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Tonyrefail Community School is a newly formed 3-18 Community School in Tonyrefail, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

“Being an ambassador school and using the Lessons Learned (formely XLence) Standards Review Framework and online system has allowed us to quickly embed the standards into areas of our Professional Learning and Development programmes, giving our staff a forward-looking focus for professional discussion at every level.”

Aims of Undertaking the Programme

  • To raise the profile of the Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership.
  • To increase knowledge and understanding of the standards.
  • To begin to embed the standards into the thinking and practice of staff and to tie them into professional learning (CPD) and performance management (PM).

Involvement of Staff

All teaching staff were involved and so were all support staff, including estates and administrative staff.

Launching the Programme

An assistant headteacher was given responsibility for leading on the development of the standards and to champion their implementation.

All staff attended a meeting during the start of the year INSET day in September. There was a theoretical session with introduction to the framework and the system, followed by practical session where participants used the teacher standards to undertake self-review. Support staff used a framework developed by the school.

The self-evaluations formed the basis for their performance reviews after-half term and the results were shared with the programme leads, who identified strengths and development needs to inform PM meetings.

PM meetings were participant driven, with the self-review against either the teaching or leadership standards acting as the focus. Discussions were very “action focused” identifying what staff were going to do. Outcomes arising from the leadership focus linked to the school’s leadership programme.

Knowledge and Understanding of the Professional Standards

All staff have a much deeper knowledge and understanding of the standards and are more able to relate descriptors within them to their own practices.

Use of the Framework and Online System

All participants found the online system to be intuitive and user friendly. Participants were only trained in usage for one hour but found little extra guidance necessary in getting the self-reviews completed.

Understanding the scaling and using the prompts was helped by placing inexperienced staff with more experienced ones. Prompts have become a common language for discussion and aid consistency.

Senior leaders have stated to use the standards for specific initiatives. For example, there has been a focus on “collaboration” and this has developed into a project where results will be analysed and feedback given to the team. Various other projects are in place across the school.

Impact on Practice Within the School (Schools as Learning Organisations)

There have been several incremental changes. Impact is real in terms of leaders turning theory into visible leadership on a day to day basis. A specific example was the subject lead in Welsh Baccalaureate raising the profile of the area and changing meeting structures. There are three Professional Learning groups – pedagogy, curriculum and leadership – and the programme has driven developments in all areas.

Link to Whole School Improvement

There is greater focus on review at all levels leading to increased ability to identify priorities for change. This impacts upon school improvement at all levels – individual, team and whole school.

Link to Monitoring of Teaching and Learning or Performance Management

Use of the 360 Review Module will be built into the monitoring cycle, supported by using the Lessons Learned (XLence) Teaching and Learning Module. The resulting outcomes from self-review and monitoring activities will inform all professional learning and performance management processes which we aim to be “practitioner led”.

Next Steps

We want to develop this practitioner led culture, where staff take increasing responsibility for their own learning and development, rather than be leadership led. In doing this, leadership roles to become more influencing in changing behaviours through dialogue rather than dictation or prescription.

Programme Leads

Mike Cameron and Rowan Wetherill

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