Ani Magill, Headteacher at St John the Baptist School, Woking, has compiled almost 400 tips that could help you to improve your school. They are split into 5 groups: leadership; learning and teaching; achievement; behaviour; general.
Ani would like to remind you that you shouldn’t view the tips as a panacea for school improvement – they are simply ideas that have worked at St John the Baptist. Bearing this in mind, here are her learning and teaching tips 130-145…
130. Be creative about appointing staff if you are in an area where it is really hard to get teachers. If you find two brilliant history teachers and can’t find a geography teacher, swap the curriculum around for one year and give KS3 less geography. There are lots of history teachers out there so advertise for history/English if you can’t find English teachers. A good history teacher with a year 7 class is infinitely preferable to an agency teacher who is hopeless and likely to leave at the end of term! There are hundreds of PE teachers so advertise for PE with maths.
131. If you have excess staff in a specialist area like PE or music, write to all the primary schools and ask if they want to buy half a day a week etc. Similarly if you are short could the local secondary school help out?
132. For new staff, get the children to do them a welcome video. It’s very easy – “Hi Miss Walsh, we’re looking forward to you teaching us biology this year.”
133. Model good learning at staff meetings. Don’t talk at people about variety in learning and teaching for an hour in a staff meeting and then send them home.
134. Learning support assistants (LSAs) – this is a thorny issue. Some are amazing and we can’t do without them, some want some pin money while their children are at school. Don’t have the latter. The rule of thumb is to ask the SENCO “Would you like to have £14K or employ Mrs Pin Money?” Are all your LSAs really value for money?
135. Ensure that everyone in the department has access to good schemes of work and the resources at their fingertips in a format that is easy to understand and online. Remember the days when you were an NQT and had to go home exhausted and prepare six lessons from nothing for the next day?
136. At the end of each INSET day give staff something to take away (bookmark, app, or credit card with a summary of ideas).
137. Try to get ‘cool’ sixth-formers on their gap year to be LSAs.
138. Use the right language as a school; focus each lesson on what the children are going to learn rather than what the teachers are going to teach or what children are going to do.
139. Ensure all NQTs have their own teaching base, no split classes, difficult year 9s etc.
140. Provide advice and support about the layout of classrooms to maximise learning. NQTs can make big errors here.
141. Have a list of activities not allowed in your school eg copying, dictation, word searches, drawing posters and colouring.
142. When appointing staff, speed date through interviews after you’ve seen them teach. It takes less time, it makes the candidates less nervous and you get more points of view. (If you are fortunate enough to have a choice – something we often don’t get in the south east).
143. Become a SCITT or get involved in one. Developing your own teachers is a great way to recruit and to have an extra pair of hands for a year.
144. If you use seating plans, make sure the target grade of every student is written on them – it really helps differentiation in questioning.
145. How do you decide on the use of INSET days? Don’t let it be ad-hoc! Use your observations to identify general weaknesses and put together a coherent programme. Focus on a few key themes each year rather than the scatter gun approach as this won’t change everyday practice.
SSAT’s High Performance Leadership programme (in conjunction with NASA, HSBC and Phillips) launches on 17th October.
365 Ways to Improve Your School
Ani Magill, Headteacher at St John the Baptist School, Woking, has compiled almost 400 tips that could help you to improve your school. They are split into 5 groups: leadership; learning and teaching; achievement; behaviour; general. Read the entire series below: