This issue includes a featured article and some highlighted programmes, courses and events from our partners to support your professional development and enhance the work of your school. Simply click on the booking link to the course or event you are interested in to get more details or book straight on!
Featured in this issue we have:
AQA Feedback Events – Spring Term | Face-to-face
These AQA face to face events offer 5 1⁄2 hours of networking sessions that seek to draw out the detail of this feedback across a full day. They will provide an opportunity to review each paper with an AQA specialist lead, sharing best practice answers and misconceptions. The events can be booked HERE.
· Masterclasses and Longer Programmes
· Professional Communities
· Primary Subject Leader Briefings
· SWIFT ECF and AB Service Update | In Year Starters
· Parental Leave Group Coaching
· NPQ Spring Cohort | Application Window | Don’t Miss Out on Funded NPQs
· Events for your diary
Building on ten years tried and tested expertise and experience as an Induction Tutor, plus leadership of the Appropriate Body Service (AB), our Director of Teaching School Hubs, Jen Knowles, has been working hard during her first term in post to sharpen up the SWIFT AB Service for our schools across Devon, Plymouth and Torbay.
Essentially, we know that the SWIFT Appropriate Body Service is well established.
But as part of our commitment and conviction to supporting Early Career Teachers (ECTs) during their two-year induction, we want to be even better. Especially as Teaching School Hubs will be the main AB provider further to Department for Education reforms and this year has seen some significant transitional support in taking on Early Career Teachers (ECTs) from Devon Education Services. We welcome you, once again, to SWIFT!
One of the new aspects we are currently evolving is an AB Quality Review. Whilst this is suggested by the DfE, it is not statutory practice for Appropriate Bodies. However, we believe that it is important and we are working together with fellow national Teaching School Hubs, Harris Federation, Link and Star Institute to evaluate provision and work out ways in which we can be even more effective by engaging in a collaborative peer review process.
This has further motivated our thinking in terms of the assessments that we put in place to assess ECT's progress towards the teacher standards.
The statutory DfE requirement states that ECTs are required to have a formal assessment at the end of Years 1 and 2 of induction and SWIFT have a thorough process in place to support to the moderation of these judgements in line with statutory guidance. This process is carried out by a team of assessors employed by SWIFT who review the uploaded evidence and lesson observations and produce a short review comment that draws together key successes for the year and highlights next steps for the ECT.
But we believe we can and it is important to go beyond this statutory support for our schools. This is why SWIFT have now put in place a new review process for progress reviews. Every term, our team of assessors will review a 25% sample of progress reviews. In addition, our AB Leads will personally review progress reviews for all ECTs 'at risk of not meeting the teacher standards' and all reports where ECTs have flagged that their statutory entitlements are not in place.
Mindful of workload for Induction Tutors, the only change will be once Progress Reviews are submitted, to look out for an automatic submission notification from ECT Manager.
Then, over a two-week period, the Assessors and AB Leads will work through the chosen sample and any ECTs chosen for review will have an additional comment added to their form.
Ultimately, we want our SWIFT Appropriate Body Service to be a truly supportive two-way process for ECTs and schools and to benefit from our commitment to quality assurance through the expertise of both local teams and working with national networks.
As professionals, we can always improve. So, if you have any ideas for how we might be able to advance further our service, please get in contact at any point with your SWIFT AB Team and we will gratefully listen to your feedback.
By Jude Owens, SWIFT Executive Assistant
In this final issue for 2023, Associate & Strategic Leader of Teaching & Research Schools | Education South West, Roger Pope CBE considers the advances of technology for education since he started teaching in 1978:
"So, one of the emerging CPD themes for all school leaders has to be to gain an insight into how AI works and its potential in schools. The fear means that we have a lot of leading to do: we need to be proactive in how we construct a narrative for our staff about how we will tackle AI, and be positive in exploring its potential impact."
We interview Tina Graham, Principal of Kingsbridge Community College (KCC) and as the lead school for the Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub. Perfect timing, as last week, KCC was awarded the South West Secondary School of the Year 2024 Award for The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide.
Catch-up on the Autumn Leadership Forum keynote by University of Exeter’s Professor of Social Mobility, Lee Elliot Major OBE who presented on Equity in Education and read how our sponsor, Lyfta’s Schools Partnerships Manager, Leah Stewart has her own hands-on insights into social mobility.
Find out how we are advancing the Quality Assurance process in our SWIFT Appropriate Body Service and Kingsbridge Research School share ten reasons why we should be evidence-informed and how this can help decision-making.
Our sponsor, SchoolPro TLC explains more about embracing green careers in Data Protection and if you are wondering what it is like to be a supply teacher, Katie shares her experiences of working for Exeter Supply Partnership.
