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  • Tips For Planning an Effective School INSET Day

    Having experienced numerous INSET days ourselves, we know that these important team days can evoke a mixture of emotions. With often jam-packed agendas and new learning filled to the brim, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and overloaded. This feeling may be compounded by the realisation that the summer holidays have concluded, and there's a lengthy stretch ahead until Christmas. It's no surprise that these days sometimes elicit a sense of dread, combined with the usual nerves and excitement of a new academic year beginning. So how can you avoid this and instead plan an INSET day that is productive, engaging and worthwhile? Let's take a look. What do I need to prioritise on INSET day? Often, schools will have one or two INSET days in September. While you may feel the need to account for each hour of those days, it's important to consider what you wish to prioritise so you don't overfill them and end up rushing through some of the most important bits. Each school will have individual priorities based on the outcomes of their most recent Ofsted inspection, school improvement work or community-based actions. However, the following suggestions are areas that are commonly prioritised by most settings on INSET day: Greet and introduce new team members. Share school improvement priorities. Provide statutory safeguarding training and updates, such as KCSIE and The Prevent Duty. Distribute policy and procedure changes. Spend time with your senior leadership team during the summer term to clarify what your school priorities are and agree how this information will be shared during INSET. What should I consider when planning a school INSET day? Planning an effective school INSET day requires careful consideration to ensure it's both productive and engaging for the staff team. Here are some of our top tips: 1. Set clear objectives Define what you want to achieve by the end of the day. Whether it's introducing new strategies, addressing specific challenges linked to school improvement or enhancing staff wellbeing, having clear objectives will keep everyone focused. Don't forget to share these with the team too. 2. Tailor activities to staff needs Talk to the team before you begin to plan the day to understand their professional development needs, learning styles and interests. Customise the day's activities accordingly to make it relevant and beneficial for everyone. 3. Provide a mix of training methods and opportunities for interaction Incorporate a variety of training methods to cater to different learning styles. This could include workshops, presentations, group discussions, hands-on activities or even guest speakers. Adding a variety of methods like this can help to avoid cognitive overload. Encourage active participation through interactive workshops where staff can apply new skills or strategies in a supportive environment. Utilising hands-on activities can reinforce learning and foster collaboration among colleagues. 4. Include everyone It's crucial to involve all staff members in meaningful ways during the INSET. While recognising that not every training session will directly apply to every role, it's vital to tailor the agenda to address the specific needs of each group of staff. Inclusivity ensures that everyone feels valued and contributes to the collective effort, fostering a strong sense of teamwork as the academic year begins. 5. Prepare resources and materials Ensure staff have access to necessary resources, materials and tools to support their learning during the day and check you have sufficient quantities so everyone has a copy. If you're expecting a staff member or external individual to lead a session, take the time to agree what needs to be covered in advance so it is well prepared and appropriate for the needs of your school and staff team. 6. Factor in reflection Schedule time for staff to reflect on their learning throughout the day. Reflection helps reinforce understanding and allows individuals to consider how they can apply new knowledge or skills in their practice. INSET is also a perfect opportunity for staff members to reflect on what they'd like to achieve this year and the skills they'd like to develop. 7. Incorporate time for collaboration Provide opportunities for staff to collaborate with colleagues from different departments or year groups to support the sharing of ideas and experiences. These conversations can be hugely beneficial and spark creativity and generate new approaches to teaching and learning. 