At Ysgol Comins Coch, staff collaboration and distribution of leadership nurtures a professional learning culture that has had a significant impact on teaching and learning.
Age range: 4 - 11
Date of inspection: March 2017
Information about the school
Ysgol Comins Coch is in the village of Comins Coch two miles north east of Aberystwyth, in Ceredigion. About a third of the pupils live in the village, with others coming from the village of Waunfawr and the surrounding area. There are seven classes at the school taught by six full-time and two part-time teachers.
About 6% of pupils are eligible for free school meals, which is significantly below the national average. The school identifies around 22% of pupils as having additional learning needs, which is similar to the average for Wales. Very few pupils have a statement of special education needs. Most pupils are of white British origin. Around 11% of pupils have English as an additional language. Very few pupils speak Welsh at home.
Context and background to sector-leading practice
Ysgol Comins Coch strives to create a happy, caring school where everyone feels valued and motivated in all aspects of school life, where every child and every member of staff can develop his or her potential to the full. Performance management is strongly focused on achieving this aim with peer observation, staff mentoring and training forming part of an inclusive whole school approach. Effective collaboration and distribution of leadership fosters a professional learning culture which drives the school forward.
Description of nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice
The school’s senior management team comprises of the headteacher and two assistant headteachers. One assistant headteacher is responsible for pastoral care while the other is responsible for the curriculum. They ensure that the school’s vision and values are communicated clearly to all. The allocation of staff responsibilities aligns clearly with effective performance management procedures, including the continuous professional development of staff. This promote high levels of co-operation and shared good practice throughout the school community. Regular peer observations by teaching staff and teaching assistants, with a clear focus in line with school priorities agreed by staff beforehand, ensure effective professional dialogue, a consistency in approach and best use of the school’s collective expertise.
The skillset of all individuals within the school is valued and the school actively promotes full participation of all members of the team. Decisions are discussed and explained clearly to promote understanding and develop ownership. Inclusivity, team work and a supportive climate based on transparency and mutual respect are key elements in the success of the school. Videos of good practice within the school are produced and shared amongst teaching staff and teaching assistants. As a result, staff have open discussions about the key features of teaching and learning and best practice. This, alongside regular whole school book scrutiny sessions, promotes candid and effective dialogue, cooperation and a clear understanding of the school’s aims. Staff work as a team, everyone with their part to play in the school’s vision of providing education of the highest quality.
All classroom staff have responsibility for monitoring and developing a curriculum, or a cross curricular area. This inclusivity and shared responsibility helps raise standards and provides enriched experiences for the pupils. The school has effective mentoring procedures in place for both new staff and staff taking on greater responsibilities or leadership roles. Staff at all levels have the opportunity to shadow more experienced colleagues and share good practice. Close team work and regular team meetings with a ‘critical friend’ using a non-judgemental approach, ensures a positive ethos.
A quality assurance programme is used through the academic year. A timetable is drawn up at the beginning of the year, in consultation with all classroom staff members, which includes subject area monitoring, book scrutiny, and moderation. The timetable also identifies when feedback will be shared and discussed, with clear ways forward.
Effective performance management procedures ensure all teachers and teaching assistants have the opportunity to maximise their own particular skillset and to provide varied experiences for pupils. The systems are open and clear to all, encourage reflection, honest discussion and consideration of areas for further development and career aspirations. Regular feedback from and monitoring alongside sharing of good practice guarantees continuous improvement and the maintenance of high standards.
All members of staff contribute fully to the school’s self-evaluation and development plan so that everyone shares responsibility for the school’s strategic direction and uses their individual strength and qualifications to ensure the greatest effect. All staff members and representatives from the governing body join together on a school training day to reflect on and evaluate the current priorities. Frank and open discussions take place about the school’s strengths as a learning community and areas for improvement. The views of all staff members influence future priorities and training needs which feed into the school’s development plan. This ensures that everyone has a shared responsibility for the success of the school and the standards achieved.
What impact has this work had on provision and pupils’ standards?
• All members of staff share very high expectations and a vision that is based on providing education of the highest quality.
• The vision is conveyed to staff, pupils, parents and governors very successfully.
• The school is a happy and caring community for all.
• There is a mutual respect between all staff members and a common drive to ensure that all pupils achieve their full potential.
• There is an effective process of self-evaluation that enables the school to identify, monitor and evaluate its performance successfully.
• All staff have a clear and accurate picture of the school’s strengths and areas that need to be improved.
• Excellent performance management procedures and mentoring arrangements impact significantly on teaching, learning and on how well pupils achieve.
How have you shared your good practice?
• The headteacher gave a presentation on the school’s monitoring and mentoring procedures at a conference for new and acting headteachers.
• The current higher learning teaching assistant has been involved in the development of the new professional Standards for Assisting Teaching and was able to share the school’s good practice with other educational professionals