When we think of innovation in schools, we usually imagine a new piece of equipment, a new software programme that will change the way we deliver a subject, or track progress, measure attainment, something tangible that comes with a price tag. But actually, innovation is just about doing things differently; it's thinking about how and why we do what we do and trying out a way of doing it differently with a bit of imagination.
Taking on an ‘acting’ role can be a great way to try out a new role with the safety of knowing it is for a finite amount of time. If you are thinking about moving into leadership, then it can be a perfect way to dip your toe.
The thing about acting positions is that their timing is rarely predictable. In my career, I have acted up twice and gone on secondment twice. The first time, my phase leader damaged her knee and was unable to walk for a term. The most recent time, my head gained a much-deserved role as an SIP (school improvement partner) in a neighbouring county. I was tasked by the governors to take the helm while an experienced replacement could be found.
The main differences between a secondment and acting up are that with a secondment you are able to choose whether to apply. It will be in a different school and usually takes the form of a fixed term contract. With acting up, you may not have a choice! If you are in school leadership and your line manager is absent for any reason, then tag - you’re it!
Part-time staff may be seen as an obstacle, difficult and time-consuming to accommodate effectively within the timetable. This is largely a falsehood. By rethinking the problem and identifying innovative solutions, part-time staff can be seen as an asset, not an obstacle. This year, open up exciting new opportunities for part-time staff with smarter timetabling.
Leading a school is a privilege, and a tremendous opportunity to have a positive influence – to lead in the way you think it should be done, to focus on the priorities you believe to be the right ones and to create an environment where it is possible for those you lead to be their best selves. You have the chance to make a difference to the lives of students, and of staff, on a scale unlike any other you have ever known. There’s huge reward and satisfaction in this, and, in my experience, joy.
How do schools go about using their allocated funds? Learnmaker co-founder James Hannam takes a look at the best methods available to school staff.
In the 2014-15 academic year, English schools will receive their biggest ever pot of pupil premium, the additional funding designated to disadvantaged pupils to help ‘narrow the gap’ in the classroom. For any child eligible for free schools meals in the last 6 years, primary schools have access to £1,300 per student, while secondary school pupil premium have risen to £935 per student. Each year this funding has steadily increased, and yet the numbers show that the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is still as wide as ever in the diverging demographics of the classroom.
No-one would argue against the place of CPD in schools today, but I believe that for many years there has been a lack of coherent processes and management systems guiding it.
This means that many CPD activities may not be as effective as they could be because many schools do not have a clear idea of exactly what works - and what doesn't.
Despite spending £180 million on staff development and training in 2011, the Teacher Development Trust estimated that 37 per cent of English schools have rarely or never evaluated its impact.
If schools don’t have a full picture of the effectiveness of CPD, how can they know where to target their investment in order to help teachers raise attainment?