Thursday, 2 May 2019

Specific Focus Review Through a Core Values Lens

What is a school review ?
Every four years, a school is formally reviewed to compliment the school's ongoing self-review practices. A formal review is an opportunity to ensure the full flourishing of every student in the school's care and the school's commitment to achieving the highest possible standards.
Our school is due to be reviewed this year.
The following information is a summary of Catholic Education Melbourne (CEM) resources with regards to a school review.

These are the key questions a review should answer:
  • How do we ensure that review covers the multi-dimensional nature of learning?
  • How do we ensure that review has a clear focus on supporting teacher quality?
  • How do we ensure that review leads to specific and disciplined cycles of improvement?
  • How do we ensure that the religious dimension is deeply embedded within the review process? 

How do we make the review an authentic part of school life and not an extra ?
Schools can decide on the review style that best meets their needs. In order for the review to purposefully align with our shared vision and core value work, we have chosen to have a Specific Focus Review. For this style of review, we engage an independent expert to work with the school and plan the review in partnership with the CEM regional office. The independent expert is known as a critical friend. The critical friend supports the leadership team to carry out a rigorous review and concludes with a report. The report provides recommendations to ensure the school is committed to achieving the highest standards possible and contributing to the full flourishing of every student. Our Specific Focus review will take place in Week 7 for two days during Term 3.
The final review report is prepared by the critical friend.
A necessary component of all styles of review is the compliance audit. This is carried out over one full day by a VRQA (Victorian Registration & Qualifications Authority) compliance auditor. Our compliance audit will take place for one day during Week 8 in Term 3.
By the end of Term 3 our review will be complete and we will receive a personalised report to inform our school improvement planning for the next four years.

Religious Dimension for 2019
 All CEM schools engaging in school review will engage with the religious dimension during 2019 through a process of self reflection which incorporates a newly developed School Improvement Framework Religious Dimension Scaffold and Rubric.
The Religious Dimension Scaffold will suggest ways in which all of the dimensions of the review might be considered from a Catholic perspective. The scaffold will also support schools to evaluate those elements of school life which are explicitly religious: prayer, Religious Education, liturgy and pastoral care. The rubric will highlight the critical areas of school life which need to be evaluated to ensure that its Catholic identity is at the centre of the school’s ongoing improvement agenda.

Core values agreed on by staff
 How will we gather evidence for our review ?
We will use the core values as the lens through which we gather data for the review. The values were chosen by staff in 2018 as the five key ways to treat each other at our school. The values link to the CEM Horizons of Hope curriculum with a clear focus on honouring the sacred dignity of the human person. If we concentrate on the human element, we will build a sense of belonging and increase student wellbeing data whilst contributing to a natural lift in academic standards.

We will spend about eight weeks focusing on each of the core values beginning with We respect and value one another, followed by We are positive. We will develop shared meanings of the values and  be explicit about what they look like in action. This will help to strengthen them and bring them to life in our community. Staff and children will be able to be "core value detectives" and gather real life examples of children demonstrating the values happening in a positive way in the playground and in the classroom.
During Term 2 and the first half of Term 3 we will review the way the core values are maximising impact for the learner by gathering evidence of the values in action through:
  • Stories and feedback from conversations with parents
  • Academic data through NAPLAN and assessment reports
  • Insight SRC data
  • Resilience Survey Data
  • Stories from children at school
  • Newsletters, website, social media, staff meetings and board meetings 
  • Personnel around the school such as teachers, office staff, LSO's
  • OSH Team Kids (share the core values with them too)
  • Awards recognising the core values in context
  • Seesaw across the school
  • Explicit reference of the values during dialogue and meetings with each other, children and parents.
  • Linking the values to school wide displays
It will be important to share what we are doing with our community and encourage parents to let us know if they see something that doesn't align with our core values.

We aim to ensure we have authentic, real, caring, compassionate human beings in the classrooms, in our school and within our community.  The core values are our "soul stuff". Through using them as a lens for our review we will be able to enhance performance for the benefit of our whole community.

Saturday, 20 April 2019

Storming to Norming; Multiple Voices Co Design Quality Actions to Propel Our School Forward

St Patrick's school is committed to a positive, proactive three year professional development plan to shift us from being a great school to an outstanding beacon of excellence that delivers optimum results for the whole community (Hawkins, 2018).

The above quote is taken from a reflection entitled Empowerment, Passion and Unified Purpose which includes valuable feedback from staff after Phase 1 of our Schools That Deliver professional learning journey in 2018. At the time, all staff articulated a shared vision and identified the core values needed to bring the vision to life. 
When one staff member stated, "... Let the ruckus storm journey begin..." little did we comprehend the enormous challenges we would encounter during the storming phase of our journey.

