The GEMS Wellington Academy in Dubai serves the Dubai Silicon Oasis community and offers a holistic education for pupils from 4 to 18, incorporating the National Curriculum for England, International Baccalaureate, A-levels and United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Education curriculum. It is part of GEMS Education, a group of 54 schools across the Middle East.
"Having all of the evidence in one place enables the teacher, their professional coach, mentor and line manager to work collaboratively to improve pedagogy"
Secondary Vice Principal
The key challenge was around performance management. In particular, there was a lack of consistency in how performance was monitored across the Academy. Allied to this was the problem of paperwork with documents stored in different places and in different formats, making the task of collating them too time-consuming. Leaders found it difficult to pull together all of the necessary information for their reports and to be sure that the information they had was of a consistent standard.
BlueSky has also enabled the school to improve its long-term planning, Daniella says.
"It helps us to be consistent in our systems and processes across the academy. For example, because all policies, documents and feedback are stored on BlueSky, it enables us to have a uniform approach to target-setting and monitoring performance because we can look across whole cohorts and groups at a glance. It also means objectives for staff and teams can be clearly linked to the school development plan and to the UAE teaching standards. This all then feeds into the termly appraisals between the teacher and their professional coach to guide development."
BlueSky's flexibility means the academy has been able to tailor the functions to suit its needs and its existing culture and practice, as well as introduce more transparency into the reporting process.
"For example, we have adapted the recording forms by shortening the statements and having a simpler rating bar because that suits our teacher development approach," Daniella says. "I like the fact that different staff can access different forms, which has helped encourage our 'open door observation' culture. We have also adapted our learning walks form and uploaded them to BlueSky so that it is much faster to complete and this is encouraging more staff to use it for their walks."
The academy is also using the BlueSky Projects module to help monitor the performance of staff causing concern.
"We can use it to monitor any staff who are not meeting expectations in their work," says Daniella. "We store performance plans and lesson observation notes here, as well as any mentoring conversations we have. It is useful to have the evidence in one place and it enables the teacher, their professional coach, mentor and line manager to work collaboratively to improve pedagogy"
A positive response from secondary staff in their feedback has led to BlueSky being adopted by the academy's primary phase.
Next, they plan to extend use of BlueSky to expand performance management further.
Daniella says: "Our next steps will include adopting the 360-evaluation facility, which we haven't yet tried but could help us enhance our approach to monitoring and developing staff by providing even deeper insights."
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