There is a wealth of good practice happening through the School Improvement Groups at both primary and secondary levels. Our SIG is no different, although the journey has been a little different from the others.
We started off on an ambitious footing by merging two SIGs to form a large 15 school SIG. Although some schools didn’t engage, we had a core group of 14 schools who worked together. There have been some minor changes to the SIG, with us inheriting three additional schools and losing one to work in another SIG.
Even now, three years on from the inception of the SIG, we still hold regular meetings and have a number of working groups which are active.
We decided that we would look at a number of different workstreams which would address development needs within our schools. Common areas were attendance, performance in core subjects and geeting to grips with the Welsh Baccalaureate. The groups have changed over the past few years and we currently have working groups in the following areas:
- Welsh Baccalaureate (which also attracts members from other SIGs)
- Heads of Science
- Digital Literacy and Competency
- Curriculum Deputies
- Training programme for TAs
- Pupil Voice
- Family Engagement
- Data managers
- Facilities Managers
In addition, the SIG runs mini leadership seminars, looking at the following areas:
- Teaching and Learning
- Budget, Health and Safety, Curriculum
- Staff development
- Dealing with parents and managing conflict
The Headteachers/Senior Leaders also meet once per half term as a strategic SIG. This group oversees the working groups, receives feedback presentations from working group chairs and also arranges learning walks and workshops, e.g. a recent workshop was held on managing exclusion appeals.
Success comes from being well organised and there are dedicated roles for convener, secretary and treasurer. We have a basic website which provides information on working groups as well as sharing minutes of meetings and any resources produced. The site can be accessed via http://centralsouthsig.pbworks.com
Another strength is in the flexibility of school to school working. We have a directory of senior leaders who are available to provide support to other schools across the subject range. Other schools have supported each other with support for teaching and supporting departments who need additional help.
It is difficult to keep schools engaged and there has to be a number of reminder emails and telephone calls to chase up dates and minutes!
To the future?
We will re-run the leadership seminar and focus our attention more on Donaldson as well as continuing with some of the more popular working groups.
We also need to look more at outcomes since the groups are now quite mature. Each group determines success criteria which will be examined by the strategic SIG.
We have to keep reinventing ourselves and judge whether our working groups have reached the end of their usefulness. Many ideas continue to flow and we hope that the spirit of collaboration and mutual benefit will continue.