Teaching & Learning
There are been numerous updates in the areas of T and L since Christmas 2016 as follows:
- The academy has been successful in gaining National Support School Status (March 2017) and Mr Hyde, Head teacher has become a National Leader of Education.
- Mrs Mellors, Mr Seager, Mr Cooke and Mrs Muldowney have all been awarded SLE status (Specialist Leader of Education) through The ‘Shires’ Teaching School Alliance.
- The academy have been notified that they are in the top 20 schools in the area for the performance of disadvantaged students at KS4.
- The staff have participated in a SWEP training day aimed at Subject Leaders’ across the South of Warwickshire collaborating together. This has supported the introduction of new KS4 specifications and grading systems especially.
- The SWEP Head teachers’ have collaboratively drafted a response to the Government’s Fairing Funding proposal and have collectively asked parents to support joint concerns.
- The Art department have entered the Saatchi Gallery Schools’ Competition (announced in April 2017).
- The school have entered several categories within the TES Awards for a second year running.
- MFL and the LRC have developed new social media sites:
- Work scrutiny, learning walks and classroom observations continue in order to share great ideas across staff.
Autumn Term 2016
We have had a very productive Autumn Term at the Academy consisting of:
- A new bespoke Teaching and Learning CPD programme for individual staff has been implemented. This meets the individual needs of teachers.
- The Academy has subscribed to ‘Doddle’ as an effective on line system for completion of home learning.
- We have launched new presentation guidance to students regarding their work. Work Scrutiny indicates that students now take a greater degree of pride in their work.
- Two successful Parent Forums have been organised based around Life Without Levels and the demands of Year 11. Both were very well attended.
- Alcester Academy is proud to be associated as an Alliance School with The Shires Teaching School.
- There have been significant data developments around new assessment measures. Expected Attainment Pathways (EAP) are now being used.
- Our exceptional maths team have been working along-side Coughton Primary School in order to develop learning opportunities further.
- Our award winning maths team continue to have members who work for Edexcel as Consultants. Mr Seager and Mrs Muldowney work across the country delivering high quality CPD to practitioners.
- Mr Hyde and Mr Seager have led a Pupil Premium Review in two local schools.
- SWEP Subject Leaders have met with common agendas in order to share expertise and knowledge around new specifications and assessment procedures. This work will be developed in January 2017 at the SWEP collaborative training day.
- We have revisited our Renaissance Accelerated Reader Strategy with all Year 7 and 8 students. Positive impact with this is being noted.
- We continue to share great ideas as practitioners through our regular internal Teach Meet opportunities.
- Our Year 8 students embarked on a Most Able day at Studley High School with members of staff from both schools contributing. This was a most successful day.
- Alcester Academy continues to contribute to the work of the Area Behaviour Panel, SWEP T and L Group and the SWEP SENCo Forum.
Summer Term 2016
The academy was pleased to finally receive a belated letter from Nick Gibb to highlight their success and place within the 'Top 100' non-selective schools in the UK.
This was swiftly followed by TES Award nominations for Art Teacher of the Year (Mr Yarrington) and Maths Team of the Year. We were delighted to find out that our Maths team had been successful.
The school welcomed over 120 Year 5 students for a ' Core Curriculum Day' in June where youngsters had one of their first experiences of a day at secondary school. This was a fabulous day attended by students from a wide variety of our feeder primary schools.
The literacy and numeracy co-ordinators evaluated the impact of the student leaders in these areas. This work was then followed by a launch of the literacy and numeracy mats alongside presentation expectations for student work 2016-17.
Plans began for personalised teacher CPD for the academic year 2016- 17. This followed a teacher self review process where further development needs were identified. A 360 review pilot was launched at this time and work towards developing pupil 'mindfulness' was initiated in conjunction with Chris Spriggs from Life Space.
Developments in teacher appraisal were also underway for 2016-17 allowing teachers to choose from various styles of formal observation based upon their career stages.
Work continues with other SWEP schools on collaborative CPD opportunities for 2016-17. We are equally as proud to announce that our maths leaders will develop their work with Edexcel as consultants into 2016-17.
The development of various new Twitter accounts for the school began:
@AHumanities - Miss Cotterill for the Humanities team
@AlcesterAllstar - Performing Arts
@jamesyarringto2 - Art and DT
Spring Term 2016
The staff attended a collaborative training day with Mark Burns @Outstanding Teaching. This was a great time for reflective and planning for the future.