Sponsor, Volt Entrepreneurs remind us of the benefits of entrepreneurship for young people with their Short Circuit course and the newsletter ends on a festive foodie feel from Educatering.
We wish you a happy Christmastime and a restful holiday.
If you did not know that Lee Elliot Major OBE was a punk in the 1980s and once worked as a bin man for a summer job as a teenager in a London Borough, would it change how you think about him now as the University of Exeter’s Professor of Social Mobility?
It was Lee’s experience of manual work on the streets of London that prompted him to re-evaluate and seek to improve his life. In fact, it has informed his varied career to build a better and fairer education system and to nurture aspiration as living proof that background should not matter.
Further to the recent publication of his new book, “Equity in Education” (Lee Elliot Major and Emily Briant 2023) we welcomed Lee as keynote speaker for the SWIFT Autumn Term Leadership Forum in which Lee prompted us to think again (and again) about how education should be “the level playing field of learning.”
Lee is familiar to SWIFT audiences presenting on social mobility in the South West and is dedicated to improving the prospects of young people from under-resourced backgrounds and co-founded the South West Social Mobility Commission.
Back to Lee's former job as a bin man, are you aware of your (unconscious) biases and assumptions?
Lee cautioned about falling into these traps - especially through the media in our increasingly unequal society.
Education needs and can challenge the deficit mindsets.
It is important to focus on what pupils can do rather than what they cannot do.
“In the world of deficit thinking, education efforts feel like a very one-sided negotiation – we want you to come into our world, change who you are, fit into our culture, and play by our (unwritten) rules. Instead, we need to meet children (and people) halfway and find out what every person can offer, what we need to change, and how we can work together.”
A good starting point is considered use of language:
Equity not equality.
Under-resourced not disadvantaged (the reality is a continuum).
Partner with parents (rather than engage).
Focus on pupils’ current achievement (rather than ability).
Today’s society faces unprecedented barriers and inequalities and sees the first downward mobility rate since the war – not even accounting for the post-pandemic generation. Child poverty, based on free school meals across primary and secondary, has increased by 10% over the past five years to a stark 23.8% and too many pupils are failing GCSE English and Maths.
“Life chances are shaped by cultural as well as material divides.”
Research into millennium children has found that if children are underrated early, they perform worse later in their education.
“Teachers can act differently towards working-class children, exuding less warmth, giving less eye contact and providing lower quality feedback.”
It is essential to celebrate working class achievements in the classroom from all different backgrounds.
Pupils are more likely to flourish in a middle class environment.
Lareau (2002) described the ‘concerted cultivation’ as the sharp elbow behaviour of parents for children to advocate for themselves in the classroom.
Parents actively foster and assess their child’s talents, opinions, and skills and provide multiple child leisure activities orchestrated by adults.
Parents support reasoning/directives and child contestation of adult statements and extended negotiations between parents and child.
Parents are more likely to criticise and intervene on behalf of their child that serves as training for the child to take on this role.
“The secrets are in the system. The challenge is finding what schools are doing and replicating these consistently.”
Clearly, schools can play a significant equity role in the face of increasing societal divides and benefit from acknowledging, considering and addressing biases and barriers to learning by committing to approaches with the potential to help those pupils from under-resourced backgrounds.
Schools can address unconscious cultural biases and barriers through classroom discussions and materials to connect better with the lives of all pupils and a consistent system for providing positive feedback to pupils and parents and diversifying their staff.
Diversity is needed in influential positions.
Did you know that every British Prime Minister since World War II attended one university?
(Oxford in case you needed to check).
Schools can help to improve pupils' home learning environment and improved engagement with parents, building on parent partnerships already in the system and working together to develop more authentic parent relationships so that they do not feel alienated.
Yet schools can only do so much and some factors that drive outcomes are beyond teachers’ control.
Even if the changes can be transformative.
Looking beyond schools to the bigger educational picture, Lee is in discussion with national policymakers to consider accountability and progress. For example, how to change Ofsted to be more realistic for schools and some pupils studying fewer GCSEs.
Thank you to our questioners at the end of the talk who asked Lee about the highest leverage angle of approach to gain the best results in school; about potentially reducing the number of GCSEs from eight to five to improve equity for pupils and advice on building a community outreach programme to engage and support parents.
Lee recognised that schools can be unfairly treated and often try to find a magic bullet and yet too often, the social class question in education is taboo and an added pressure for busy classroom teachers. Teachers might inadvertently be giving less individualised feedback to those pupils who need it the most and could think about how they interact with children in the classroom.
Lee believes the current one size fits all exams system is not working and puts increasingly impossible pressure on schools and often hinders teacher recruitment and retention, as well as pupil attendance. A revised system needs to be looked at in different ways without compromising standards.
