In order to move towards its vision for the school, the senior management team at Noel Baker School saw it as an implicit requirement that everyone in the school be involved in their own learning and development. For the role of teacher, this meant that teachers were required to be co-learners rather than the more traditional construct of purveyors of knowledge.
Noel Baker approached the University of Derby Corporate to help them change the culture of the school so that teachers and all those involved in learning were both empowered and responsible for teaching and learning. Leadership and management were required to be more distributed. This would support the vision of the school as a community where:
- all members of the school treat each other with respect
- there is a strong international dimension throughout all areas of the curriculum
- significant 'value-added' occurs at all three key stages for all categories of students (based on ability, prior attainment, gender, ethnicity and socio-economic circumstances)
- learning is the core activity and high-quality teaching is the key to learning
- students experience a rich variety of enrichment in addition to lessons
- students develop the skills and attributes required for increasing independence
- the professional development of the school's whole workforce is a key to improvement.
We worked with Noel Baker School to frame and contextualise their CPD work within the school. This allowed the school to take charge of core processes essential for changing attitudes. The programme has enabled the staff to become more skilled as researchers and less reliant on "common-sense" or anecdotal information.
Since we have been working together to provide CPD opportunities in the school:
- Students have achieved the highest results in all key stages in the history of the school.
- Staff turnover has reduced from 22 out of 100 staff left 5 years ago compared with 5 out of 100 this year.
- The school is fully staffed and does not experience the difficulties of 5 years ago in terms of recruiting staff.
- Staff who have directly been involved the PPD scheme have gained significant promotions.
- Only one of the 33 NQTs who have been at the school in the last 5 years has left the profession.
- The school at all levels now operates in a far more objective research and enquiry led approach.
- Leaders in the school now see their roles far more as developers of colleagues and spend less time focused on low-level management issues.
- Strategic changes have been made to the use of teachers directed time. It is now called Development Time and CPD is therefore seen as the prime purpose of this time.
- A School Improvement Group that consists of the Senior Leadership Team and Curriculum Directors has been formed to support Middle Leaders and build a more collaborative person-centred approach in the school.
- Residential CPD now involves around 40% of the teaching staff throughout the year and is an established way of working in the school.
- CPD is now increasingly seen as a deep learning process and is distinct from its more superficial counterpart INSET in the vocabulary of the school.
- Work which has been done as a part of the PPD scheme has been published and "showcased" in the School.
- Colleagues involved in the work are more able to have an objective, evidence-based approach to their work and this has increased their own engagement in teaching and learning activity and also their capacity to support and develop the performance of colleagues.
- The school has a more sophisticated and research-based approach to self-evaluation.
- During our period of collaborative work with the University, our OFSTED grading rose from satisfactory to good.
"Our work with the University traces the journey that the school is making in terms of changing the way it works as a means to redefine the core processes in the school. The school has a long history of underperformance in terms of the outcomes for students and the work has taken place against the national backdrop of re-structuring and remodelling as well as the introduction of new professional standards for teachers. The historical responses to everyday experience to performance data has tended to compound existing socially disadvantaging trends in terms of the expectations of students. However, the standardised data for the school presents a much more optimistic view of the potential of our students."
Roger Brookes, Headteacher, Noel Baker School