Last weekend the latest Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, gave his first conference speech – to the Association of School and College Leaders. He received a warmer welcome than some previous politicians by acknowledging some of the problems facing schools, although he was pressed hard by delegates to come up with solutions. You can find the whole text of his speech here… https://schoolsweek.co.uk/damian-hinds-ascl-2018-conference-speech-the-full-text/
We thought we’d take a look at some quotes from his speech and see how ONVU’s LessonVU solution might be able to help him and schools around the country…
“With rising pupil numbers, I recognise that recruitment and retention is difficult for schools”
The Teacher Development Trust is clear that ‘effective professional development should be a key driver not only of staff development, but also of recruitment, retention, wellbeing, and school improvement’ A vital time to embed this is the NQT year, when teachers face a full teaching programme for the first time. We’re working with a primary school that introduces NQTs to LessonVU as a non-threatening, non-judgemental way to improve their teaching – along with a methodology that they can take with them through their careers.
“Too many of our teachers and our school leaders are working simply too long hours – and too often on tasks that the evidence shows are not helping children to learn.”
Observations traditionally come with their own Byzantine bureaucracy – the need to arrange times, fill in lesson plans, observation forms, get feedback and a grade, plan the next observation and so on. LessonVU removes all this – teachers can focus quickly on the areas they want to develop, share the findings and spend more time teaching. We’ve found teachers in one secondary school sharing simple but effective tips such as asking students to bring work to the front of the classroom and letting student know more about the wider learning journey of a subject – with great success.
‘We need to get back to the essence of successful teaching – strip away the workload that doesn’t add value and … trust teachers to teach.’
One simple impact of LessonVU is that time spent preparing for and observing lessons is reduced. It’s highly debatable whether external graded observation brings much of a benefit once you discount the disruption to the room and the bias of the observer, but departmental leaders and senior managers spend a lot of time doing this – and teachers spend a lot of time preparing over-elaborate ‘show’ lessons.
‘I’m also clear accountability must also lead to the right support – at the right time.’
A major challenge for schools is that they need experts to help them improve teaching – but those experts may be a long way from the school. We’re working with a university to enable remote schools to share their trainees’ lessons with subject tutors online – saving hours of travel and enabling far more feedback. And we’re working with an international school to help it deliver the high-quality education that its UK parent school is renowned for.
‘In so many other walk of life, modern technology has been a time-saver…but I know for many teachers it can sometimes feel like technology has had the opposite effect – actually adding to the work that needs to be done’.
This is equally something we’re clear about at ONVU. As a former teacher, I know that if technology doesn’t work once, teachers will stop using it. Once LessonVU is installed and switched on teachers can forget about it – until they need to review the footage and improve their teaching.