For our latest expert guide, we spoke to senior leaders about how they ensure they all of their students reach their full potential - and what advice they would offer to others to ensure the same.
Here’s what they told us:
1. Be smarter about managing student behaviour
For Bruce Robertson, headteacher at Berwickshire High School in Scotland, behaviour is one of the most important issues for any leader.
“There is nothing more destructive to learning in a classroom or school than poor student behaviour,” he says. “Sadly, this is not always appreciated or taken seriously enough. Staff morale will plummet and every student’s learning will suffer, even though it is likely to be but a small number of students causing the problems.”
2. Get up to date with CPD
The standard of teaching in a school can have an enormous impact on the outcome of the young people there. It sounds obvious, but in the rush of school life, the importance of working on pedagogy can sometimes be forgotten.
Joanne Tiplady is curriculum and research lead for TEAL Trust and says that development must feel relevant to staff. “[CPD] works best when it is tailored to the individual so that there is a clear buy-in from the teacher,” she says. “The most effective CPD is also iterative and should be seen as a long-term, continual process. Schools can utilise different models such as coaching or Disciplined Inquiry, to give teachers autonomy and a sense of efficacy.”
3. Use tech to prioritise parent engagement
The engagement levels of parents and carers can have a huge impact on student outcomes, with healthy and open relationships between school and home leading to better communication and support in both directions.
“For many parents, the walls around a school are often more than just physical, they can also be practical, emotional and psychological,” writes Dan Locke-Wheaton, principal of Aston University Engineering Academy. “Technology means that we can visit every child and parent at home if necessary. “During lockdown, we brought in virtual parent evenings and parent meetings and this ability to meet families in their own homes made it feel much more personal and meaningful, helping us to forge closer relationships.”
4. Make your learning inclusive for all
Getting the right support for students with SEND can be challenging for schools and families alike: funding is often mind-bogglingly complex to navigate and can involve large disparities depending on, while the number of those needing special school places still outstrips demand considerably. Meanwhile, the administrative complexities and waiting times involved in securing education health and care plans (EHCP) for young people are an ongoing bone of contention.
“Improving outcomes isn’t for Ofsted,” says Caroline Farmer, headteacher and SENCO at The Abbey Primary School in Northampton. “For us, it’s about giving our children the education that they deserve. We have a higher than national average proportion of disadvantaged pupils here and we have a higher proportion of students with SEND, therefore we are really focused on giving those pupils the best life chances that they can possibly get.”
5. Use rewards to boost student ownership
Ensuring that students take ownership of their learning is a key step in improving outcomes. When they have a sense of ownership, they will have improved confidence, enthusiasm, and, most likely, achievement. But how can staff create and nurture this?
“Many secondary school teachers (myself included) are much more diligent about following through with sanctions than rewards,” says Katherine Burrows, an English teacher at Abingdon School in Oxfordshire. “One might argue that this, ultimately, is more important in terms of maintaining a constructive learning environment, but it doesn’t solve the problem of how to keep students motivated.”
To read more about how to improve outcomes, and how Tes products are helping schools to do just that, get your copy of the guide.