Calder High School, West Yorkshire
Taking ‘Good’ to new levels
Calder High School is an Ofsted ‘good’ school, and in 2016 it was confirmed that the school had the best Progress 8 score in the local authority area. However, the school wanted to drive further improvements in maths results. It therefore commissioned a package of SIS support from the Trinity Teaching School Alliance (TTSA) in partnership with White Rose Maths.
School improvement support is often associated with schools which have significant issues or a poor Ofsted outcome. However, it is a valuable route for strengthening and improving good provision, too: we invested in SIS for maths because we identified needs and wanted to improve results in this core subject.
Tony Guise, Headteacher, Calder High School
The SIS package for Calder High School
The TTSA produced a bespoke proposal after carrying out a careful assessment of Calder High’s maths provision. The proposal specified clear outcomes and impacts for developing a ‘teaching for mastery’ approach and improving achievement in maths. The package included:
- weekly activity and support to ensure sustainable change
- observation of all maths staff and learning walks with feedback for both faculty and individuals
- maths faculty-wide scrutiny, recommendations for improving presentation standards in maths workbooks and individual student support
- introduction to teaching for mastery
- staff training for staff to implement recommendations including Behaviour for Learning (BfL), growth mindsets, effective assessment and Bar Modelling
- visits to an outstanding maths department which teaches for mastery
- individual feedback and joint planning (within weekly assessment sessions)
- trialling a new strategy for lesson observation (10 minutes of observation followed by 10 minutes of feedback) to increase staff feedback frequency and value.
This SIS collaboration aimed to develop a ‘can do’ attitude to maths in staff as well as in the students. David Kirk, Director of TTSA explains, “By its very nature, school-to-school support is challenging, and staff may sometimes be uncomfortable with some of the changes in behaviours, skills and attitudes that leaders set as short-term outcomes. For example, this project included feedback about marking, and naturally led into some sensitive conversations. However, we offered mentoring and coaching to ensure staff felt supported. We always support as well as challenge, enabling everyone to work towards shared goals.”
The school has now implemented a teaching for mastery approach, and work sampling has identified huge improvements in the presentation of work. An Ofsted visit in March 2017 found that “… there are many instances of teachers ensuring that pupils’ work in science and mathematics is neatly produced and logically presented, with carefully drawn diagrams.”
As part of an assessment of all teaching and learning, Ofsted found, “Pupils in all year groups are now progressing well and much more quickly than at the time of the previous inspection because teaching, learning and assessment are now much better.”
The Headteacher’s reflections
“We now follow a teaching for mastery approach, and we continue many of the SIS review processes to ensure continuous improvements. Staff have not only been inspired, but have completely changed their mindset. We expect the results of this support to show real year-on-year progress in our results.
Until this collaboration, many teachers had been unaware of the impact of low-level disruption in maths, but the BfL training really made a difference. The comprehensive assessment of our maths practice was not always easy, but the changes were recommended for exactly the right reasons. The faculty was supported and inspired every step of the way and despite some difficult conversations at times, both parties shared an absolute commitment to improving maths practice and ultimately, the students’ results.”