Spreading magic with the Chartered Teacher programme

Pro doctrinis et disciplinis – For Teaching and Learning

Today I ‘graduated’ as a chartered Teacher (20th July 2019). A long road over 15 months with lots of challenges and hard work. The first cohort of about 90 teachers from across the country. But was it worth it?

It all started in 2017 reading a TES article on the new Chartered College of teacher and the request to participate in the pilot cohort of Chartered Teacher Programme.

Having recently returned to teaching I though it would be a great way to support my development as a returnee classroom teacher, it certainly was!

 

Having previously achieved the CSciTeach (Chartered Science Teacher) which required a detailed evaluation of work against the standards, which I achieve as part of  the second cohort I thought the CTeach programme would be the same. How wrong was I!

Over 14 months we had to:

  • Write a development plan with termly evaluations and developing it through writing a regular journal
  • Take part in webinars and discussion groups on different aspects of education (assessment, policy, recruitment)
  • Carry out a peer reviewed impact project – I chose developing numeracy skills with challenging classes.
  • Create a video portfolio of improving practice – I chose a challenging year 8 group and looked at how TAs can be more effectively utilised
  • Carry out a final M Level research project – I chose developing Science Capital in my teaching.

The whole programme made me really focus on my teaching and how I can make a real difference to my students. It has also laid the foundations for developmental work in my consultancy business working with other schools and teachers.

So was it worth it?

I definitely believe so, I’m better informed about education policy, I was even able to hold my own in conversation with Sir Tim Brighouse about the future direction of education.

I better understand assessment and now realise a lot of assessment practices carried out in schools are not valid or appropriate for individual student needs.

And, most importantly, I think I’m delivering better lessons too.

Should others do the programme?

As Dame Alison Peacock, Chief Executive of the college said on graduation, “not all teachers will become Chartered Teachers” but the best will. Some are happy delivering what they have always delivered, but some of us really want to spread some magic and make a real difference to young people and their lives.

The CTeach programme it is not for everyone. But if you really believe in lifelong learning and making a difference to young people then why would you not?

Finally, although a hard road to complete it would not have been possible without the support and encouragement of the College!

 

 

Are post-nominal letters important?

Did you know my name is:

Maj (Retd) Shane Clark BSc(Hons), QTS, PGCE, PGDE, MSc, NPQH, CSciTeach, CTeach

A “title” I rarely use, if I do very sparingly. As I found in education such use of “post-nominals” is looked at with disdain and in some quarters with scorn. So why do I write about them now?

Over the last 5 – 10 years there has been an ever-increasing shortage of physics teachers, particularly those with degrees in physics. Most schools now have non-physicists teaching the physics curriculum and research has found that this can have a detrimental effect on students education as the teachers, no matter how enthusiastic they are, lack the subtle knowledge and understanding of physics. As result the Institute of physics (IOP) in partnership with the Department of education (DfE) have established what is known as the Stimulating Physics Network (SPN) to support schools develop physics and physics teaching. An essential element of this is the appointment of 50 leading schools and physics practitioners to support other schools in their area.

I personally like a challenge and at times feel that we who are working in the state sector don’t always recognise the wonderful work we do and how we have incredible talent that we should be sharing with other schools. Therefore, after consultation with the other physics teachers and headteacher, we applied and have been successful in becoming 1 of these 50 leading schools. An essential element of this is the requirement for a school based physics coach (SPC) to lead the project, a role I’m so much looking forward to particularly being part of a unique team of outstanding practitioners in physics education; a lot to live up to!

Within days of becoming an IOP SPC I was asked if I wanted to work towards my CPhys (chartered physicist) accreditation. Reviewing the documentation it is clear that to get this status I’m going to have to work hard at being a leading coach and demonstrate impact of my work in physics. The only visible benefit is that I get to put the “post-nominal letters” CPhys at the end of my name. I get no salary enhancement, recognition or extra portion of potatoes.

Post-nominal letters can be quite a big thing in some careers and occupations. They can be used to indicate an individual’s position, degree, accreditation, military decorations, … In fact, reviewing my own career and past exploits I’ve discovered that I too have quite a number of post nominals that are recognised and I could use if I chose to. There are even pre-nominal letters which are titles placed before your name.

