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P R A C T I T I O N E R E N Q U I R Y R E P O R T A U T U M N Two Heads Better than One? Building a cross-phase school of the future This report records and analyses a unique situation the appointment
P R A C T I T I O N E R E N Q U I R Y R E P O R T A U T U M N Two Heads Better than One? Building a cross-phase school of the future This report records and analyses a unique situation the appointment of two headteachers to a innovative future school operating from one building which incorporates a public library, and adult education and community facilities, as well as a nursery, a primary and a secondary school. Alison Banks, Catherine Finn, Smita Bora, Karen Lee and Carol Watson, NCSL Research Associates from Chafford Hundred Campus, Thurrock Contents Building a school of the future 3 Positive outcomes and successes 7 Research links 10 Setbacks and difficulties 12 Cross-phase schools: The future 16 Chafford Hundred Campus: Innovation now 19 Methodology 21 Bibliography 28 Appendix 1: Chafford Hundred Campus Diary National College for School Leadership 2 Building a school of the future Bulldozers moved onto the site of the Chafford Hundred Campus, in Grays, Essex, in June In early July, Estelle Morris presided at a turf-cutting ceremony and announced that Chafford Hundred Campus would be the Stantonbury or Countesthorpe of Quite a challenge for Alison Banks, as headteacher designate of the secondary school, and Catherine Finn, as headteacher designate of the primary school! Appointed from September 2000, we had the exciting prospect of working with the design team, building contractors and shadow governing bodies to create and complete the Campus by September Chafford Hundred Campus is innovative in many respects of its organisational design. Serving the new town of Chafford Hundred, it is a Thurrock Local Education Authority (LEA) project. The building incorporates a public library, adult education and community facilities, as well as a nursery, primary and secondary school: a neighbourhood learning centre, to repeat Tom Bentley s phrase (in Learning Beyond the Classroom). The building design incorporates a central block of shared facilities, including the public library, administration, staff room, halls, cybercafe and specialist accommodation, with separate classroom wings for the primary and secondary schools. As far as practicable, the two heads are working to create one institution, with shared staffing and resources. A major aim is to develop a primary-secondary fusion, rather than liaison or co-location. Another is to maximise the learning opportunities arising from portable technologies. The Campus also seeks to offer services to business, other schools and the local community, to develop its role as a community enterprise centre. The task of involving the community at an early stage, when the schools and most of the houses around it were not yet built and the intake numbers were therefore unpredictable, set the heads on the path of alternative approaches: a small flat became an information centre, surgeries and coffee mornings were held, family site visits with hard hats organised, a web site launched, and pupils and parents invited to individual interviews. In an area of educational underachievement, the heads discovered a tremendous enthusiasm for learning and for different approaches. Tim McMullen, the first principal of Countesthorpe, wrote in 1969: We have a chance to rethink the total process of learning within a school This does not mean that everything we do will be different from what has been done before, but it should mean that we do not automatically repeat an established practice without considering why. (McMullen, 1977) Thirty years on, there is all the more reason for the validity of this approach. Catherine and Alison frequently asked why? and investigated new methodologies and systems. Fundamental was the philosophy that each pupil is an individual with a unique portfolio of abilities, competences and intelligences. Alison, having taught for over thirty years and held two previous headships, had a lot of ideas about what a school of the future should, and should not be like. Catherine s National College for School Leadership 3 background of youth work, nursing, community worker, early year's primary teacher, along with leadership, complemented Alison s skills to develop the innovative project. Setting up the Campus has been an amazing opportunity to put these ideas into practice. Starting with a blank canvas and a mandate to be innovative, these are some of the practicalities they grappled with: a shared management structure between the two schools to slim down the hierarchy and put as much resource as possible into teaching time a shared budget to smooth the inequalities of primary and secondary funding and minimise bureaucracy opening up the Campus from 8.00am 10.00pm, including weekends and holidays, to community users joint approaches to managing family learning, adult education and a branch library designing community spaces, such as the atrium and cybercafe, to create a welcoming public building, with CCTV and swipe cards to ensure pupil security swipe card technology for ease of administration, such as registration, cashless vending and print control a wireless broadband network, providing laptops for all staff and secondary pupils, with trolleyed laptops for primary and community use a culture of research and innovation, working jointly with educational institutions and businesses and currently applying for specialist Business and Enterprise status Year 7 structure and curriculum For the Year 7 structure and curriculum, Alison proposed: a flat staffing structure, with no separation of pastoral and academic, no house, year or departmental structure, maximising preparation time for individual teachers one-to-one personal tutoring, from am before lessons, providing each child with a weekly review a high ratio of support staff and teaching assistants, so as to involve them in oneto-one sessions, all classes and administration the principle of a learning plan for every pupil, recognising individual and additional needs the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) 21 st Century Curriculum (see Bayliss, 1999), with competence-based half-term units designed to achieve cross-curricular coherence flexible timetabling, with varied groupings and timings appropriate for different curriculum areas National College for School Leadership 4 information and communications technology (ICT) independence for pupils, with a wireless network and swipe-operated lockers for the security and re-charging of laptops a centralised resources centre and ICT helpdesk, complementing