28/2/2023 0 Comments
“Brilliant thinking and learning opportunity that we all need sometimes to reflect and get perspective on what we are doing already.”
SWIFT is proud to be working with Leading Schools South West (LSSW) on their soon-to-be launched Leadership Study Visit programme to national high performing Schools and Trusts.
This builds on the successful LSSW/ SWIFT partnership of supporting professional development for school leaders across the South West though the programme of National Professional Qualifications (NPQs).
The Leadership Study Visit programme aims to:
At the beginning of February, a group of 14 school leaders from a variety of contexts in Devon and Cornwall participated in a pilot programme visit looking at Implementation Coaching and a programme of group coaching to support leadership development with a view to the implementation of change during the remainder of this academic year.
Accompanied by SWIFT Director, Martin Smith, the group visited Reach Academy, Feltham and King Solomon Academy, two outstanding, forward-thinking 2 - 18 years schools in London and met with school leaders, teachers and students, and spent time in lessons. The participants valued the opportunity to network and strengthen links and relationships; collaborate, discuss, reflect and share ideas and valued the benefits of observing good practice in action in the different and contrasting schools’ settings and discussions with school leaders about their work and leadership journeys in the context of their own settings. For some delegates, it provided an understanding of the 2 - 18 years model in action.
In particular, the study visit facilitated reflection on the schools’ outstanding provision, different curricula, challenging cohort characteristics and catchment areas. The LSSW/SWIFT participants considered and learned from both similar and different systems, approaches and values that helped them to gain a broader insight into education and ultimately, they benefitted from the joined-up thinking, enhancing and reinforcing their own professional development to date.
Participants enjoyed the dedicated time to focus and reflect purposefully and identify particular strands, strategies and how improvements could help to refine and strengthen their own current practice and understand how getting the basics right, i.e. consistency and routine, can work in practice.
The clear vision articulated by the visit school leaders with plenty of opportunities to ask questions when visiting classrooms was valued and participants commended the cradle to career pathway and holistic provision at the Reach Academy. Both schools were praised for their students. Of significant note was praise for King Solomon Academy’s talented and articulate students, who spoke with confidence and passion and love for their school and were an inspiration for their ambition and work ethic. Participants also commended the aspirational children at Reach Academy and the sharp focus on community and they liked the clearly embedded routines and habits and strong school brand with values and clear and explicit purpose.
The clear explanation of the model of driving impactful teacher development through consistent and professional expertise was praised at the Reach Academy. For example, morning practice and fortnightly School Leadership Team (SLT) drop-ins and instructional coaching, rather than Faculty Meetings. Participants also liked the approach to Teaching and Learning through explicit Doug Lemov “Teach Like a Champion” strategies, resources and language and observing the coaching model in action.
It was reassuring for delegates to understand that using research works through a consistent approach delivered by enthusiastic staff, plus the ability to backward plan and maximise the use of subject expertise. It was also insightful for the participating school leaders to reflect and compare curriculum similarities and differences with their own school situations.
At the Reach Academy, the participants found the Key Stages 1 and 2 classes to be inspirational, liked the strong practice in Read Write Inc (RWI), persistent focus on reading across the school/the curriculum, the Early Years degree model and phonics teaching (and how it could be used in secondary schools), the set up for the reading book club lessons and Curriculum Design and use of booklets, and how this sits with effective scaffolding.
At King Solomon Academy, participants commended the relentless ambition towards university access for all and liked the tightness of centralised systems (including lesson planning and resourcing to allow for "intellectual preparation). Whole school behaviour management strategies (including residentials across all year groups and "payslips") were also commended and the clearly described and explained SEND perspective.
Notably, the visit provided refreshing time away from “the daily ebb and flow of school life,” with time to think and reflect strategically.
SWIFT and LSSW thank both the Reach Academy and King Solomon Academy for hosting the visits and for their openness and offers to share resources.
Look out for information about the programme on our SWIFT CPD Programmes Calendar.
Report by Jude Owens, PA to the SWIFT Executive Team