So in my case I could use:

Maj (Retd) Shane Clark BSc(Hons), QTS, PGCE, PGDE, MSc, NPQH, CSciTeach

In my career a lot of teachers would see the use of such “letters” as flashy and presumptuous; Definitely frowned upon. I recall some 20 years ago in my early career as a teacher a few outstanding headteachers and teachers were bestowed honours and awards for outstanding careers and had made immense difference to so many young lives. I personally felt “wow what an amazing achievement”. However, many of my colleagues seemed to think, “why should they get rewards for doing their job!”.

When I reflect on my 15 years of military service I remember the process of promotion and career development. It wasn’t just about how good you did your job and how good your annual report was but if you wanted a career you needed to identify early your next post and then prepare yourself, getting qualified and trained for it. Hence, we had what I recall the wine list – a list of appointments and who was occupying them, from the top job (General) to those recently graduated from Sandhurst. For each role there was a clear name, rank, title and list of post-nominals. As you progressed further up the career tree the post-nominals list got longer and longer. By the time the few managed to get to General their post nominals were on at least two lines! There was a clear expectation of personal and professional development.

Are post-nominals important?

Many in education seem to frown upon ‘collecting’ post nominals. They seem to think they are unimportant as they only recognise the job you do, and “it’s only CPD, so why bother?” Many of these teachers don’t seem to have invested in their own career beyond just doing their job and getting their first degree and PGCE and doing a few courses. Perhaps as educationalists we need to model what we do and strive to improve ourselves throughout our careers?

I recall one colleague who was quite dismissive and patronising when I was one of very first few to apply and receive the chartered science teacher (CsciTeach) recognition. I had spent many weeks including my Christmas vacation writing the application, evaluating the impact of my work and seeking feedback from respected colleagues. This process had a profound impact on my professional work, it definitely made me a better science consultant and adviser. I offered to support this colleague with their application for the CsciTeach, they refuse as they saw no value in it, particularly as they would have to pay for it themselves.

My list of post nominals highlight important aspects of my developing career from the military to Headship and to outstanding science teacher. Each stage of my career I’m justly proud of my achievements, experiences and hopefully the difference I have made. So, for me they have been important not as badges a of honour but as recognition of my investment in my career. Each and every one of them has required study, commitment and determination with no extra reward or recognition. Most have cost me financially, but all have made a difference to who I am and what I do.

I do have a few regrets for example as a soldier I missed out on the TD (Territorial Decoration) by only a few months service and that I have not, yet, got a doctorate. That said over the next 6 – 12 months I hope to be adding to my post nominals with C.Teach (Chartered Teacher) and MBA (Masters of Business Administration), which highlight my return and training as an outstanding teacher a as well as my developing entrepreneurial skill in business. So, I suspect that I will be completing my application for the CPhys (chartered physicist), not to impress anyone but because it will make me better at what I do. And perhaps in the future the CMathsTeach as I become a better maths teacher!

Post nominals are a personal choice, but they do require a commitment to your career and I feel do show that those who do gain them are at the cutting edge of their profession and leading learners.

 

 

A paradigm shift in professional development?

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“For a profession so dedicated to learning, teachers seem to take little care of their own learning” (Ward, 2017)

After becoming an independent education consultant, after 10 years as a school adviser, I adopted the same CPD activity model historically used in education – a single day where participants have a day out of school, a nice lunch, opportunity to network, top tips for teachers, and hopefully learnt some new skills. Feedback from participants have always been excellent but I have never been convinced of the effectiveness of this model. Does it really make a lasting impact on the participants, the schools or young people? Timperley et al (2007) noted, “a one-day course as a stand-alone activity without a specific focus is unlikely to have a lasting impact on pupil outcomes”

I’m currently completing an MBA, an essential element of the programme is reviewing and developing your own business practices. While studying my latest module, Designing and Managing service processes, I reviewed CPD delivery models as well as reviewing participants feedback on long term impact.