the public library, to meet all pupils learning needs a positive approach to good behaviour, based on pupil responsibilities, privileges and a highly motivating reward system Primary structure Catherine designed a primary structure which: takes advantage of the specialist teaching facilities, eg sports hall, art rooms, food technology strengthens the liaison between primary and secondary by using staff who work across the Campus reinforces learning through the daily use of ICT, with the support of a network manager, ICT technician and central Campus resources area welcomes strong parental partnerships utilises the home/school lending library for literacy and numeracy, to support active learning linked to pupils individual targets uses sports coaches to reinforce a healthy lifestyle, along with positive behaviour at lunchtime Still at the design stage is the Campus 21 st century learning intranet, with individual and differentiated pathways. This is a joint project with Monsoon Malabar Limited and other interested schools are welcome to get involved. Although the Campus opened as planned in September 2001, the building and ICT infrastructure were still incomplete in February 2002, so there is much yet to do. Partners in the Campus building project were Thurrock Council, Chafford Hundred Development Ltd, Jackson s Builders and Nicholas Hare Architects. As the implementation continues, Campus staff are working in partnership with Thurrock Adult Community College, Thurrock Library Services, the RSA, Toshiba and Easytrace. The Campus is already building international links, being involved in an EC m-learning bid with Toshiba Germany, the Poznan Supercomputing and Networking Centre and the Foundation for Economic Education in Poland. We have hosted a visit from Toshiba s European managers, from ten countries, and the Campus has been the main feature of a major schools conference in Spain. As the Campus develops, there will be many opportunities for workshops and visits, as Catherine and Alison hope that their work will stimulate educational debate for many years to come. Working with the National College for School Leadership (NCSL), National College for School Leadership 5 Campus staff want to develop their ideas and learn from others. Please contribute to this debate. As to entering the age of imagination, we re just barely sniffing at the doorway. (Peters,1994) Leadership exists when people are no longer victims of circumstances but participate in creating new circumstances creating new realities. (Senge, 1990) National College for School Leadership 6 Positive outcomes and successes The team Looking back over the summer term s preparations for the opening of the Campus and the first term of our existence as two schools, the team has reflected on a number of significant occasions when we have worked successfully as a team and achieved considerable success. In order to reach this judgement, we have drawn not only on our collective experience and individual journals but also on feedback from pupils, parents, staff and governors. Three examples which give a flavour of such occasions include: 1. Family site visits in July 2001 During several evenings and throughout a weekend, we hosted groups of pupils and parents on a site tour. The notable success of this included evidence that: our joint planning was thorough we handled a complex set of arrangements in a largely unknown context without any unforeseen difficulties or setbacks arising the operation was highly professional the team worked collaboratively yet individually, each with our own role and responsibility communication was excellent each member, although working apart, fell into a rhythm, anticipating others actions and needs and keeping within a tight timescale the partnership between the team and others, notably the governors and the builders, enhanced the occasion health and safety procedures were transformed into both a learning opportunity and a fun event for families the outcome was highly enjoyable and a positive experience for all involved even those pupils and parents who arrived anxious or nervous departed happy and reassured. Little details such as small souvenirs marked the occasion as special in the life of the community the team was smiling and confident hiding our own anxieties about the progress of the building and putting on a brave PR face has developed into one of the team s strengths 2. The first staff conference Indicators of success here include: 100 per cent voluntary attendance, including two overnight stays the realisation of an ambitious, fast-paced and varied programme National College for School Leadership 7 every team member contributing to presentation, organisation, practical and social arrangements drawing on particular individual strengths, such as display or hospitality skills delegating successfully to develop high profile roles for administrative and ICT staff maintaining consistent ethos-building while integrating governors, the director of education and external trainers dropping in providing thorough documentation, to a high standard of content and presentation everyone arriving apprehensive and leaving tired but happier extremely positive evaluation by all participants 3. A crisis When the secondary headteacher had a car accident and was off school for two weeks, some of the benefits of our unique team came into play. One might imagine, in another context, this event causing huge difficulties for an LEA, with a new school in its third week of existence. At Chafford Hundred Campus, despite this event coinciding with a second accident (our business manager suffered concussion), the leadership team was able to pull together and maintain the confidence of staff, pupils and parents. Indeed, some parents commented how fortunate the Campus was to have two heads. Notable evidence of success during this crisis included the fact that very few events or arrangements had to be cancelled or postponed. Planned trips to France and a local environmental centre for the whole of Year 7 went ahead. Deliveries of furniture and equipment continued unabated. Curriculum planning and even NCSL filming were unaffected. The strength of prior communication meant that there were no surprises or eventualities which could not be dealt with. What could have, elsewhere, have been a crisis proved not to be one. Work with NCSL Throughout the summer and autumn terms of 2001, team members attended training and action set days at Nottingham. Most of the team have been involved in these events, participating in sessions on research methodology, creative thinking, action set work and public relations in regard to research dissemination, as well as sharing experiences and approaches with other NCSL