An overhaul of school evaluation and performance management is at the core of Michael Gove’s UK educational improvement plans.
Whilst on the face of it surmountable, the Department of Education (DoE) and Ofsted have a myriad of paper-based forms, evaluation submissions and reporting to automate, if a more streamlined, transparent and robust practice is to become reality.
Teasing this out of already stretched teachers and school leaders is a tricky task and without applying the wonders of modern technology it is difficult to see how Mr Gove’s dreams will ever be realised.
Step forward the Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), the UK’s fastest growing Academy chain, chaired by the irrepressible David Triggs.
Since its inception in 2008, AET has used technology and best practice as key enablers of its Academy programme. Frequently using them to transform underperforming schools and guide their leaders to a path of self-enrichment.
Whilst conflicting views abound about the ‘Academy Programme’, it is difficult to see how else the Government would have undertaken such radical reforms and cracked so few eggs.
As an ex-teacher, I take my hat off to Michael Gove. As a supporter of the Labour Party, I do this rather begrudgingly.
It strikes me as obvious that some of the tools and best practices used by organisations like AET need to filter through to our traditional schools. Whilst the National Union of Teachers (NUT) view this as encroachment or meddling, I for one see it as a necessity.
Take for example AET’s (www.academiesenterprisetrust.org) recently released Accelerate Improvement (AI) system. AI is an online portal devised by AET to support its Academies, which this year received major investment and a comprehensive overhaul. Its primary purpose is to aid Academies in the completion of rigorous self-evaluation, across subjects, departments and the entire school.
It’s a very comprehensive system, yet easy to use and encompasses a full account of the Every Child Matters Key Outcomes in completing academy/school review and self-evaluation documents, including the Ofsted SEF-summary.
It helps academies routinely manage their evidence in ways that are particularly useful during Ofsted inspection and also supports working in the future with school improvement partners and other stakeholders.
However, AI does not stop there. It goes even further by providing a range of tools for school leaders. These include:
- School improvement plans can be generated from criteria identified within the self-evaluation.
- Comprehensive staff management tools can be used to record and complete staff assessments.
- Evidence from lesson observations, and views of parents/learners can be captured through surveys and used in rigorously reviewing the academy’s performance in coming to robust self-evaluation judgments.
In my former life as part of a school leadership team, we could only dream about such a system. How on earth can AET, with a far smaller budget than the DoE, manage to orchestrate this in such a short time period? It’s beyond me!
Further digging uncovers an equally amazing feat. The AI portal wasn’t designed and developed by a heavyweight like Cap Gemini. It was actually born out of a little known web development outfit based in North East Derbyshire, called Perceptant101.
If you look at their website (www.perceptant101.com) they make no mention of their partnership with AET, let alone their ability to deliver what must have been a complex and large scale project. Modesty exists, even in the IT sector!
Moving on, if you contrast the AI portal with what currently exists within our traditional and much loved educational system, it is not difficult to see why the NUT may feel marginalised and Michael Gove fixated on change.
At present, Ofsted has a handful of forms that can be completed online, little if any performance management is undertaken in schools and Governors often lack the basic information, visibility and measurement needed to navigate.
The way that schools are managed and measured must change. Whilst key factions continue to challenge reform, I strongly believe that they are fighting a losing battle. As I see it, change is inevitable and will be for the good of the whole educational system.
About the author
Jayne Dines is a former teacher and proud mother to four wonderful children. A stalwart of the public education system and supporter of the NUT, Jayne spends her free time following and writing about trends and changes within the UK educational sector.
This article was reproduced from the original found at http://jaynedines.hubpages.com/hub/education-uk