Schools are accustomed to the single day CPD activity model and feel they support individual professional development. Participants enjoy the opportunities to network, provided with new ideas and ‘tools’ to use at school, and have an inspiring day. However more detailed analysis of long term impact is less positive. OfSTED noted that, “Effective professional development should be seen as a key driver not only of staff development, but also of recruitment, retention, wellbeing, and school improvement.”

Reviewing a range of CPD models a number show great promise. For example the Primary Science Quality Mark  (PSQM) is a developmental programme over 9 months and involves subject leaders writing an action plan and then delivering it with the support of the experienced hub leader. Another is the Tapestry Partnership model – developing teacher learning communities. Both models demonstrate that CPD can be very effective in school improvement.

In 2016 the Department for Education published their Standards for Effective CPD. Based on work of an expert group it highlighted that for CPD to be effective it should:

  1. have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes.
  2. be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise.
  3. include collaboration and expert challenge.
  4. be development programmes, sustained over time.

And all this is underpinned by, and requires that:

  1. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership.

While professional development can take many forms, the best available research shows that the most effective professional development practices share these characteristics.

What does the model look like in practice?

Reviewing my own CPD provision I have moved away from single day activity to a developmental programme approach where participants work collaboratively over a 3-4 month timeframe, meet up for 3-4 ½ day sessions and apply what they have learnt or developed into their own school setting. Underpinning this is a professional dialogue, mentoring and coaching.

The Standards for Effective CPD How our programmes meet the DfE standard for effective CPD (DfE 2016)
Focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
  • The programme equip the participant in improvement approaches and evaluative techniques to support pupil progression over time
  • Action planning and intercessional tasks focuses on outcomes to explicitly improve T&L/AfL approaches across the school
Underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
  • CPD programme is informed by effective CPD research
  • Activities drawn from highly reputable and credible community
  • Mentoring and coaching to support professional development
Collaboration and expert challenge
  • School collaboration through intercessional tasks ensures effective application of knowledge and skills
  • Programme is led by an experienced Specialist Leader in Education
  • Ongoing online, phone and mentoring support throughout the programme
Sustained over time
  • The programme develops the participant and equips them with tools and approaches to sustainably develop and lead improvement in their school
Prioritised by school leadership
  • Participants are encouraged to work with the school leadership in developing their own leadership practice to ensure value for money and lasting impact

Where I have used this approach the feedback and long-term impact has been profound, “I feel I have developed as a leader over the year. I am now more confident to lead a subject and know how to ensure progress is made. The directed activities and deadlines have meant I have had a focus and the opportunity to reflect has enabled me to identify how we can develop further.”

But are schools ready for a new way of working?

Although evidence shows this approach works we need a paradigm shift in how schools focus on CPD, are schools ready for this change?  A few years ago I ran a programme called Learning and Teaching Research Project, participants were funded to spend 3 days over a 7 month period to learn about research, identify an area they wanted to work on and then implement their plan, finishing with reflection and review of impact. The impact on the individual and their own practice was significant. However, although the programme was free take up was not great – the biggest barrier was the view that schools could not commit to the programme as the outcomes were not clear.

Summary

“Effective professional development for teachers is a core part of securing effective teaching. It cannot exist in isolation, rather it requires a pervasive culture of scholarship with a shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching.”

To be more effective we need to become more focussed on developing supported learning communities that enable teachers to develop and grow, supported by effective mentors and coaches.

I’ll be reviewing and updating this post over the coming year after reviewing my new CPD programmes. Please do share your experiences and views.

 

Effective recruitment and retention of teaching staff within a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) – Management consultancy in action?

“It is widely accepted that the quality of teachers is one of the most important factors in improving our education system.” House of Commons Education Committee (2012)

I’m currently crafting a proposal for my MBA consultancy project focussing on recruitment and retention of teachers and how a management consultancy approach can drive change and improvement, and make substantial financial savings too.

unhappy-teacher

Effective Schools understand the importance of recruiting and retaining high calibre staff and try and manage their retention, this can be difficult and limited in scope due to the organisational constraints of schools – regulations that limit incentivised payments and limited professional development or in school opportunities for career progression. Each year if a school stopped one member of staff moving or extended their stay they could save, £6,00-£12,000. For a school who has an average staff turnover of 10-30% (5-10 teachers) this could equate to annual cost/saving of £20,000 – £120,000.

