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Everyone is a ‘lifelong learner’

Angela Jenkins, Teaching School Leader at the Primary Excellence Teaching School, tells OLEVI how the Improving Teacher Programme (ITP) is used to provide NQTs, ITT staff and established teaching staff with outstanding professional development.

The Primary Excellence Teaching School, led by the First Federation Trust, is an alliance of aspirational primary schools and academies across Devon. We believe that every child has the right to be taught by an excellent teacher in an excellent school that nurtures, challenges and supports their potential. When we became a teaching school, we wanted to provide a set of programmes that would fit in with our belief that everyone is a ‘lifelong learner’, and that would support us in continuing to develop excellent, reflective practitioners.

We initially considered the OLEVI programmes as we believed they would enable our early career teachers and more experienced teachers to really reflect on their practice, to audit their own needs and to benefit from the expertise of others. The facilitation training and the flexibility of the programmes enabled us to dovetail the Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP) and the Improving Teacher Programme (ITP) into the needs of our trust and, also, meet the needs of schools that we were working with.

DSCF2282Quality CPD – an entitlement for all our staff

The Primary Excellence Teaching School has been a licensed OLEVI Facilitation School since February 2014. We currently facilitate the OTP, ITP, Outstanding Leadership in Education (OLE) and Outstanding Teaching Assistant Programme (OTAP) to both internal and external delegates. The quality CPD these programmes provide is an entitlement for all our staff and we have firmly embedded them within the trust’s professional development routes.

From the very beginning we appreciated how the ITP could be used to deliver outstanding training to our staff in their second year of teaching, continuing and building on from their ITT and NQT years. Through the ITP, early career teachers are given the opportunity to immerse themselves in discussion and reflection activities around core teaching and learning strategies, working and networking with other like-minded professionals. We encourage an open, confident culture where teachers are enabled to share their practice, develop ideas and succeed within a supportive network.

Since 2014, thirty-three teachers from the First Federation Trust, all in their second year of teaching, have participated in the ITP, as well as another twenty-three NQT+1s from across Devon. As a Trust, we recognise and value how the programme is integral to developing excellent classroom practice. We have made a commitment to all our NQT+1 teachers, ensuring that having a place on the Improving Teacher Programme is an entitlement.

Impact

As a result of being on the ITP, early career teachers report that they have become much better at self-reflection with more purpose and effectiveness when critically assessing their own teaching. They recognise how the ITP has given them more confidence in their teaching ability as well as the assurance to challenge their own practice in order to refine and improve it.

Nearly 50% of teachers who have attended the ITP in their NQT+1 year have taken up leadership roles across the First Federation Trust within two years. The roles are varied and include becoming unit leaders, specialist leaders of education, leads for research projects and OTAP facilitators, as well as moving into our sponsored schools to improve practice as role-models.

“Attending the ITP has made me more confident to share my own practice with others and to try new approaches in the classroom. This has led to my own development as a teacher in strengthening my own practice and therefore progressing in my career. As a unit leader, I now feel confident constantly sharing my own practice and facilitating an environment where my team also feel confident to improve.”
Penny Rundle, Year 3/4 Unit Leader, Westcliff Primary Academy

 

“During the programme I incorporated the facilitation style into my own practice of teaching. I also allowed pupils far more opportunity to critique my lessons, enabling me to reflect on them. Enjoying this programme has driven me to train as an OTAP facilitator and to support with the co-ordination of the programme. It has also enabled me to strengthen my links to other schools within the First Federation and across the Teaching School Alliance. Attending the ITP made me realise the importance of having the time to reflect; it now enables me to make sure that other staff I manage are also given the time. Reflection is a vital part of developing practice.”
Lewis Webb, Year 5/6 Unit Leader, Westcliff Primary Academy

 

Another benefit of the ITP for many of our staff is the consistent language which is being used within schools across the trust. With many of our teachers trained as facilitators, or having attended the ITP, OTP or OTAP, there is a common language being used – DR ICE. Teachers often use DR ICE to reflect on the teaching and learning which takes place in their classrooms. Leaders will refer to DR ICE when identifying areas of strength, areas for improvement and areas for change. Teaching Assistants have quoted that “they now understand why teachers do what they do…”  The children are encouraged to use higher-order thinking skills to reason their ideas and articulate their learning; there is a more purposeful discussion between children in class.

“I now understand and have higher expectations in all aspects of my practice and have developed a range of techniques to use in class. I consider DR ICE at every stage of my planning. I give myself time to reflect and change my practice to incorporate DR ICE successfully.”

 

Which aspects of the Improving Teacher Programme have had the most impact on your professional development as a teacher since you attended the programme? Can you give an example?

“The ability to reflect on my own practice, not only to myself but with other teachers, both experienced and inexperienced. It is hard to fit in the time to talk about teaching and our own practice but this programme allowed the time to do just that. At every session we were asked to bring an example of something – assessment, starter/plenary, children’s work, etc. – and discuss it with the group. This not only allowed the time to discuss and reflect on our own practice but to see the things other teachers are doing.”
Abbie Naylor, Year 5/6 Teacher, Aveton Gifford CE Primary School

 

The Improving Teacher Programme helped my NQT+1 to reflect with more purpose and effectiveness when critically assessing his own teaching. It allowed him to focus carefully on questioning and think about the type and effectiveness of the questions that he used within the classroom, as well as how he could improve his questioning. This included planning in specific higher-order thinking skill questions and discussing questioning styles and techniques with teaching assistants. As a result of the programme the quality of my teacher’s assessment has improved (both formative and summative). He is now able to plan more explicitly for assessment and ensures that he uses starters, plenaries and mini-plenaries to assess more effectively – informing planning/intervention as required.”
Jackie Huntington, Head of Teaching and Learning, Chudleigh Knighton CE Primary School

 

In-depth teaching and learning Reviews take place annually for each of the First Federation Trust schools. These reviews have highlighted the profound impact of the OLEVI programmes on the quality of teaching and learning across all our schools, resulting from the accelerated professional development of our teachers right from an early stage in their careers.

Three of the federation schools were inspected by Ofsted during the last academic year, two being judged good and one being judged outstanding. Each of these schools had a young teaching team whose quality was recognised by the inspectors:

“High-quality teaching over time enables all pupils to make sustained and rapid progress in a wide range of subjects.”

“Staff at all levels reflect on feedback and work with others across the federation to improve their practice.”

“In becoming an academy within the First Federation Trust, the school has benefitted from sharing resources and expertise with the eight other schools within the multi-academy trust. This includes effective staff training and development from the teaching school.

Ofsted Report 2016

 

As a teaching school and multi-academy trust, we remain committed to the OLEVI programmes being an integral part of our continuing professional development for all teachers.