Beaumont Hill is a 2-19 academy in Darlington for children with special educational needs and part of the Education Village Academy Trust. All pupils have a Statement of Educational Need or an Education, Health and Care Plan.
In early 2017, the academy was put into special measures but made rapid progress over the next 12 months and, on reinspection in 2018, was judged to be good overall and in every category.
"Now that everything is on BlueSky, we have hard data to demonstrate how training is addressing skills and development needs directly and the impact it is having on the academy not just immediately but in the longer term.”
The key challenge facing the academy in 2016 was how to extract real meaning from its mass of teaching and learning data. In particular, during the period of special measures, the leadership wanted to identify the key areas where improvement was urgent but also where there was good practice to share.
Using BlueSky's self-evaluation module enabled them to move away from a paper-based system to capturing and collating work scrutinies, planning scrutinies, moderation reports and lesson observations in one place.
"It had always been a challenge to pull the elements of evaluation together into a way that meant we could gain a true picture," says Adrian Lynch, Deputy Principal. "BlueSky has given us a really robust system and more of a deep dive into the evaluation findings.
"It helps leaders to drill down into the areas where we are most and least secure." Leaders can then link the data directly to performance management.
"When staff have an appraisal they can have a really good look at the data to pinpoint any areas of strength and any that need further development," he says.
The academy's professional learning materials are on BlueSky, so staff can see what is available to help them to improve in a specific area and record all of their CPD activity.
Beaumont Hill's large team of support staff – around 80 out of a staff of 124 – all use the system for self assessment, too.
Adrian says: "Support staff worked with our higher level TA's to create an observation template on BlueSky featuring areas of a lesson that could be observed and standards for staff assessment. Support staff are observed every term and the findings are recorded, again, allowing us to create a really good report to see areas that we need to improve."
After being put into special measures in 2017, the introduction of BlueSky helped the academy to decide on some key actions.
"For example, we could see that in the work scrutinies, the percentage of staff who required improvement was around 27 per cent," Adrian says. "The data now shows that 96 per cent of staff are secure in standards following the work on performance management, scrutinies, and focused training that we've offered through the academy. It is all collated on BlueSky so the evidence of the impact is clear."
For the November 2018 Ofsted visit, Beaumont Hill used BlueSky to create a detailed teaching and learning report, featuring key data, snapshots of individual work scrutinies or lesson observations, and major achievements such as the increase in the percentage of staff judged good or better from 92% in autumn 2016 to 98% in autumn 2018.
"The final report, which judged us to be good overall and in every category, referenced our approach to teaching and learning a great deal," says Adrian. "It was reassuring that the areas they had identified for improvement were ones we'd already identified through self-evaluation. BlueSky was key in enabling us to be ahead of the judgment."
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