School Improvement in Central South Wales: Quality and Effectiveness

This week the advert for the MD post in Central South closes and I very much hope that we have a choice of excellent candidates coming forward to take this unique organisation forward. I have enjoyed this role massively during the time I've been here including the variation in it. This week for example, I shall be spending Monday with the team in the office discussing mostly our revisions to the hub model going forward, I will be with secondary heads and Welsh Government talking about teaching and learning in the secondary sector, doing a progress review about the impact of our work with schools in the Vale of Glamorgan and Merthyr, meeting the five Directors of Education about our new business plan and with associate group of headteachers to review progress on our school to school improvement models.

But back to hubs. Hub working is about investing in a small number of effective schools to create some capacity for teachers to work across the region, developing the skills of teachers in all schools. Hub provision covers a variety of things - action research, leadership development, CPD, and is increasingly not one day courses but three day programmes which take time to put what has been learnt into practice in teaching. Hub working in our region has replaced entirely our central provision - all our CPD for teachers is provided by teachers in this region.

There is a lot of media noise over half term about the quality and effectiveness of CPD provision for teachers, sparked by a review in England about retention of teachers. This has been followed by the outcome of the Children and Young People's Select Committee into the use of EIG in driving up standards. They reported that there wasn't a tight enough grip on impact of the grant by government.

They are probably right in that it is difficult for government to monitor the impact of their grant provision on outcomes. To do so traditionally has meant reams of paper work and form filling - which definitely doesn't help recruitment and retention! But accountability is absolutely critical, and it is our view in our region, that we delegate 94% of EIG to schools and therefore it is the role of schools to be able to evidence the impact of this, and all their resources on outcomes. Rather than do this in a seperate plan for each grant schools do this through their school improvement planning in a clear and effective way that can be understood by staff, parents and governors alike.

We have seen more than 1000 teachers take part in hub programmes in the autumn term alone and across the two years of SIG and hub working the numbers are vast, looking ahead we are considering making it possible for hubs to work with all schools for free, without cost, but our main question is how schools are reviewing the impact of this provision in their own school, using the learning shared, embedding it as part of their school development programmes and considering how to use the many opportunities for learning and development across the region for the benefit of all teachers.

Resources are not plentiful (the 6% retained funds MEAG, SIG working, funded leadership programmes and our small central strategic teams), and the Select Committee is right to say that we all - schools, consortia and government - need to make sure we are using every penny in improving both provision and impact for the benefit of all teachers.

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