Learning on a ‘human-scale’ was the founding ethos of The Swanage School, founded in 2013 as a free school.
Since then, Swanage has evolved into an academy, but their continuing belief remains the same: that strong relationships internally, and out in the local community and beyond, sit at the heart of better teaching and learning.
"BlueSky is definitely the vehicle that gets teacher development embedded and raises our standards of teaching and learning – without a doubt."
Deputy Head Teacher, The Swanage School
As a new school created from the ground up, many of their challenges – such as performance management and professional development – were also exciting opportunities; they could design excellent systems from a blank page.
Jenny Maraspin, Deputy Head Teacher, recalls: "We wanted to set clear objectives and hold teachers to account for them. I was already a big fan of BlueSky, having used it at my previous school, and knew it could do a good job for us."
The school had clear targets, starting with gaining a 'Good' rating on its first inspection (which it achieved). Today it is top of the Dorset league table and ranks in the top 6% of schools nationally.
Swanage embedded BlueSky into their systems to serve three principal objectives: lesson observations, continuous professional learning activities and performance management.
Jenny continues: "We wanted to track the impact of CPL to ensure that all our performance management activity had a direct impact on raising standards of teaching and learning in the classroom. BlueSky is a clear way to record evidence against objectives."
BlueSky now occupies a central position at Swanage School.
The school plans 'BlueSky time' into teachers' PPA time, sustaining the momentum of teacher development and increasing the impact of in-house CPL. The training calendar is driving event set-ups, invitations and alerts, and admin time is being reduced.
BlueSky is also contributing to something intangible, but nonetheless vital: a sense of contentment and purpose. Jenny comments: "I believe it makes for a happier body of staff who are really aware of pedagogy and things that affect teaching and learning – it is definitely promoting reflective practitioners."
The school is now considering the Projects area of BlueSky, working with a local primary school.
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