OFSTED Updates for implementation in January 2015

Just as teachers are about to embark on the Christmas holidays OFSTED have just published a few documents for implementation in January.

Safeguarding – This is a comprehensive guide for inspectors on what to look for in schools  to ensure safeguarding is a priority in schools. – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspecting-safeguarding-in-maintained-schools-and-academies-briefing-for-section-5-inspections

It states in section 9 that;

Definition of safeguarding

  1. Ofsted adopts the definition used in the Children Act 2004 and in ‘Working together to safeguard children’. This can be summarised as:
  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.
  1. Safeguarding is not just about protecting children from deliberate harm. It relates to aspects of school life including:
  • pupils’ health and safety
  • the use of reasonable force
  • meeting the needs of pupils with medical conditions
  • providing first aid
  • educational visits
  • intimate care
  • internet or e-safety
  • appropriate arrangements to ensure school security, taking into account the local context.

Safeguarding can involve a range of potential issues such as:

  • bullying, including cyberbullying (by text message, on social networking sites, and so on) and prejudice-based bullying
  • racist, disability, and homophobic or transphobic abuse
  • radicalisation and extremist behaviour
  • child sexual exploitation
  •  sexting
  • substance misuse
  • issues that may be specific to a local area or population, for example gang activity and youth violence
  • particular issues affecting children including domestic violence, sexual exploitation, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

and section 30 describes … The responsibilities placed on governing bodies and proprietors include:

  • their contribution to inter-agency working, which includes providing a coordinated offer of early help when additional needs of children are identified
  • ensuring that an effective child protection policy is in place, together with a staff behaviour policy
  • appointing a designated safeguarding lead who should undergo child protection training every two years
  • prioritising the welfare of children and young people and creating a culture where staff are confident to challenge senior leaders over any safeguarding concerns

Also new today are:

Inspecting schools: questionnaire for school staff – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/inspection-questionnaire-for-school-staff  which includes;

 

(please tick) Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly disagree
1 I am proud to be a member of staff at this school.
2 Children are safe at this school.
3 Behaviour is good in this school.
4 The behaviour of pupils is consistently well managed.
5 The school deals with any cases of bullying effectively (bullying includes persistent name-calling, cyber, racist and homophobic bullying).
6 Leaders do all they can to improve teaching.
7 The school makes appropriate provision for my professional development.
8 The school successfully meets the differing needs of individual pupils.
9 I know what we are trying to achieve as a school.
10 All staff consistently apply school policies.
11 The school is well led and managed.

Inspecting Schools Framework – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-framework-for-school-inspection

A handbook for Inspectors – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/school-inspection-handbook

 

Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties (SEMH)

Following on from the last blog I am focussing on the new acronym SEMH or Social, Emotional and Mental Health difficulties. This was  previously known as BESD or Behavioural, Emotional and Social Difficulties. The difference now is its focus on mental health and hence why the last blog also shares the mental capacity act.

Myself and many educators over the past years have raised concern about the emotional well-being and mental health of pupils – reflecting that mental health affects all aspects of a child’s development including their cognitive abilities, their social skills and their emotional well-being. To find out more you can visit youngminds.org.uk/ where they have more. But here are some statistics;

  • 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class .
  • Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm.
  • There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68%.
  • More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time.
  • Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer from severe depression.
  • Over 8,000 children aged under 10 years old suffer from severe depression .
  • 72% of children in care have behavioural or emotional problems – these are some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
  • 95% of imprisoned young offenders have a mental health disorder. Many of them are struggling with more than one disorder.
  • The number of young people aged 15-16 with depression nearly doubled between the 1980s and the 2000s.
  • The proportion of young people aged 15-16 with a conduct disorder more than doubled between 1974 and 1999.

Within any role in school life where pastoral is within the remit, this is always a concern. Having been within the pastoral route and in many roles over the years, I have found that it is often those with poor behaviour that when one looks a little closer, (after ensuring that they are not just playing the naughty card) there is a possible mental health concern, but generally there is vulnerability as a given and as a result as educators part of our remit both socially and in law is to the vulnerable.

I am not professing this is easy not least because mental health concerns can relate to anxiety, eating disorders, self harming or harming others, low self-esteem and depression. For example this week I walked into a classroom to cover  a lesson of year 11’s, the majority of whom after trying the naughty card realised that they just needed to get on with their work, but there were still two young people who displayed a huge difference between their verbal and written ability – which is always a red light to me I always wonder what support they need. There was also a child struggling in ethics when the topic was drugs, throughout he was constantly rapping the table and using his compass to draw on his arm, getting deeper and deeper? Following up on this I find that he is dealing with a parent involved with drugs, due to this the student absolutely hates drugs, but felt unable to talk about any of this during the lesson.