“Almost 84% of school leaders reported that they were experiencing unprecedented challenges in recruiting teachers”, and this is set to continue. Key insights noted that school leaders are, “finding teacher recruitment and retention tricky, … they, and governors, expect to be their greatest challenge for the next 12-18 months”

To allow schools to better manage their affairs Government have created the Academy, publicly funded independent schools. Academies have considerable autonomy for operational and strategic management with a focus on driving up standards. Currently 25% of schools are academies and the government’s aspiration is for all school to join a Multi Academy Trust (MATs) by 2022 costing over £1.0 billion, Replacing the role of the LA and provide the management, infrastructure and HR services.

Academies as autonomous charitable ‘businesses’ are able to write their own HR policies, negotiate their own pay and conditions and have considerable flexibility in managing recruitment and retention of staff. For example, one Academy I worked in the Principal was able to offer overseas teachers a loan to purchase a car to help them commuting and travel and to pay staff incentives without being bound by custom or regulations. However, the NAHT survey of school leaders, “found that despite the greater flexibilities that academies have in terms of offering pay and conditions, they struggle just as much to recruit” and few are using these powers effectively.

It is argued that by adopting more ‘creative’ recruitment and retention process MATs could make considerable financial savings, particularly important with reducing school budgets and real term savings by as much as 10% per annum as well as improving the retention and moral of staff; But where do schools find new innovative and creative solutions?

In business, there is a historic acceptance and use of external consultants to manage change and improvement. In education the culture is more of a ‘consultocracy’, whereby elite and influential networks of consultants (SIPs, LA advisers, National Strategy Consultants) have been able to obtain a dominant position within education and do the governments bidding. Where these approaches have fallen down has been the lack of understanding of the consultant-client relationship and the split loyalty to the consultocracy and the client school. What is needed is a more pragmatic and dynamic management consultancy approach taken from business and tailored to the needs of schools.

Management consultancy is the creation of value for organisations through the application of knowledge, techniques, assets, to improve performance. This is achieved through the rendering of objective advice and/or the rendering of business solutions

It could be argued that within education we could adopt a management consultancy framework to support change and improvement, but it is essential that there is a clear client-consultant framework focussing on the needs of the organisation. As an MBA student, this field within education is in its infancy and I have proposed that to make the possible savings and have lasting impact it is essential that a new methodology and approach is used that blends best practice from business with experience and understanding of the educational sector. In terms of recruitment and retention of teachers there is a human resource management approach (business) but this needs to be tempered and adjusted through an understanding of the educational profession.

As part of my MBA consultancy project I’m looking at working with MAT’s to see how management consultancy can support school improvement particularly focusing on recruitment and retention of teachers.

The objectives and deliverables of this consultancy project will be to provide the Multi Academy Trust:

  • A detailed analysis of current recruitment and analysis process
  • A detailed analysis of teaching staff views and attitudes to recruitment and retention
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make recruitment more effective (processes and cost savings)
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make retention of staff more effective and sustainable.

So if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this project or leading a MAT and would like to be involved please let me know. I’ll be posting updates as the project develops!

teachers2-small

Mastering your Cats, Dogs and Pets

I have loved paddling since I first went on the water at 11 years old as a scout. At university I spent a lot of time paddling – doing canoe polo, fun recreation – but most of all Whitewater paddling, the bigger the better.

As you get older and have breaks from a sport your skills do fade as well as your confidence. In 2015 I have set a goal to be a Whitewater coach again – something I did in the military years ago but with all the regulations etc now a must have if you want to take people on white water. Hence over the last 2-3 years I have been developing my white water skills to do the assessment this year. Having done the training my biggest barrier is getting time on the water to redevelop my own paddling skills so that I’m confident on grade III/IV water.

