Case Study 42

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.Continuing Professional Development -
a foundation for an ethos of achievement

The theme for the 2004-05 SSEN School Case Studies, of which this is the second issue, is ' utilising nationally promoted developments as part of the drive to improve ethos'. This Case Study of Lochgelly South Primary and Nursery School highlights the school's absolute commitment to continuing professional development for all staff. The school's CPD goes beyond the McCrone-envisaged levels and is seen by the school as fundamental to achieving and maintaining its ethos of achievement. The Case Study explains that, while the key beneficiaries are - and must be - the pupils, the whole school community has benefited from this commitment and will continue to do so. The school staff was called upon for very substantial efforts, following a critical HMIE report, to put their school 'on track'. They gained new skills and understanding, thereby improving their practice and building up a sense of solidarity and positive self-esteem. SSEN has produced a linked Reflective Learning Supplement (enclosed) to accompany the school's account of its progress and to challenge readers from other schools to think about their own practice.

This Case Study was published by the Scottish Schools Ethos Network.

Contact for this Case Study
Lochgelly South Nursery and Primary School
Headteacher: Craig Mitchell
High Street
Fife KY5 9LW
Tel: 01592 418115

SSEN Case Studies allow schools to look behind the doors and into the playgrounds and communities of other schools to see how they develop a positive ethos that enables well-being and achievements on a broad front. In doing this, they have taken forward a wide range of initiatives and ideas. This Reflective Learning Supplement asks questions related to Case Study 42 that may be used to help schools illuminate and explore their own activities, policies and practices. The questions focus in particular on the theme of the Case Study: Continuing Reflective LearningProfessional Development - a foundation for an ethos of achievement - and its aims but other issues are also proposed for possible debate. When you see the Reflective Learning image, click on it to read the supplementary information.

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1. Introduction

1.1 The context
Reflective Learning1.1.1 Lochgelly South Nursery and Primary School is set in an area both of deprivation and of regeneration. It has a roll of approximately 200 pupils - seven single stream classes, plus morning and afternoon nursery classes, both with 18 pupils. Every pupil has distinct strengths and needs. We have a non-teaching Head Teacher but no management team or Principal Teachers. Our free school meal entitlement is 24.1 %. The school forms part of a nine school Cluster Group which is made up of Special, Nursery, Primary and the feeder Secondary as well as an Integrated Community School Cluster. Once a thriving mining town, Lochgelly now has a high level of unemployment.

Reflective Learning1.1.2 Our school had a Standards and Quality Inspection by HMIE in May/June 2001 which outlined significant failings and difficulties across the school, ranging from the quality of accommodation to delivery of the curriculum. The only noted positive aspect was that the standard of teaching was generally good or, in some cases, very good. However, staff morale was, despite individual teaching strengths, extremely low, as were the overall expectations of both pupils and parents. Community involvement was minimal. These findings were reported in a national newspaper unsympathetically, exacerbating an already unhappy situation. HMIE planned to return for an interim review of progress in one year and to follow this with the return inspection six months after that.

1.2 The challenge
Reflective Learning1.2.1 The challenge then facing the school and its Head Teacher, appointed just prior to the Inspection in April 2001, was straightforward but huge. The HMIE audit set out a framework of expectations that the school had to be turned around to meet in order to support the raising of achievement/attainment and the development of confident, articulate and appropriately skilled pupils, taking responsibility (as they now do, see Picture A). HMIEs and the Head Teacher agreed that the development of a positive ethos would both help generate these developments and that ethos itself would in turn become more positive as progress became evident.

However, to succeed we would need to construct a rigorous and dynamic Action Plan, underpinned by professional development. This would not only address the main points for action in the HMIE report but would also foster positive relationships and collaboration between staff, pupils and parents. Community collegiality was in, isolated action definitely out.

Reflective Learning1.2.2 We also decided to try to address all the HMIE targets before the interim review only one year ahead, for the sake of the pupils and hopefully obviating the need for a return inspection. This decision was an extra incentive but, with hindsight, also a further stressor for staff (see final section).

2. The Process of change:
Lights, Camera . . . Action!

2.1 The Action Plan
2.1.1 The key points in our Action Plan were:

Action Plan Point The unsatisfactory aspects of the accommodation to be made good.
Action Plan Point Sufficient resources, including staffing, to be provided to deliver an appropriate curriculum and enable high achievement.
Action Plan Point Appropriate programmes to be put in place to raise pupil attainment and build consistently on earlier learning. Each programme should provide agreed practical advice on standards, approaches, resources and assessment.
Action Plan Point Teaching plans for Nursery and Primary classes to identify clearly what was to be learned, how progress would be assessed and what pupils' next steps in learning should be.
Action Plan Point The school to ensure that pupils with special educational needs were carefully assessed and supported across the curriculum, with appropriate input from parents and outside agencies.
Action Plan Point The school to provide parents with relevant information about its provision and to strengthen opportunities for parents to support their children's learning.

Reflective Learning2.1.2 When constructing the Action Plan we were aware that this was an imperative in relation to the HMIEs' return visit. However, the longer term and bigger picture of pupils' holistic development and of school life after this made it even more important. The school Action Plan was therefore 'dovetailed' into the Lochgelly Area Reflective LearningGroup Action Plan, the Lochgelly New Community Schools (from Summer 2001 they became Integrated Community Schools [ICS]) Action Plan, Fife Council's own priorities and lastly, but not least, the National Priorities, thereby addressing key issues at school, area, Fife and National levels.

2.2 Maintaining, monitoring and resourcing progress
Reflective Learning2.2.1 Each Action Point of the School Action Plan was sub-divided, with clear targets in every section related to:

Targets implementation strategies
Targets timescale (adhered to strictly)
Targets key staff development/resources required

2.2.2 With Quality Assurance firmly in mind, two aspects were crucial to ensure progress:

Targets robust monitoring strategies
Targets clearly defined success criteria

A cumulative report was maintained, recording each term progress relating to all of the sub-aspects of the Action Plan items.

Reflective Learning2.2.3 Since the areas that required to be addressed were wide ranging, this necessitated real trust in, and very substantial effort from, the staff team. Our key resource within the school was the staff. Only with their professional development and effective teamwork could the school change, collaborate effectively with pupils, families and external partners and, ultimately, thrive.




Picture A

Picture A: We ensure that every child has opportunities to undertake specific responsibilities. These youngsters with badges and hats are our current taskholders.





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