Vulnerable children often use words as their first line of defence, because if they get the other person child, young person or adult to go away then they never have to explain any further… and in their eyes wont get hurt again. The adult at the other end of it hears the words at a loud level, usually accompanied with anger, high pitch, accusatory and personally related comments and reacts to that, as I used to. Now though after so many experiences I wait until it is calm, maybe even days later and address it again, once they know you can be trusted, it is interesting how behaviour changes.

Recently we have all heard of media personalities who have and are going through the courts due to alleged historical abuse. How would we feel if we missed a child in our care that needed our support? I agree these are extreme circumstances, but the initial support that centres on mindfulness ( Mindfulness is described by The Mental Health Foundation as ‘a way of paying attention to the present moment, using techniques like meditation, breathing and yoga.) are just prescriptions for well being.  Making them the only focus are just as concerning as ignoring the awful things that children go through and expecting them to just deal with it. We mus ourselves be non-judgemental and seek a solution to the problem not hope that one policy fits all.

Over my career I have experienced many kinds of vulnerabilities and it concerns me that we are moving into a time where more historic abuse is going to come to the fore for boys as well as girls as older people get more confident to speak out. Lets not carried away with these high profile cases because in our back yards the food banks are increasing daily the number of parcels given out  … I ask how many children are already in poverty and in our classrooms?

Just a thought …..    If you didn’t know where your next meal was coming from would you care if you were level 6a or 6b or predicted a D and you were capable of an A?

 

Behaviour Policy – Have you checked all bases?

I was very interested by this post http://headguruteacher.com/2014/10/04/towards-impeccable-behaviour-part-2-ready-for-launch/ by Tom Sherringham as he appears to have covered all bases, ensuring that everyone knows and understands the new behaviour policy. However what about the much-needed supply staff/cover teachers?

As term progresses the needs of schools mean the reliance on supply staff. These staff cover the lessons due to illness or planned absence. These staff are necessary for the smooth running of the school. Experienced ones are godsends, especially if they have been with the school a while. They know the schools needs, the rules, the teachers and pupils, so leading to a seamless transition between ill teacher and cover teacher. However, this isn’t always the case.

Just consider this scenario

After a late call, a Supply teacher arrives at  Highbury Grove (or any other school) a place they have never been to before. They are met by the receptionist who is off-hand (obviously having a bad start to the day), and just gives a string of instructions of where to find the cover supervisor.

It is a large site, so only the first three instructions were remembered … go through the double doors, down the corridor, outside, then keep left etc., etc. After a few conversations with helpful staff and pupils, the supply teacher arrived at the correct place to find there was no one there. They waited a few minutes and then checked with the first adult that came past, the adult went away and came back with the information that the cover supervisor had gone to cover a lesson. The supply teacher was then given more verbal instructions on where to go next.

On arrival at the correct classroom (despite wrong turns), a teacher was already there, class settled ready to start and had switched on the laptop … it looked good. They said Hi, quickly followed by here is a pack (supply staff had no time to read it) , here is the cover work (no time to read it) and I have to go now…all in one breath, and promptly left.

Cover teacher introduced themselves to the class of 30 bottom set year 8’s and tried to start the lesson. It didn’t take long until the cover teacher felt sorry for the class teacher.  The teacher had done the right thing and had set a great lesson on Power-point, but unfortunately both the supply teacher and students were set up for a failed lesson.

The computer and interactive board were not linked, and surprisingly no tech savvy pupils could make it work either. In addition there was no whiteboard/flip chart to put the information the students needed up, and so the disruption inevitably started. In response the supply teacher looks at the information given by the school, which incidentally is also the C1 etc behaviour policy as described by Tom in his blog. However it simply said C1 place name on the board, then second time add C2 to the name. There was a number to ring but no phone in the room.

The information on one side of A4 was confusing and needed time to digest, but quite simply the supply teacher did not have the time as they had to try to get the hang of it, without the tools to fully support it i.e. there was no whiteboard/flip chart to write the names down at C1 level. At the same time the supply teacher had to maintain discipline and ensure the students were learning, as they were very conscious of those students in the class who wanted to learn and the teacher who expected the work completed.

At break time the teacher reread the instructions, but there was no  clear explanation of what to do when you cannot fulfil the process. The diagram on Tom’s blog is much more understandable and clear of its expectations at all levels. I suggest for Tom and the school to be even more successful, they should consider adding the diagram to the information that I presume they already give to supply staff  re. behaviour policy and classroom expectations. For the supply teacher in this scenario, with no register to know who was in the class, (the register had to go to attendance within ten minutes of lesson start), or if they managed to find out the names, a board to write them down, what do you do?

