STSS Stories

Case Study 1: An example of School to school support and our strategies to ensure impact

Schools /leaders involved in providing the support: Monk Fryston (Rick Weights, NLE), Barkston Ash (Chris Power, aspiring LLE)

Focus

What we did, who was involved

We were asked to support a school in challenging circumstances. The substantive headteacher had been absent for some time. Previous arrangements (from LA/ other alliance) to support the school had been ineffective. School self-evaluation indicates that the school is likely to be placed in a category at next inspection.

Support was brokered through the TSA lead. An initial meeting was held with an LA representative and the chair of governors to identify the support required. A contract with a schedule of delivery was drawn up so that there was clarity about the work to be undertaken.

An appropriate level of support was identified from our TSA list of system leaders. Discussions regarding capacity ensured availability to fulfil expectations. This was communicated to governing bodies of providing and receiving schools, and a meeting help between stakeholders to confirm the arrangements.

The TSA lead visited the school and communicated with the chair of governors to monitor the effectiveness. Regular discussions with the LA adviser ensured consistency of messages, and supported evaluation of impact.

Outcomes of the support were very positive. The receiving school reported that immediately they noticed a difference from previous support received; they felt there was clarity in the organisation of deployments so that they understood what they were expecting and knew the remit of each system leader. This helped them to hold people to account.

The school gained security in leadership, and this was felt by the whole community. There was a clear direction for improvement, and operational management became more streamlined resulting in more clarity about school improvement. Staff were able to focus upon specific priorities to raise standards of teaching and learning, and ultimately pupil outcomes.

The effectiveness of the processes were reported back to the TSA steering group and the lead governor representative for StSS.

What went well

Successes

The need for transparency in the deployment, so that all stakeholders understood the roles, remit, and extent to support. We realised that this needed to be clear from the start so that there was consistency of expectations. We also needed consistent reporting to the TSA lead, LA and governors so that the level of support could be measured.

We realised that the contract of deployment was crucial in meeting our communication needs. We ensured that these were signed by all stakeholders so that there was clarity in the process.

Challenges and how we overcame them

What was difficult and challenging?

One challenge was to meet urgent needs quickly, whilst ensuring high levels of communication. We couldn’t wait for governor meetings and had to hold conversations over the telephone or email. This relied heavily upon one person co-ordinating and ensuring consistency of message.

A further challenge was refining the level of support in the deployment. This could have escalated (and could have been vast!), so it was important to focus upon very specific immediate priorities in the first instance. These could grow later. The NLE was responsible for ensuring that these priorities were appropriate.

Any key advice and next steps

Lessons learned

Communication with the deploying school could be stronger so that all stakeholders (particularly governors) understand the remit, support provided, and impact on both schools. This could have been problematic as it was the first deployment. A short brief about the benefits of system leadership might have helped.

System leadership is somewhat dependent upon the personalities involved. Matching the right people with the right skill set for each particular deployment ensures a better chance of success. This is reliant upon a good knowledge of the situation by the person leading deployments.