The 2016 Ofsted report had pinpointed a lack of a one-school approach. Policy and practices needed to be more consistently embraced and understood by staff across all of the school’s sites and contexts.
Helen White, Assistant Headteacher, says: “Ofsted had highlighted that, because we operate on several separate sites geographically, there were pockets of good and excellent practice in most areas across the school but there was a lack of a unified approach in key areas such as whole school improvement planning.”
As part of its turnaround plan, the school used BlueSky to tackle this issue.
BlueSky has helped bring together and share best practice across the whole school. Between September 2016 and July 2017, the school went from being in special measures to outstanding in every category. It has been especially helpful with CPD.
“We have a very clear structure whereby anyone who wants to go on a training course puts a request on to BlueSky which then goes automatically to the leadership team. It’s my responsibility to sift through them and we then discuss the requests and how they align with the school’s strategic needs and the development needs of individuals and teams before a decision is made.”
Using the evidence on BlueSky enables them to pinpoint these needs very accurately, she adds.
“We can identify staff who may need some extra support in a key area or who may not be applying for many courses. It also helps us to ensure everyone is getting their fair share of training opportunities.”
The school also uses BlueSky extensively for performance management. Performance targets, lesson observations and a summary of review meetings with line managers are all recorded on the system, giving a comprehensive and easily accessed overview, far removed from the cumbersome and insecure paper processes of the past.
In July 2017 when the school was rated outstanding by Ofsted, inspectors commented explicitly on the school’s success in unifying best practice and a sense of common purpose.
“We showed the inspectors a lot of anonymised BlueSky evidence such as how we were linking CPD, performance management and learning walks. They saw that as one of the major elements of unifying the whole school,” says Helen.
“With lesson observations, for example, we showed how we put together a bespoke lesson observation tailored to what it is we want to observe. It might include the staff development point or we might want to look at the quality of questioning. It means that, when it comes to QA reports, I have all of my evidence there on BlueSky from across the school – what the strengths were and what the development points are and these insights are used to inform bespoke lesson observations for the next round.
That progressive approach is what Ofsted were very impressed by, she adds.
“They saw that there was a very strong link between what was identified in one set of lesson observations and what we had to do in the next ones and that it was all there on BlueSky.”