research associates. We also benefited from visits from NCSL staff, including those working on a video which has already been used extensively for National Professional Qualification for Headship (NPQH) training. This featured interviews with four members of the team and was National College for School Leadership 8 supported by documentation which we prepared about our aims, ethos, staffing structure and public relations. Following the success of that first video, video crews have visited the Campus on two further occasions during the autumn term to film our move into the Campus and early impressions of staff and pupils. Several interviews with team members formed a substantial part of this footage, which focused on leadership issues. NCSL also proposed for us an e-mentor, Michael Fielding of Sussex University, who has supported us in a variety of ways. Currently we are setting up a person-centred schools network project with him. National College for School Leadership 9 Research links Thurrock Research Group During the summer term of 2001, the Thurrock Research Group added a dimension to our action learning set. The group was founded about two years ago by Thurrock s former director of education. It consisted of education officers, headteachers and teachers, all of whom are carrying out their own research in pursuance of higher degrees. The group had the benefit of support from several staff of Anglia Polytechnic University, as well as staff of Canterbury Christ Church University College. We were fortunate to be able to use the expertise of this group, as a support and sounding board, especially as they are so experienced in action research methodology and we were able to meet locally on a regular basis. In addition, following our contribution to The Enquirer (the Cantarnet Journal, Canterbury Action Research Network), we accessed a broader range of expertise, through correspondence with school leaders as far afield as Singapore. This experience proved a significant motivator in evidencing for us the applicability of our research and the international as well as local interest in it. We have also been able to maintain our contact with the former director of education, now an independent consultant, who is using our case study for his own research on the leadership of learning communities, coincidentally providing us with the benefit of an external viewpoint. Toshiba From the many available options in terms of ICT sponsorship, our decision to partner with Toshiba was largely based on Toshiba s interest in, and commitment to, educational research. At an early stage in the project, through links with MirandaNet, we came into contact with Richard Lomer, the UK director of Toshiba. He has supported our research through several personal visits, and his own enthusiasm for the work we are doing resulted in a visit of senior international Toshiba staff to the Campus in November Following the success of that visit, a member of our team was also invited to Tenerife, to address a conference of Spanish headteachers. One of our membership team became a Toshiba international fellow and subsequently passed on that opportunity to another member of staff. Toshiba has offered a consultant to mentor the assistant heads. Research fellowships with Leeds Metropolitan University are available to a further two staff. These opportunities enable us to develop the notion of teachers as researchers, spreading the good practice from the leadership team to others. National College for School Leadership 10 Through Toshiba as well as through the Department for Education and Skills (DfES), we have had many visits from local authorities and private-public partnerships who are embarking on new school or refurbishment projects. They have all been keen to learn from our management of the project and our management structure, rather than buildingspecific issues. This has provided us with many opportunities to test our ideas, forge partnerships and build a potential audience which will ultimately make the task of project dissemination much easier. Already we have received many requests to speak at conferences and have hosted conferences at the Campus. Our first visitors day proved very successful and further events are planned on a half-termly basis. RSA Specifically relating to our introduction of innovative curriculum approaches and one-toone tutoring, the RSA has been actively involved in our research, through Valerie Bayliss, the author of the RSA report, Opening Minds and Lesley James, their director of education. Lesley has visited us on two occasions and four members of the team have been involved in curriculum development meetings at the RSA and at a community school in Marlborough. In November 2002, some of our pupils as well as members of staff will be making a presentation at a national conference to be held at the RSA. Barrie Wyse, an RSA consultant, has visited us regularly to assess the impact of our work on pupils. External evaluation We commissioned an independent consultant, Diane Drury, to carry out an analysis of the impact of our work on pupils. By the end of October 2001 she had already done three days work, interviewing pupils and staff, preparing a report and presenting her findings. The initial results were extremely encouraging, indicating a great deal had been achieved in our first six weeks. At the end of the autumn term an extensive questionnaire was conducted with the whole of Year 7. National College for School Leadership 11 Setbacks and difficulties The team has been operating under enormous pressure from a number of points of view and this has made our situation both a fruitful opportunity for investigation as well as a very tense one. As with any new team coming together, it was inevitable that there would be the tensions of different personalities, expectations and ways of working. Our team consists of five women and a whole thesis could no doubt be written on gender differences in management styles. Our team is not only rare in being all female but unique in being cross-phase. The team members therefore came from a much broader range of prior experiences than would be the case in most teams. We also came into a situation with a huge amount of unknowns and very few givens. To compound these difficulties, the team came together in phases: first the two heads, then the assistants, then the business manager. Had we had some control over this process, or indeed could start over, we would see great benefits from starting together. The pace and pressure of our situation left little time for induction or recap, which caused frustration on all sides. The team came into being in a context of limited support and e
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