QM Evaluation: Studley High School

Studely High School were awarded a silver Quality Mark in June 2019. Here is what subject leader Jordan Hobbis had to say about the process. 

We hoped to improve History education within our school and department. By using the process, we looked to reflect upon everything we were doing right but also challenge ourselves to be the very best we could be. This process gave us access to high quality CPD and conversations which have allowed us to do this.

What was the most challenging/daunting aspect of working towards the Quality Mark?

The most daunting aspect was opening ourselves up to inspection. The word visit or inspection or even drop in often signals some idea of the dreaded Ofsted inspection. That alongside the portfolio upload was a concern at the beginning of the programme, especially when you look at each criteria and the sub-criteria for this.

What were your biggest success stories during the process? What impact has QM had? 

One of the biggest successes has been the developments in the curriculum which were inspired by the self audit process. We knew our KS3 curriculum needed work and this process gave us the motivation to finally do something about this. Less than a year later we have been involved in two curriculum development programmes and are looking forward to putting this all together for September.

Improving the quality of teaching and learning and curriculum has been the greatest impact. It has given us renewed focus on how we structure our curriculum and the need for us to focus on subject specific pedagogy. It has also allowed us to have focus points beyond that of a generic school SIP and a timeline so that we have not only been able to maintain what we do, but actively improve this. The QM process has had a huge impact on thinking about our approach to the topics studied but also how we approach these and progress students along the way. We now have a new curriculum for 2019/20 which works to progress not only substantive concepts but also works on the disciplinary knowledge required by historians. By focusing our curriculum, we have been able to focus more on what makes good causation teaching or significance within History. The subscription to the HA has been invaluable as we have dipped in and out of Teaching History Journal  in order to develop our practice and now we have the curriculum in place, we can really work to move our history teaching and learning forward. 

The process has allowed us to really think about our capacity. We have raised money through various initiatives and really worked on creating a long term vision for the department. The strategic vision for the department has then been mapped and jobs allocated accordingly.

Finally, taking part in the Quality Mark has provided a big boost for history across school. We are recognised as one of the departments which is making huge strides and with the latest developments from SLT, History is way ahead of the curve. What would have been a hectic holiday has become a breeze as we have been 12 months ahead of thinking about curriculum and general teaching and learning!

How supportive was documentation? 

Registration was very easy and the My HA zone made it very easy to locate all documentation related to the award. The supportive guidance was extremely useful. There was no point in which I was confused about the process and could refer to the guidance at any stage to allow me to complete all tasks. While the portfolio gatherine and upload takes time, the process is not massive on getting you to fill in documents for documents sake which is brilliant. It's all about the self audit and then the portfolio which makes our lives as subject leads very easy.

How supportive was your assessor? 

Alun was very professional and straight to the point. He completely met our needs and worked around us and while, some staff were worried by the focus on our development points, given his short time with us this is exactly what we needed. However, I might add that the positives should be outlined before in a bit greater detail so we know that the HA/advisor know what we are doing well. Then I think staff would feel more comfortable knowing that the advisor will work closely with us on the day to support development points. It has been a pleasure to work with Alun and his expertise on the day was worth its weight in gold! It was an honour to talk history with a specialist outside of my school.

Final thoughts

You get access to a personal advisor but also templates which allow you to begin a clear and in depth improvement plan. The fact that the HA ask the questions/give you the guidelines mean you can focus on what you need to do to improve and by using the Quality Mark you have a time frame which physically makes you work to deadlines. The self audit was incredibly useful along with the criteria for the award. It allowed us to really sit down as a department and have a clear vision of what excellent history looked like in schools. The visit allowed us to pull this together and having Alun’s expertise has given us the motivation to go on and continue our improvements.

The QM has improved the status of History with students too with many of them congratulating us. It has given us a real boost with students actually seeing that we as a department are trying to make History better for them but also that we are a strong department. There has definitely been an increase in respect and status for the department. Likewise, locally we have been contacted to speak to schools about the process.

How can we improve?

I think overall the process is brilliant. It allows you to work at your own pace and Ienjoyed the freedom of the process. I would have liked a face to face meeting with Alun before the final visit, I think this would have made it more of a developmental process but I understand cost comes with this.

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