Remarks to the Education Reform Summit, London
A key role for a Headteacher is keeping the whole institution and all staff focused on teaching and learning in order to achieve a consistent , high-quality student experience – a student experience that allows them to make good and outstanding progress whatever the subject and whoever the teacher. The national teacher standards, which are clear that only good teaching is good enough, play a significant role. There must be a clear process for working with staff who are not able to respond to training and who are not able to meet the required minimum standards.
What is needed to allow excellent progress to be made?
Significant training is needed to deliver this. We need subject specialists who know the exam syllabus, who know the small steps needed to move to another level and who can communicate those to students, training around smart targets, training in planning so the highest grades and maximum progress can be achieved. Training in giving feedback to staff after a lesson observation so even the best teacher can continually improve their practice.
We also need to acknowledge that lesson observations are only a small part of judging the impact and quality of a teacher's work. There is now a move to typicality judgements which consider lesson observation feedback, books scrutinies, learning walk feedback, exam achievement, progress data and student voice. Subject leaders need training in pulling all this information together. Where done well, it has led to high quality professional discussions with line managers. Heads of teams have felt empowered by using the evidence as the basis for their professional conversations with their team members.
If we are to prepare students for the next stage in their learning, we also need to look beyond exam criteria and teach enterprise, communication skills, team work, emotional intelligence and independent thinking and learning skills. Strategies such as co-operative learning strategies can play a huge role in developing softer skills as well as promoting better rates of progress through the assessment strategies they incorporate.
Managing this is a highly skilled senior management role. Knowing areas of strength within teams and across the school or trust, identifying experts who can coach colleagues and share strategies effectively and providing opportunities to develop an ever expanding group of outstanding practitioners are key. Moving from a single school to a multi school structure can allow this to happen more effectively, more speedily and more creatively. In a context of trust and sharing with a common concern for improving life chances, it is possible to double, treble and more the professional capital within an area. New structures and groupings are making this more common.
Question: How can schools working in formal or informal but committed partnerships and alliances help each other to raise standards of teaching?