Lee reiterated the importance of positioning the community activity and to understand the values parents will bring with them. Consider activities in a neutral space, rather than always in the School Hall, which might bring back uncomfortable past memories of their own schooling for some parents. Middle-class parents tend to sit at the front of the hall, whereas Pupil Premium (PP) families sit at the back as schools can be alienating and intimidating places.
We thank Lee for his presentation and for guiding us to consider equity in education.
Report by Jude Owens, SWIFT Executive Assistant
“It is most professionally rewarding for me when I see success for staff and students visible in so many ways. Of course, exam outcomes are critical; but the participation and enjoyment that comes from engaging in available opportunities.”
Serendipity can be a wonderful thing.
When this interview with planned, we did not know that Kingsbridge Community College (KCC) was set to be awarded the South West Secondary School of the Year 2024 Award for The Sunday Times Parent Power Guide, which looks at academic outcomes and character education, extra-curricular opportunities and student experience, as well as improvements made in schools year-on-year.
We are therefore all the more delighted to celebrate and honour Principal Tina Graham and KCC. The College is ambitious for all students and are grateful to staff, parents and students for sharing their values. Staff are committed to ensuring that students benefit from the best life chances with an impressive dedication to extra-curricular opportunities supported by an enthusiastic group of volunteers, which contributes significantly to the success of the College.
Kingsbridge Community College in one of four secondary schools within Education South West Multi Academy Trust and is the Lead School for the Department for Education’s Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub (TSH) – one of the halves of South West Institute for Teaching (SWIFT), working with Colyton TSH.
Tina has been in post at KCC as Principal for four years and was previously Principal at Dartmouth Academy from 2015 - 2019, before which she was at KCC in a variety of roles including Head of Geography and then Director of Sixth Form.
We invited Tina to reflect on her role as Principal of KCC as the Lead School for Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub.
1. Looking back three years ago, what were your expectations as Principal of Kingsbridge Community College, the Lead School for the new Kingsbridge Teaching School Hub?
My expectations were of a growing committed team of colleagues with shared values who would promote and build on the excellent education for all children in the South West.
We would also continue to grow the collaborative links with all schools in the region and would collectively address issues of teacher recruitment and retention, and the issues of raising standards and in particular, advocate for our children to work towards removing significant barriers to learning.
2. How do you see schools and colleagues across our region benefitting from the work of the Teaching School Hubs?
I believe the work of Teaching School Hubs enables us to share good practice and by building on the networks across Schools and Trusts we have potential to ensure a shared agenda in the South West, which can be powerful.
This combined working has enabled support for Early Career Teachers (ECTs) through the Early Career Framework (ECF) to be of a higher quality than previously and this translates into effective practitioners much earlier in their career and is good practice for schools.
Teaching School Hubs offer multiple professional development opportunities for members of staff across schools working with SWIFT – whether as Delivery Leads, National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) Facilitators, ECF Mentors and professional development leads; all of which in turn, benefits one’s own school.
3. What have you found to be most challenging and how has this informed your practice?
I understand with any collaboration at this scale, individual Schools and Trusts have their own agenda, and the positive and complex challenge is sometimes being able to find the capacity and clarity to ensure that this has a direct impact on all aspects that we are trying to undertake in our individual schools.
I appreciate that the SWIFT Team work relentlessly to be sympathetic and supportive to the starting points of different partners and to provide genuine support so that they can gain as much as possible from the collaboration for the benefit of their staff and students.
4. What is most rewarding for you professionally and personally working with SWIFT?
It is most professionally rewarding for me when I see success for staff and students and this is visible in so many ways. Of course, exam outcomes are critical; but the participation and enjoyment that comes from engaging in available opportunities is also vital. Notably, our staff have had so many opportunities to be involved in facilitating NPQs, being part of the curriculum development for initial teacher training, and interviewing candidates - and more besides.
Personally, being part of the community for many years now means that I get to see people that I have taught or worked with in previous years who now have their children at KCC and are enjoying their experience. It keeps me focused on the core business that is about our Community College serving the community to the best of our ability.
5. Looking to the future, how would you wish Teaching School Hubs to evolve?
For me, the vision is more for the outcome rather than the mechanism. As I believe the outcome of any collaboration, and particularly in our regional context with lower than national outcomes must be in ensuring that our work has an impact on the outcomes for all young people; particularly those with SEND and those who are disadvantaged and who deserve to have the same life chances to everyone else across the country.
Another outcome for me would be to tackle the diversity agenda and to have an impact on acknowledging that we cannot change the lived experience of the majority of our children where there are schools with dominant white British populations. But we can think carefully about how we address the curriculum and extracurricular activities and our untaught curriculum and try to expose children to the diverse world that they are going to face beyond the South West and foster a wider sense of belonging.
Interview by Jude Owens, SWIFT Executive Assistant