I therefore enrolled on a white-water course in January, in Devon. At the time, the Dart was in full flood and I had a real ‘epic’ having my canoe-roll fail me and then having to bail out and swim; Being held in the ‘dish-washer’ going round and round and only just managing to pull myself out; A bit scary. This really sapped my confidence to the point that on the following day I really did not want to go paddle – I did manage to coax myself back onto the water and had another go, on the same river, getting back on the horse so to speak, was not a comfortable experience.

Now I had already enrolled on to an advanced Whitewater paddling course at Plas-Y-Brenin over half-term (February), so there was no backing out. I arrived very demoralised and willing to quit, I know I had the skills to do advanced white water stuff but my confidence was very low.

On the first day after meeting Pete and Chris the coaches, both national coaches, and a great team of fellow paddlers, I decided to give it a go, take each day at a time.

The first day on the Dee (grade II water) was challenging but Pete, perceptively, introduced me to the concept of cats and dogs. The dog is your skills – you can train your dog, develop skills and learn new tricks – I was good at that. However, as Pete pointed out, your confidence was like a cat – if you scare it away it will not want to come back unless you do some serious coaxing. Clearly, I was good at developing the ‘dog’ but had tormented and scared off the cat with my ‘epic’ a few weeks previously, and it did not want to come back any time soon.

Obviously if I did not pamper, coax, and slowly nurture my ‘cat’ I was not going to be making progress, I would be surviving each day but not thriving. Over the next week we spent time doing a variety of things.

 

Skill development on a range of grade II-IV water (River Dee, chain bridge, serpents tale)

 

 

Steep Creeking down a 30 foot fall.

Loved this.

 

 

Upper Conwy grade III river run and the Afon Llugwy grade II-IV (Cobdens falls)

 

 

By the end of the week I had managed to coax my ‘cat’ to have some fun and developed my ‘dog’ tricks – I was definitely happy and smiling like a Cheshire cat. Interestingly the take away development point from Pete was to work on all my ‘pets’ as Pete called them – particularly my rolling skills in different situations, still a barrier to further development as a white water coach I think.

All in all, a great week with some exceptional coaches who were very supportive, perspective and encouraging. I’ll definitely be paying the extra for future courses at Plas-Y-Brenin

Once I do my whitewater coach in April I think I might look at developing my sea kayaking skills with a plan to paddle around Anglesea in 2019/20!

Want to join me?

Finally, we all have our own ‘epics’ that can create self-doubt and crash our confidence, even the best of us. What this has shown me is the power of a great coach who can make all the difference to helping you master your ‘dog’ and taming your ‘cat’. Ultimately Improving your performance.

Improving standards for teachers’ professional development

In July 2016 the Department for Education (DfE) published the “Standard for teachers’ professional development”. The expert group noted that, “Effective professional development for teachers is a core part of securing effective teaching. It cannot exist in isolation, rather it requires a pervasive culture of scholarship with a shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching.”

As a teacher and deliver of professional development for schools I must admit that the classic model of delivering single day activities has not been effective.  “Evidence suggests that a one-day course as a stand-alone activity without a specific focus is unlikely to have a lasting impact on pupil outcomes.” The most participants seem to get out of it is a nice lunch, time to network and some new ideas. sadly once they are back into the fray of the classroom little impact is achieved.

Reviewing feedback from my development courses over many years shows that the model that has the biggest impact are those that are sustained over time, involves collaboration and support. As such a “professional development programme” approach that involves many activities designed to sustain and embed practice, including, individual and collaborative teacher activity but essentially expert input who acts as coach, mentor, guide.

The importance of professional development is fundamentally important and must ultimately make a difference to the young people we educate. As such I have reviewed the DofE standards and developed a range of programmes that focus on supporting and developing teachers through a model of face-2-face meetings, mentoring and coaching to have impact both in their own practice but across their school.

All my programmes are three-four months in duration and consist of ½ day face-2-face meetings that provide the support and guidance required to develop participants, intercessional tasks to ensure application of skills and opportunities to reflect, develop. Ultimately each programme will help participants to develop and implement a whole school improvement strategy.

Participants will be supported and guided by a very experienced mentor/coach who is a Specialist Leader in Education for science.

