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 achievement tips 229-254…
229. Don’t label children as school action plus etc. call them the diamonds, golds etc.
230. Take action over students who perform really badly in years 7-10. Have a four week graduation trial period where if they fail to improve, they are kept down a year or at least for the month of September. It’s a great deterrent to those on the brink. Obviously this doesn’t work if there are 100 of them…
231. Ensure all students are on courses they can be successful in. Have bridge tests after two weeks in sixth-form. Teach a topic then give students A-level-type questions. If they fail the bridge test move course eg from geography to travel and tourism.
232. Always go to the exam board meetings as they provide invaluable information and hints.
233. Take year 10 off timetable for a day to do their controlled assessments – saves loads of stress for staff chasing people later. Make a huge deal of it and send a letter home.
234. Exam success needs a lot of work now that the system has changed, particularly in sixth-form and for GCSE maths and English. Have a plan as a school and implement it now. Eg when will you do mocks, is it still worth doing early entries?
235. Ban lessons where children just work through past papers, for 90% it is a waste of time.
236. Always read the examiner’s report! You’ll learn a lot. Get staff to be exam markers.
237. Don’t run any open revision classes – the wrong students come and they make the weaker students feel inadequate. Target each revision class for A/A*, C/D etc.
238. Give the students you need to see an individual personalised timetable of when they need to be in school and send a copy to their parents asking for support.
239. Make a large display of exam language and what it means. Eg “show”, “prove”, “evaluate”, “find the value of”. Agree as a school common definitions for each of these…
240. Have a revision website with all dates etc but also forums, revision material for each subject, blogs and top tips.
241. Rename revision classes eg The Priory School in Shropshire uses ‘pimp my grades’. Make them attractive, bring a mate, buy pizza, give out sweets etc.
242. Write home following revision classes “delighted you came…” or “we really missed you”.
243. Don’t run revision sessions for months on end as students will come to rely on them. When they are hosted, get a member of the support staff to ring parents of students not present and if possible bring them back – then loads of praise when they get there.
244. How do you use year 11 form time from February to June? It’s a lot of hours that can be wasted. Have dedicated revision sessions for very small groups with breakfast.
245. Write to the Prime Minister and lots of famous people and ask them to write to year 11 to wish them luck in their exams.
246. Have a revision evening for year 11 parents to give them key dates and ideas to support rather than nag their children.
247. Divide year 11 into gangs eg All Stars (A* students) BBs (bubbly boys) KCs (kicks & cuddles needed). Give each gang a leader who they like and meet your gang regularly to ensure you give them the appropriate messages/rewards for attendance etc. Have special gang assemblies.
248. Put revision tips up in the dining room where the students queue and in their cloakroom, stairs, plasma screens doors etc.
249. Make sure staff and students know how many lessons they have left until their exam. Staff get really stressed if they find out at the last minute that they will miss some of their year 11 lessons eg for a trip.
250. Ensure every child has a progression route so this can be tied into questions about their progress. Make sure there is a named
person in charge of progression routes.
251. Publish past papers, mark scheme and examiners’ reports on the VLE so students can see what makes the difference between A/B and B/C. Have videos of the really difficult questions and how to answer them.
252. Ensure that the GCSEs aren’t the first time the students have been under exam board conditions. Make sure this happens as often as possible during their school life and make sure there is a friendly face welcoming them in to give a positive upbeat start in the actual room they will sit their GCSEs.
253. Make sure one of the SLT is present at the beginning of each exam to give the students positive messages. Feed and water all students from providing breakfast, bottle of water on exam desk, wine gums as they enter the hall etc.
254. When students come out of paper 1 give/email them a typed list of what you think will be on paper 2 (where appropriate) plus questions with model answers. Really important for subjects like maths.
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: