How is BlueSky supporting the trust?
BlueSky underpins a consistent approach to performance management that aligns the appraisal objectives of nearly 700 staff with trust priorities: improving literacy, supporting SEND and disadvantaged students, and the use of research in improving teaching and learning.
“Our objectives are used consistently across our trust and they are documented in BlueSky. We have a comprehensive overview of how our objectives are linked to the teachers’ standards and headteachers’ standards and share performance criteria across all of our schools to support our staff in securing continual improvement in the quality of teaching and learning” says Catherine.
BlueSky allows the school improvement team to evaluate the impact of all professional learning as staff are able to record all internal and external activities in their personal portfolio. The improvement team runs an extensive programme of professional development, including bespoke courses to develop leadership abilities of staff at different stages of their careers, from Early Career Teachers to Executive Leaders.
Catherine explains: “We encourage staff to record and evaluate all internal and external CPD. Staff sometimes move from one school to another within our trust, and BlueSky provides a portfolio that they can take with them, which I think is so important in terms of their professional development and leadership journey. It also gives staff ownership of their own career progression and professional learning.”
“BlueSky is not only a personal portfolio for staff – it creates a dialogue between staff and their line manager, and enables our teaching and learning leads to monitor and evaluate the impact of CPD. Evaluations are used to inform changes to the programme and understand where they can share best practice.”
Additionally, BlueSky helps the trust to identify areas of development. Stefanie says “Being able to run trust-wide reports means we can see where we should target trust-wide CPD”.
The trust has moved towards a quality assurance model based around a coaching model of developmental drop-ins, rather than graded lesson observations. Using BlueSky, the school improvement team has been able to adapt the process and create bespoke forms to record observations from the coaching conversations.
“We’ve been able to develop our own bespoke framework for how we want coaching sessions to be recorded on BlueSky. The Teaching and Learning lead can draw down a report which evaluates these sessions, linked to our Teaching and Learning Principles,” says Catherine. “We can see at a glance where there are examples of best practice and staff who would benefit from development in that area can be paired up for coaching. It’s been beneficial for recording the information, but the most important factor is how we use that information to improve the quality of teaching and learning. There’s an increased emphasis on personalised coaching for staff which provides precise guidance on how they can develop their practice.”
This is a new approach for the trust, which is yet to be adopted by all schools, but Catherine feels that the gradual roll out is another benefit of using BlueSky: “We are mindful of ensuring that schools implement systems in a timely manner which is relevant to their context, and BlueSky provides the flexibility we need to support schools in meeting their individual needs.”