Department Time

July 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

This Friday we had the whole day to spend together as a Department. Although prior to the meeting I had requested and received agenda items, I decided we would start the day by writing our self review document for the department. Many of the agenda points we covered as a result. Over the past 12 months we taken a number of brave decisions and I felt that by completing the SR document I could reaffirm our progress, attribute our successes to the members of our team and plan for 09-10. Despite a very thorough search, it would appear that this was the first SR document for our Department, as I could not find any historic planning or SR documents on or offline. Now this is not a very interesting read, more a reflection on the day than a shared post.

The four areas to review were

Priority 1 Learning and Teaching- Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4

Priority 2 – People and Training

Priority 3 – Information Communication Technology

Priority 4 – Extended School and Community (Including Extended Learning)

After welcoming our newly appointed GTP to our team and outlining the position of our former PGCE students, I went straight to the data. I was surprised that there was no direct request for data to support the observations so, here I included it anyway. In July 08, our OCR pass rate was 33% and that was largely the result of 2 arduous ‘Accelerated Workshop’ days that Easter half-term. This year we are currently at 68% pending moderation, with 15% of the cohort gaining 2 GCSEs. Teaching at this pace, including workshops and accelerated workshop days in half terms, has generated a significant amount of marking. Add to which, we felt it necessary to  moderate all OCR coursework taught marked by non-ICT from previous Units,  meant the team efforts rightly deserved recognition. As a courtesy our Headteacher has offered a small, but justified over payment, for the additional marking. I would estimate each staff member has committed a further 15hrs marking of coursework they themselves did not teach.

We reviewed the progress of the current cohorts, targeting 70% for 07 and 08 starters but with students achieving at least 2 GCSEs. This is now our benchmark. For the Level 1 course we set a D-G pass rate 50% for 07 starters, but notably, for those students starting the course in 08 the same benchmark but for 20% of the students to go on to achieve 1 GCSE at grade C or above (contributing a further 2% to the overall year pass rate).

We then used the meeting time to clarify our teaching direction, jointly create Departmental policies for sanctions and marking. Both these policies focused on our shared use of the Departmental Marking database created by Andrew Sangster. As with all new innovations, its been a work in progress but Andy has created a very versatile collaborative gradebook that allows staff to record, display, transfer and update grades within the department. It also allows any middle manager to review grades submitted for any student, group or year, by any staff member. Certainly when reporting grades this year, its been very simple to target low performing students, next we want instant reports set up to generate default letters. We are adding a department sanctions / detentions option and the ability to manually export to Sims. Of course we have the new ICT option this coming year, with over 60% of Year 8 opting for this course. The signs are very promising, but it will add additional responsibility to our department to develop these resources, and the need to be proactive and transfer these resources to the VLE.

Finally the department shows a real commitment to extended learning. There is also an ICT room open before school, at break and lunchtimes and also 3 days a week, if not 5! Pending the staff timetables we will create a rota for these opportunities – which will also determine how and when the sanctions with the department will be issued.

‘People and Training’ was less well organised, but each member of staff contributed a professional aim. Liam started a blog and we have already asked Liam to asses the new sanctions strategy as one of his GTP investigations.

‘Information Communication Technology’ focused on our use of the VLE, small innovations and sharing the grade database.

‘Extended School and Community’ emphasised our commitment to supporting extend learning but also developing the Digital Leaders brand.

We broke for lunch at 12. I took the team to Hamble village, where the team chatted over lunch. It was very pleasing to see the team gelling together, we chatted about future plans and reflections on the year. Some very positive comment and compliments were exchanged with the group and it was a warm welcome for Liam.

For me personally, 09-10 is an important year. It is the first we are without legacy issues, no unmarked or poorly marked coursework, groups are already in sets, rooms are well serviced and controls in place. I accept there will be some adoption time needed for the VLE and for the creation of resources for Units 22/23 but largely we are settled.

Changes for Sept 10

GTP – I am confident that Liam will be an asset to our team. He has excellent SEN experience and brings a creative focus to the department.

The addition of the ICT + option contributes three aspects.

a) More contact time with students to grow ICT – student relations and encourages / validates student uptake of a new ICT Conference visit to Paris.

b) increases the contact staff hours within the department. We currently have 10  hours of non-ICT staffing. A forth fulltime members of staff can only be employed once a further 12-13 hours of teaching is required. The ICT+ contributes 8 hours per year cohort, a 4th member of staff should therefore be a consideration 2011.

c) rasies the profile of ICT within the school and disperses more ICT skills into the curriculum

Netbooks – this initiatice will impact on my working week, but is not directly referenced in our SR review.

I look forward to reviewing our progress against these targets next July.



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