We encourage staff to participate in a range of action research. As part of the intensive optional CPD programme staff are encouraged to carry out a project which will either help to develop their own leadership style or improve teaching and learning within their classroom.
I have outlined below a synopsis of the action research projects which are either in process or were completed last year with some contact details if you are interested in a particular area and would like to get in touch with these colleagues.
How can we ensure Assessment at Key Stage 3 helps to prepare students for Key Stage 4 in English?
Sue Eastlake and Liz Webb
Due to the changes to the GCSE exams and Key Stage 4 curriculum, it was necessary to revisit our methods of assessment at Key Stage 3.We wanted to ensure that we did not try to reinvent the wheel and therefore wanted to use it as an opportunity to revamp rather than rewrite existing schemes. Our starting point was to look at the ultimate way the students would be assessed at GCSE and then filter this through Key Stage 3 with staged levels of challenge through Year 7 to 9, so that students found the tasks both accessible and suitably challenging. We then looked at existing resources and schemes of work and allocated the different assessment forms to the relevant units of work, writing long term plans for each year group. Once this was done, the rest of the department was then involved in order for us to agree on these methods of assessment and each take charge of shaping a scheme for the new academic year. This has meant that we have started the year with renewed direction and focus, knowing that students are being well-prepared for the demands of the new GCSEs.
How can mentoring in Year 9 be used to enhance the progress of these students both academically and socially within school?
As part of my Aspiring Middle Leaders Project I was aiming to work towards achieving my vision, my vision was to start by giving ‘a group of selected students’ opportunities to be mentored; in turn building tutor/student relationships. My priorities with this project were to focus on tutor/student relationships, to start a mentoring programme, to help give tutors strategies to supporting students with different needs and to ensure I built confidence amongst the tutors. In order to achieve this vision I set about following a flow chart of actions, to start I discussed my vision with the tutor team to get them on board with the idea, as I needed their help in order to achieve this. Secondly, with the help of the tutors we identified a group of students who they thought needed mentoring for different reasons (organisation, behaviour, academic or emotional). From here I gave the tutors tools to help with mentoring, we discussed this as a group in a year team meeting to come up with lots of ideas to help each other. I then went away to finalise names of students to be mentored and to programme in time for the tutors to do this. After the mentoring programme had started I asked for tutor feedback and then I asked for student feedback so I could get views from both sides. I have no adapted and changed a few things based on these views for the mentoring programme this year. By working hard to put my vision into place within the tutor team this had a valuable impact on both tutors and students. I found that tutors were more confident talking to parents in turn building relationships here, students were able to be more open and discuss problems with tutors, tutors were more confident dealing with a variety of issues, students were happier and found it useful and correct levels of support were put in place for all of these students.
For more information on how Kirsty put this mentoring programme in place and the success of the mentoring programme please contact Kirsty on email@example.com
How can we encourage students to leave RMS having a positive experience towards Physical Education?
‘Last year I was involved in the aspiring middle leaders Optional CPD and did a project investigating how we can make all pupils leave RMS with a positive experience and attitude towards Physical Education. Throughout this project I was involved in liaising with both pupils and staff to try and create lessons and ways in which we can encourage our least enthusiastic pupils. Over the year we tried different techniques and various interventions to improve these pupils attitudes and enthusiasm in lessons. By the end of the year all pupils involved in the project did feel that their experience in Physical Education had improved over the year’.
For more information on how Gill tried to ensure that all students left RMS with a positive attitude towards Physical Education please contact her on firstname.lastname@example.org
How we improve the attainment and provision of SEN students in the science department?
I was looking at improving the SEN provision and attainment within the science department.
The key things I did were:
- Discuss with the department why this needed to be a focus
- Organised an Audit for all members of the department to see what good practise was already going on
- Put results of audit in a shared list separated into specific groups of students
- Encouraged staff to use and try out the different methods for supporting their SEN students
- Set up a focus group of students Yr 11s so impact could be evaluated by looking at exam results.
- Discussed with teacher specific strategies for these students and the intervention strategies they needed to help support them in lessons
- Asked teachers to provide evidence of the resources being used
- Did learning walks to see if these students were actually receiving this support in lessons.
- Teachers had a good understanding of why it is so important to support SEN and had lots of ideas to support them. Provision in KS3 was very good.
- KS4 too much focus on trying to achieve a C so provision to students was not always suitable .
- Data shows that SENS, SENK and LPA all achieved above expectations and LPA and SENK achieved 100% of students making 3LOP and SENS was 90.5. This exceeds the main cohort.
To find out more about this project please contact Flic at email@example.com
Differentiation and encouraging independence.
During my research I tried to limit my teacher talk and encouraged students to be resilient about the way that they worked by changing things up and scaffolding tasks in different ways. I switched groupings and seating plans regularly, as well as the way that information was delivered and fed back. Students become much happier about working in a variety of ways and getting on with things themselves.
I found out that that scaffolding is important, especially when a task is new, but this is not the same as differentiation. Scaffolding can be really effective when it is done through carefully planned groupings and seating arrangements to allow for student talk. This gives students more responsibility over what they are learning and how they are learning, encouraging independence and confidence. It is possible to implement big changes if you are willing to keep reinforcing the message.
For more information on how Ellie tried to differentiate and encourage independence please email firstname.lastname@example.org
How can mixed ability grouping be used to help differentiate in the classroom?
One of the areas that I researched as part of my research task was differentiation within the classroom. This is of particular relevance in my subject (English) due to fact that we currently operate mixed ability classrooms throughout all year groups. I specifically concentrated on creating smaller mixed ability groupings within the whole classroom; this was to observe if students could work together collaboratively towards the same goal with both lower/higher ability contributing ideas/work. In conclusion I surmised that as a specific technique to help aid with differentiation, using smaller mixed ability groups within the classroom essentially becomes a microcosm of the class as a whole the only difference being that you are expecting the higher level students to pick up some of the strain that the classroom teacher usually deals with. As each student had particular strengths/weaknesses that might not necessarily include taking the lead in group situations, I found that in order for it to be successful this exercise requires a high level of understanding of the individuals within your classes as personalities, irrespective of ability.
If you would like more information about using mixed ability teaching in your classroom please email email@example.com