Effective partnership working between schools supports pupils’ transition between key stage 2 and key stage 3

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New pupils at Tredegar Comprehensive School settle quickly and build on their previous learning, thanks to a positive relationship with cluster primary schools. Investment in a joint teacher development programme has also considerably benefited standards.

Number of pupils: 649
Age range: 11-16

Context and background to sector leading practice

The school has always enjoyed a positive relationship with the primary partner schools in its cluster and this has developed further in recent years.  The headteacher and assistant headteacher meet with all headteachers of the cluster schools every half-term to discuss transition for pupils entering key stage 3.  The assistant headteacher and the learning and teaching leads in each school also meet half-termly.  In addition to further developing and enhancing the transition arrangements, the focus of this work has been to secure consistent learning and teaching practice across the cluster.  This helps pupils to settle quickly and they benefit considerably from effective continuity and progression in learning.

Description of strategy

In 2014, the school was identified as a Pathways to Success School as part of the Welsh Government’s School’s Challenge Cymru programme.  The school utilised its involvement in the programme to invest in a range of teaching and coaching programmes.  This has enabled staff at the school to participate in a range of professional learning activities closely related to their responsibilities and development needs.  These include an outstanding teacher programme, an improving teacher programme, an outstanding teaching assistant programme and an outstanding leaders of education programme.  Over time, the number of teachers within the school who have completed these programmes has grown significantly, allowing the school to train its own facilitators for the programmes.

A key element to the approach taken by the school has been to ensure that the benefits of this investment have been shared across the schools in the cluster.  Staff from across the cluster have had access to the suite of teaching programmes, providing beneficial opportunities for cross-phase collaboration and networking.  Teaching assistants similarly benefited from these programmes, as did middle and senior leaders, who welcomed the opportunities to meet and reflect on their practice as leaders in education. Over time this has facilitated the development of a common approach to the language of teaching and learning.

The cross-phase collaboration continued via a series of regular ‘TeachMeets’ hosted by each school in the cluster, affording the opportunity for staff to share and discuss effective practice.  These were especially useful in allowing teachers to see the practice in context and to discuss their ideas with like-minded and committed professionals.  This work, co-ordinated by the teaching and learning leads in each school, has developed further to look at the use of technology in facilitating the sharing of effective practice cross-phase.

To ensure continued progress and build capacity for the future, further funding was invested in training five teachers from across the cluster as facilitators for the suite of teaching programmes.  With nearly all staff across the cluster accessing the programmes, there exists a firm basis for continued professional support and development through coaching.

Impact on provision/standards

Teachers from across the Tredegar cluster have responded enthusiastically to the school’s investment in its teaching programmes.  To date, 67 teachers from across the cluster have taken part in the outstanding teacher programme, 32 have taken part in the outstanding leaders of education programme, 12 have taken part in the improving teacher programme and 50 have taken part in the outstanding teacher assistant programme.  In addition, schools in the cluster have trained five facilitators to ensure sustainability. 

Pupils benefit considerably from effective continuity and progression in learning.  Since 2012, outcomes at the school have improved significantly.  For example, outcomes in the level 2 indicator including English and mathematics at key stage 4 have risen from 29% in 2012 to 54% in 2016.  Performance in many indicators in 2016 placed the school in the upper 50% of similar schools based on free-school-meal eligibility.  

How have you shared your good practice?

Good practice has been shared via the cluster, through Schools Challenge Cymru and consortium events and via Welsh Government national conferences.

The school has provided an effective practice case study to the consortium, has hosted a number of visits from international schools, and regularly provides opportunities for other schools from across Wales to visit and see the work in practice through ‘Walk the Talk’ events.  This includes primary schools, and these visits incorporate a visit to one of the cluster schools.  Additionally, the school continues to facilitate teaching programmes that involve learning walks and lesson observations for all participants.  These programmes are currently accessed by staff from across the EAS consortium and three different local authorities.