8. Focus on wellbeing Dedicate part of the day to staff wellbeing activities such as mindfulness exercises, team-building activities or sessions on work-life balance. A healthy and motivated staff team is essential for a successful school community and INSET day provides the perfect opportunity to set the tone for the rest of the academic year. 9. Offer follow-up support After the INSET day, provide opportunities for support to help reinforce learning and encourage staff to implement new strategies effectively. This could include mentoring, coaching or additional resources and training sessions. It's important that any strategies introduced on INSET day are not seen as just as one-off training opportunity, and instead, plans should be in place to build upon the work started here. 10. Gather feedback Collect feedback from staff after the INSET day to evaluate its effectiveness and identify areas for improvement in future professional development sessions. Some additional considerations to maximise the effectiveness of your September INSET days include: Share the planned schedule for each day in advance, providing clarity and allowing attendees to prepare accordingly. Be prepared for unforeseen circumstances and remain adaptable. Plans may need to be adjusted at the last minute, so having contingency measures in place is essential. Consider small gestures to show appreciation for staff members' dedication to your school. This could include organising a team lunch or preparing tea and coffee to kickstart the day on a positive note. Extend invitations to governors or trustees to attend the INSET days to provide an opportunity for them to connect with staff members and gain insights into the school's operations. Aim to conclude the day's activities ahead of schedule whenever possible. Allowing staff members to leave early provides them with additional time to recharge and prepare for the upcoming term, promoting a fresh start. Thinking about how you might plan all of this out? Our checklist has you covered and better yet, it's FREE! How can Honeyguide help you prepare for the training day and the academic year ahead? We're passionate about ensuring all staff, including school leaders, get the time off and rest they need and deserve during the summer holidays. For this reason, we'd really recommend planning out your INSET day in advance of the summer break, and complete any actions that feed into the priorities covered during the day. Here are some of our top resources so you can feel prepared in advance of INSET day, covering aspects of the Ofsted framework, subject leadership, safeguarding and more: Let us lead beside you and help you to feel ready for the new academic year now, so you can enjoy much needed time off to recharge over the summer break.

  • No Subject Deep Dives in Ungraded Ofsted Inspections: What Does This Mean for You?

    Speaking at the annual NAHT conference, Sir Martyn Oliver announced that from September 2024, subject deep dives will no longer take place during ungraded inspections. In this blog, we explore what this might mean for school leaders. What has Ofsted announced about subject deep dives and why? In his speech, Sir Martyn Oliver discussed the importance of Ofsted listening to feedback given. Part of this included hearing the voices of small school leaders who shared that the inspection process is designed for larger schools. The result of listening to this feedback? Subject deep dives in ungraded inspections will no longer take place from September 2024. Before you start jumping for joy at the thought, be aware that this change might not be as big as you first think. Ofsted will still look at the quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management in ungraded inspections - they just won't grade the individual areas, which is standard in an ungraded inspections anyway. So what does this mean for small schools awaiting inspection, and what about large schools? And how will leaders know whether their next inspection is a graded one or not? Which types of schools receive ungraded inspections? To answer this, it might be easier to look at the school's which won't receive an ungraded inspection... Types of school that will get a graded inspection If your school falls into any of the following categories, your next inspection will be a full (section 5) graded inspection, and therefore deep dives will still take place. These include: Schools that are currently graded as inadequate Schools that are currently graded as requires improvement Schools that were graded as outstanding before July 2015 Good or outstanding schools that have received an ungraded inspection which recommends that the next inspection is a full, graded one - if this applies to your school, the first paragraph of your latest inspection report will state this. So does this mean that any school not fitting these categories will get ungraded inspections? Well, no - if only if it was that simple! The schools inspection handbook outlines that Ofsted uses a risk assessment to determine whether a good and outstanding school who could receive an ungraded inspection will receive one or not. This risk assessment