Thursday, 31 October 2013

Consistently Good CAN BE Outstanding

This is my first blog post - thank you for reading.

Firstly a bit of background: I'm in the 16th year of a varied teaching career and I'm now in my 4th year as Head of Maths at a non-selective converter Academy which has a significantly better than average intake.

I am fortunate that the vast majority of students at my school are able and motivated. I am also fortunate to have a full team of 'specialist' Maths teachers. They're all qualified too!

When I took over the department, Maths GCSE results were below expectations. 69% of students had achieved A*-C grades in Maths in the summer of 2010 compared to over 90% in English.

In subsequent years, the Maths GCSE A*-C figures have been 82% (2011), 86% (2012) and 88% (2013). Progress is also good now with over 90% of students making at least 3 levels of progress and more than 60% of students making 4 or more levels of progress. This year we hope to break the 90% mark for A*-C and a figure of 50% A*/A is not out of the question.

In this blog post I want to focus on one particular aspect of what we have done to achieve this recent success.

As a department we aim to teach 'Good' lessons all of the time and I am confident that on the whole we achieve this. We have been brave enough to ignore the pressure from SLT (especially when Ofsted was looming) to teach 'Outstanding' lessons. We are far from convinced that it's possible (or important to try) to do this day in day out. As Tom Sherrington says "It is the 99% of lessons that are never observed that really matter. So, we need to focus on things that we do every day." To the best of my knowledge, in the last three years, nobody in the Maths Department has had an internal observation of any kind graded as 'Outstanding'. I'm sure that I find this fact far more pleasing than I should!

I can think of no greater compliment to my colleagues than when we heard students say, during our Ofsted inspection earlier this year, that the Maths Department were just teaching normally. (Clearly others were not!)

I believe that our experiences demonstrate that consistently 'Good' lessons can lead to 'Outstanding' outcomes for students.

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