Tackling Ofsted requirements whilst fighting for Work Life Balance

In his latest blog, Craig Fraser, deputy headteacher at Pinders, outlines how to achieve a work-life balance whilst tackling the day job.

As a Deputy Headteacher, I often reflect on the standards within school formulated from a range of people: Ofsted, School Improvement Visits, Review Days and the general comments from anyone who comes and visits the school.

Each visit or formal report reflects the strengths within your school where yourself and the passion of your team have impacted on standards, but there are always the next steps for your school’s development. Next steps require actions, reviews, training and successful leadership.

One of our main targets is to ensure we have a precision approach to our teaching and learning. Do we know each child’s strengths and next steps within each lesson across the curriculum? Is each activity carefully planned to target each one of those weaknesses?

When I was first given this feedback, I wanted to cry! I believe in it; I can understand the importance of it but do we recognise the magnitude behind it? Each child is a complex individual and we have hundreds of learning objectives and intentions – planned or through the day to day life and we need to know that for 30 children whilst juggling every other ball we have to make sure the great things in our school stay great but further improve. We throw the extra dynamic of Damien Hinds and supporting staff’s work-life balance.

Targets, prepping and planning lessons takes hours and hours of staff time. How can I get this precise teaching but also a realistic work-life balance? I then came back to my chair exasperated! I want the best for my children and staff but how can this be possible.?

Students learning together

It was a little comment from Elementary Technology that changed this for us –  a piece of software called ‘Learning by Questions’. It was free as a teaching tool with a free trial of the full version; it was recommended to us in relation to our targets. I am an eager individual for CPD. I thought I would give it a try.

Well, what a FIND! A piece of software that has a plethora of resources from Year 1 to Year 10 across all core subjects. A tool to help me teach the lessons based on real curriculum areas and then to assess pupils’ understanding and knowledge in realtime! It has a vast range of high-quality questions that are self-differentiated. It knows itself when a child needs to progress!

As the children complete the questions, instant written feedback, pictorial demonstrations and a mechanism for the computer to accelerate progress is within a simple, easy to use software. I was impressed! It only got better! An active dashboard is supplied for the teacher which told me the children’s response times, their accuracy, questions answered correctly with opportunities to complete active marking. I could see which pupils had grasped it and which were struggling. If all were struggling, I could pause and recap.

The system allowed support for classes to be effectively differentiating and challenged as well as actively intervening; the best part of being a teacher – supporting the child to get the lightbulb moment.

Instead of marking it all at lunchtime, I could have at least half a sandwich and do other things! I found the holy grail!

Yes, there are development points for the software but these are small compared to the gains and benefits and the progress of the children. I would recommend giving this a try! Talk to Elementary Technology about starting with the free version – they’ll come in and give you some training on it, even if you don’t ahead with the full version.

Blogger bio: Craig Fraser is a Deputy Headteacher at Wakefield Pinders Primary School. Craig is passionate about helping schools using technology to deliver better education outcomes.

Watch this movie here about the Pinders Primary story.

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