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At Doha College, we have been using BlueSky for almost 5 years now. Each year we develop our use of BlueSky further. We started our journey by moving our performance development system over. The beauty of BlueSky is that you can create bespoke proformas which fit your setting. This is something we really took advantage of.
After successfully moving our performance development process online, we then decided to move our lesson observations on to BlueSky, too. Here again, we didn't have to use the observation proformas already in place, but we could design our own proforma and link our own teaching standards to the observation forms. BlueSky talked us through the whole of the design process so that we could have full control of our own proformas. We then held training for the staff who would be observing their colleagues so that they knew how to use the observation sheets. We also explained the process to all the staff so that they knew how to make their own comments on their lessons.
As well as the lesson observations, this year we moved our probation period overviews to BlueSky too. This was a new area for both us and BlueSky. Together we were able to design a system that works extremely well for us, and it is very easy to use. Following on from the probation period overviews, we have also started to add staff action plans too, setting targets and defining time frames for achieving the targets.
BlueSky has a feature where CPD can also be logged. We started to use this feature to log any CPD undertaken by our staff. In addition to this, we have been able to log CPD, and staff also have the ability to link this to their performance development targets. Staff now also have a record of all their CPD in one place, and, as a school, we are able to run a report to see the hours of CPD undertaken. This report can be for the whole school for specific areas in a school.
BlueSky is an invaluable tool for quality assurance, for we have everything in one place. The line management system means that the right people have access to the documents they need. The reporting feature is easy to use, and once the user groups have been created, reporting can be defined as needed. Staff also have the option of taking their records with them, as everything can be downloaded when they leave for a new school or, if their next school has BlueSky, their portfolio can be transferred to their new school. We have had staff joining us who were using BlueSky at their previous school and, when they joined, we moved their portfolio to our school.
Our success with BlueSky wouldn't have been possible without the full support of the customer support team, who are always on-hand to answer questions or solve issues when they arise. The response time is within 24hrs, which helps when you are in the middle of running a report for example and suddenly come across an issue! They will either resolve the issue or, if you would like to know how to resolve it yourself, they can have a video call with you, where they talk you through the issue or they will send you a video. They also offer training. When our new staff started in August, we held a training session for them on how to use BlueSky which was facilitated by a BlueSky trainer, who showed staff how to access their accounts, and how to use BlueSky. They also answered any of the questions asked by staff members.
Not only will BlueSky train staff know how to use the system, they will also keep you up to date with the latest developments in BlueSky, and how these could benefit your setting. There are no hidden costs for training, or for creating your own proformas, etc. There is still a huge bank of areas that we haven't had time to explore, but we are looking into the school self-evaluation tool as our next BlueSky area to target. The initial move from a paper-based system to an on-line system was made smooth and easy for us, as our account manager at BlueSky was always available to answer any questions and help with any technical issues straight away. Help is provided by e-mail, or you would set up a video call so you can be talked through changes and given individual tutorials on how to use new features.
All in all, here at Doha College, we would not be able to go back to a paper-based system that doesn't link together. With BlueSky, all the information is in one place and gives a full picture of a member of staff and the school as a whole.
Uzma Zaffar, Vice Principal - Quality Assurance, Doha College, Qatar
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