Department of Education Standard for teachers’ professional development

This is an exciting time for Professional Development, the barrier might be the marketing of this approach to schools who are so use to sending teachers on a ‘day out’ to improve, or, because of previous experience, not supportive of CPD..

Programmes I have developed:

  • Developing the role of the science subject leader
  • Developing whole school assessment in primary science
  • Effective Teaching and Learning in science
  • Developing a whole school science curriculum

Find out more: www.tvsn.uk 

 

Should, “Education research come with a health warning?”

Is there an argument for all school leaders to have higher degrees or at minimum training to critically evaluate research methods and consider the impact of implementing new ideas into schools?

The article “should educational research come with a health warning?” argues that too often approaches and ideas (phonics, parental choice, discovery learning) in education are identified through research or unresearched ideas then implemented with little thought to the impact of the research or ideas on schools, teachers or children.

https://england.magazine.tes.com/editions/edition_edition_edition_5238.england/data/339329/index.html

In my own experience I have seen this all too often and it is worrying that a snap shot of research findings, a new fad or popular idea can be accepted into practice with little regard to efficacy or impact.

some examples

  • One secondary school liked the idea of learning styles and implemented a programme of assessing every young person’s learning style and them providing teaching through that preferred learning style as a means of accelerating progress and achievement.
  • A primary school that had implemented cursive writing in year 1 and 2 for all children as it could support any child you might be dyslexic.
  • A secondary school who designed their science laboratories around behaviour, having paid a fortune splitting each laboratory into a teaching space and wet experimental area, only to discover it had no positive impact to behaviour and if anything made doing science extremely difficult.
  • A primary school who decided all teaching of curriculum subjects should be done by a specialist, only to discover when they move on there is a distinct hole created…

I’m not saying any of these approaches are wrong, it is great schools are trying new things and pushing the bubble. However in all these cases they had given little thought to the potential negative impact or unintended consequences of these approaches and ultimately the impact on young people.

However, as Professor Humes notes, and I have seen on many occasions, “A lot of educational research operates on a system of ‘let’s try this and evaluate it’. From the very beginning, the researchers, unless they are able to detach themselves from the project, are disposed to look for success and the problem is that sometimes they are blind to the downsides. That is understandable but not commendable.”

While doing research for my MSc and MBA an essential aspect is critical research methods approach, weighing up the advantages, disadvantages and impact within an ethical framework. Within education it is BERA (British Educational Research Association) (https://www.bera.ac.uk/) who makes a clear case, “the development of a world-class education system depends on high quality educational research but this field is where policy decisions are often driven by ideology rather than robust evidence.” At a school level by the ‘snap-shot’ from the research, the vocal educational ‘gurus’ or what the school down the road is doing.

To mitigate unintended consequences or negative impact of a new policy or approach in school perhaps all school leaders need to undergo training in research methods so they are better able to critically evaluate research and consider its full impact. An aspect which is lacking in core training and development of head teachers.

As an educational adviser and consultant I do my bit by making sure I reference all material I use and where necessary highlight possible positive and negative impacts!

Thoughts appreciated.

BERA Ethics guidelines: https://www.bera.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/BERA-Ethical-Guidelines-2011.pdf

Effective recruitment and retention of teachers within a Multi Academy Trust – Management consultancy in action?

“It is widely accepted that the quality of teachers is one of the most important factors in improving our education system.” House of Commons Education Committee (2012)

 I’m currently crafting a proposal for my MBA consultancy project focusing on recruitment and retention of teachers and how a management consultancy approach can drive change and improvement, and make substantial financial savings too.

unhappy-teacher

Effective Schools understand the importance of recruiting and retaining high calibre staff and try and manage their retention, this can be difficult and limited in scope due to the organisational constraints of schools – regulations that limit incentivised payments and limited professional development or in school opportunities for career progression. Each year if a school stopped one member of staff moving or extended their stay they could save, £6,00-£12,000. For a school who has an average staff turnover of 10-30% (5-10 teachers) this could equate to annual cost/saving of £20,000 – £120,000.