The Alcester Academy 'Teach Meet' idea continued under Neesha Taylor's leadership. Staff worked towards sharing great T and L ideas together.
While school work scrutiny confirmed great strides in the development of positive marking and feedback.
The academy were thrilled to work alongside 'Partnership Plus' again with other SWEP schools hosting a 'lesson for real' with Mrs Hoskin from the English department.
In preparation for the SWEP Training Day (29th January), the staff continued to think about ‘Marking and Feedback’. This is timely based upon the action points highlighted in the Ofsted report (Oct 2015). Responses to the whole school work scrutiny were offered on the first day back. Staff then paired up to embark upon a ‘Marking and Feedback’ pilot. This is classroom based and will focus upon teachers refining areas of marking and feedback that they have not had the opportunity to do so before.
The Academy hosted an internal Teach Meet event following inspiration from @TMWorcs. Academy teachers pitched their classroom ideas to each other in a fast moving and innovative session aimed at practitioners trying out new ideas in the classroom. This was led by Miss Taylor.
The Art/DT cluster participated in the first of the ‘new look’ Governors’ Subject Reviews. We were delighted to welcome Mrs Sandy Foster and Mrs Hilary Allen into the Academy to visit Art/DT lessons and talk to Mr Yarrington about how the team is working towards the whole school Improvement Plan.
Thank you to a number of Academy staff for presenting this month at the joint SWEP training twilight.
We have launched a new assessment pathway within the school in response to 'Life Without Levels' and have presented this to parents at the latest Forum. Thank you to those parents who attended.
We are currently making plans to attend the Worcester University Teach Meet and to trial our own version @AlcesterAcademy. Lots of staff have volunteered for the first session.
In preparation for the Mark Burns presentation in January, we are conducting a whole school work scrutiny and we are completing some action research around how to feedback effectively to students. It is always great to see new initiatives being used around school. The 'Plickers' App is being well received by those students who have used it as support in their lessons.
We're looking forward to meeting with Roger Whitall and Gwen Temple to discuss how to further develop the 'Partnership Plus' collaborative CPD model for the schools in the South of the area.
Updates October 2015
During the Autumn Term, the academy has welcomed Worcester University, Warwickshire Early Intervention Service and Edexcel in to school to conduct training. Plans are also in place for academy staff to deliver sessions at the South Warwickshire Education Partnership (SWEP) twilight in November. These sessions will include training for NQTs and feedback from the Lesson Study Action Research project. Arrangements have been made with SWEP to also welcome educationalist Mark Burns (‘Outstanding Teaching’) to the joint training day in January 2016 where he will tackle the topic of effective marking and feedback. Middle leaders from SWEP are re-establishing network connections where required in order to share expertise at this growing time of curriculum change.
The academy have published an assessment calendar for parents in order to further inform the support required at home during key points during the year. Home Learning for Key Stage Four is also being rolled out on the VLE following the tremendous impact of the Key Stage Three work last year.
Numeracy and Literacy continue to be a focus across the academy and feature on the regular training schedule for staff.
The Academy continually strives to improve the standard of teaching and learning across the Academy for all students. A weekly schedule of staff CPD is organised in order to meet the needs of the Academy at any one time along with the National priorities. During the academic year 14/15 this has focussed around ‘The Learning Pathway’ with staff going back to the pedagogy of their own teaching. The school works closely with other Outstanding providers towards securing further developments in this area; Tudor Grange and schools in the South Warwickshire Education Partnership (SWEP) in particular. The Headteacher is the Chair of the Headteacher’s Forum for South Warwickshire.
Twitter developments (July 2015)
Twitter pages have been developed for both PE, Science and English areas:
Academy Review (July 2015)
The Academy welcomed back David Turner – Ofsted Inspector and Director of SIA (School Improvement Associates) for a further Review across the Academy. David visited lessons to conduct formal observations and conducted learning walks across the Academy whilst here for a two day visit.
Home Learning Updates (June 2015)
Following the terrific success of the publication of Year 7 and 8 home learning on to the VLE for parents and students, the roll out for Key Stage Four has now begun. Governors were keen to hear of the developments at the June ‘Standards Sub Committee’ and we all look forward to other students benefitting from this initiative in the coming months.
