School Improvement at Infinity
For all colleagues in schools the last six months have been very strange ones. This unusual world is well illustrated in this description from our CEO, ‘whilst we’ve been closed we’ve been open, whilst we’ve been on holiday we’ve continued to look after children and whilst we’ve not been teaching, we’ve been delivering on-line learning.’
I always find that school staff are an inventive group and are eager to look for opportunities to develop ideas. Staff at Infinity Academies Trust have made great use of any additional time they may have gained during the lockdown. The two main areas were many have taken opportunities for development has been in the use of ICT to support teaching and also their own personal development. We all know staff who six months ago were reluctant to turn their laptop and are now uploading videos with the best of them. So many teachers have the Microsoft Education Centre as one of their favourite websites as they collect badges to illustrate their training. We also probably know more about attachment disorder, ACES or trauma than we’ve ever done and Dr Pooky Knightsmith has become a name everyone knows due to the great online courses that Creative Education provides.
As MAT leaders whilst supporting our Headteachers and leaders with the challenges they have faced in both providing child care and on-line learning and written more Risk Assessments than we’ve ever done before, we have taken the opportunity to review and fine-tune our systems and processes to deliver school improvement.
In the many MATs that I have worked in school improvement systems have continually changed and the documentation required to support the processes has barely kept up. Let alone having all the systems dovetailed with timelines to support all leaders deliver the processes.
So, it has been great to have been able to write a fully-formed school improvement handbook for Infinity Academies Trust which contains all the processes, documentation and timelines that we require to work with our schools to accelerate their performance.
Each of our Headteachers has a copy of the handbook and at any point in the year, they can refer to it and see what event comes next with the information they required to help them so that there are no surprises. In addition, they can work through the guide with their senior and middle leaders as a tool a professional development and at a Trust level we will use the handbook in our training sessions for Headteachers and Assistant Headteachers. (We are going to broaden our CPD offer during this academic year.) Trustees are also aware of what systems we will use and they will be able to use this knowledge to hold Trust leaders accountable.
Over the first three weeks of this term, our CEO and I, have begun the programme by meeting with all our Headteachers and it has been wonderful to produce school development plans, look at the contextual changes in our schools, address Covid concerns and give leadership coaching.
Trusts should always add capacity to their schools by seeking ways to help and support them. It should not become something that drags them down and prevents them from improving their schools. We are looking forwards to working together at Infinity Academies Trust to implementing our detailed school improvement programme with the aim of ensuring that our academies are the very best they can be and that our pupils receive the very best education.
Paul K Ainsworth is the School Improvement Director for Infinity Academies Trust. He is the author of a number of books and his latest book is 'No Silver Bullets: Day in, day out school improvement'. He enjoys supporting schools in and out of the Trust.