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Daniel Stucke

Manchester & the North. Stoic. Caring. Diverse. Tolerant. A day to model our best values, particularly to our young people. 😥

Daniel Stucke

Discussion in my Y11 class yesterday got around to reading LOTR when I was 10. Cue a lovely young 16y old student telling me that he's never read a book, "not since we had to at primary school" 😭

Daniel Stucke

Numbers are not enough - Sir William Atkinson

2 min read

I had the pleasure of seeing Sir William Atkinson close the GL-Assessment Conference on Friday. He's an incredible character, responsible for turning around 'the worst school in England'. He regaled that tale to us, reflecting on the 10 years it took to do so - would anyone be given 10 years in this day and age?

He then shared the common traits of the failing schools he has worked with over recent years, all were 40-80% FSM and getting 80%+ 5A-C incl E&M.

What did they have in common?

  • Adults believed that the pupils could learn. Pupils believed that they could learn. Parents could believe that the school could help their students learn.
  • Schools went to great lengths to ensure students could see how the curriculum related to their futures.
  • They had very effective careers guidance education that was implemented from the very start including active engagement with parents.
  • Teaching was consistently good and more often than not outstanding.
  • Schools used every opportunity to bring the outside in and to take the learning outside.
  • Extra work was done at breakfast, break, lunch and after school. But all was done specifically on the areas of need for each individual learner and they were tenacious in ensuring students turn up.
  • As a matter of routine staff continually went the extra mile.
  • Activities were joined up.
  • Backgrounds of students were always taken into account. But when you can convince parents and pupils that they are capable of incredible things then they will succeed.

Daniel Stucke

A positive Ofsted school improvement experience - credit where it's due

4 min read

A positive Ofsted experience

There have been enough Ofsted scare stories to last a lifetime, and the perverse effect they can have on schools are well known. But sometimes credit should be given where it's due, so here is a tale of a supportive and constructive Ofsted visit under the new framework.

Context

Our school is in Special Measures, has been for nearly 18 months. This September I joined the school alongside over thirty other teaching staff. Five sevenths of the leadership team are new to the school. On Tuesday we received 'the call', the long awaited Autumn term monitoring visit would take place Wednesday and Thursday.

The monitoring visit

The HMI who led previous inspections had actually retired as HMI, so we were delighted to see he had returned in the team as an additional inspector. The school has been on a difficult journey over the past 18 months, ensuring some continuity on the inspection team was a great start.

Inspectors conducted approximately 40 observations, with the majority joint observations with the SLT team. There was not a hint of grading in sight, each observation was based around strengths and areas for development. For joint observations we discussed and agreed these afterwards (there were no significant differences of opinion), SLT did the feedback for these with staff, the inspectors fed back where they had observed alone.

I wasn't privy to any discussions about percentages of good & better lessons / teachers at any point.

Meetings focussed on a number of areas including: leadership and school development; outcomes; teaching and learning; pastoral care; safeguarding; PSHE; off site provision; SEND provision amongst other areas. I think it fair to say these were focussed on checking the presence of key things from the inspection framework combined with checking that our own judgements of the quality of provision in each area were accurate. Meetings were professional and challenging. But they were also open and fair. The inspector would challenge in a number of areas, then they would always recap, summarise any possible comments that would come out of that discussion for the main report and ask if there was any more supporting evidence that we had not discussed that we would like to mention at that point and if their recap was a fair reflection of discussions and of the school's position.

It's November, so obviously the exam outcomes from the Summer were discussed, and rightly so, but the focus was definitely on the progress of all existing students, in all year groups and all subjects. Equally the lesson observations were clearly aimed at the broadest possible age/subject coverage. The accuracy of your progress data for all subjects and ages will be key to successful judgements under the new framework.

I think it's fair to say that the inspection team kept in line with the Ofsted Myths document: Ofsted inspections – clarification for schools throughout.

Myself, the Principal and Executive Principal were invited into the end of day debriefs where the three inspectors shared their findings with each other and agreed on the content of the report. This was fascinating to see the team in action quickly reviewing all the evidence they had collected, and again our input was welcomed whether it was to agree or disagree with discussions.

Moving forward

Whilst I don't want to pre-empt an unwritten Ofsted report I'm hopeful and confident it will be a fair document that is written in a way to support and challenge our next steps. As it should be. We were offered clear guidance and challenge of what to expect from our next monitoring visit in the Spring, and importantly, offered clear instructions of what it would take to convert that monitoring visit into a full Section 5 inspection at the end of the first day.

This is what you would hope and expect from a Special Measures monitoring visit, I hope it will become the norm as Ofsted mould how they work under the new framework.

Does Ofsted still distort work in many schools? Yes, of course. Should we be moving to a system of peer led accountability and support? Quite possibly. But I have more confidence after this week that Ofsted are trying to move in the right direction. They are trying to support schools that have underperformed in the past. They are validating the schools own self evaluation of their position. They are not showing preference to certain teaching styles. They're not grading lessons. They seem to be working openly and collaboratively. I hope it continues this was and that we hear some more positive stories, and less negative stories as the year goes on.

Daniel Stucke

Strong Positions, Weakly Held

2 min read

Starting a new job as Vice Principal at a new school, doing my NPQH, reading profusely and collating 9 years of blog posts into this one site have made me realise how my views on education have changed over recent years. Without blowing my own trumpet this post struck a chord. I've always tried to stand firmly by my beliefs but been open to challenge and open to changing my outlook. Some views I've changed over the past 9 years:

  • Technology is no panacea for education. It sure has a place in 2015, it is frequently used badly, the culture of a school has to be just right for successful widespread adoption.
  • Teaching does not need a paradigm shift in pedagogy (I actually wrote that in a job application a few years ago - cringeworthy!), 'traditional' methods often work and work well. My own classes frequently take the form of model > practice > stretch > repeat. It works.
  • Excellent teaching can not cure school behaviour issues on it's own. Schools need robust systems and support teams (leadership and associate staff) that work to allow teachers to teach (whilst still owning their own classrooms).
  • Teacher talk is no bad thing. Some of the best lessons I've taught and observed have involved a subject expert being a sage on the stage. If the passion and enthusiasm is there then students will lap up the learning.

Have I become more traditional and less progressive? Maybe, but it's a silly dichotomy. More than anything I've reflected on my own practice and realised that some of the more progressive propaganda that I was fed throughout the early years of my teaching was a little over the top and never took root in my own classroom.

I'll continue to stand by what I believe in, but reserve the right to be proved wrong and change my tune in the future.