Action Research – Looking at the Achievement of Boys (June 2015)
The staff were inspired to hear the great work that had gone on throughout the year by Miss Sacco, Mr Rossiter and Miss Taylor as part of their research into raising the Achievement of Boys in the classroom. This had included work around Growth Mindset (Carol Dweck) as developmental work from the SWEP training day led by Alistair Smith. The staff were encouraged to consider further the strategies that were used in the classroom in order to support boys.
Promoting Literacy (June 2015)
Mrs Hoskin was keen to launch an initiative with all staff in order to further spark students’ love of reading ‘Every Child, Every Book’. The ‘Drop It And Read’ project in collaboration with research from trainee teachers has proven to be a huge success with Year 8 and 9 students.
This idea followed literacy ‘hot spots’ throughout the year designed around teachers and additional adults supporting Year 11s with exam questions and phrasing.
Whole School and Staff Work Scrutiny (April 2015)
Staff took part in a CPD session designed to review good practise examples of marking and feedback to inform student progress. The session was concluded with the collation of ideas for best practise and thoughts on how to further develop marking and feedback in subject areas. This was quickly followed by an SEND trawl (June 2015) and a review of students who were eligible for Catch Up Funding (June 2015). Work Scrutiny features regularly on the CPD schedule for 2015/16.
Twitter Launch for Staff @AlcesAcade_TandL (April 2015)
Still very much in its infancy, the academy are keen to show case great ideas and share the latest research on teaching and learning with colleagues. Are you following?
TeachEd@Polesworth School (April 2015)
Many congratulations to Miss Sacco for being invited to speak to NQTs and trainees about teaching. Thank you for giving up your Saturday to do this!
Year 6 Transition Project (March 2015)
The Academy were delighted to work in collaboration with the Education Psychology Service for Warwickshire on a funded project designed at taking away the worries faced by parents/carers and Year 6 children in the summer before their transition to secondary school. The project took the form of 3 additional academy based sessions involving SLT and key staff working along-side the Senior Educational Psychologist; Dawn Preece. It also included parents/carers participating in a real Year 7 English lesson! Parents told us:
- The sessions have made me feel more at ease. I can help him be prepared for the startof school.
- I have brought my child to sessions and he has enjoyed andbenefitedfrom them.
- These visits have helped to see the school again and the lesson was a great insight.
- Feeling easier about the 'big' change.
- You have answered many questions I have had.
- My twins have both got their worries and how they deal with the transition worries me. But this course has really helped me lessen these worries.
- "What new information made a difference"... Information from Y7 pupils <----- please note, this young lady has autism so therefore a very concerned parent. I cannot identify the child myself but it is a young girl whose needs require attention from day 1. Session 3 was the first which parent and child attended so I will have a stab at identifying the young lady through a processof elimination and will let you know if I discover anything.
- Talking to teachers, Headteacher, parents and pupils has settled my mind. The school has a very friendly welcoming feel.
- Feeling more informed and positive since coming to these sessions.
- My son is excited about joining AA!
Most Able Research – Ofsted (March 2015)
Mr Seager led a session to encourage all teaching staff and additional adults in the classroom to consider the level of challenge offered to students at KS3. Working towards the new Year 6 intake for September 2015, Subject Leaders also began to discuss how effectively information was used in order to support new learners. This followed the excellent transition work completed by the English Department last summer in collaboration with all feeder primary schools where the standardisation of students’ work took place. All subject areas now have a ‘Most Able’ statement in place to go alongside the Academy policy. Thank you to the Art team for sharing their ideas with the rest of the staff.
Pupil Premium Review – Richard Sutton (February 2015)
The Academy was delighted to welcome Mr Richard Sutton to the academy along with a colleague Head teacher from a nearby Coventry School in order to participate in the Pupil Premium Review. The Review was both informative and inspiring with positive strategies established in order to further develop.
Alistair Smith @Joint SWEP training day (January 2015)
A fabulous training day on growth mindset at Stratford School with other South Warwickshire Colleagues thinking about how to maximise learning by having an open mindset. Congratulations to those staff involved in delivering the afternoon sessions for other colleagues.
SEND Consultant Visit (December 2014)
The Academy commissioned a review of the provision for those children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Christine Murrall visited the academy for the day. During this Review the work of TAs and teachers was examined along with an audit of the systems in place to support the progress of learners.
