A Leeds school, serving a community in an area of social disadvantage. They have been using SWIFT for almost 2 years and have recently been awarded a ‘good’ judgement by Ofsted. The school name is to remain anonymous
“It gives me a complete picture of the school that grows day by day.
“When Ofsted questioned me about performance management, I was able to show them all of our performance management reports.
For the headteacher and his staff, a strong ethos and a hard focus on raising pupil attainment are at the forefront of everything that they do.
The 250+ pupil school serves a community in an area of social disadvantage. Local families are hard pressed – 90 per cent are in the bottom 10 per cent according to national deprivation measures – but the school has built up strong links with the community which is very supportive of the school.
“Our ethos is very much about personal development and raising aspirations. We make sure that pupils have a lot of opportunities. For example, every pupil gets the chance to learn a musical instrument.”
Children enter the school well below the national average but achievement in maths is now in line with the national average and literacy is just below but on the rise. Attendance and engagement with parents have both risen as well.
Such significant achievements have required every staff member to focus on the contribution they make to the school’s mission. Bluewave SWIFT – an online system that connects information and documents across self-evaluation, school inspection reports, strategic planning, professional development and performance appraisal – has played a key part.
The system has been used at the school since September 2011. It allows the Headteacher and his colleagues to get a complete picture of processes such as progress against school development plans and how staff are doing against performance targets.
“I first came across Bluewave SWIFT three years ago,” he says. “I spoke to a couple of headteachers who had adopted it and I thought it was incredibly powerful but wondered how I would get the whole school on board. I had to take a step by step approach. I started by putting the school development plan on the system and the management team populated this with information.”
The system’s school development planning element allows users to develop a whole school strategic plan which then feeds into the development plans of individual departments and the staff who work in them.
A key benefit for the headteacher and his colleagues is the complete view it gives of how each individual member of staff is progressing against targets. These can be performance management targets that have been set during the appraisal process, or progress and completion targets for a project that is part of the school development plan.
“It gives me a complete picture of the school that grows day by day. Before, if I wanted to see statistics of pupil progress meetings I would have to go around and ask individual staff members. Now I have it all in front of me and I get a complete view.
“It just pulls everything together and it automatically cross references information as well. It’s obvious that if you are looking at the school development plan you will want to see how staff members are progressing in their performance management as this feeds into the other. And these elements inform your self evaluation work.”
The Headteacher adds: “Five years ago we saw that at least 60 per cent of our children making three points progress each year. Now we’re saying we want 100 per cent achieving three points and at least 65 per cent being in line with national average. This is part of our development plan and Bluewave SWIFT shows where we are in achieving these targets.”
For the Headteacher, Bluewave SWIFT system is about giving his staff a real role in school improvement and driving attainment.
“I can see if someone hasn’t populated their performance management for example. It’s a tool for people taking responsibility,” he says.
The benefits of the Bluewave SWIFT system came to the fore during a recent Ofsted inspection, said the Headteacher. “When Ofsted questioned me about performance management for example I was able to show them on the system all of our performance management reports. I could show them how we fed this information to the governing body. They could see a trail of where we had come and where we were going in terms of meeting the objectives in ours school development plan. I could do all this from my screen rather than searching in file after file.”
The involvement of the schools staff in school improvement was commented upon by inspectors, who rated the school ‘good’. They wrote: “All staff contribute to evaluating the school’s work, which is accurately assessed. Everyone is involved in moving the school forward.”