includes: analysis of DfE data (e.g. progress, attainment, attendance and exclusion data) school workforce census data parents and carers views added to Ofsted Parent View qualifying complaints pupils mobility (e.g. numbers of leavers and joiners outside of normal transition times) outcomes of any previous inspections statutory warning notices other significant concerns brought to Ofsted's attention Because of this, any school who is eligible for an ungraded inspection could still receive a full graded inspection depending on the outcome of this risk assessment. Types of schools that will most likely get an ungraded inspection As above, there are no 100% guarantees that any inspection will definitely be ungraded so we feel the caveat with this news about deep dives is that you can never assume that your school will have an ungraded inspection (and therefore no subject deep dives). However, the following types of schools in the following situations - in Ofsted's words - will "normally" have an ungraded (section 8) inspection: Schools that are currently graded as good or outstanding, including those where the last inspection was ungraded and it confirmed that the school was still 'good' or 'outstanding' respectively Schools that were graded as outstanding from September 2015 onwards and have not been inspected since Academy converters whose predecessors were graded as good or outstanding What does the absence of deep dives mean for your school? Using the criteria above, you'll know whether your school will definitely receive a graded inspection - if this is the case, regardless of your school's size, subject deep dives will still take place so you may wish to plan and prepare for this accordingly. Our hugely popular Deep Dive in Every Subject: Full Curriculum Set can support you to do this, and individual subject packs are available for every National Curriculum area. But what about those possibly receiving ungraded inspections? Well, let's think about the purpose of a subject deep dive - it's to understand your curriculum's intent, implementation and impact on your pupils, which can help you identify your strengths and, crucially, plan to address any weaknesses. So should schools who are expecting ungraded inspections just give up on deep dives? For the above reasons, we'd say schools should stick with them. Internal deep dives can allow subject leaders to really understand the nuts and bolts of the subject and plan for further improvement. Where there are curricular strengths, this can be used to support the development of other subjects. Also, from a leadership perspective, it can be valuable and unpressured practice for subject leaders to discuss their subjects with more experienced staff, particularly for those aspiring to leadership roles with greater responsibility in the future. Then, if your school does end up with a graded inspection, subject leaders are prepared to talk about their subject with inspectors. If the inspection turns out to be ungraded, it's not like time has been wasted if the rationale for conducting internal deep dives is improving outcomes for your pupils. What will Ofsted do instead of subject deep dives? Nothing has been officially released or confirmed from Ofsted yet (but of course, when it does we'll keep you updated!) However, in his address, Sir Martyn Oliver did state: Ofsted "want ungraded inspections to feel more like monitoring visits." "The emphasis of these inspections will be on providing school leaders with opportunities to demonstrate where they have improved and to discuss where they still have work to do." It will be a "professional dialogue between the inspection team and school leadership." Typically, the headteacher and the senior team will be invited to show Ofsted what is typical of their school, what the school does well, what changes have been made to improve, and what the school still needs to tackle to make it the best it can be. The conversations will still be "challenging" because everyone - Ofsted included - can "always do better." So we'd urge you to ask yourself how different is any of this from what you already do when you scrutinise, reflect and investigate your school's subjects and curriculum, either within your setting, with others from your Trust or with school improvement advisers. While the subject deep dives in ungraded inspections might disappear, the level of scrutiny around the curriculum will remain - as Ofsted have said, it just means they won't be attempting a "rushed dig into every detail." We do hope their stated aim of reducing the burden on subject leaders will manifest though, and that further actions will be taken to reduce burdens across the entire education sector too. Looking for support on how to evaluate your curriculum or prepare for inspection? Honeyguide's here to help

  • Subject Leaders: How Do I Create a Subject Action Plan and Develop My Subject?

