Since working in the Central South Consortium, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of different schools across the five Local Authorities. These opportunities have been available through Pathfinder projects, a School Improvement Group and more recently, Peer Enquiry work.
When I started at Meadowlane Primary School in September 2014, we were a red category school. I was linked to another Cardiff school to support us in raising standards. I was able to work closely with the Headteacher, with a focus on the Foundation phase, improving standards in teaching and Learning and assessment. My teachers worked alongside the teachers from our Pathfinder school, observing teaching, looking at children’s books and discussing assessments and teaching. The support had a positive impact, and in January 2016 we became a yellow category school. Following this, we were asked to support another Cardiff school as a new Pathfinder. This was a great boost to the staff of Meadowlane as their good practice had been recognised and they could share this with another school.
I have also worked closely with ten schools from across the five Local Authorities, in my School Improvement Group (SIG). Within the group there are Infant Schools, Junior Schools and Special Schools; this has been excellent for sharing expertise and good practice between the schools. The main focus of the SIG over the last two years has been improving the quality of teaching; moving adequate teaching to good, and good teaching to excellent. The SIG has worked together in a number of different ways to achieve this: All schools have taken on the same model (CONTINUA for Teachers) to assess the quality of teaching; Joint INSET days for the ten schools have been held to address common areas for improvement, to moderate the level of children’s work and to identify effective feedback that leads to pupil progress; teachers have worked alongside each other observing teaching, discussing planning and scrutinising children’s work ; teacher exchange projects have taken place to enable teachers to focus on their own individual development needs in a different school setting. As a result of this work, the teaching at Meadowlane has improved significantly; 67% to 92% good teaching and 7% to 42% excellent teaching.
Finally, I have recently been part of two peer enquiries. I led one peer enquiry at a primary school in a different authority, and I have had a peer enquiry carried out at Meadowlane. The peer enquiry model enables colleagues to have an in depth look at everything happening in your school, and from this, strengths and areas for development are identified. I found both peer enquiries very useful. They were a great opportunity to confirm and celebrate the things we are doing well at Meadowlane, but in addition to this, I have taken new ideas to help make Meadowlane even better!
In summary, I believe working with other schools is the most effective way to improve. My work with other schools has been invaluable in improving practice and raising standards and I am certain this will continue as the network of schools I work with grows.