Engage, Motivate and Retain the Very Best in the Profession: Devising new approaches

By Denise Inwood, MD and Founder, BlueSky   

Retention and Talent Management
Recruitment and retention in our profession is at a critical point. The data confirms what we know from our own schools and colleges: the pipeline for talent - the kind of talent that will help us give the very best to our young people - is running low. And when they do join, those bright young leaders of the future who are committed, well-qualified and keen to learn, too often are quitting the profession after an all-too-brief time in the classroom.

And yet, around the country, there are leaders who are bucking this trend; academy, school and college senior leaders who have devised innovative, sometimes risk-taking models for tackling recruitment and encouraging more of their early career staff to continue in the profession into the medium and longer terms.

At our Friday afternoon workshop Engage, Motivate and Retain the Very Best in the Profession at ASCL Annual Conference, we will be exploring some of these approaches and hear from senior leaders who have achieved success with these models. 

We’ll explore, too, how talent management and succession planning need not be seen as an additional initiative or burden but can build on existing staff development and performance review processes.

You can also get involved now - we’d like to hear what’s happening in your school. Have your say in our research by completing our short Retention and Talent Management mini survey (please note, the information we gather will not be shared with any third parties and is anonymous, unless you choose to share your details with us).

The changing shape of observations in schools
At BlueSky, we’ve also been researching the role that lesson observations play in both of these areas through our Fact File report, The Quiet Uprising, which draws together findings from our survey of 204 state and independent schools with other sources of research and intelligence.  We’ll be discussing this with ASCL Curriculum and Inspection Specialist Steve Rollett, at the Conference Hub during the first break on Friday morning.

The Fact File report examines the findings of a survey of primary and secondary schools into how they use lesson observations and other methods of assessing and developing teachers. Some of the practices highlighted are truly innovative, and have encouraged schools to revise and, in some cases, rethink the purpose of observations, their approach to them and the people involved.

Observations happen in every school around the country, but are we sure they achieve what they need to, capturing the good practice as well as areas to develop?

There should be an opportunity for teachers to refine their professional skills through feedback and to share their own good practice with others so that it spreads around the system. But, in some cases at least, observations create more stress than insight, as well as adding to teachers’ workload.

In fact, one of the key findings from our research was that the last two years have seen changes in the way two-thirds of the schools in the survey are conducting lesson observations.

More than 40% of schools reported carrying out fewer formal observations than previously, and more than half (59%) have also abandoned grading or use it only rarely. Many schools, for example, are shifting from observations graded by a senior member of staff to more peer and collaborative systems which enable colleagues to observe each other, creating opportunities for practice development on all sides.

Other innovations include involvement of critical friends, such as governors, in lesson observations, bringing in NQTs to observe as part of their training, and community approaches with multiple colleagues taking part.
One of the most interesting, overarching findings from the research was that two broad strands emerged in terms of purpose of observations: teacher CPD and quality assurance. Some schools are starting to shape observation programmes separately to address these specific purposes.

Whatever the changes introduced, however, involving staff in the discussions in order to garner their ideas as well as their support, remains vital.

ASCL Annual Conference
BlueSky is one of the headline sponsors at ASCL Annual Conference, 13 – 14 March 2020. 

On Friday 13 March at 2.30pm, Denise Inwood, MD and BlueSky Founder, will be leading a workshop Engage, Motivate and Retain the Very Best in the Profession with Sara Ford, ASCL Deputy Director of Policy: Conditions and Employment, and Dawn Haywood, Deputy CEO and Education Director, Windsor Academy Trust.

Denise will also be in conversation with Steve Rollett, ASCL Curriculum and Inspection Specialist at the Conference Hub on Friday 13 March at 11.35am. 

You can also come and meet the team and find out more about BlueSky at stands 3 and 34 at the conference. 

Hope to see you there!
Posted: 27/02/2020 10:10:00