Quality Mark Case Study: Summercourt Academy

Quality Mark

Caroline Swann, last updated: 14th January 2015

Summercourt Academy - Quality Mark Reflection

When Jonathan asked, ‘Why did I take part?' it really made me consider my initial reasons. I hadn't considered where this experience would take me.

I often looked at the HA website for ideas.  When I saw the pilot I read the HA audit and realized that this would be a good tool for my school enabling me to reflect on our practice.

As we are a small school in the far southwest I wanted to find out if we're delivering history in the way that was expected by the distinguished people of the HA. Also from a personal point of view, nearing retirement, I wanted to leave this a possible quality mark for future teachers and children.  So I clicked for us to be considered.

Little did I expect that we would be accepted!

Then began the business of completing it. 

What really enthused me was the HA annual conference in Stratford.  Wow!  Amazing workshops, brilliant talks, and all presented by lovely, enthusiastic people.  Looking forward to Bristol this year!

Next it was to put together the audit and begin the process of understanding what was being asked.  Following on from that I needed to gather the necessary evidence.

Sadly I didn't take the opportunity to contact other schools.  I wish I had. This could be a major benefit to the process and an opportunity to share and make links with other schools.

As time became a factor, I found myself taking three evenings in front the fire at a pub during October half term, enabled me to fully commit my time to producing the portfolio.

Sharing with staff was interesting as they all have different priorities and subjects they like, but they did really well giving me time to talk to them individually and to make suggestions for improvment.

We asked for an additional first interim visit from the QM assessor to make sure we were heading in the right direction. It was so useful, I recognized what was involved and that there was far more to this than I first thought. I realized that that was why I had taken this on, to find out what was needed in our children's learning about and for history. 

Finally it came to the ultimate visit.  The school could have done better to achieve Gold but the report is quite correct and I fully agree with it. We are very pleased with the silver award that we have achieved.   

Reflection now continues into the development of history in our school and the small ‘hub' that we work within and this is a major benefit. 

 

How We approached our portfolio.

  • First I read it to understand what was being asked for.
  • Next I roughly answered with my own opinions and cited the evidence I could recall.
  • I then shared this with the teachers.
  • Based on their suggestions and feedback, I then wrote more detail during October half term, reading more in depth this time.
  • At school, I collected evidence from our network, photos, planning, book scrutiny reports, pupil conferencing etc.
  • Lost it, found it (memory stick)- not good for the nervous system!
  • Took more photos, learnt how to scan using the photocopier.
  • Talked to teachers to really gain as much information for the portfolio as possible and gathered items from them.
  • Following the interim visit, based on the assessors' recommendations I continued to find more evidence in preparation for the final visit.

 

Types of evidence that Schools Might Find Useful.   

As a school, it can at times be difficult to see what kinds of evidence might be suitable. It might be helpful to consider the list below which is a selection of the types of things we submitted.

  • School ethos and rational towards history curriculum in our policy documentation
  • Policy - to be updated in-line with the new curriculum
  • Teacher's comments
  • Long, medium, short term planning
  • Progression through planning evidence and book scrutiny
  • Children's books, progression and marking
  • Wall displays in the corridors and classrooms
  • Photos from past activities and/or enrichment activities stored on our school network! These included themed days e.g. St Piran
  • Children's comments during pupil conferencing.
  • Newsletters/newspaper reports/website
  • Pupil and parent voice surveys about history
  • Lesson observations and/or feedback from leadership about history.
  • Any evidence of history INSET attended or delivered.
  • Any evidence of working with other schools e.g. in a network or for a project concerning history.

 

How I found the visit.

Amazing! 

The assessors' enthusiasm and knowledge for history was incredibly infectious.  He was very focused on what he wanted to see and his wisdom will always be remembered.

The assessors' way with the children obviously put them and myself at ease.  His focus of what they were learning, or not, shows that he was a good assessor.  Feedback was very beneficial but also challenging which is what I now perceive this process to be.

 

An advice guide for other schools.

  • Take a year to really value this award and to find all the evidence to prove you are a silver/gold standard school.
  • Talk to all the staff involved in this process.
  • Audit overview with SMT.
  • Audit in depth, allocate a time each week for each section and outline what you need to find relevant to your school.
  • For each class, year group, work with the teachers to gather at least one or two units of history being taught in that year. This will show planning, progression and learning by the children.
  • Contact other schools in the same process, although each school is unique it is good to talk.
  • A unit of work to show that this is where the children started from, previous assessments, and this is where they will go to at the end.
  • Develop marking in their books to reflect specifically their history learning and the next step.
  • Resourcing lessons with primary artefacts and materials for the children to discuss/question where possible.
  • Use local buildings, maps, photos and people as primary resources.
  • Talk to the children about their previous learning and their views of history.
  • Photogrpah, video children participating in learning from and about the past.
  • Use the school website, newsletters and local papers to promote learning.
  • Present the portfolio to all staff and governors before the final assessment as they may say... something that you had forgotten. Remember it is the school that is working towards the quality mark so involve them.
  • ü Do attend the HA annual conference, it is inspiring.

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