Promoting quality over quantity of professional development in IT

Two Mile Ash School

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Located within Two Mile Ash School, and part of the Inspiring Futures Through Learning MAT, the Two Mile Ash Initial Teacher Training Partnership was set up in 2002 and is the most established primary training provider in Milton Keynes. Working closely with 25 partner schools, which provide placements and support, it has trained some 400 primary teachers for the local area, all achieving excellent outcomes and many rated as outstanding at the end of their training year. Since 2013, Two Mile Ash ITT has achieved 100% employment rates for its graduating teachers. It is recognised as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and appeared in the top 10 providers in the Good Teacher Training Guide for 2013 and 2015

""The willingness of the BlueSky team to make adaptations and customise the system to work best for us has been invaluable". "

Rachel Coulson
Head of Initial Teacher Training

The Challenge

Despite its success, Two Mile Ash found its old paper-based evidence portfolios increasingly unwieldy and inefficient, making it impossible to monitor trainees' progress against Teacher Standards in real-time. Rachel Coulson, Head of Initial Teacher Training at Two Mile Ash ITT

Partnership explains; "Most providers had already moved to online portfolios and we felt we were behind the curve.

"We were also looking to monitor our school-based trainers' (SBT) support of trainees - through lesson observation forms, journal entries etc.

"BlueSky was recommended to us and we chose it as the best fit for our needs. It was launched with our 2015 cohort – applying a 'suck it and see' approach and ironing out any issues as they arose. Since then we have continued this process of review and adapt.

BlueSky's Role

"BlueSky has been a massive help with all our original objectives.

"Monitoring trainees' progress against the Teachers' Standards was difficult before when we had to wait for SBT and trainee meeting days in order to see and review examples of evidence. But now with BlueSky we can access all this information remotely at any time.

"Similarly, it was difficult to be sure about what support was provided in school because we only met our SBTs half-termly. Now lesson observation forms demonstrate how often trainees are being observed and show the quality of feedback given. Journal entries help our Pastoral Lead to monitor the wellbeing of our trainees to ensure we can support them as and when they need it – not just when we see them in the training room.

"Finally, working online enables trainees, SBTs and ITT staff alike to access everything remotely and is far more time-effective.

"The customer support and willingness of the BlueSky team to make adaptations and customise the system to work best for us has been invaluable.

The Impact

"I actually can't imagine how we managed before when trainees literally had suitcases in the training room to carry all their papers around! That's all gone now.

"As well as all this, BlueSky is definitely saving time spent chasing, copying and filing paper-based portfolios. It's also saving the cost of photocopying because the majority of resources and learning materials are uploaded to BlueSky for trainees to access on iPads/laptops during training sessions.

"We also found that overall the evidence supplied has definitely improved. Sometimes paper leads you on a tangent. This system promotes quality over quantity and has improved quality assurance monitoring (QUAM)".

Another unexpected benefit has been from a pastoral perspective. Trainees have a very full-on year and now improved feedback and journal entries being shared weekly allows any issues to be picked up and supported instantly.

"This is invaluable," said Rachel. "One trainee shared his difficulty returning to school following a very successful 6-week cross-phase assignment which resulted in a job offer. Together with his SBT, we were able to take steps which motivated and inspired him to continue with his training.

"Another trainee reflected in her journal that her lack of knowledge on spelling and grammar was causing problems with marking work. Her SBT used the journal to signal her agreement with this and we were able to set up an online course to provide support and get everything back on track asap. Without these early warnings, we could have lost these trainees.