Next Steps on the Highbury Grove Mission

It's been an incredible year. The twitter timeline captures some of that.
It’s been an incredible year. The twitter timeline captures some of that.

This is the time for taking stock and planning ahead.  We’re in the midst of an exciting vision-building process at Highbury Grove, working towards a Vision 2020 document that hopefully will capture our aspirations for the school over the next five years.  More immediately we’re working on the priorities for next year; obviously the two are linked.

It’s interesting looking back on all the posts I’ve written to capture our journey so far – from before I started, to my Headteacher’s report six weeks in and several other steps along the way.  I shared our development plan in full in this post.  Instead of targets and success criteria, we’ve been using a series of evaluative questions to gauge our progress which works quite well.

As we start pulling together our  SDP 2015-16, it’s no surprise that the headline priorities are closely linked to the issues I’ve reported through my blog.  It’s looking something like this:

  1. Behaviour for Learning
Towards Impeccable Behaviour – we’re not there yet.

We’ve established a working system now but you don’t get overnight transformation of underlying attitudes and default behaviours. Starting next week, we’re pushing things up to another level with a determined enforcement wave, seeking a higher equilibrium point where standards are higher but retaining the warm, caring community atmosphere that people hold dear.  I don’t believe you can sustain this indefinitely – there is always human and system fatigue.  So standards will improve significantly next year through a series of pushes – that’s how students learn to be self-disciplined in the end.

SDP Tasks:

  • Raise the bar on basic expectations, automatic C3s and C4s for lesson disruption
  • Routine BfL CPD for staff
  • Explore more incentives and rewards
  • Strengthen role of Year Team trios (SLT link, Director of Studies and Head of Year) – shared practice; tighter routines; early intervention
  • Introduce better impact measures including stakeholder surveys. (The detention data doesn’t tell the full story; eg more detentions can signal improved behaviour because the enforcement is more effective)
  1. Teaching and Learning Framework and CPD
Screen shot 2015-05-16 at 18.53.41
Our Festival of Learning captured the staff spirit as a group of professional learners brilliantly.

We’ve done a lot of work this year to develop a strong professional culture and in-house system for improving teaching with CPD at the heart.  I recorded my observations after seeing everyone teach in this 90 Lessons post. We’ve got our NTEN audit and it’s told us a lot about where we need to improve. I’m very pleased with the progress we made changing our professional review systems, removing lesson grades and getting started as a research-engaged school.  The article in this issue of Teaching Leaders Quarterly tells the story well.  We’ve also been working with Martin Robinson, using the ideas from Trivium 21st C to help shape discussions on pedagogy and curriculum.  We’re now pulling this together into a Highbury Grove Framework for Teaching and Learning.   Already it’s totally natural for us to be talking about grammar, dialectic and rhetoric; the influence has been significant.  Next year, the aim is to make sure we’re putting it all into practice with a much stronger emphasis on knowledge transmission and memory alongside structured speech events, extended speaking and debate.  We also need to replace our marking policy with a feedback policy.

SDP Tasks:

  • LaunchHGS Teaching and Learning Framework
    • Develop Feedback Policy
    • Develop Literacy Policy
  • Fortnightly 2-hour CDP programme
    • Develop Bluesky
    • Leadership programmes
    • Research strand in partnership with IoE
  1. Assignments
Screen Shot 2015-05-02 at 10.24.27
Could this be the answer? We think it might be.

As I describe in the blog, we’re going to be developing a system whereby the curriculum is described via Assignments so that we can achieve a number of things:  a) inform students and parents about what is meant to be learned b) provide a framework against which to assess progress and report to parents and c) provide a mechanism for triggering interventions very early on whenever a student does not complete their assignments in any given subject.  We’re also designing them to act as a planning tool where the elements of the Trivium  – Knowledge, Exploration and Communication – are embedded.  It’s ambitious but we’ll be taking the whole year to develop the concept, using our expanded CPD time.

SDP Tasks 

  • Develop assignments in every subject/year
  • Link to assessment points and home learning
  • Introduce completion requirements, follow-up and intervention
  • Promote work ethic, growth mindset
  • Develop ethos and expectations around our daily Study Centre provision
  1. Sixth Form
Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 19.17.39
The Baccalaureate is coming to Highbury Grove

Having played a role in getting people together to form the National Baccalaureate Trust, I’m excited about the process of putting this into action at Highbury Grove.  In September our Y12s will be enrolled onto a programme that will lead them to gaining a Baccalaureate certificate and transcript at the end of two years in the Sixth Form.  We’ll be working on providing a good range of opportunities for their personal development programmes and getting our Extended Project process up and running.  I’m hoping that lots of other schools and colleges will be doing this too – but that’s up to them! We’re going to lead by example.   We’re taking a significant step of moving all of our student leadership positions into the Sixth Form so that we’re no longer an 11-16 school with a Sixth Form on top – we are a fully fledged 11-18 school where the real Bacc curriculum has its foundations at KS4 and the role modelling comes from the very top.

SDP Tasks

  • Introduce National Baccalaureate structure
  • Develop Personal Development Programme and EPQ
  • Launch Outward Bound in Year 12
  • Promote Leadership and new Sixth Form Centre identity/ethos
  • Continue to work on subject knowledge
  1. Pastoral Curriculum
Screen shot 2015-03-01 at 10.48.26
Our Stonewall Champion launch week symbolises the culture we’re trying to create at Highbury Grove.

We’re taking steps to further embed the work we started this year around equalities issues. Our Stonewall Champion launch was amazing and we’re determined to go further do deepen students’ understanding of LGBT, ethnicity, gender and disability issues.  Part of this will come from the introduction of a proper PSHE programme, taught every week by teams of staff trained in particular areas.  Another key driver will be support for student leadership with our new Student Leadership Team. This includes a strand to develop our House system further, Sixth Form leadership and Equalities leadership. This is important work and needs to remain a high priority.

SDP Tasks

  • Deliver new PSHE programme
  • Embed Equalities work further at all levels of school governance and management
  • Develop Student Leadership
  1. Embed New Curriculum Structure
Our curriculum model from September 2015
Our curriculum model from September 2015

Possibly the thing I’m most pleased to have accomplished this year is a review of our curriculum and a consultation on a raft of changes that will all come into force from September. It will be something of a Big Bang! I’ve very proud of the model we’ve developed that gives all students the depth and breadth they need balancing academic rigour for all (our EBacc plus Arts model) with a very strong specialism in music and outdoor education as a core entitlement.   New timings of the day, Year 9 options, a new regime for enrichment and a two-week timetable will all need to be established and embedded but it’s all doable  -it’s actually hugely exciting.

SDP Tasks 

  • Ensure smooth introduction of new curriculum structures in different subject areas
  • Manage new dining arrangements with common lunch hour.
  • Communicate Week A/ Week B
  • Introduce new daily  Enrichment Programme including lunchtimes
  • Organise a Digital Learning  Showcase Event
  • Ensure registration arrangements are working in new structure

So that’s where we are so far.  This is a work in progress. There are other things to include in the SDP around resources, financial planning, IT infrastructure and so on  – but this gives a flavour of the journey ahead.  

Highbury Grove students –   the Philosopher Kids of North London.  That’s our mission. 


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