The Gloucestershire Learning Alliance (GLA) comprises six schools. The three founding schools – Bishop’s Cleeve Primary Academy, Rowanfield Junior School and Springbank Primary Academy – came together in 2013. They were already working in partnership and the leaders were keen to expand the collaboration to benefit other schools and young people. In 2017, they were joined by Rowanfield Infant School, the leadership of which the GLA had been supporting, and by a brand new academy, Longford Park Primary. The group is completed by Badsey First School in Worcestershire, which joined in September 2018 when it was in special measures.
"Staff become so enthusiastic about using BlueSky and it makes them engage with and value the performance management process all the more. The support at every stage from BlueSky is also comprehensive."
Director of Academies
Working across six schools with multiple sites presents technical, logistical and administrative challenges. For the Alliance, a key issue was devising a system of assessing and evaluating teacher performance that was consistent across all six but also meaningful in each setting.
"A multi-academy trust like ours has to align systems and practice so that the trustees and everyone else can feel confident that we are comparing like with like," says Claire Savory, Director of Academies. "If you are talking about teacher performance in two schools, the language you use about both needs to be the same.
BlueSky hosts all of the trust's performance management tools and information including its bespoke standards devised by the trust team, alongside details of training requirements, opportunities for staff, and the trust-wide performance management cycle. Support staff use it in the same way and have access to their own key standards, deadlines and training provision.
Staff training is coordinated on the platform so staff can see what training is available to help them fill a skills gap or development need identified in their appraisals. Centralised training for appraisers is also managed on the platform.
"We want the teachers to own it," she says. "When we do a performance management review, they sit in the driving seat at the computer, log on and showcase their objectives with all of the associated documents. Staff talk through what they have done and the impact they feel it has had, and they have all of the evidence there, whether it's lesson observations, pictures of classroom activity or training evidence. It's really powerful because it's all compiled and owned by them."
The streamlined nature of BlueSky and the level of control and ownership it affords staff is also a powerful motivator, she adds.
"Staff become so enthusiastic about using BlueSky and it makes them engage with and value the performance management process all the more."
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