Showing posts with label academy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label academy. Show all posts

Monday, 25 January 2021

Working Towards a Middle Phase in an All-Through Academy: Potential Logistical Changes for Years 7 and 8

Even though the title of this blog post is super-boring, working in an all-through academy certainly holds interesting and exciting possibilities - one of the main reasons I wanted to join the school a few years ago. 

Over the last year or so I've been able to extend my role as primary deputy and leader of UKS2 (a phase which didn't exist when I joined, with our first year 5 cohort moving up from year 4 the year I started). I've been working with Directors of Learning from the secondary phase to plan and roll out a year 7 and 8 curriculum which takes inspiration from a primary curriculum model which makes explicit links between disciplines - something I really should blog about in more detail at some point.

Now the curriculum is being rolled out, I have had the opportunity to observe it in action, and in doing so have put together further ideas for how years 7 and 8 might be developed in the future to really aid transition between KS2 and KS3. At the moment, these are all at proposal stage whilst we work on possible logistics to make them happen - not all of these ideas may come to fruition.

Many of the proposals that I have shared with the academy's senior leaders are linked to changes that were initially made because of the Covid-19 pandemic but which have gone on to have unforeseen positive consequences. Such proposals I have marked with an asterisk in the following list, although some of them were on my wishlist prior to the pandemic!

In addition to the list below, there is a huge thinkpiece to be done around primary to secondary transition, especially with the removal of SATs and children being in lockdown for the foreseeable future - yet another blog post for another time.

Proposed Developments for years 7 and 8

These proposed developments would be implemented for both year 7 and in year 8 in the 21/22 academic year.

*Children remain in a year group ‘bubble’, in a specific area of the academy, with most lessons taking place in this area of the building. This is to reduce movement around the academy, reduce opportunities to see misbehaviour of other year groups and to reduce their own misbehaviour during transition.

*Children take the majority of their lessons in one classroom (PSHCE, Geography, History, English, Maths). This is to reflect the primary experience of remaining largely in one classroom and developing a familiarity with their surroundings. This classroom will also be where they spend Period 1 (P1). Lessons requiring specialist rooms and equipment will be taken in the relevant rooms e.g. music, drama, dance, PE, DT, art, science (where necessary). This is to ensure lessons in each subject can be taught properly, but also so that children do begin to experience transitioning around the secondary part of the academy.

Classroom environments developed to reflect learning across the linked curriculum e.g. use of working walls and displays and having resources and artefacts available to inspire and support learning. This is to provide visual links and reminders of current and previous learning (for both children and teachers), to celebrate good work and to further replicate the primary experience of working in a classroom environment that is designed to support and aid learning.

Classroom storage utilised to ensure that teachers have what they need to hand without having to transport lots of materials around the academy. This is to ensure teachers have what they need to hand, and so that transitions for teachers are as easy as possible.

Develop how time is spent whilst teachers transition to classrooms e.g. Do Nows for next lesson sent to previous teacher to leave on screen for children to complete in readiness for next lesson. This is to ensure that behaviour remains good during times when teachers are not present in the classroom.

Children have an advisor who also teaches a subject in their year group. This is to develop a core team of familiar staff who are not only available during P1 but who are around the KS3 bubble areas for the majority of the day with the particular purpose of developing strong relationships between children and teachers so that teachers know the children in KS3 extremely well.

Year group teams developed, meaning that particular members of staff teach a KS3 year group for the majority of their time. This is to develop a core team of familiar staff who are around the KS3 bubble areas for the majority of the day with the particular purpose of developing strong relationships between children and teachers so that teachers know the children in KS3 extremely well.

*P1 developed as time spent with advisor with one collective meeting per week during P1. This is to develop relationships between children and a key member of staff in the KS3 teaching team in to ensure that each child has a member of staff who has a holistic understanding of them, including issues relating to their SEMH needs, home circumstances, behaviour and attitude, attendance etc.

P1 time developed to incorporate review/recall from a wider range of curriculum subjects. This is to ensure that children can remember what they have learnt across a range of subjects.

PSHCE/RE curriculum developed to make further curriculum links. This is to provide a curriculum lesson where links across the subjects can explicitly be brought together at the same time as exploring some of the associated wider issues that there is not time for in other lessons.

Leadership and staffing structure of KS3 adapted to include a phase leader and necessary middle leaders to support the day-to-day running of the phase. The leadership structure will take in some aspects of the leadership of UKS2 as well, creating a middle phase. This is again to provide a dedicated team who know the children in KS3 very well in order to safeguard them in all ways as they move from KS2 to KS3.

If you would like Aidan to work with you on developing your transition offer either at your primary school or your secondary school, please visit his website at https://www.aidansevers.com/services and get in touch via the contact details that can be found there.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Forced Academisation: Will Hands Be Tied?

The Lords are revolting! "How very dare you!" they reply to the Tory idea that all failing schools should convert to academies. 

Come January I'll have worked in an academy for a year. Our school was rated as 'inadequate' by Ofsted two years ago this month. This is the part where I hasten to add that I joined the school in September last year, quickly distancing myself from any association with the grading. I took the job based on the weakness of the report - the challenge appealed to me. Who wouldn't want to work in an inner-city school boasting the accumulating problems of years of declining leadership? I remember sitting in bed reading the report and gasping out loud at what it contained. I remember visiting the school to be the told by the new head (who had already been appointed before 'the visit') that "the report was kind." I went to interview and accepted an Assistant Headship at the school, knowing that very soon the local authority would relinquish its responsibilities and that an academy chain would be 'taking over'.

It was my decision to work in an academy. Some of the existing staff members were highly suspicious of the change. As are most who are anticipating the passing of The Education Bill in which failing schools are to be forced into academisation without even the consultation of parents or teachers. And there are some awful stories which would only serve to heighten fears, but mine is not one of them.

As mentioned before, the current head started in the new year, post killer Ofsted. She quickly set about making changes (no time to outline those here). When the school became an academy - part of a large local chain - she retained her status as leader of the school. Whilst she has become part of a bigger machine, she still makes the decisions that are right for the school. In our chain, each head has autonomy as the academy recognises that its leaders know their individual schools best. Maybe, we've struck gold and other academies are not structured in this way, but they can't all be bad, surely?

As an academy we have benefited in other ways:

Parents were initially vehemently against the academisation, but a year on perceptions have changed. They see now a school run by professional people with their children's best interests at heart. They see us as part of a bigger force for good in our city - there is a sense of belonging amongst our stakeholders. They see that as a result of the aforementioned leadership, under the academy's umbrella, that major changes are taking place and transforming their children's education. Whilst we still have our challenges, no longer is it an 'Inadequate' school. 

Staff, on the whole, now feel proud too to be a part of the chain and there is a greater sense of teamwork and belonging; our staff Christmas meal was apparently the best attended in many years. Positive working relationships with other schools in the group are beginning to be fostered and expertise is being shared. 

The children notice the difference the most - they are learning more, more quickly, and enjoying it. They look smarter in our new uniform. They like the tighter routines and the maximisation of learning time. But they would not put the changes down to the academisation, but to the shift in 'how things are done', which all points back to the leadership (most children would recognise the change came about when the head changed). 

We have become an academy but the powers that be in the academy group have allowed the school's leaders to do their job, resulting in all manner of positive changes. I recognise our situation may be different to others as the new head was not responsible for the 'inadequacy' of the  school, nevertheless, I wanted to share a positive story of a school being forced into becoming an academy

Photo Credit: geebeetography via Compfight cc