“Almost 84% of school leaders reported that they were experiencing unprecedented challenges in recruiting teachers”, and this is set to continue. Key insights noted that school leaders are, “finding teacher recruitment and retention tricky, … they, and governors, expect to be their greatest challenge for the next 12-18 months”

To allow schools to better manage their affairs Government have created the Academy, publicly funded independent schools. Academies have considerable autonomy for operational and strategic management with a focus on driving up standards. Currently 25% of schools are academies and the government’s aspiration is for all school to join a Multi Academy Trust (MATs) by 2022 costing over £1.0 billion, Replacing the role of the LA and provide the management, infrastructure and HR services.

 Academies as autonomous charitable ‘businesses’ are able to write their own HR policies, negotiate their own pay and conditions and have considerable flexibility in managing recruitment and retention of staff. For example, one Academy I worked in the Principal was able to offer overseas teachers a loan to purchase a car to help them commuting and travel and to pay staff incentives without being bound by custom or regulations. However, the NAHT survey of school leaders, “found that despite the greater flexibilities that academies have in terms of offering pay and conditions, they struggle just as much to recruit” and few are using these powers effectively.

It is argued that by adopting more ‘creative’ recruitment and retention process MATs could make considerable financial savings, particularly important with reducing school budgets and real term savings by as much as 10% per annum as well as improving the retention and moral of staff; But where do schools find new innovative and creative solutions?

In business, there is a historic acceptance and use of external consultants to manage change and improvement. In education the culture is more of a ‘consultocracy’, whereby elite and influential networks of consultants (SIPs, LA advisers, National Strategy Consultants) have been able to obtain a dominant position within education and do the governments bidding. Where these approaches have fallen down has been the lack of understanding of the consultant-client relationship and the split loyalty to the consultocracy and the client school. What is needed is a more pragmatic and dynamic management consultancy approach taken from business and tailored to the needs of schools.

consultancy

Management consultancy is the creation of value for organisations through the application of knowledge, techniques, assets, to improve performance. This is achieved through the rendering of objective advice and/or the rendering of business solutions

It could be argued that within education we could adopt a management consultancy framework to support change and improvement, but it is essential that there is a clear client-consultant framework focussing on the needs of the organisation. As an MBA student, this field within education is in its infancy and I have proposed that to make the possible savings and have lasting impact it is essential that a new methodology and approach is used that blends best practice from business with experience and understanding of the educational sector. In terms of recruitment and retention of teachers there is a human resource management approach (business) but this needs to be tempered and adjusted through an understanding of the educational profession.

As part of my MBA consultancy project I’m looking at working with MAT’s to see how management consultancy can support school improvement particularly focusing on recruitment and retention of teachers.

The objectives and deliverables of this consultancy project will be to provide the Multi Academy Trust:

  • A detailed analysis of current recruitment and analysis process
  • A detailed analysis of teaching staff views and attitudes to recruitment and retention
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make recruitment more effective (processes and cost savings)
  • An options report on possible strategies and approaches to make retention of staff more effective and sustainable.

So if you have any thoughts or suggestions on this project or leading a MAT and would like to be involved please let me know. I’ll be posting updates as the project develops!

teachers2-small

Coaching outdoors – how things have changed!

“You get the best effort from others not by lighting a fire beneath them but by building a fire within them”

climb coaching

I have always had a passion for being outdoors – as a young person doing the DofE and scouting and later in the military. This has taken many forms – climbing, mountaineering and paddling, basically anything outdoory. For me it has always been about the freedom and fun, the risk and the challenge.

In the military I became an outdoor instructor in paddling, climbing and mountaineering – mainly so I could do stuff but increasingly so I could share my love of being outdoors. This led to expeditions  all over the world. The underlying ethos was to instruct techniques  – survival, climbing, walking paddling strokes. And I became quite good at it.

paddle coachAfter having a family and a bit of a break  I got back into paddling, largely due to my kids doing scouting and being asked to help. I then embarked on ‘retraining’ becoming a paddle and climbing coach. I was really surprised to find that the landscape had changed greatly. We were no longer instructors but coaches. No longer focusing on perfecting strokes but more about skills, fun and enjoyment . This has of course generated a new industry of qualifications and requirements, mostly sensible I think.

