Ysgol Gymunedol Tal-y-bont, Ysgol Craig yr Wylfa, Ysgol Llangynfelyn
School name: Ysgol Gymunedol Tal-y-bont, Ysgol Craig yr Wylfa, Ysgol Llangynfelyn
Headteacher: Hefin Jones
Number of pupils: 130
Working in partnership
Being in a partnership of three schools has opened the door to a number of exciting and practical possibilities. For example, joint lesson planning, monitoring the quality of work and moderating pupils' work.
During the past two years, the schools have been collaborating regularly in order to meet the requirements associated with the process of moderating work.
"Now, instead of moderating work as individual schools, we will arrange staff meetings on a regular basis throughout the year to check each other's work," said headteacher Hefin Jones.
The first meeting, which is usually held before the end of the autumn term, will focus on one or two aspects so that the teachers have a specific goal to aim for during the first half-term.
"At first, teachers would feel a bit anxious about showing their work to colleagues, but through open discussions in a supportive atmosphere, these concerns quickly disappeared," said Hefin.
"From the outset, these sessions proved to be a good opportunity to jointly compare our work, and to also share ideas in a natural way.
“As a result of these initial meetings, we realised that it would be a good idea to work together to plan specific tasks for moderation by teachers in different classes. Working in this way provided assurance that the profiles would be built gradually over time, and that any gaps would be filled. Also, having the opportunity to be part of the Foundation Phase Forum was very helpful when arranging non-contact periods at the outset of this work.”
During this period, new teachers, including newly qualified teachers, had begun teaching at one or more of the schools.
This collaboration has ensured that these teachers have been involved, from the outset, in discussions on lesson planning and preparation, and it has also ensured that work presented in the classroom is suitable for inclusion in moderation profiles.
This collaboration has also meant that we are able to draw on the expertise of different teachers when planning suitable tasks for presentation and moderation.
Being in a partnership of three schools has led to close collaboration in other areas too, in particular the processes involved in improving quality. For example, the role of school coordinators has changed greatly over the years.
By now, a single individual is responsible for a subject or aspect across the three schools. As part of their work, teachers from one school will visit another school within the partnership to observe lessons, to scrutinise the work of children and to come to conclusions.
Ensuring opportunities for the senior management of the three schools to visit other schools has been very beneficial in terms of professional development, and has also been a way of comparing what is happening in one school with the provision at another school.
“We have tried to ensure that these observations are constructive and supportive, and lead to raising standards,” said Hefin.
“In the same way, when scrutinising the children’s work, we will collect a cross-section of books from the three schools, and the coordinator for the subject being monitored will earmark time to browse through the books, in accordance with specific criteria. These criteria will often derive from the School Development Plan or from recommendations following visits by education department officials.”
The coordinator is also responsible for drawing up a report on the findings, for highlighting any strengths and weaknesses, and for proposing any recommendations for inclusion in the School Development Plan. These reports are expected to be evaluative, and are presented to the staff at meetings of the three schools. A summary of the report is also presented to the governors on a termly basis.
“At the outset of this collaboration, the hope was that we would be able to reduce the burden in some elements of administrative work.
In evaluating the current situation, the general feeling is that working together in this way has led to responsibilities being shared and to standards being raised in key areas,” said Hefin.