Teach Meet Professional Development (September 2015)
Many thanks to colleagues working across schools by attending the ‘Teach Meet’ opportunities at Worcester University and Stratford School over this academic year.
New Staff Appointments (May 2014)
@JustMaths. New colleagues appointed as Leaders in order to continue to raise the bar in Maths teaching across the school. We are delighted that these appointments also bring to the academy training opportunities in collaboration with Edexcel along with numerous other school to school avenues used to lead best practise and share ideas.
The Learning Pathway Launch (Summer 2014)
Staff at the academy were privileged to begin some training around the components that create effective learning environments; ‘The Learning Pathway’. This began a review for all professionals of their teaching pedagogy and classroom practise. ‘Open Lessons’ have also helped to create an open door policy across the academy where colleagues can share ideas with each other based around each area of the Pathway.
Spring Term 2014
Training continues for Teaching Assistants at Alcester Academy in the areas of Access Arrangements from Early Intervention Services and Social Story use from IDS. Teaching Assistants have also spent time at Bidford Primary School shadowing support staff in order to get further development.
All teaching staff and TAs continue specific training on how to support students more effectively who suffer from Dyslexic traits and Working Memory concerns. This training feeds in to the revival of Quality First Teaching at Wave 1 in light of the new SEND Code of Practice 2014. Anita Devi, Educational Consultant recently visited the Academy where staff were joined by neighbouring SENCOs and TAs from other schools to hear about the implications of this first hand.
David Turner’s Visit – Lead Inspector and Director of SIA (School Improvement Associates)
David returned to the Academy to conduct training with Heads of Subject around whole school leadership and improvement. During this review, David led a CPD session on Active Questioning with all teaching staff.
‘A thoroughly useful session which provided me with realistic ideas of how I can embed these techniques in to my lessons. It has enthused me to adapt my own techniques.’
‘Provoked a lot of new ideas.’
‘It was really useful that the course was presented in the manner that reflected the message of active questioning.’
‘A really focussed session that has given me some good signposts to keep my questioning effective.’
‘Useful ideas and a refreshing CPD session!’
David will continue to be a regular visitor to the academy.
We are delighted to inform you that one of the Academy’s NQTs was recently invited to speak at Worcester University regarding her experiences on placement at Alcester Academy (Summer 13) and since as an NQT in our MFL department.
Several teachers have volunteered to lead training sessions at the Partnership Plus Conference in March ’14 on ‘Effective marking and feedback’.
Three teachers have recently been involved in interviewing trainees at various educational providers in the area and they have been invited back to contribute to this process using their critical subject expertise.
The school is currently working along-side the Tudor Grange group of schools on several exciting projects. The first of these is linked to the development of the History Curriculum within local primary schools. Mr Rossiter is leading on this project. The first meeting of this group of teachers was recently held at Alcester Academy. Mrs Duffy and the MFL team are working along-side Tudor Grange Solihull, Myton School and Studley High School on an ‘Europa Day’ designed to encourage the speaking of modern foreign language. Year 10 Language leaders from Alcester Academy have a pivotal role during this day in supporting the teaching of Year 8 gifted and talented students from partner schools. Finally, our newly qualified teachers are working in conjunction with Tudor Grange on a coaching programme to further develop areas of teaching.
During February, the entire teaching staff at Alcester Academy visited Stratford School along with colleagues from other South Warwickshire schools (SWEP) in order to hear keynote speaker Mike Hughes speak on ‘Information Driven Dialogue’. Mike is a well respected speaker within the educational circuit. This has also provided an invaluable opportunity for staff to network across schools. Leaders from SWEP schools were provided with an opportunity to hear Mike speak on the ‘Leadership of Teaching and Learning.’
Sharing Good Practice to Improve Teaching
Staff at the Academy thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity recently to join together with other South Warwickshire schools in order to share good practice. Amongst those leading sessions were the Art team from Alcester Academy leading on how to develop Effective Marking and Feedback, Miss Cross on Strategies for teaching MFL and the English Team delivering training on Oracy based learning.
