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VIEWS & OPINION


How to create a school culture where students make outstanding progress


Comment by LUCY SCOTT, CEO, Eastern Learning Alliance


Educators are motivated by the chance to make a positive difference to students’ lives. At Eastern Leaning Alliance (ELA), a multi-academy trust in Cambridgeshire and East Anglia, to ensure we realise our goals, we have created a strategy for improving school experiences, setting ourselves the target of every student achieving an average progress score of no less than 0.5. To achieve this, we applied a series of strategic changes to enhance the progress students make across all our schools. In our schools we have adopted a journey mindset, which begins


with the classroom experience of every student. Using the classroom as a starting point for change has proven successful for multiple schools within our family. For example, by employing our specific ELA strategies, Chesterton Community College progressed from special measures to outstanding in only four years. In addition, Downham Market Academy is currently showing results which indicate a good school, having previously received a grading of needing improvement three years ago. The progress being made can be attributed to the implementation of our Trust’s signature strategic approach.


The strategies applied follow a progress model with three core principles:


Change starts in the classroom to make a difference to student experiences We clearly communicate the plans for change with all involved at our schools via a one-page improvement plan. This engages everyone on the progress journey and demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to improving the school environment. It is also vital that curriculums are developed by skilled teachers who are experts in their subject, so that students have positive learning experiences through inspiring and engaging lessons.


Knowing students and their potential A core tenet of the ELA strategy is encouraging those who know their students best, to be instrumental in designing their progress plan. By knowing our students and their learning potential, a different learning approach can be applied to the classroom that uses the capabilities of technology to create lessons that have a different entry point for each student. This produces independent learning and permits students to study at a pace that suits them, benefitting their learning experience.


Looking at the environmental leadership Agile and responsive leadership is essential to progression. A progressive approach means that leadership is circular, as it is a component that is never complete or finished. The leadership of a school must always be: Agile to change; constantly questioning the status quo; looking for bespoke solutions. This type of leadership is never satisfied and is continuously looking to improve the school environment. Schools by nature are ever evolving with the student population changing each year and therefore there is always a need for change. By utilising the principles of this progress model, schools in our


Trust have improved. This approach suits schools due to its fundamentally progressive nature and its ability to adapt to each school’s unique context. It is essential that adaptations are made in the strategy as each school has its own issues that need bespoke solutions. Throughout the pandemic, ELA schools have continued to


maintain progress despite teaching in unique circumstances. This clearly shows that our progress model works and creates outstanding progress in schools.


22 www.education-today.co.uk


Top ten tips for epic summer schools


Comment by FLEUR SEXTON, Managing Director, PET-Xi Training


Summer schools need to be fun, fun and more fun... but pupil confidence and engagement is key if you are to make them effective. Recovering from the most challenging year in education to date is a task of


massive proportion particularly for children that are disadvantaged or vulnerable – they have missed out on so much - far more than just maths and English. It’s not just simply about catching up academically. They will need some TLC. Here are my tips.


Acknowledge their achievements during lockdown They may be behind in maths and English but they have learnt new skills during lockdown - new IT skills and how to manage their own work, often in less than perfect home environments. Acknowledge these new skills and help them to be proud of how they adapted.


Find out how they feel right now They may feel vulnerable and unable to cope in large groups – acknowledge the challenges they are facing and take time to listen. Don’t dive directly into academic catch up.


Identify vulnerable children Vulnerable pupils - particularly those from ethnic minorities or disadvantaged backgrounds - may have been hit harder than children from affluent families who have more economic stability. Be aware of the impact of digital poverty. Implement plans to address this now and put plans in place should the next wave hit.


Show compassion Compassion is a top priority – most children have lost varying degrees of confidence. They have been impacted by lack of interaction with their peer groups, support networks, and missed out on specialist help for dyslexia and SEN – the list goes on. They need to feel happy and secure before moving on to maths and English.


Help them deal with stress Acknowledge the stress that they have experienced. Have they processed it? Have they managed it? Some will have just got on, others will be very emotional, tearful or angry at times, others may have just simply switched off. Address them before moving on.


Make specialist provision Criminal activity and gangs simply moved online during lockdown – activity that many adults were not aware of. Many children may have faced issues on gender, transitioning, domestic violence and the break-up of relationships and families. Delve in, acknowledge them and ensure that staff trained in safeguarding are on hand to help and that children have access to mental health services.


Give them time Give them time to rebuild their friendships, to work in teams and deal with things when they go wrong.


Implement a broad range of diverse activities Let them catch up on fun - they have missed out on proms, team activities, orchestra, choirs, theatre trips, dance clubs, piano lessons etc. Cultural activities are a great way for young people to express themselves and discover who they are. Implement a broad range of activities - sport, theatre and dance and give them access to things that weren’t available at home – sports equipment, art materials, musical instruments etc.


Introduce maths and English a little at a time Maths and English skills are essential but engagement needs to come first. Ease them into maths and English a little at a time – work up gradually to a 50/50 split between academic and physical activities Make it non-threatening and fun, put children into groups where they are working with their friends and peers of similar ability, rather than mixed ability groups or 1:1 sessions to ensure that their confidence is not hit or that they simply switch off.


Most importantly, adopt a holistic approach rather than hammering home maths and English, after a stressful year, nurture them, build their confidence then watch them progress.. https://www.pet-xi.co.uk/programmes/schools/active-summer-programme


June 2021


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