In 2014 I became an Advanced Practitioner (AP). The college was a grade 3 and the AP role was newly formed to support the college on its journey to ‘Good’.
I had very little experience in coaching or in supporting teachers in their development at the time, but I was urged to go for the position by someone who was very experienced, who could see that I was good at interacting with people and was up to the task.
I applied and was successful. The college had been subscribing to the HOW2 platform for a few years, but it was not integrated or used consistently at this point. This gave us the perfect opportunity to make a real difference by using the platform as our main driver in developing teaching and learning, improving the student experience, and ultimately achieving the ‘Good’.
I worked as an AP for three years and was lucky enough to work across all curriculum areas at the college. I worked with teachers on a 1:1 basis and delivered weekly, themed-based CPD sessions.
Whilst working as an AP, I was lucky enough to work with some very knowledgeable and influential professionals. I proved myself and was trusted to lead on initiatives and ideas which I was passionate about and knew would have a positive impact on teaching, learning and assessment (TLA) within the college.
One of the things I was passionate about was the HOW2 platform. It benefited my teaching, gave me confidence in the classroom and helped to improve the student learning experience.
During an Ofsted visit, the English and Maths (E&M) team at the college had been identified as an area for development. I was tasked to work with the E&M department to boost student engagement and attendance, and improve the overall student experience. The lead inspector for E&M identified a lack of consistency and a lack of formative assessment to demonstrate progress within sessions.
I was lucky enough to work with Katie Stafford, now Deputy Principal at Hackney College. She was Assistant Principal of E&M at the time and gave me free reign to implement a CPD strategy and develop pedagogical expertise within the department.
One of the first things I did was to introduce the team to three easy-to-use HOW2 techniques designed to establish expectations for behaviour and learning and build a solid platform for good work habits.
By asking all teachers to implement these three key techniques, consistency across the E&M department was quickly established. Teachers could work with and support each other to implement the new techniques and before long, were creating and sharing activities which cut back on their workloads as they took turns to create and share.
A colleague and I delivered weekly CPD sessions to the E&M team. Before each session, we would send a piece of text for the team to read and share a set of techniques via the HOW2 platform. The sessions we delivered were always very practical and included many of the techniques that we wanted them to go away and use within their sessions. The idea was to model the techniques and demonstrate how easy and effective they are to use.
The teachers were passionate about their subjects and wanted to deliver the best possible experience for their learners but this wasn’t going to be easy as English and Maths have always been subjects with lower attendance, lower engagement, and high levels of poor behaviour.
One of the most important sessions we delivered was focused on ensuring the lessons were fun, engaging, and relevant. We demonstrated that the HOW2 platform supports teachers in bringing their lessons to life, making them meaningful and allowing them to assess learning easily and frequently.
When it came to coaching teachers on a 1:1 basis, meetings were frequent and we focused on areas that they felt they wanted to develop. I also met with teachers who had received a development action following a learning walk. We would focus on the area identified for development and link it to a HOW2 technique.
A really powerful step we took was to use the skills exchange on the HOW2 app to identify teachers across the department and the college who were using specific techniques. If anyone had set their status on the exchange to ‘embedded it’ we worked together with them to support each other’s development.
Knowing from experience that teachers learn best when learning from each other, I encouraged the use of the HOW2 notes feature which makes it possible for teachers to reflect on and share their experiences with colleagues. We encouraged E&M teachers to add notes to the techniques that they were actively using. Most teachers made their notes available to other teachers within the college allowing colleagues to benefit from other teachers’ learning experiences.
After six months of working with the E&M team, the college organised a ‘mocksted’ which is a review of the college and its departments which replicates an Ofsted visit. We invited the same inspector who was the lead for our previous E&M inspection to return and conduct another review of the department.
The inspector was extremely impressed by the dramatic improvements that had been made within the department and could see evidence of consistent practice, improved attendance, and engagement. All teachers within the department received individual grades of Good or Outstanding. In the previous inspection, only 28% of the teachers received a Good or Outstanding grade.
The HOW2 platform was the main driver used to develop TLA at the college during its three year journey from a grade 3 to 2. The platform allowed for a very easy, evidence-informed approached to developing teaching and learning which had a positive impact across the college and demonstrated consistency in every single classroom that learners entered.