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

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