What was the Challenge?
The school previously relied on a paper-based system which included various ways of capturing and recording information, but created a great deal of work when it came to collating reports. Senior leaders also recognised that staff were not actively engaging with appraisal objectives once they had been ‘filed away’.
Having seen BlueSky at an ASCL conference some years ago, the senior leadership team realised that a digital solution could streamline processes, creating efficiency and allowing school leaders to coherently measure performance across the school.
“It was the first digital solution we had seen that could combine all the aspects of appraisal, professional learning and quality assurance we needed in one place” says Natalie Forsyth, Assistant Headteacher.
How is BlueSky Supporting the school?
BlueSky Education removes the risk of performance management being reduced to a tick-box exercise and encourages staff to actively engage in self-reflective practice while working towards appraisal objectives methodically and consistently.
“Previously, if we were setting performance management targets, they’d be written on a bit of paper and then filed away! Now that staff can access their records through BlueSky Education, they can revisit their objectives and easily log how they are progressing” says Natalie Forsyth, Welshpool’s Assistant Headteacher.
“Now every member of staff has their appraisal objectives recorded online, in one place, we have an overview of everything and can align this to our school development plan”.
Using BlueSky, staff have greater ownership of their development: they are able to log their professional learning activities and document any developmental conversations they have with colleagues or managers. BlueSky provides leaders at the school with an evidence-based analysis of performance and a deep understanding of the impact of CPD.
Over the years, the school has introduced a greater emphasis on professional development that improves teaching quality, through a more personalised approach to training, a mentoring programme and gathering feedback.
Natalie explains: “We’ve adopted a strategy of ‘unseen’ lesson observations this year. This means you might have a professional learning discussion with a colleague as you are planning a lesson. When you come to teach the lesson, the colleague won’t observe you directly, but we gather feedback from students – voice of the learner – and BlueSky has been an ideal platform for teachers to record this feedback afterwards. It allows them to identify their own areas for improvement and feeds into our plan to encourage everyone to become more self-reflective, rather than having a top-down approach”.