Our Leadership Team at Ysgol Eirias were keen to get our hands on effective strategies to build capacity ready for the new curriculum. So we were excited to use the seven dimensions of the SLO model for Wales to help us move forward.
Our first introduction to SLO as a pioneer school by the OECD was an enlightening experience: it linked all the education reform activity together! We could now see the common thread through Donaldson’s Successful Futures, Furlong’s Initial Teacher Education reform and the new Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership.
The SLO dimensions made perfect sense and provided scope for targeting professional learning and collaboration to create an engaging whole school philosophy.
We used the seven dimensions as a basis for this year’s whole school targets in our School Improvement Plan and set targets to fully explore each dimension.
SLO Dimension 1: developing and sharing a vision centred on the learning of all learners:
The newly appointed head teacher devised a vision in line with Donaldson’s four purposes; the vision has moulded and influenced school policies including performance management.
SLO Dimension 2: creating and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff; AND SLO Dimension 7: modelling and growing learning leadership:
As part of the drive to continuously improve professional learning, a Career Development Pathway (CDP) has been devised to enable all staff to plot their progress and explore appropriate pathways. Pathways can branch off in various directions and are used to help teachers improve their pedagogy. Staff have been using this approach to inform performance management discussions. A package of ‘pathways’ is also available for those wishing to progress into leadership. The CDP also includes teaching support and administrative staff.
SLO Dimension 3: promoting team learning and collaboration among all staff; AND SLO Dimension 4: establishing a culture of enquiry, innovation and exploration; AND SLO Dimension 6: learning with and from the external environment and wider learning system:
The school’s ‘observation’ system has been evolving over the past few years to enhance supportive ‘reflection.’ All staff have access to a coach to ‘reflect on’ lessons, based on pedagogical targets. The new standards provide a focus for the reflection – staff select from a range of standards aligned with our head teacher’s vision for the school. The process of reflection is designed to promote collaboration and to encourage a ‘live feed’ during the lesson.
New action research groups have enhanced team learning amongst staff. In collaboration with the local University, all members of staff conduct action research in a specific area. The school has set up seven groups based around Donaldson’s pedagogical principles and allocated time for the research. The University has debriefed staff on effective action research strategies and is also supporting some of the research, ranging from small scale in-classroom projects to those which might turn into Masters’ Units!
As a lead partner school for HEI Initial Teacher Education provision, we have strong links with the wider learning system – these will be further strengthened through the action research groups. We have made ‘Community’ a whole school target and look forward to improving our links with all aspects of the community.
SLO Dimension 5: embedding systems for collecting and exchanging knowledge and learning:
This dimension is being addressed through re-evaluating our approach to data collection and review across the Key Stages in order to adopt a more ‘mastery’ style approach.
Many of our ideas are in their infancy but they are already bringing collaboration and research back to the table for teachers, even if we are only taking small steps at first.
In the same way as Ysgol Eirias, over 30 pilot schools have contributed to the development of our approach to transform Schools in Wales into Learning Organisations.
Ysgol Gynradd Aberteifi, Aberteifi
Ysgol Gyfun Gŵyr, Abertawe
Christchurch Primary School, Swansea
Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, Swansea
Pembroke Dock Community School, Pembroke Dock
Crickhowell High School, Crickhowell
Craigfelen Primary School, Swansea
Welshpool High School, Powys
Tredegar Comprehensive School, Tredegar
Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni, Coed duon
Caldicot School, Caldicot
Glan Usk Primary School, Newport
George Street Primary School, Pontypool
Blaenavon Heritage VC Primary, Blaenavon
Deighton Primary School, Tredegar
Risca Primary School, Newport
Bishop Hedley High School, Merthyr Tydfil
Fern Federation (Craig yr Hesg Primary and Cefn Primary)
Cardiff High School, Cardiff
Romilly/Rhws Primary Schools, Barry
Oldcastle Primary School, Bridgend
Llanishen Fach Primary School, Cardiff
Heronsbridge School, Bridgend
Cardinal Newman High School, RCT
Y Pant High School, Pontyclun
Eirias High School, Colwyn Bay
St. Christopher’s School, Wrexham
Ysgol Gynradd Llandrillo yn Rhos, Bae Colwyn
Connah’s Quay High School, Deeside
Ysgol Gwynedd, Sir y Fflint
Ysgol Dyffryn Ogwen, Bangor
Ysgol Bryn Gwalia, Yr Wyddgrug
Ysgol San Sior, Conwy
Ysgol Emrys Iwan, Yr Wyddgrug