    If you’re new to subject leadership or are thinking about how you lead your subject, you’ll likely be aware that you need a subject action plan, or at least that you’ll need to work to develop your subject further even if you don’t create a formal action plan. However, the temptation with subject action plans can be to put everything you can think of in them. Perhaps this is because subject leaders think it makes it look like they’re ‘doing’ subject leadership really well or maybe it’s because there are so many tasks that we’re used to in school, it just feels natural to fill out a huge action plan. For the sake of your workload, we'd suggest you don’t do it like that! Not only is the paperwork going to take longer, but come the end of the academic year, you’ll either find yourself stressed from all the extra work you’ve done or you’ll have an action plan with many incomplete items (or both 😬). Instead, save yourself some time and read this blog where we discuss how to be effective and efficient in creating a subject development plan so you can make meaningful change. As you go through, if you're looking for further guidance and ready-made templates to support you, our Subject Leadership: Evaluating Impact and Planning Ahead Pack has been designed to support this process. Start with knowing what to prioritise and why Part of subject leadership is moving away from having a sole focus on just your classroom and pupils by shifting your view to look at the whole school. When it comes to a subject improvement plan, this also means understanding more than just your subject itself. Knowing what to prioritise and why you’re prioritising is key, so consider the following before starting to formulate your subject improvement and development plan. Read your setting’s School Improvement Plan (SIP). Some of the items in your future action plan won’t necessarily be determined by you, but instead will be part of your setting’s School Improvement Plan (SIP). These school-wide priorities, perhaps determined by your most recent Ofsted inspection or by Trust leaders if you’re part of a MAT, are the starting point for determining what changes you might make. For example, if accurate assessment is a school-wide priority for all subjects, this needs to form part of your action plan. Similarly, if your subject (or a particular area of it, such as the teaching of reading) has been identified as needing improvement, this will need to be addressed in your subject development plan. Investigate existing action plans. While starting a new subject action plan from scratch may be tempting, consider continuing or adapting existing subject action plans if they're already in place. This becomes even more valid if they were drafted by a previous leader who you know had success in leading the subject. If they still work in your setting, speak to them about why the actions were chosen previously and use that as a starting point. Add your findings to your action plan. If you’re new to subject leadership or you’ve been given a new subject to lead but haven’t explored it yet, this is a crucial first step. We’d recommend checking out another blog in this series - Subject Leaders: Where Do I Start in Getting to Know my Subject? – to do some initial information exploration. This can help you to get to know your subject and in doing so, you may find anomalies or inconsistencies, which can then form part of your action plan. For more support, we have a whole Subject Leader Initial Information Exploration Pack dedicated to this process which has further guidance and templates that can aid you in the process. Map out the school year. Identify key events like assessment periods, data submission deadlines, report writing time, subject-specific events, potential educational trips/visits, and significant calendar dates. Recording these events in a practical manner can help you anticipate when your subject responsibilities will peak, and may also help to identify wider opportunities to develop your subject, such as improving pupils’ cultural capital. Seek advice from other leaders. Tap into the expertise of your predecessor or colleagues who have experience leading your subject. Discussing your role with them can help identify specific priorities you might overlook otherwise. Additionally, reach out to leaders from other schools or utilise online platforms for broader perspectives. Conduct further analysis (if necessary) and decide on your desired outcomes If you know what your school’s priorities are, have spoken to other leaders and you’ve got a strong grasp on what to improve this year, you’re likely ready to write your plan. But what if you’re faced with multiple competing priorities or if you’re not sure what needs to change yet? If you're new to subject leadership, seeking support from a colleague who can serve as your mentor, coach or buddy might be beneficial at this point. Together, you can investigate some ideas for conducting further analysis in order to create an effective subject improvement plan: Analyse pupil attainment and progress data. Proficiency in collecting, analysing, and evaluating data allows you to confidently discuss your subject and its performance within your educational setting. An experienced staff member should be able to guide you through the data collection process and how to identify trends and patterns that are relevant to your subject’s development. Don't forget to engage with teachers too; they possess expert knowledge of their own data and can update you on changes in pupil data and areas of concern. Observe lessons and conduct work scrutinies. Observing lessons and reviewing pupils' work can provide valuable insights. It allows you to see how key objectives are taught and identify any areas that may require specific attention. Lesson visits and book