In every profession, it is important to keep reflecting, analyzing, and developing. At Richmond Park School all our staff is fully committed to this process to ensure we offer a rich and creative learning experience to our students. The two main ways we try to maintain what is going well and seek further improvements are our self-review system and our programme of continuing professional development (cpd). In this newsletter, we wish to provide recent examples of these activities.
Cpd assumes many forms and plays a crucial role in increasing people’s knowledge, deepening understanding of students’ needs and acquiring new skills. It also increases motivation and enthusiasm, providing new opportunities and challenges. Recently, for example, senior leaders and coordinators participated in a national conference, attending a wide range of workshops and presentations, while the rest of the staff took part in a highly successful training day at the school, focusing on sustainability. During the term, some teachers have attended online courses and webinars and other colleagues are studying for higher level qualifications. We also place a strong emphasis on teaching and learning in our staff meetings and working group sessions. As well, our blended learning team is providing many new strategies and resources for our staff, especially in the area of new technologies. All these experiences help staff to share practice, learn from others, and keep up-to-date. In this fast-changing world, there are so many new ways of teaching and learning and different situations in life. We must not forget the past, but we need to be aware of the present and try to anticipate the future.
Our self-review system is based on the twin concepts of individual development and collective progress. It involves many elements but at its core is the observation of learning. Our latest initiative is to pair coordinators with senior leaders to carry out the formal observation of classes. This is mutually beneficial as the coordinators gain from the leaders’ experience and, in turn, the leaders learn from their colleagues’ perceptions. After the observations, findings are shared and feedback, including targets, is given to the teacher concerned. In this way, everyone learns from everyone else and the standard of teaching is maintained and in some cases improved.
We believe our school has already reached a high standard of educational achievement but we also understand that all our staff, including the leaders, need to challenge themselves, acquire new knowledge and skills, and respond to new circumstances. Teachers must also be learners, and leaders must also follow.