff work in a connected learning community and have a consistent view of what is Good and Outstanding; the potential of staff is released through collective purpose, developing autonomy and pedagogical mastery. The quality of teaching is reflected in the long term progress of all students; Heads of Year, SEN, PLC and EAL support outstanding group outcomes, narrowing the gap between key cohorts, in particular FSM. All staff share best practice and CPD, which is timely, measured, appropriate and builds curiosity and creativity in all staff; 90% of all staff believe CPD to be outstanding. Staff are supported in seeking coaching and teacher intervention that is timely and impactful to secure professional autonomy toward mastery.
Essentially, to allow staff to become true ‘masters’ in a profession that is more of an art form than a science, we had to become less prescriptive. We had to move from our ‘tight’ non negotiables to a loose ‘flow’ which would allow a depth and focus to our teaching; rather than skimming the surface of learning with our bright and whizzy lessons, we would need to plumb the depths of student progress by focusing on our typical, day to day habits.
As our thinking evolved from using lesson observations as a way to ‘showcase’ our teaching, so our lesson observation form had to change.
We reduced our 17 areas for non negotiables to ten key elements:
These ‘elements’ being fewer in number felt much easier to manage; staff had ownership about how they could demonstrate these areas and yet, some clarity was needed; guidance was offered to give ideas of how these skills could be demonstrated.
Staff responded well to the new ‘reduced’ observation form; the vision of a Good teacher felt clearer. And yet, we still struggled to access the elusive Outstanding- could this be because we were still relying on 25 minute lesson observations? One key area still held us back; progress. Anyone can teach a class to memorise six capital cities within 25 minutes. At the beginning of the lesson they didn’t know where Lima was. Now they know the capital of Peru. But, is that ‘true’ progress?