Wyre Forest School in Kidderminster, is a special school with 250 students from early years to sixth form, and 183 members of staff. The school prides itself on working tirelessly to meet the needs of all the children so they develop and progress academically, socially, emotionally and physically. As part of this, assuring the quality teaching is essential, but with so many staff members, how are they ensuring that everyone is working towards their goals, both individually and as a school?
Here, headteacher Rebecca Garratt discusses the school’s journey towards improvement, ensuring that their pupils have the best possible education.
We work with a wide range of special educational needs at Wyre Forest School, and because of this, we have a diverse team of staff, all with their own talents and specialisms. But with such diversity of pupils and teachers, it can be very difficult to monitor how everyone is doing all at once. We want to be an extraordinary school where pupils and staff are happy and safe, but to do this, we needed to take a look at our practices and see where we could drive whole-school improvement.
When I arrived at the school, all of the performance management, appraisals, development plans and evaluations took place on Word documents, which led to complications in ensuring that all 183 staff members were meeting their performance requirements. It wasn’t possible to draw out all the information easily, which caused problems in our school development planning, and in reporting to governors. The system was outdated and inflexible; we needed a change.
We decided to try SchooliP from Derventio Education based on its simplicity and the fact all staff and governors were able to access it and use it effectively. Staff can carry out lesson observations and select elements that they want to include as part of their annual reviews. For staff, being able to keep an eye on their progress easily has really helped them to develop their quality of teaching and learning. We’re able to identify strengths,as well as areas for development, which can be discussed both face-to-face, and between those meetings using an online platform. There is a constant stream of conversation between staff, and any concerns or best practice ideas can be shared or flagged in real-time.
Everything is linked together, so our school development plan fits in perfectly with our self-evaluation framework. It has eradicated the challenges originally faced and means we’re not doing anything sporadically anymore. Everything is streamlined, allowing us to implement any changes very quickly and ensure that as a school we remain on track with individual and whole-school objectives.
The main benefit to this new system is that teachers can see our wider school prioritiesand exactly how they are contributing to the success of the school. This reinforces thatthey are an integral part of the school. They are all regularly updating their portfolios with evidence to offset their targets, which is great to see.
We have seen an incredible change in our school, thanks to the efforts of our staff. We went from “requires improvement” to “good” in 2014 and this is only set to get better.Our motto: “we foster success” has never been truer, and we really believe that Wyre Forest School is a place where staff and students are happy to be!