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365 ways to improve your school – achievement (177-202)

header-banner-929ani-magillAni 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 achievement tips 177-202…

177. Ensure someone checks the Progress 8 for every child to ensure they are on the right courses. A child doing six subjects they can achieve in will be happier in school, more successful, and have the added bonus of giving you higher value-added.

178. Don’t give teachers a raft of information about students – just the grades they need to deliver on and then make sure they know and use them. Ensure that the grade you set is aspirational.

179. If a teacher in your school doesn’t deliver on results are they looked in the eye and told that it isn’t not good enough? You would be surprised how uncommon this is. In some schools a head of department will write a report excusing poor results and that report will be filed rather than be the beginning of the discussion.

180. Send a card home to everyone in years 11 and 13 wishing them luck in their exams.

181. Does everyone know which class teacher, department and students didn’t make three levels of progress last year? Be brave and publish it. We are running a service not a charity!

182. Have photos of SEN children in the staffroom with strategies to get the best out of them.

183. Maybe your school is different but in ours not many students will make good use of their exercise books for revision. It needs to be online or on their phones.

184. After the mocks give every classroom teacher a list of their students coloured in red, amber or green (below, on, above target) – it’s very powerful to see the colour overall and teachers can’t argue with a sea of red.

185. Heads of year should visit their year group’s lessons in their free periods, and do lunch duties.

186. Run year 12 and 13 mocks in January and treat them as the real thing.

187. Get successful sixth-formers, year 11, the silver brigade, local businesses and local footballers to mentor lower school students with low aspirations.

188. Have a one side of A4-long executive summary of your data, different groups, pupil premium etc. Don’t wait for RAISE to see
if you have any gaps.

189. Ensure the year 6 to year 7 transition catch-up is thorough. Work with primary schools eg start the weaker students at your school in July and have intensive numeracy and literacy for three weeks. Those children also start back in September feeling much more part of the community already.

190. Put up photos of famous people with learning difficulties eg Jamie Oliver and Keira Knightly in the learning support department.

191. Have a huge display in every department with the key words that students need to know, and their definitions. Put them on TV screens, behind toilet doors etc before exams.

192. Be really careful with year 10 and year 12 options that you aren’t setting a weak child up to fail. Who is in charge of making sure this doesn’t happen in your school? A boy with low levels of literacy or concentration choosing history because he liked the teacher in year 9 can disrupt the entire group in years 10 and 11 plus make the child feel inadequate. Does someone check that every child is only on courses they can achieve in?

193. If you have a small enough number, put the most difficult students all in one group and ensure they have the most outstanding teachers for every lesson. It saves hundreds of hours of leadership and pastoral time spent mopping up after a weaker teacher.

194. Similarly put big numbers in your top sets (35) to make space for smaller groups lower down.

195. Try to find the money for smaller groups in English. Thirty essays take forever to mark and to give good quality feedback on.

196. Ensure someone looks after the ‘grey’ students, they get positive letters home and their achievements are noted. When reports come out send these so called ‘grey’ students to the headteacher or SLT for praise. Have two grey students per week to focus on.

197. Agree a system for focusing on extending writing across the school and train the students throughout the school (eg PEEL, point explain, example, link to question).

198. Ensure there is a system whereby every child is spoken to about their progress. It takes minutes to ask how things are going and it’s important that 100% of students are asked.

199. Find cheaper ways to appoint staff. Students on their gap year are good for multimedia or IT roles.

200. If a teacher is struggling with a year 11 set, have one of SLT sit at the front of the room, doing their own work. Everyone wins as the member of staff gets peace to answer emails… hopefully!

201. Please don’t decide what grades your class will get before you ever meet them. “Set 4 only ever gets Ds” etc. Students are capable of great things if the teacher believes in them. I worked with a teacher in a secondary modern school whose mantra was 100% can (and they did).

202. Don’t let the timetable dictate the curriculum. If you only have three reasonable maths teachers you have to split year 11 in half and not have all the groups being taught at the same time.

SSAT’s High Performance Leadership programme (in conjunction with NASA, HSBC and Phillips) launches on 17th October.

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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:

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