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How are specialist leaders of education (SLEs) being deployed? Part 2

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sle deployments

There are over 6000 specialist leaders of education (SLEs), supporting school improvement across England. In the second in our series of posts on their deployments, 4 SLEs with different specialisms describe the work they've been doing.

Gayle Wilkinson

St. Patrick's Catholic Primary School, Cumbria (Western Lakes Teaching School Alliance)

Specialism: assessment

What were you asked to do?

Part of my deployment was to deliver 3 days (6 modules) of training to a group of 28 newly qualified teachers. The modules were:

  1. What is good teaching and learning?
  2. Behaviour management
  3. Questioning and dialogue
  4. Marking and feedback
  5. Meeting the needs of all
  6. Creating an effective environment

How did you go about it?

Each module is planned prior to delivery. I also invited good and outstanding practitioners from my school to deliver parts of the modules depending on their area of expertise, for example early years or SENCO.

Resources, slides and presentations were shared with delegates throughout the day.

A conference room was organised with refreshments and buffet for lunch at a neighbouring school. This was all organised through the alliance's administrator.

What were the challenges?

The biggest challenge was the preparation of the days as a lot of materials are required for a full day of training.

What was impact of your deployment and how did you measure it?

Detailed evaluation forms were filled in at the end of each module. These have shown that the courses were efficiently organised, the content met delegates’ needs and the resources and information were useful.

The number of delegates has risen dramatically since the first module was delivered, which is also a measure of their impact.

Gillian Levis

Lisburne School, Stockport (Gatley Teaching School Alliance)

Specialism: assessment and special educational needs (SEN) provision

What were you asked to do?

To provide 2, full-day training sessions to trainees, newly qualified teachers and other teachers on how a specialist school (SEN) differs from a mainstream setting.

The training school gave me a brief outline of what they wanted to be included in the sessions and then I planned and arranged the training. I invited a range of therapists and other services to explain in depth their role in SEN provision.

How did you go about it?

I planned a full programme, allowing the teachers to experience being in a specialist class for part of a day. They shadowed a key member of staff who demonstrated their expertise and shared their experiences and knowledge. I provided information on a range of intervention plans that work well for individual learners and also explained the reasoning behind why particular techniques work well with some learners with specific learning needs.

We focused predominantly on autistic spectrum disorders provision, as this was something the alliance school had requested. I also asked therapists to explain their role and how best to support learners with additional needs.

What were the challenges?

The challenge was trying to provide all the information in such a short period of time. A couple of the trainee teachers have since been in touch to request they spend some additional time here at our school to develop their understanding of SEN provision and experience a variety of examples of good practice.

It is often difficult as a deputy head and class teacher to find the time to plan the sessions and so training sessions can impact on my teaching time within school. As this is an area that we wish to develop in as a school and share our good practice, next academic year we will timetable additional cover for me to more easily run additional training sessions.

What was impact of your deployment and how did you measure it?

All teachers provided an evaluation including comments and qualitative feedback which allowed me to see which areas of the training were of most use and which areas needed further development or refining to meet specific requirements.

Alison Hogben

Springhead Primary, East Yorkshire (Riding Forward Teaching School Alliance)

Specialism: primary maths

What were you asked to do?

I supported a small primary school comprising 4, mixed-age classes. Ofsted had identified maths as a key area of weakness, where pupils were not making sufficient progress.

After an initial meeting with the headteacher to pinpoint the main areas for development, I formed an action plan that involved a collaborative project based on the Japanese lesson study. I regularly use this type of project in my own school as an effective way to provide bespoke maths CPD to colleagues. I was asked to work with a newly qualified Year 1/2 teacher and a very experienced Year 3/4 teacher who both had classes of pupils with a wide range of ability.

How did you go about it?

The first session was a planning one, where we identified a topic in maths that both teachers felt they were less secure in teaching. Together, we planned a whole unit of work, then concentrated on one particular lesson which we would jointly deliver. I introduced some teaching approaches that were new to the school, which I felt would aid depth of understanding. We considered appropriate questioning for both, developing thinking skills and skills in assessing pupils. We selected activities that would challenge, and ensured that the needs of all children were met to secure progress.

In the second session we jointly delivered the lesson, where, as one teacher taught each part, the others could evaluate the effect on pupils’ learning and progress. This was then followed up with an intensive evaluation session, considering the effectiveness of each focus area and how the model for planning could be used within other areas of maths.

What were the challenges?

The teachers involved were very enthusiastic about this project as they recognised how it would support their needs. However, they did need some initial persuading that this was a collaborative project where we jointly planned and taught together, and not a lesson observation or judgment of their work. There was an air of mild suspicion to start with (as there often is when you first go to a new deployment) but once this had been overcome, everyone was much more relaxed and eager to participate. It gave staff the support and ‘permission’ to try out new strategies without any concern if things didn’t quite go to plan.

What was impact of your deployment and how did you measure it?

One of the most effective features of a deployment is that SLEs can offer training that’s tailored to meet the differing needs of all involved. During this project, subject knowledge was improved, new teaching strategies have been introduced and effective methods for assessment have been trialled so that staff have a much deeper appreciation of children’s understanding. Both the new and experienced teacher developed their own individual skills as well as sharing knowledge and previous experience.

In addition, the headteacher and staff recognised the significant benefits of the collaborative project and consequently led further CPD based on this model for other colleagues in the school. And, to reward the staff for their work, 6 months later Ofsted returned and reported that training and the sharing of good practice had been used effectively to improve the teaching of maths.

Jenny Riley

St Peter's CE Primary School, Farnworth (St James's Teaching School Partnership)

Specialism: inclusion, literacy

What were you asked to do?

I was asked to support a school that required help with reading. The school had recently been graded requires improvement by Ofsted and reading had been considered a particular area of development.

How did you go about it?

I carried out a diagnostic with the help of the literacy leader from my own school. We observed lessons, carried out a book scrutiny, interrogated data and had discussions with the headteacher and literacy leader of the school. From that, we put an action plan into place to provide immediate support, which was in the form of staff training and all staff visiting our school to observe good practise.

What were the challenges?

Initially, the challenge was identifying that the issues with reading were part of a bigger picture of literacy provision. As such, we refocused the action plan on literacy holistically, not just reading.

Another challenge was motivating staff and encouraging them to reflect on their practise and then make changes that would actually be sustainable.

The school also wanted us to provide some ‘quick fixes’, while it was also important to ensure that new strategies became embedded practise.

What was impact of your deployment and how did you measure it?

We measured our impact through discussions with key staff, follow up book scrutinies and a repeat of the lesson observation process from the initial meeting. The children are now much more engaged in reading, staff are trialling a number of new strategies and they have recognised the importance of reading at the heart of the curriculum.

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