How many reading this are now shouting, well why didn’t they go to the classroom along the way?? Such a great idea, but this was an isolated classroom and to get to the nearest other teachers/ humans you had to go up at least ten steps and along a long ramp – too far to leave a class of restless bottom set year 8’s.

The next class were bottom set year 9’s, again no way of getting help for the brilliant lesson, so using the small computer screen was the only option. At break time adults arrived to use the kettle in the back-room, so luckily these problems were resolved for the rest of the day.

Despite the students, staff and parents all being aware of this behaviour policy,  it can be complicated if being picked up for the first time, so I urge you Tom and other similar schools before implementing new policies that effect classrooms, just check how easy is it for a supply member of staff – who doesn’t know the school – to pick up, understand and use the new strategy.

Remember you are only as good as your weakest link  – in this case it could be unwittingly the supply teacher for no fault of their own.

NB to support supply/cover staff the following are always really helpful…its not an exhaustive list but a good start

  • register with picture of students
  • cover work – back up incase the link to the school intranet where the work is stored cannot be accessed if the technology lets you down
  • something else in the classroom i.e. whiteboard in-case again incase technology lets the lesson down
  • behaviour policy and a list of the terms management focus i.e. no mobile phones if so x,y,or z happens
  • map showing staff room, classroom and toilet
  • welcoming and then throughout the day helpful reception staff (They are the first people they met, so invariably if there is no one else they will go back to this contact point)
  • senior team or cover manager to look in on isolated teachers, but especially cover teachers to support and help sort out problems particularly at the beginning of the day

Have  a great term

 

Liz

Leaders 4 – Managing Resources

Of all the things recently discussed this is the one thing on a daily basis that can become a nightmare particularly as a new manager you are usually left with the previous owners resources which may not suit you and a budget which initially will be non-existent or meagre.

Here are things to help you sort out in your own mind what and how to achieve the best for you, your team and learners.

  1. How will you establish staff and resource needs for the subject and how should requests of this be transmitted/reported/asked/sent to Senior leaders and/ or Headteacher? and by when?
  2. How will you or what is the process to let the Headteacher know about the deployment of your staff within your team and job roles?
  3. How will you ensure the effective and efficient management of resources including technology?
  4. How will you explore and assess the role of new use of resources in your department?
  5. How will you ensure you effectively use the rooms/accommodation that you are in?
  6. How will you ensure at all times that there is a safe working and learning environment?

I hope that some of these things have been useful and if you have any good practice to share please do so on the comments page.

Leaders 3 -Leading and Managing Staff

So you have made it to leading your own team or have being doing so far a while and want to check what you have forgotten.  (I often did that remembered 5/6 things and the sixth would just be waylaid so I had to keep refreshing myself).

It is crucial that you develop a team spirit where everyone helps everyone else to make it right that definitely doesn’t mean blaming anyone. Those working in schools with high blame culture ethos’s eventually start to fail as people are fearful of getting things wrong and let’s be fair in a day many things change and different decision have to be made out of the hundreds of different unexpected decisions that you make over a week if one is wrong then hey ho.  The only thing I would say is that if that person genuinely thought they were doing the right thing and their rationale is believable then its a mistake so we all help to solve it, if not then we are looking to another route i.e. competency but this will be no surprise as you will have already noticed other things that seem out-of-place.

Here are some questions to guide you as you think about your position and leader and manager of your team.

1. How will you help to achieve constructive working relationships with pupils and staff?

2. How ill you sustain your own motivation as well as those of others?

3. How will you sue performance management to improve the effectiveness of all of your team?

4. How will you manage and co-ordinate professional development or new teacher development via INSET, mentoring, coaching, workshops and lesson observation?

5. How will you work with the SEND and or EAL coordinators?

6. What reports do you need to send to Head teacher, Senior Team, Governors, Parents, Pupils about your subjects policies, plan and priorities, subject targets and professional development plans?

Welsh Education …my worry

Over the past week I have read numerous reports about the Welsh education System being found unsatisfactory at LA level.  To date Blaenau Gwent, Anglesey and Pembrokeshire, Merthyr Tydfil and Monmouthshire are all in special measures and more worryingly on a normal curve there would be the same amount recognised as being outstanding, but this is not the case.

Having worked in areas where schools are deemed to be in Special measures it is really difficult to sum up the feeling of worthlessness and lack of support the individuals in this situation feel, as well as the disbelief at the people who should be helping who either can’t or talk the talk and sadly can’t walk the walk, yet they are making the crucial decisions and walking away scott free whilst pointing the finger.

Has anyone actually thought about what these people are now feeling? Many will feel isolated and teams will also feel isolated but it wont stop them trying to do the best for their staff and pupils, but without any support. To make the necessary changes it takes strong people confident in their ability to make change without the support of those set up to support them.

