A 16th century history and 21st century management.

Sherborne School, Dorset

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There are few schools that can claim to date back to 1550 – and even fewer that were even being ‘re-founded’ at that time, as was the case with Sherborne School.

Today, this independent boys’ boarding school in Dorset hosts 550 boys and employs 100 teaching staff. The Independent Schools Inspectorate recently graded the quality of their pupils’ achievement, learning and personal development as ‘excellent’.

“It is reassuring to know that we have a system to help us operate our CPL more effectively and productively. We are now a more effective organisation.”

Peter Chillingworth
Director of CPL

The Challenge

Historically, the school reviewed staff twice a year, but were finding that the paper records, stored away in filing cabinets, were becoming a barrier to the staff's ownership of their personal career development. The school also identified four key objectives:

  • To map individual targets against the school improvement plan and bespoke professional standards
  • To connect lesson observation information with these standards
  • To understand and communicate training needs and compile training evaluations
  • To monitor and collate development needs and evidence of progress against the standards for appraisals and threshold assessments.

BlueSky's Role and Benefits

Sherborne chose BlueSky as the way to bring, and link, everything together: teaching and learning, appraisals and CPL. Being cloud-based, the system holds everything securely online, so that information is accessible from any platform, anywhere, any time.

The school introduced functions of the software in stages as the first professional development cycle revolved, running internal training to support the staff.

Peter Chillingworth, Director of Continuing Professional Learning, says: "BlueSky has helped the school form a clear link between the needs of the staff and the training they undertake."

With BlueSky:

  • Line managers are now closer to the recognition and approval of individual staff training, and the development of teachers' personal records of individual CPL activities
  • The school can now show both how and where staff are contributing to whole school objectives
  • Staff can now easily tie their professional development to the targets they have set, and how it links to the development
  • The school is now much smarter with time and money, by seeing the organisation in greater depth. This has enabled…
  • …better targeted training in areas where evidence on BlueSky reveals help may be needed
  • 'The Sherborne Teaching Standards' have been implemented.

Getting even more from BlueSky

Once BlueSky was adopted at Sherborne, the school progressed with the 'Projects' feature. This secure forum has various topic threads to be shared with others. This includes externally, with Sherborne linking up with other independent and maintained schools to share training and experiences.

Teachers are also using the 'confidential journal' function to record what they have done and when they did it. Reflective comments on personal experimentation and the monitoring of results over time have proved very useful.

Peter concludes: "We are now a more effective organisation in terms of identifying what we want to do, based upon the evidence of what we are doing. The support provided by BlueSky is also outstanding."


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