Lead practitioner: making an impact where it counts

Lead practitioner: making an impact where it counts
Benjamin Sharratt, Cohort Lead & LP Trainer, GEMS Wellington International School

Why LP accreditation?

As a large 3-18 Outstanding British Curriculum School in Dubai, we recruit and develop incredible teachers, some of whom don’t always aspire to senior leadership level. As a school we identified that these amazing practitioners should be recognised and valued for the contribution they make to the classroom, but importantly to equip them with the skill set to share practice more effectively through a peer learning community. Teachers in our school have so much expertise they can share, but needed a structure in place to help them identify which aspects of their specialist expertise would support colleagues’ professional practice.

Aspirant LPs were selected from their consistency in the classroom following our rigorous Monitoring, Evaluation and Review Cycle (MER) supported by our Performance Management (Grow, Perform, Succeed Model) alongside a phase base approach to ensure a breadth of LPs across key stages.

We firmly believe in a self-improving school model that creates a deeper approach to school improvement, with groups of teachers working collaboratively to improve student outcomes. The LP framework helped to provide these groups of teachers with a common language for school improvement centred on learning and teaching. When colleagues considered LP standard 3 for example, Challenging, developing and innovating, they understood that this was about seeking an area to improve, arriving at a plan of action and incorporating change management techniques to bring others along on the improvement journey.

Our LP journey as a school

Lead Practitioner – Discover

As a school we set out with the intention of becoming an LP Learning Centre (LPLC), a hub of excellence for LP accreditation, able to share our experiences of LP accreditation and crucially our application of the LP framework within the context of an international school in Dubai. The aim was to support and guide a local cluster of schools with their school improvement through the lens of learning and teaching.

Our first cohort of 15 LPs were accredited within one academic year and are now being provided with opportunities to mentor and coach a second cohort of aspirant LPs, starting in April 2023. This opportunity to model and scaffold the self-improving school improvement is invaluable to our school communities and the individuals involved.

Currently our cluster includes three other schools with whom we will be working with on the LP accreditation programme, with a target of 35 accredited LPs across the cluster, focusing on different aspects of our schools. This will entail 20 Wellington teachers progressing through the LP journey to accreditation, guided by our 12-strong team of LP trainers who have been trained by SSAT to extend and embed the LP principles across the cluster.

The impact of cohort 1

Our first cohort of 15 LPs drove impact across a diverse range of learning and teaching improvements including:

  • Improving the quality of learning and teaching through the development of ‘language teaching’ strategies to specifically support Islamic A students who are less confident in the Arabic language.
  • Raise student awareness and improve self-regulation in their approach to studying language acquisition in the International Baccalaureate qualification.
  • Developing problem solving skills of children working at the expected standard and below.
  • Embedding marking and feedback strategies into the upper KS2 curriculum.
  • Developing Mastery in Y6 English through the implementation of PEE skills.
  • Using the VESPA study skills model (Vision, Effort, Systems, Practice and Attitude) to supplement a performance mindset approach to Y10 MFL progress and attainment.
  • Super Sentences – editing and drafting across Y1 – Y6 – focus to raise attainment in writing and GPS with a specific focus against developing students.
  • Improving systems for accessing and tracking progress of students with Personal Profiles, using the feedback to improve these processes, thereby improving the provision for those students in the classroom.
  • Developing Y6 maths curriculum to incorporate more opportunities for project-based learning in preparation for students’ transition into year 7.
  • Effective marking and feedback – particularly focusing on quality verbal feedback & replacing ‘tick and flick’.
  • Developing the learning and teaching of writing across Y1 and Y2 – particularly focusing on editing/drafting writing and improving spelling.
  • Promoting maths mastery and helping learners work at greater depth in year 1.
  • Outstanding outdoor learning at Wellington International School.
  • Developing and embedding the IB Core throughout IB lessons, enabling students to have extra skills IB lessons/opportunities and events to improve the outcome of IB Core.
  • Identifying, acknowledging and evidencing extensive prior system leadership experience.

Aligned with these extensive projects, all LPs were provided with a mentoring process that ensures maximum output and impact from all, supporting the collaborative process across WIS.

A summary of impact

If we consider the overall impact beyond the specific projects outlined previously, we would identify that LP accreditation:

  • Directly gives leading teachers a voice and tangible impact on the learning and teaching of a broader range of students.
  • Enables LPs to build stronger professional bonds with leaders and teachers.
  • Influences LPs and teachers to stay on top of new research and evidence-based practice for the classroom.
  • Through PLCs, promotes consistent reflection, adapting and responding critically and effectively to feedback creating a trust-based culture amongst the LPs and the LP trainers on the staff.

We are huge advocates of Teacher CPD at WIS, often stating that we need to ‘give teachers a career worth having’. All teachers should be continually evolving their practice. The LP programme supports this ethos greatly by inspiring teachers for teachers. SSAT describes the LP programme as ‘recognising, valuing and celebrating leaders of learning’ which, when considered in light of a UK based accreditation also adds a certain lustre to the LPs curriculum vitae.

Finally, the impact and sustained change seen in some staff who otherwise may not be as forthcoming to share has been stark, reinforcing our belief and commitment to the self-improving school model of improvement.

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