As well as paddling I have also updated my climbing and hillwalking qualifications and think that the move towards a coaching culture is welcome. For example climbing has moved from telling how to make a move to a more holistic view and approach of coaching movement, balance, forces. Even mountaineering is moving in this direction with the focus on the client experience – flora and fauna (never my strength).

MWE coachingI think you can teach an old instructor new tricks! I have recently undertaken the Moderate Water Endorsement programme for paddling with http://gene17kayaking.com/. I was so impressed by my coach, really talented, experience and supportive, a real role model. Again exemplifying a changing way of working with young people.

2016-01-15 train the trainer courseAnother area I have been developing working outdoors, having gained my Mountain Leader qualification recently I undertook the ‘train the trainer’ course at Plas y Brenin. Led by a former geography teacher this was very much about supportive learning, not being judgmental and discovery learning, not dissimilar to my style of teaching in the classroom.

Reflecting on the developments in the outdoor industry there has I think been a massive change, largely for the better, towards a coaching model that is supportive and inclusive that should see a greater uptake in people of all ages taking on adventures outdoors.

For me coaching is like teaching, making a difference to people,

“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen”

Unlike instructing, coaching is a dynamic two way process, before the session not just about the skills but the needs of the coachees, during the session a intricate dialogue (supporting, motivating, encouraging) and afterwards a reflection on the experience, what has been learnt and what I have learnt too. Always thinking of new ways of doing similar sessions in a different way so that it will engage, motivate and inspire!

 It reminds me of my first years of teaching, I had a colleague who had been a classroom teacher for over 30 years, he was far from past it. He kept his enthusiasm and motivation by focussing on the people and the learning and the fun of the whole experience, living in the moment day by day. I swear he was the biggest child in the class with bounds of enthusiasm and curiosity.

 But I don’t think coaching is quite teaching like instructing is neither coaching or teaching. A discussion for another time I think! Thoughts appreciated!

 “A coach is someone who tells you what you don’t want to hear, who has you see what you don’t want to see, so that you can be who you have always known you could be”

My summer project – develop a new company “Oxford Canoe Tours”

canoe oxford 02

Having paddled on the Thames and Cherwell for many years I was struck by how little commercialisation has gone on in terms of canoes and kayaks in Oxford.

Having recently done some paddling on the River Wye I was surprised how much business was going on in terms of canoeing and kayaking  – similar to that found in France. Putting people and groups up stream and collecting them at the end of the day – little instruction but reasonably safe and enjoyable. And some incredible views!

Having done a workshop on marketing and commercial practices as part of my MBA we studied tour operations in Oxford and it was obvious that there is a real lack of divergent opportunities for visitors to our great city. I really liked the idea we presented of different alternative trips – hence my thoughts for a tour of Oxford on the river by canoe. No one is doing it!

So with a friend, Richard, we have put together our embryonic business for the summer “Oxford Canoe Tours” to see how viable it could be.

Some of the details of our new business venture:

We will take you on an exploration of this ancient city by in canoes so that you can find out about how the river has made an essential contribution to the history of this famous city.

Our aim is to deliver a friendly, fun, informed and unique experience of Oxford for all participants.

Why? We want visitors to Oxford to experience an amazing journey through time and the city that informs and celebrates the world renowned heritage of Oxford as a fun, challenging memorable adventure, a lasting  memory.

How? Through a unique tour with friendly and knowledge tour guides along the waterways of Oxford.

What? we are Oxford Canoe Tours, want to experience an adventure with us?

We will be operating in collaboration with the Oxford Canoe and Kayak Club (www.canoeoxford.org.uk) and running tours from:

Riverside Centre, Donnington Bridge, Oxford OX4 4AZ

We will be running tours on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday mornings, other days by arrangement. So if you are in Oxford why not experience Oxford in a unique and different way!

Further information,   Book your tour

Looking forward to meeting you over the summer!

So lets see how it develops and perhaps we might see a second season?