reviews also form part of the data triangulation process, helping you grasp the broader picture of your subject. Engage with pupils. Incorporating pupil feedback into your data collection processes is essential. Their experiences and perspectives on what they're learning, how the subject is taught, and their ability to retain information can provide valuable insights. Regularly conducting pupil interviews enables you to adjust plans, set priorities, and celebrate successes effectively. Find out what staff think. As a classroom teacher, it’s likely you know which subjects you feel most supported in and which ones you find more challenging. The same goes for all staff who teach the subject you lead. Consider conducting a short survey on your subject to uncover further information about it. If you’re looking for further support with this process, you might find our Staff Induction Pack helpful too. Make your subject action plan If it’s the first time you’ve written a subject action plan, you may want to discuss your intentions with senior leaders (or other relevant leaders). This will not only help to determine if your plan aligns with wider school-wide priorities but also gives you a chance to discuss whether the changes you intend on making are feasible. If you're looking for templates or further guidance, our Subject Leadership: Evaluating Impact and Planning Ahead Pack can also support you. Once you’ve determined your priorities, write your subject action plan, bearing the following points in mind: Start with your desired outcomes and work backwards. Think about what you want teaching and learning in your subject to look like once all the actions in your subject development plan are complete. Then, work backwards to determine the actions you’ll take to get there, including milestones, key stakeholders and budgets. Keep asking yourself why. Doing this will help you get to the root of the problem or issue you’re trying to improve. Each time you think about an action you’ll take, mentally track through why you’re doing it. For example, in an Art and Design action plan, you might write that you want to audit resources and create a well-organised and well-stocked Art cupboard – but why? Because staff will be able to access the equipment they need to teach the different skills and topics in Art effectively – but why? Because by doing so, pupils will have a richer experience in Art lessons which will support them to have higher levels of attainment and enhance future life chances. Knowing why and tracing each decision back to your school’s pupils will help you keep your action plan on track. Understand your rationale. With asking yourself why in mind, justifying your decisions and actions is crucial, especially if your school is undergoing inspection. Subject deep dives will require you to articulate, explain, and justify any plans for improvement or subject development. While our actions as subject leaders should never be carried out just because of Ofsted, understanding your rationale for change and being able to talk about your subject is certainly helpful when faced with a subject deep dive. If this is an area of concern for you, why not take a look at our helpful deep dive resources which are available for every National Curriculum subject. They can help to grow your understanding of your subject as well as build confidence around deep dives. Prioritise wisely. As discussed above, assessing what needs immediate attention and what can be addressed later is crucial. Identifying "quick wins" that can be swiftly implemented to enhance standards or modify practices with minimal disruption can be one way of doing this but be aware of the need for long-term change too. When prioritising, it can help to ask yourself the following: Which changes are likely to have the biggest impact overall? Which changes are quick wins that busy staff can make quickly? Be realistic. Delivering change and improvement in every aspect of your subject overnight is unrealistic. Change is a gradual process and acknowledging that success may not be immediate will help you set manageable expectations and make realistic choices. The phrase ‘don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater’ also rings true here. If aspects of your subject are working well, there’s no need to change them just for the sake of change. Undertake your actions There’s not much point in writing an action plan if it gets filed away somewhere and never touched again. Now you have a solid subject development and improvement plan, it’s time to start making change – but before you do, have a think about the following points: Engage others. Gaining the support of your colleagues can make a significant difference in successfully implementing change or altering practices. Share your vision with the wider staff team, be open to questions, and welcome feedback from your colleagues to foster collaboration and cooperation. Maintain balance. Remember that being a subject leader doesn't mean neglecting your teaching responsibilities. Balancing your workload is crucial to managing your responsibilities effectively. While it may feel like your list of subject priorities is endless, finding equilibrium ensures you can handle all responsibilities efficiently. Build your understanding about the skills involved in good leadership. There’s a lot to unpick with this suggestion, so much so we’ve written a separate blog on it! We recommend taking a look if you’re interested in developing your leadership skills as well as further investigating our Subject Leadership: Evaluating Impact and Planning Ahead pack which will support your thinking as a new subject leader as well as providing time-saving templates to get your subject action plan written. Good luck!

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