Getting the climate right

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Leaders at Ysgol Bro Pedr have worked successfully with staff and pupils to establish a climate in the school that supports effective teaching and learning. Teachers take pride in the fact that they are now able to concentrate on teaching throughout their lessons, rather than spend time dealing with misbehaviour and underperformance. As a result, staff wellbeing and pupil confidence and behaviour have improved.


Ysgol Bro Pedr is a bilingual 3-19 school in Lampeter, Ceredigion.  The school admits pupils to the primary department at three years of age.  Pupils from other partner primary schools within the local authority and beyond join the secondary department at age 11.  There are approximately 1,050 pupils on roll, with approximately 360 pupils in the primary department and 151 in the sixth form.  The school is an amalgamation of two previous schools, Ysgol Gynradd Ffynnonbedr and Ysgol Gyfun Llanbedr Pont Steffan.  ‘Canolfan y Bont’, which is a local authority resource for secondary age pupils with profound needs, is also an integral part of the school.  There is also a specialist unit for pupils with profound educational needs and vulnerable pupils with behavioural needs.

Around 14% of pupils are eligible for free school meals.The school identifies that over 40% of its pupils have additional learning needs.Around 5% of pupils have a statement of special educational needs.Approximately 60% of pupils come from non-Welsh speaking homes.Over 8% of pupils speak English as an additional language, which is much higher than the national average.

The headteacher was appointed in January 2016.  At that time, the school had one deputy headteacher and two assistant headteachers.  Following a period of restructuring, it now has two deputy headteachers and three full-time equivalent assistant headteachers.  All senior staff have specific responsibilities relating to developing the school as an effective learning community.

The school is currently a pioneer school and is working with the Welsh Government and other schools to take forward developments relating to the curriculum and other professional learning.

Strategy and action

The headteacher has a clear vision based on the principle that ‘Every child counts at Ysgol Bro Pedr

As part of its work as a pioneer school the school is considering how best to develop the 12 pedagogical principles cited in Successful Futures (Donaldson, 2015).

The first priority in the school development plan for 2016-2017 was to ‘This continues to be a main priority in 2017-2018.

When starting the work as a pioneer school, leaders identified the need to:

  1. Establish an appropriate climate to enable teachers to teach successfully and for pupils to achieve to the best of their ability
  2. Evaluate the effectiveness of teaching
  3. Ensure consistency, share good practice and develop pedagogy

1  Establishing an appropriate climate to enable teachers to teach successfully and for pupils to achieve to the best of their ability.

Initially, staff had a productive discussion about the main barriers that were preventing them from teaching effectively and delivering the lessons that they had planned for pupils.  They concluded that spending time dealing with cases of low‑level misbehaviour was the main barrier across the school.  Teachers in the primary sector also raised issues relating to pupils’ wellbeing. 

In order to ensure that it gives teachers an opportunity to teach without having to deal with these persistent behavioural issues, the school put appropriate actions in place. 

In the primary sector, leaders decided to have a dedicated support room where pupils could go if they were disrupting learning excessively.  The school appointed a level 3 member of support staff as the support room co-ordinator.  If a pupil disrupts lessons excessively in a primary class, a member of staff takes them to the support room.  The support room co-ordinator talks through the issues with the pupil concerned and tries to resolve their problems and address any concerns.  Under the supervision of the co-ordinator, the pupil completes the tasks they would have undertaken in their class.  When necessary, the co-ordinator also liaises with parents to try to resolve any underlying problems or behavioural issues that the pupil may have.

In the secondary sector, the school has established a code of conduct that it calls the ‘Bro Pedr Right to Learn’.  The code sets out clear rules of conduct for pupils and makes them responsible for the choices they make concerning their own behaviour in the classroom and around the school.  Teachers register pupils at the beginning of every lesson and at the end of each lesson give each pupil a grade.  The grades go from one to four.  Grade one is for excellent work or good behaviour towards learning, grade two is for the expected behaviour, grade three means that the teacher has issued a warning and grade four means that the pupil has been removed from the classroom to complete their work in the support room.  Staff use an electronic registration system to log a grade four and record the reasons why they made the decision to remove a pupil from the classroom.  Leaders analyse this information effectively to address persistent misbehaviour and to identify behaviour patterns in pupils.

As a result of the introduction of these systems, staff soon reported a significant improvement in pupils’ behaviour and an improvement in their personal wellbeing.  Teachers were able to teach throughout the lesson without interruption, and greater pupil progress was evident, not only among pupils who had misbehaved previously, but also among their peers. 

2  Evaluating the effectiveness of teaching

Leaders set teachers’ performance management targets and base their evaluations about the effectiveness of teaching through judging the quality of pupils’ standards.  Every teacher has at least one quantitative target that relates to the expected outcomes of a group of pupils at the end of the relevant key stage.  Leaders ensure that all teachers are familiar with the national professional standards and implement them consistently.  Leaders expect teachers to use pupil data to inform their lesson plans and their preparation of teaching resources.  This includes setting interesting, differentiated and challenging class work and homework tasks that enable all pupils to make appropriate progress.

