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At a NPQSL Narrowing the Gap session at the Institute of Education earlier this year, I was intrigued to be asked about what was on my office wall.
Now this may not seem like a ground breaking question, my co-facilitator described an office that was a place for reflection and 'time-out', with pictures of past gone planes, trains and auto-mobiles, scout certificates and family photos. All of which are of great personal value to the office owner and demonstrate interests outside of the 'job' but I somewhat shifted awkwardly as it was my turn to describe my own office.
Around my desk are indeed personal effects; photos of my wife, my children, a rather odd looking giraffe and a drawing of a me crossing the line with stick legs and pea-body after finishing a marathon, courtesy of one of my children; on my wall there is something completely different.
I track the progress of students in both English and Maths, in Year 11.
Nothing-controversial there, until you see the size of it.
I have a 6ft square matrix tracking English and Maths, fine graded GCSE grades, with student photos as you can see.
This has been invaluable for a number of reasons which I will outline below:
When reflecting on Simon Sinek's latest book, 'Leaders Eat Last', he notes that, "professional competence is not enough to be a good leader; good leaders must truly care about those entrusted to their care"
(Sinek, S; 2014; Leaders Eat Last).
By having every students face on the wall, tracking English and Maths, it becomes everybody's responsibility to do what ever it takes for each student.
Of course, I am suggesting proposing any academic snobbery with English and Maths but from a school performance point of view they are essential, especially as we move into the era of Progress 8 performance measures.
In all progress meetings about Year11, you are drawn to the faces of the students we serve, because they matter. An interesting spin off of this has been the departmental tracking of both progress and attainment in the same way, which will be essential as we move into the realms of Progress 8, life without levels etc.
I am moving offices this year and have even more wall space and will be working out how to effectively visually track Progress 8 and lower school progress – that will be a future blog!
Regardless of your views on both measures, we needed every colleague in the building to 'own' every single student's progress and ensure that every student is both valued and FEELS valued. After all, their success is our success!
All of our strategic meetings regarding student progress, ownership of the students, rather than the numbers that each one represents, is vital.
Each weekly meeting is focused on the key principle of 'how can we do it better?' and the fundamental belief that we have to be relentless in our optimism and expectations for our young people and do what ever it takes to enable them the opportunity to fly.
I do not see that we can do any more than that!