The Academy continues to Review essential areas related to teaching and learning in order to develop the school further. Throughout the academic year 2013/14 the staff have engaged in a Section 5 Ofsted Inspection and a consequential HMI visit. As a result of these official visits, the focus of training this year has been around differentiation, additional educational needs, use of classroom data and the role of teaching assistants. A Review of Key Stage 3 AEN (Additional Educational Needs) provision took place in November 2013 and this will be followed up after the re-launch of IEPs across the school very shortly with a KS4 AEN Review. During February, the School Improvement Partner, David Turner visited the school to conduct an internal Review around the progress of students in receipt of Pupil Premium. This involved the observation of lessons, work scrutiny, interrogation of data systems used for tracking progress and discussions with both key leaders and Governors.
Two development Reviews have taken place in February 2013 and May 2013 at Alcester Academy. The purpose of these Reviews was for teaching staff at similar career stages to work along-side each other in small groups in order to develop teaching practise further.
Teaching colleagues at the Academy said:
‘It was really interesting for me to have the chance to observe other people.’
‘Thoroughly enjoyed the experience.’
‘What I delivered and saw was typical of the classrooms I visited which was fab.’
‘Working in a less formal atmosphere with colleagues was inspiring.’
‘It was good to be able to pick the group to allow me to work on specific areas of issue with two new pairs of eyes watching and picking things that I had missed.’
‘Positive feedback highlighted strengths rather than focusing on negatives.’
‘Real sense of support from colleagues that are like minded in terms of subject area. Very open and honest dialogue.’
‘An excellent week. A more informal approach that still had great impact. Got to work with staff that I do not normally mix with.’
‘Watching exceptionally good lessons by ‘new’ staff that were exciting and vibrant and gave me great ideas for my own.’
February 2013 Review
Throughout the academic year 2012-13 a group of dedicated teaching staff within the Academy have piloted a Coaching programme designed to inspire other teachers in their classrooms. The Coaching staff have dedicated quality time to sessions. In these sessions, teaching practise is disseminated and the pedagogy of outstanding teaching is investigated further. The G.R.O.W model has been used as an inspiration for this work.
Due to it’s value with staff, the Academy will increase the time dedicated to Coaching during the academic year 2013-14.
'I have found that coaching has enabled me to become a more reflective practitioner. I feel that I am more aware of my strengths as well as my areas for development. Being part of the coaching group has helped me to develop skills which allow me to listen more carefully to the ideas of others and guide others instead of directing them. I have had the privilege of developing a trusting relationship with a colleague outside of my team.'
Thoughts on Coaching from Alcester Academy Teaching Staff
‘The coaching process has been a great help. Having a colleague to support you and at the same time to challenge you to improve has been a thoroughly positive experience'
'The coaching team have worked to create a supportive ethos where staff want to improve their teaching and drive the Academy forwards.’
‘Since being asked to be a part of the coaching group in September 2012, I have felt a significant shift in the way that teaching and learning conversations begin and evolve. Before being involved in the initiative, I would often feel nervous about discussing things that weren't working as well as I would have liked for me and I would much prefer a discussion about solutions rather than someone actively watching me teach and working through solutions together through the medium of an open dialogue. The ethos that coaching brings to the school is one of trust and honesty which can only be a positive thing as we work together to deliver the best we can to the students in our Academy. I can honestly say that coaching within the school has dramatically changed my approach to teaching and learning as a group we realise that we can all share the 'best bits' from one another. Coaching has given me the confidence to actively seek solutions even if that means having someone listen to me sound out my ideas. On the side of professional development, coaching has given me the opportunity to learn from those around me and to gain honest advice about how to develop myself both personally and professionally.'
‘Coaching has 'open doors' to other departments and staff that we do not often get the chance to build a relationship with. It is interesting seeing how other subjects are taught and it is a way of sharing good practice throughout the school. It feels like a closer and more approachable staff environment is being created within the school.’
Lesson Observation For Real
The Academy hosted a visit from Andy Swallow. Lead HMI in February 2013. During this visit, Miss Harris; Teacher of English led a Year 9 lesson in front of the staff at the Academy in order to illustrate how to meet the needs of all learners within a classroom situation.
Following the lesson, a positive critique was led by Andy Swallow regarding the good aspects of the learning illustrated and the ‘change’ that happened within the time allotted for the learners.
The Academy engages with the ‘Partnership Plus’ consortium of schools for other similar development opportunities for staff throughout the academic year.
Literacy and Numeracy
The Academy has appointed co-ordinators of Literacy and Numeracy Through the Curriculum to help drive standards within these areas across all subjects.
Apps for our students
Information about recording students' work 2015/16