Using distributed leadership to drive improvement

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Using distributed leadership to drive improvement

Glasllwch C.P. School, Newport, has restructured its leadership team to build capacity throughout the school. Staff and governors work together in annual INSET days to identify areas for development. Governors play a key role in improving standards and pupils are given frequent opportunities to undertake leadership roles in the classroom.

Number of pupils: 210
Age range: 4 - 11 years
Date of Estyn inspection: March 2014

Context and background to sector-leading practice

Glasllwch Primary School is in a residential area on the north side of the city of Newport. There are 210 pupils aged 4 – 11 years at the school, taught in seven single aged classes.

Currently, 1% of pupils are entitled to free school meals. 16% of pupils have additional learning needs. Most pupils come from English speaking homes. No pupils speak Welsh as a first language and very few are from a minority ethnic background or learn English as an additional language.

Leadership at all levels is integral to the consistently high standards achieved across school. The Head Teacher has communicated a clear vision to staff, governors and parents about high expectations. This ensures a relentless drive for improvement which is central to school life. As a result, many pupils achieve above expected levels in National Curriculum teacher assessments, standards of wellbeing are excellent and procedures for self evaluating and planning for improvement are excellent.

The school places a strong emphasis on effective distributed leadership. This promotes a strong professional learning culture throughout the school. All staff have well defined roles and job descriptions which are reviewed regularly through performance management arrangements and tailored to drive forward school development plan priorities.

Nature of strategy or activity identified as sector-leading practice

The existing staffing structure has been reorganised to build leadership capacity across school and to meet the needs of the school more effectively. All members of the leadership team have clearly defined job descriptions and a good understanding of their strategic responsibilities and accountability, including performance management, monitoring, evaluation and review. Staff receive useful professional development to assist them in theirleadership roles within their areas of responsibility. Weekly management meetings focus on school improvement andraising standards according to school development plan priorities.

Curriculum Subjects are grouped together under the following areas of learning: communication and culture, innovation and problem solving, and Exploration and Enquiry. All staff and governors are allocated to these teams according to their expertise or areas of interest.

Individual staff lead on specific subjects within each area. Roles and responsibilities within teams are identified by team leaders according to the aspect of self evaluation being carried out. Self evaluation timetables are drawn up alongside priority action plans which are identified as a result of whole school self evaluation.

A focused staff meeting and training schedule ensures that all staff are kept well informed of school issues (priorities) and have effective professional development according to the needs of the school. Foundation Phase and key stage 2 leaders also meet regularly with staff to ensure initiatives are implemented effectively with positive outcomes. Teams work together to reflect on current practice and amend or improve in order to achieve high standards of teaching and learning.

Continual reflection is encouraged and practiced by all staff. The sharing of best practice through classroom observations, professional dialogue and team working creates a supportive climate based on openness and honesty.

The staffing structure includes a team of well qualified and experienced teaching assistants. Three HLTA’s and two level three TA’s provide excellent cover for PPA, management release, CPD and sickness. This ensures continuity in approach to teaching and learning and has a positive impact on pupil well being and standards. The school has had no supply budget for the past six years as all cover is carried out within school. The HLTA’s have leadership responsibilities for Welsh second language, intervention programmes and testing for pupils with ALN.

A designated annual INSET day in May each year, involves all staff and governors working together to evaluate the previous years action plans and to identify strengths and areas for development across school. As a result, priorities are identified for the following year and action plans drawn up.

The involvement of all staff and governors working together throughout allows for an effective and transparent process.

The governing body works very closely with the leadership team and holds the school to account rigorously. Governors have an excellent understanding of provision across school and are persistent in seeking improvements in standards and quality. They have developed an innovative, online document management and information system to provide them with quick access to all relevant material. This system enables traceable collaboration on governing body documents which promotes broader participation and increases efficiency.

Pupils are given frequent opportunities to undertake leadership roles within the classroom and across school. Regular pupil voice activities are planned into the curriculum. Pupils have a say in what they want to learn, how they want to learn and how they want to record their findings. This impacts positively on pupil wellbeing and standards.

Pupil Participation groups play an active role in communicating research projects and their findings to school leaders, staff, parents and other schools. They are effectively involved in decision making about the learning environment, how pupils learn best, health and hygiene, improving reading, school behaviour and the impact of breakfast on pupils concentration in class.

Impact on provision and learners’ standards

The school’s practice of distributed leadership has positively impacted on:

  • Consistently high standards, significantly above local and national standards
  • Consistency in planning, teaching and learning and assessment
  • A shared professional learning culture
  • A climate based on mutual respect, openness and trust