Transforming the quality of teaching

Written by: HTU | Published:

Two headteachers speak to Fiona Aubrey-Smith about how the use of the Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme after an Ofsted inspection has helped them to sustainably improve the quality of teaching

One of the issues regularly debated by schools across the SSAT’s Primary Network is how to focus on improving pedagogy and practice in such a way that is right for children and their teachers, in the context of rigorous, challenging and pressurised accountability measures. 

During SSAT’s Redesigning Schooling campaign, former chief inspector Christine Gilbert reminded us of the need to focus on what we hold ourselves to account for – not just Ofsted, but focusing also on our moral, contractual, professional and market accountabilities.

With this in mind, we asked two headteachers to share their approaches to raising standards with a focus on teaching, and pedagogy. Naturally, of course, improved Ofsted outcomes followed.

Here’s how…

“We all want our teachers to be as effective as possible, but we also want to enhance the teaching of those who are already effective,” explained Tom Hyndley, headteacher of Churchfields Primary School in Kent.

He continued: “Our story is perhaps similar to many. We had an Ofsted inspection that was critical of the standard of teaching and learning. Results had dipped and as a result of some difficult staffing issues we had not been as focused on teaching and learning as we needed to be. 

“We were deemed to be satisfactory but as we all know satisfactory is no longer satisfactory. Having taken steps to rectify some of the more obvious issues (a revised approach to phonics and a new marking and feedback policy) it was clear that we needed to do more. 

“Ofsted had noted that although behaviour was good, children were not encouraged to be very independent (other than in the Foundation Stage). We wanted to find a model for improvement that would include a strong focus on promoting effective learning behaviours and greater independence.

“We found our solution in the Teacher Effectiveness Enhancement Programme (TEEP), which is a framework and methodology for improving teaching and learning built on research and translating this into classrooms. This long-term focus was key for me as I didn’t want this to be perceived as yet another new thing that was tried for a year before the next new initiative.”

The TEEP model, represented in the graphic, see above, is made up of three significant components, each with important elements that are inextricably connected yet need to be recognised individually for their contribution to the teaching and learning process. 

  • Effective teacher behaviours and effective learner behaviours (the outer circle).
  • The five underlying elements of effective practice (the middle circle).
  • The TEEP learning cycle (the inner circle).

Professional learning

Through adoption of the TEEP model, Churchfields encourages staff to play a very active role in their own professional learning. 

Mr Hyndley explained: “Once some staff had got over their initial shock in doing so, this core feature of TEEP proved to be a very powerful model. It certainly helped staff reflect much more meaningfully on their own practice and the dynamics which they were setting up (often unknowingly) in their own classrooms. 

“Staff have really enjoyed trying out new ideas in their classrooms and we have discussed effective learner behaviours with the children in assemblies. All staff have posters up in their classrooms outlining the effective learner behaviours and make these explicit to children by writing the names of children who use them on notes that are then stuck to the posters.

“We have also trained all our teaching assistants so that they are able to support in an appropriate way while also promoting independence. We have revised our planning formats so that they are aligned with the TEEP planning cycle, and have regular “TEEP Peeps” at our staff meetings, where all staff are on a rota to share something they have tried.

“Our staff meetings have become much more participative and less didactic and there is a much more inclusive feel to our CPD. All staff have a voice and are expected to contribute.”

Mr Hyndley emphasises that like all school improvement, the impact of TEEP is directly proportional to the extent to which the whole school engages with it – starting with the headteacher. The active involvement of all members of the school staff is vital, he says, and among the results of their TEEP approach he lists the following: 

  • Staff are more motivated to try out new ideas and have a shared language with which to discuss learning and teaching. 
  • Teaching has become less didactic and pupils are playing a more active role.
  • The balance of pupil and teacher talk has shifted so that pupils don’t spend too long passively listening. 
  • Pupils are enjoying working collaboratively and have shown (sometimes unexpected) maturity in taking greater responsibility for group tasks. 

Engaged in learning

One of the greatest opportunities for schools seeking to improve teaching, particularly as a whole-school priority post-Ofsted, is that by focusing on professional learning we, as teachers, become much better at understanding the behaviours and experiences of the children in our class. 

It is this shared understanding of learning between teachers and children that St Laurence’s CE Primary School in Coventry (formerly Foleshill Primary) found catapulted them out of special measures and to good in under a year. 

Headteacher Mitch Moore explained: “In September 2011, 13 days into my headship of Foleshill, Ofsted placed the school in special measures. We set off on a journey, and in the first term we focused on systems, structures and processes. We were then able to focus on making good progress in our development of teaching across the school.”

Specifically, the school focused on:

  • Encouraging children to make decisions and choices which will help them to improve their own learning and not be too dependent on adults.
  • Actively deploying teaching assistants to maximise learning.
  • Improving feedback (particularly in mathematics) so that it gives specific pointers for improvement and pupils are given the opportunity to address the points raised.
  • Ensuring that all pupils are meaningfully engaged when not directly working with an adult.

Mr Moore continued: “We had the ladder but needed to find the right wall. We found our solution through TEEP which gave us a common language and framework to use when talking about teaching and learning, but more importantly it is a holistic approach, more than just a set of “top tips” for teachers (although there are plenty of those in the programme). 

“It also enables teachers to enhance what they are already doing – rather than expecting them to throw out years of practice and experience.” 

Significantly, Mr Moore highlights that the model supported joint professional development through:

  • The focus on what children “learn” rather than just what they “do” in classrooms.
  • Enhancing how they use assessment for learning.
  • Providing a structure for children’s active learning.
  • Exciting teachers – the training reminded them that they too are learners and that learning is fun.

In October 2012, Ofsted noted the significant impact that this engagement in the process of learning had had: “There have been marked improvements in the quality of teaching since the last monitoring visit. Good-quality training has led to teachers sharing good practice. Teachers are acutely aware of any gaps in learning that need to be filled so that pupils do not get left behind. 

“Teachers make sure pupils are clear about what they are going to learn, and how they will know if they have been successful. They ask searching questions and more regularly check for misconceptions so that plans can be modified swiftly when necessary.”

Sustainable improvement 

In January 2013, the school was inspected again and not only taken out of special measures, but judged to be good. 

Mr Moore added: “The impetus that TEEP created continues to be a driving force in school. Four teachers have done the Level 2 training and as a result have set up a programme of enrichment for all staff and are establishing a whole-school approach to coaching.

“We have a regular item at the start of all staff meetings where a member of staff leads their colleagues in a ‘TEEP’ learning activity. We’ve set up a new room in school called ‘The Hub’ where our training takes place and where we have the TEEP materials on display (including the resources that we created as part of the training). TEEP has also had a big impact on how we deliver professional development for our staff. All of our CPD sessions and Teacher Days are now TEEP-styled and staff know that they will be active and having fun.”

  • Fiona Aubrey-Smith is head of primary networks at SSAT.

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