for schools

More time for learning

As a Trust committed to driving improvement, both for the life chances of the children in our care and the for the careers of the staff working for us, we have asked that all schools consider how they could ‘Make More Time for Learning.’ 

This means re-focussing on the core purpose of education and a re-evaluation of the value of some tasks, in schools, which over time, have become proxy measures for education and taken precious time away from teaching and the professional development of staff.  Some of our schools have chosen to look at the value of weekly staff meetings, instead opting for more targeted year group or subject development; some schools have chosen to work more closely with their hubs developing peer reviews in their schools rather than traditional lesson observations, and some have chosen to create a bespoke staff coaching plan instead of lesson observations; all of which are helping to free up More Time for Learning.

 

CASE STUDIES

Branston Infant School


Positive feedback

In reviewing our ‘marking policy’ at Branston we found that a significant amount of time was being spent marking work with general comments linked to the learning objectives and praise, but this was not necessarily improving outcomes for the children. We have, therefore, renamed this policy ‘Feedback’ and produced a new document that outlines what we expect to see and how feedback can be given. This ‘Agreed Principles’ document has been shared with all staff members and is also given to supply teachers, in order to ensure consistency for the children.

The response from teachers following these changes has been really positive, they are able to see impact from feedback both within a lesson and in subsequent lessons. This is particularly evident in the quality of pupils’ responses to ‘next steps’. Teachers have more time to reflect on these together and support them to overcome any barriers.  In addition, this new approach has reduced the time it takes teachers to review a set of books. This is supportive of our focus on reducing teacher workload.  

More time for training

It is very easy to lose an hour’s staff meeting to diary dates and house-keeping tasks, particularly in a busy school where it was often one of the few times teachers were in the same room at the same time for more than 10 minutes. With a significant number of staff undertaking high quality CPD, we needed to make some changes to our staff meeting model to ensure this information could be disseminated to the wider team.  We produced a weekly bulletin with events taking place that week and key dates for the term, this means that very little (if any) time is needed to address this in the staff meeting. We introduced a five-minute morning briefing for the whole team as a daily wellbeing check-in for staff and a quick reminder of anything that needs sharing and we work hard to ensure we stick to the allocated time. As a result, staff meetings can now focus on CPD,  training and coaching. Middle leaders have been able to flourish as they lead sessions which shine a spotlight on their subject, addressing elements on their own subject action plan as well as supporting our whole school SDP objectives.

Canon Peter Hall and Wrawby St Mary’s C of E Primary Schools


Reduction of low value tasks

At CPH we now have two TA1s employed from 7:45am – 8:45am to photocopy and prepare resources, reducing teacher workload and ensuring teacher time can be spent on tasks that require their professional skills.

New staff development meetings

The introduction of morning briefings has enabled the more formal staff meetings to be replaced with staff development meetings, where the focus is on teaching and learning and all leaders delivering within their subjects. This also allows time for H&S and Safeguarding CPD where necessary. In addition, classroom-based TAs are timetabled to attend staff development meetings so they receive the same CPD as teachers.

Live marking 

Detailed written marking has been minimised as both CPH and Wrawby have now adopted a ‘Feedback Policy’. This incorporates live marking, verbal feedback, and whole class feedback sheets. At Wrawby, ‘live’ highlighter use shows children what we’re proud of or areas to check and a VF code for verbal feedback.

Meetings and Briefings

At Wrawby, daily briefings have been reduced to Monday and Friday only, which has allowed more handover time to part-time teachers. It also allows support staff to read the core subject planning more thoroughly and organise resources for different learning spaces across KS1 and ensures that Year 1 from both classes have a consistent teaching and learning experience.

Governor meetings at CPH are now held within the school day which ensures no late-night expectations from leadership. The meetings are succinct and the aim is that they should last no longer than two hours.

Dedicated time is also set aside within the school day for structured 2-way conversations to enhance high quality teaching. These should be non-confrontational and reflect a shared open commitment to support from within the school and across schools. This allows for natural collaborative practice for teachers, subject leaders and senior leaders.

Work-life balance 

At Wrawby, a work-life balance trial is being conducted at senior leadership level (Head of Schools). An agreed work pattern has been created, including not accessing emails and other communications or working on school documents outside of this time. The Executive Headteacher has also adopted this format. The trial will be conducted for at least half a term and then the outcomes assessed. 

If the strengths are found to outweigh any downsides then this policy will be adapted for CPH Head of School. All 3 will be different to allow for individual family lifestyles which is specific for each member of staff. The trial is intended to remain for this academic year and the way forward will be ready to implement for 2023/24.

East Ravendale primary school


RAG rating system

At East Ravendale, our marking and feedback policy focuses on live marking and a RAG (Red, Amber Green) rating system. The idea being that during lessons staff are able to circulate the class, identifying any misconceptions and addressing them there and then. Pupils are able to respond immediately to staff and this verbal feedback means that the majority of pupils will end the lesson having understood the key concepts and are therefore ready for their next steps. 

At the end of every lesson staff give pupils’ work a RAG rating and then at the start of the next lesson each child has a (maximum) 5-minute task during RAG time. The task will be based on the child’s performance in the previous lesson:

  • Red: usually work with the teacher on a pre-teach task.
  • Amber: a task to consolidate learning from last lesson so that the child can confidently access the next lesson.
  • Green: a task which deepens their understanding and moves their learning forward.
Positive response

Staff at East Ravendale all talk very positively about this new approach. It has dramatically reduced the amount of time usually given to marking pupils’ work at the end of a lesson, as most of the work is marked via live marking throughout the lesson and then only a coloured ‘dot’ given at the end of each piece of work. RAG time at the start of a lesson also allows for teachers to recap prior learning, which means all children are ready for their next steps. It is also a very quick and effective means of assessing pupils within the class following a lesson. 

More purposeful meetings

At East Ravendale, we have also changed the format of staff meetings to staff development meetings. These are all planned in advance and cover areas which link to the development plan and issues arising from Trust visits, for example. These meetings are much more purposeful and contain time for subject leads to update staff on developments in their subjects from the CPD received via the Trust.