What does surprise me is this statement

It’s no coincidence that many of our councils look to England for inspiration,  with several directors of education (the majority experienced in working in  deprived areas) parachuted in from across the border.

Why are they looking over the border? I am sure they have schools which have been judged outstanding by ESTYN so why don’t they harness these staff, they are relevant and in touch with todays policies, strategies, parents expectations and pupils needs. All too often we look to those above us, or in this case those in a different system. A few years ago there was a lot of work done about 360degree evaluation which sadly in many cases meant looking at what is worse below us and improve it rather than looking at what is best practice and bringing it through.

This together with the fear of staff re job losses due to our current national financial situation, who works well in a climate of fear?  The way many councils have dealt with this is to cut the necessary staff needed to do these jobs, this together with the cutting of wage levels so that a different level of staff are attracted i..e. rather than paying for Local Authority Consultants at deputy Head level many have opted for the equivalent wage of a head of department, in that way they get heads of departments and not people with the educational depth and knowledge needed to support and improve practice.

Finally from a story at Wales Online

Mr Andrews’ bullish reaction was to be expected. Having already threatened to  pull education from council jurisdiction, Estyn’s findings were more power to  his elbow.

My concern is that if this continues and staff morale decreases, parental support is diminished it will open a wide chasm for someone like Capita to sweet talk The Welsh Government that they can do better and education in Wales will never be the same again. Capita and similar companies will always have the verbal verbosity to explain the reasons why the LA’s or schools  should be in specials measures, but are not necessarily caring about the children and learning but more about profit as we can see from the recent translation debacle, but if this happens the Welsh Govt will have no way back and that will be a very sad day for Welsh education for everyone.

Remember the reason we are in education and making policies about teaching and learning is because we want to support our children.

Read more: Wales Online http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/education-news/2013/02/23/why-half-term-is-usually-the-calm-before-the-storm-in-welsh-education-91466-32862733/#ixzz2LohsPxJq

Leading Educationalists highlight issues with BYOD (Bring Your Own Device/s) in schools?

What do you think about the issue of Bringing your own device into school? 

I was discussing with John (Foxwell) the whole notion of children and teachers taking their digital devices to school to access learning. I think teachers will and do take their devices to make life easier for them. It allows them freedom  to create resources at lunchtime (not that I am suggesting this is a good way forward at all, just realistic that this is what some do), in free time, afterschool and yet be able to use in a jiffy in readiness for their learners.

This then leads directly onto thinking about the children. Many of these are also using devices at home, yet do not always have the opportunity to use their skills or device/s at school. Many are challenging this but where do the teachers and school stand?

I think that many schools will encourage the children to bring their own device/s.I think this is great until the first real problem imagine all is going well and has done for years and  then little Jimmy loses his i-pad.  How does it get replaced?  I still remember with anger the loss of a blue and white Chelsea scarf my nan knitted for me aged 12 which was stolen when I was in PE (mind she did tell me not to take it to school…..but I did). It was costly in terms of her time and the balls of wool but not to the value as these new digital items. I just had to suffer the loss and telling off,  but will parents look to the school for reimbursement if the high value items are stolen on the school’s premises, and what happens when on the way to and from school.

My other issue is the teacher will then need to know everything about apple gadgets and also about any Microsoft gadgets to support learning via the various blended routes that are currently being talked about.  I am not sure this is a reality so where does it leave the learner?

Finally I suggested to John that someone needs to start looking holistically at this, because as more and more teachers and learners get their various devices and applications more will be expected from Education policy.

John rightly suggested that before we can produce a policy there are many issues that have to be thought through, before we can even think about where and when it will be used in the curriculum. Without really thinking these are the first questions that need to be asked and suitable answers found to them before policy can be written.

Q1. Will the children be able to bring their lap top/digital device? If so who is going to insure it?

Q2 Who is going to stop one child swapping it for a better make/model?  Our daughter had her flute swapped condoned by the teacher who swapped hers for one of lesser value and gave it to the other child. What happens if this should occur?

Q3. Who is going to look after the Sim cards and SD Cards? It is easy to take the sim card out of an ipad (for example) and put it into another and use all the pay as you go minutes etc. There is no way of checking this.

Q4. Once the devices are in schools can they access the same network?

Q5. What happens re viruses?

Q6. If they are accessing the internet what are the safeguards that need to be put in place for this?

Q7.How are they going to share the same programs or will parents be asked to fund this.  If the learner hasn’t got the program will they have to download before the class starts? On an apple this means linking to I-tunes which then requires passwords. How do we stop one child accessing i tunes and downloading what they shouldnt like games, or either gifting or being forced to gift things to other children.

This debate will go on but please join in and make suggestions to how we will solve this.