A different approach to a school improvement plan

There are few harder tasks than to rapidly improve a school.

I know because I did it.

I’d like to share some of the things I learned along the way…

To improve a school quickly, you have to improve teaching so that learning increases and achievement rises.

To improve teaching quickly, you have to focus on the professional development of the teachers, but teachers can only be contractually directed to work for 1,265 hours a year and almost all of this is spent in the classroom teaching lessons.

So, you have to support it during the school day, in the form of release time from classroom teaching responsibilities.

However, this is problematic because it’s both costly and damages the learners progress in the short term.

It’s costly because to release a teacher for one day costs about £600. Half of this is the teacher’s salary, the other half pays for the supply teacher.  Imagine the number of days it takes to fundamentally improve a teacher’s teaching.

It damages progress because every time a lesson is delivered by someone who doesn’t know the learners well (i.e. supply teachers), the learners make less progress. Do this too often and you’ve got inadequate progress over time and you’re a failing school for supporting staff CPD.

I made some very bold decisions as a headteacher. Some probably called them rash, stupid or crazy, but the gamble paid off and we rapidly raised achievement, rapidly improving the school.

But here’s a thought. What if the process of teaching was teacher CPD? How transformational would that be? Teachers, developed by the very act of their teaching.

That would be quite something wouldn’t it?

Paul Rose

Teacher conundrums

As a teacher, I once taught a boy called Jay*.

Jay was lovely; a 5 year-old bundle of energy who lit up our classroom.

He was also a flipping nightmare to get work out of.

If I sat beside him he could get on.

If I moved to the table next to his, his work slowed dramatically.

If I went to the other side of the classroom, he might as well have stayed at home.

This wasn’t naughtiness though.

Jay’s additional needs meant he needed regular reminders of what we were learning and the work he had to do.

If you’re a teacher then you’ll know Jay; you’ve taught him many times too.

You’ll also know that Jay is not alone.  Many children need our supportive prompts and quiet re-teaching of key learning.

Of course, children like Jay make up only a fraction of the classes we teach.

The reality is that for every child to reach their potential, their learning needs must be met too.

It might be for consolidation.

At times it will be for extension.

Occasionally it’s because they’ve just come back from the dentist and have no idea what’s going on.

These are challenges of personalisation and connection.

For every child to make the progress of which they are truly capable, they need their teacher sat next to them, guiding and pushing their learning in every moment of every lesson.

I left education and founded a company because I could see that technology, if it were designed to enhance the way that teachers teach, could deliver this level of personalisation and connection.

I could also see that there was a desperate need to bring schools together, to share knowledge and expertise across phases and sectors.

I left education to take what I’d learned and build it into a platform that enabled teachers to give teaching the reach their learners need.

In doing so, we’ve built a uniquely powerful teaching community that is working together, including everyone and reducing workload too

The teachers we work with often refer to their ability to be teaching in multiple ways and multiple places as amazing and the impact as revolutionary.

It allows them to support, guide and extend their learners wherever they are; next to them, on the next table or lately, at home.

YouTeachMe doesn’t solve a pandemic-driven remote learning problem; it solves a much bigger problem, one that’s always existed in classrooms, that the pandemic has simply exposed.

Mr Paul Rose (previously a teacher)

*not his real name

Shhhhh it’s too noisy in here!

I bet if you’re a teacher you’ve not said that in a while! I imagine it’s something you’d love to say again soon… a class full of children is better than a muted live lesson, right?

Right now it’s really noisy out there when it comes to all the EdTech tools vying to support online pandemic-affected teaching.

And because of this, if you’re not Microsoft, Google, Zoom or Oak National then it’s highly unlikely you’ll be heard (we know that feeling!).

Here’s where YouTeachMe stands. And it’s not making loud noise for the now, it’s about encouraging quiet consideration of what comes after the pandemic.

Let’s be honest, education has needed a rethink for a while.

We all know that high-stakes accountability has driven the obsession with measurements, outcomes, progression and data. It’s obvious to us all that this is the wrong road, we should be driven by the needs of children; all children not just those in the middle.

So our ‘what’s next’ is about looking around, learning lessons from the pandemic and making sure that when normality returns, it does so with embedded technology that enables every child to achieve their potential, every lesson, every day.

You might look at those noisy services mentioned above and wonder how they will ever enable every child to succeed post-pandemic. The truth is, they won’t. They cannot improve outcomes in a live lesson in the classroom.

To do that, you need something simple to use, that harnesses teachers new found confidence with video technology, and that’s designed to embed within the pedagogies they use in their daily classroom teaching before COVID.

And that’s where YouTeachMe comes in.

YouTeachMe is like Hermione Granger’s Time-Turner for teachers. Great teaching means great outcomes for every child. To achieve this, every child needs challenge and support. YouTeachMe delivers this in spades. It facilitates you being in many places, supporting a range of learning, ALL AT ONCE.

More able learners who are ready to master concepts; send them to watch your video and complete the more challenging tasks you’ve set. Those who are struggling and need a bit more support; send them to watch your video during the lesson and see them keep up. A single child who just didn’t grasp the lesson; send them a personalised video to watch at home, helping them keep up.

YouTeachMe enables teachers to make a difference to every child in their class, in every subject they teach, every day. They can do so in class, at home, in hospital, anywhere. Importantly, learning is supported even on a phone – learners don’t need a laptop.

And those video’s aren’t 1 hour lessons, they’re not even 30 minutes. The most effective videos are just a couple of minutes long, augmented by well planned activities to embed learning. It’s just what you already do.

So hush now, pandemic products. Your use won’t last much longer and you’re distracting us from the important stuff. 

Let’s have some real conversations about how we can improve education for every child in the country no matter what their ability is. One thing is for sure children have a range of abilities in abundance and they should be given the chance to shine brightly.

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