The school provides additional individual support for teachers who receive a judgement of adequate or below in two or more classroom observations.

3  Ensuring consistency, sharing good practice and developing pedagogy

As the school is a pioneer school and working with the Welsh Government and other schools to lead work around professional learning, developing effective pedagogy is a priority at Ysgol Bro Pedr. 

Leaders made a decision to use professional triads to develop the 12 pedagogical principles cited in Successful Futures (Donaldson, 2015).  The school believes that triads are an effective way of observing good practice, sharing ideas, increasing confidence and supporting staff.  Professional triads involve three teachers working together over time to plan, try out new ideas, observe, teach and evaluate each other’s practice. 

Professional triad planning cycle

Meeting 1:  The three teachers plan jointly, and one of the three teaches the lesson, while the two other teachers observe.  They then complete a lesson observation sheet.

Meeting 2:  Teachers feedback their observations from the first lesson and then jointly plan the next lesson.  The second teacher from the triad teaches and the two other teachers observe.  They then complete a lesson observation sheet.

Meeting 3:  Teachers feedback their observations from the second lesson and then jointly plan the next lesson.  The last teacher from the triad teaches and the two other teachers observe.  They then complete a lesson observation sheet.

Meeting 4:  Teachers feedback their observations from the third lesson and jointly complete a feedback form that they present to the leadership team. 

The feedback from teachers gives senior leaders a strategic overview of how well the triad system is working and helps them to make decisions about how best to adapt the system as it embeds across the school. 

The triads are organised in the following ways:

  • three teachers with the same level of responsibility
  • inexperienced teachers working with experienced teachers
  • cross-subject triads

In the first cycle, triads focused on one of the following pedagogical principles:

  • mind-set and the power of effort
  • assessment for learning
  • overall purpose

This year, all triads are focussing on the principle of blended teaching.  The school has decided to use this aspect to upskill teachers in order to help them to develop digital competency across the school.

A few of the triads, and individual teachers, record their lessons using digital video equipment to enable them to evaluate themselves and their peers.  This has proved to be very successful.

To ensure consistency and improve teaching across the school, all staff follow the school’s agreed classroom practice policies.  These include using a common marking code, teachers discussing pupils’ work with them rather than only giving written feedback and teachers considering more of the pupils’ voice in lessons to ensure a better level of challenge for all. 

To support teachers in providing an appropriate challenge for all pupils, the school has produced a staff handbook on differentiation.  The handbook confirms the importance of creating lessons that address the needs of all pupils to ensure effective learning in all classes.  It gives teachers a clear explanation of what the school means by the term differentiation and provides helpful ideas, strategies and examples for them to use in their lessons.  These include advice on:

  • presenting, displaying and discussing key words
  • modelling conversations
  • seating plans
  • giving examples of answers
  • showing examples of good work
  • differentiating by outcome
  • extending tasks
  • pacing lessons appropriately
  • group work
  • giving thinking time
  • skilful questioning
  • using writing frames

Teachers, including supply staff, appreciate the handbook.  They think that it is a valuable resource, which helps them to improve the quality of their teaching and raise pupils’ standards of learning. 

To ensure that practices in the primary and secondary sector are as consistent as possible, the school develops the thematic element of teaching that the primary sector uses frequently for Year 7 pupils in subjects such as history, geography and ICT.  This facilitates the transition for pupils and prepares staff and pupils effectively to meet the requirements of the Digital Competence Framework.

Outcomes

One of the main outcomes is the improvement in pupils’ behaviour in classes.  Pupils take greater responsibility for their behaviour, concentrate better and show an improved commitment to learning.  Unexpectedly, the self-confidence of many pupils who had misbehaved historically has increased, and they are beginning to realise that they are able to succeed in tasks.  As a result, they have higher aspirations for their futures.  Teachers have reported improved standards of achievement not only for pupils who had misbehaved previously, but also for the other pupils in their classes.  There has been an increase in pupils’ attainment in a majority of indicators at the end of key stages.

Staff wellbeing has improved.  Teachers take pride in the fact that they are able to concentrate on teaching throughout their lessons, rather than waste time dealing with misbehaviour and underperformance.

Teachers see the value of working in triads and feel that leaders continuously support them in improving their teaching practice.

Leaders have a good understanding of the standard of teaching and learning across the school, and they recognise that there is now better consistency and practice in teaching.

Next steps as identified by the school

  • Ensure that systems to improve teaching and learning become embedded
  • Improve further teachers’ ability to assess the quality of their own practice, and that of their peers
  • Ensure that teachers know which aspects of pupils’ learning need improving to allow them to reach their potential

Links 

http://bropedr.ceredigion.sch.uk/