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ITP – it does what is says on the tin!

When Adrian Rogers, Executive Principal, Robert Bloomfield Academy, first engaged with the Improving Teacher Programme little did he expect to become one of the programmes’ greatest advocates, using it not only within his school’s Academy Trust but throughout his LEA

It was April 2012 when Central Bedfordshire Council first introduced Robert Bloomfield’s‚ Executive Principal, Adrian Rogers, to the Improving Teacher Programme (ITP). Adrian initially approached the initiative with some reservation. “How could it do what it said on the tin?… It costs a lot of money!”

However, within a term of being facilitated within the Academy’s trial school, Etonbury Academy, the impact of the programme was realised. During an HMI visit to Etonbury, Inspectors made claim they had not yet seen any outstanding teaching. Adrian Rogers responded by encouraging Inspectors to visit their newly graduated ITP delegates and claims were laid to rest. Etonbury Academy moved from “Requires Improvement” to “Good” that following Autumn term.

INVESTING IN AND GROWING STAFF

Since seeing the impact of the ITP Adrian has become one of the programmes’ greatest advocates. Delegates meet him on their first session when he visits and introduces the programmes, instilling in delegates the belief that they are valued and worth investing in. ITP is used to build the confidence of newer, younger staff, who become used to class observations and adopt a positive “can do” attitude.

Robert Bloomfield Academy has gone on to focus on utilising the ITP to impact on teacher performance across the Central Bedfordshire LEA. Sharon Jeffs, Head of Learning at Robert Bloomfield’s Teaching School, has driven the development of teacher access to the ITP. Drawing upon the leadership potential of teachers from a range of schools in the area, she began by training a large team of OFP facilitators, who not only facilitate the programmes but have the knowledge and leadership qualities to support delegates back at school.

In this way, the collaborative learning required of the delegates is powerfully role-modelled by their facilitators, who have learned and worked together to develop a high quality provision. Delegates have responded to this role-modelling by dramatically increasing their expectations of themselves. The result is a programme where delegates take ownership of their own and each other’s learning – providing mutual challenge and peer coaching support – which has a significant impact on classroom practice, moral and confidence. A deliberate move by facilitators to promote these powerful discussions amongst delegates has been to build in “thinking time” into each session. Delegates are encouraged to bring laptops and planning resources with them in order to collaboratively and independently capture the day’s thinking and implement this into their planning for future learning and maximum impact.

One specific aspect of the ITP programme, which has had a profound impact on the school, has been an increased level of ownership by teaching staff. A greater familiarity with, and higher frequency of observations, has developed a more open, confident culture amongst the delegates and their schools around observation processes. This has kept staff on their toes and has moved the experience of observations and subsequent discussions around pedagogy and learning processes, to within their comfort zones. Delegates are holding themselves to account and consequently, are less risk averse.

RAISING THE BAR

The most profound impact the ITP has had is on the delegates‘ expectations on what their students can do and consequently now “do“ raise the bar. The challenging of expectations, an integral aspect of DR ICE, has not only seen an increase in pupil performance but, in addition, the students‘ own expectations of the quality of their teaching have risen too. A reciprocating culture of challenge has been realised in the Robert Bloomfield Academy, where teacher and student are equally accountable to one another.

“Immediate signs of the positive steps being made by ITP delegates are in their choosing to spend time with each other in order to have continued and constructive discussions amongst themselves, and to network around, the improvement of their teaching and learning and school improvement. The ITP has promoted a healthy dialogue amongst staff .”

Sharon Jeffs, Robert Bloomfield Academy

The key to maximising the success of the ITP at Robert Bloomfield was identified by Sharon Jeffs, as two-part. The high level of organisational capital present is paramount in maintaining a constant focus on the high level of rigour, integrity and quality of the programmes. Secondly, “user-friendly facilitators” are a critical ingredient to Robert Bloomfield’s successes with the ITP. The skills, deep understanding and requirements of the ITP have enabled both the overall organisation and its facilitators to fully appreciate the power of the programme, and have allowed the delegates, pupils and wider school communities to realise this power through the improvements of teaching and learning.

With another ITP soon to start in Robert Bloomfield Academy Trust, it continues to conquer any doubts it encounters with its ability to surpass all expectations on its impact on the teaching and learning of delegates and pupils alike.