Edwards and Martin's definition of the storming phase based on the work of Tuckman
The April 2018 to April 2019 research year resulted in deep storming. Storming is the outcome of tension between where a group is at and where it needs to go; in our case to align with the shared vision. Weathering the predicted stormy seas during the action research year was challenging for many staff. Eventually, every voice contributed to outstanding research presentations and in doing so grew as educators ready to embark on Phase 2; the norming part of the lifecycle of a healthy, collaborative group. 
Slide from presentation Day 1 Schools That Deliver Conference

How did we get to where we are at now ?
Here is a link to the process that led to the Schools That Deliver professional learning journey. Students become the leaders of the future through internally driven change.
Here is a link to our shared vision and core values as voted by the staff in April 2018. Staff generate future focused shared vision for all learners.
The slide below from the Schools That Deliver presentation shows the forming and storming part of Phase 1 of our professional learning journey.

Phase 2 April 2019 - Staff Share Powerful Presentations
Staff are to be commended for the research they carried out as evidenced in powerful and creative  presentations (including treasure hunts, quizzes and dance) shared on the first of two days of our personalised Schools That Deliver Conference.
After a school term that highlighted the resilience and collegiality of our incredible staff, every research team member gave of their best when presenting the culmination of twelve months of learning. Staff shared analysis of rich survey data and professional readings to support their recommendations.
The four research teams focused on key areas that staff had collectively agreed were vital for realising our shared school vision. The four areas are prayer, well being, feedback and inquiry.

Here is an outline of the key recommendations from each research team and the connection the teams made to our shared vision:

Our Faith Community
"St Patrick's is a school where our Catholic culture underpins all we do. Our staff teach and model Catholic values making our faith real and relevant to the students. We practice daily prayer and promote fluidity between our parish, school and parent body..."
  • We have a Catholic culture that invites all to prayer, enabling deep encounters between faith and contemporary life.
  • To enable this encounter with God through prayer, all staff and students learn about the different forms of prayer and make them a part of our daily practice.
The Faith Community team present their research to staff.
Social and Emotional Wellbeing for ALL Learners
" A healthy mindset, coupled with resilience and well-developed social skills ensures all learners are equipped to deal with life's challenges, and have the skills to positively resolve conflict and communicate their ideas and emotions... Learners leave St Patrick's self-motivated ready to make a positive impact on their world."
Students leave St Patrick's with a sense of belonging, self-motivation and ready to make an impact on their world...Sense of belonging. This will happen through:
  • A well being programme that targets the needs of our learners and builds their "sense of belonging'
  • A whole school Wellbeing program created and owned by all stakeholders at St Patrick's
  • This program would be a working document that evolves and can be adapted/customised to meet the needs of our learners.
One of the slides from the Social and Emotional Wellbeing for All presentation 
The Power of Feedback
"We value rich, regular, quality feedback..."
  • We have a feedback culture where staff, students and parents receive rich, timely, regular feedback.
  • All staff have a clear understanding of feedback strategies
Inquiry based learning
" Ongoing data tracking leads to learning that is differentiated therefore optimising engagement...Both students and teachers are excited about learning, involving themselves in rich, open ended tasks both inside and outside the classroom...Learners leave St Patrick's self motivated and ready to make an impact on their world."
  • We access a comprehensive Prep to Year 6 Inquiry Planner that follows a "good fit" model,
  • Our inquiry planner reflects student voice which is collected in the early stages of the unit of work
Staff Co Design Actions in the Norming Phase 
Following the staff presentations, a facilitative questioning process (Butler & Edwards), was used to determine agreed mental models (values and beliefs that drive behaviours) to guide future actions. Then design teams contributed recommendations towards the sequence for a school improvement plan. The plan addresses the priority work needed for the next five years to drive the school vision forward and ensure we make a positive impact for all learners.
The School's That Deliver facilitators used this approach to draw out staff mental models
The principal was given the challenging responsibility to creatively merge diverse staff recommendations into a concise school improvement plan. Then staff teams worked to unpack the immediate, short term actions in great detail. As a result, a whole school community renewed focus on our core values and the official launch of SeeSaw will commence immediately.
Draft plan presented to the staff by the principal in response to staff recommendations
Special recognition is given to the Schools That Deliver Network for the inclusion of their slides in this reflection. In particular, our heartfelt thanks go to Mary Wilson, Bill Martin, and Teresa Edwards for facilitating the conference with great wisdom and expertise; involving the active participation of our team of forty staff over two full days.
Teresa, Bill and Mary 
Bill Martin shared with staff, "If you action your staff research recommendations, with great quality over time, there won't be many Catholic schools like you in the world. You will be the best there is."
Strengthened and enriched as a committed staff team, we are eager to propel our school forward with renewed energy, quality, passion and purpose to ensure we make a positive impact for every learner in our care.