Monday, 18 January 2010

I started the day with our Primary School Improvement Advisers at Weetwood Hall...

Chris Halsall had invited me to talk to this group of colleagues and sit in on their first sessions of the day. I talked about the opportunities and challenges that we face as we implement 21st Century Schools, work on the National Primary Programme tackling schools below the floor targets and struggle to improve consistency and classroom performance. I also talked about poverty and parenting which we all know both really matter and that there is a strong relationship between well-being and child poverty and between well-being and inequality. The fact that 30,000 of our children and young people live in poverty here in Leeds means that we must continue to work to eradicate child poverty if we are going to continue to make a real difference where it matters.

Interestingly as well, the key to school improvement is not the school, not the headteachers, not the class size. Specifically it’s the quality of what goes on in the classrooms and everything points to the fact that teacher quality is the key to success. And importantly subject knowledge and professional qualifications make little difference. Pedagogy is more significant but largely being a brilliant teacher is unexplained. We need to focus on how we improve teacher quality and the key must be for us to love, develop and grow the one’s we’ve got. If we could get most teachers and most classrooms up to the performance of the best we wouldn't just be good, we'd be world class!

The School Improvement Partners are a talented group of colleagues who are at the heart of our work improving primary schools and it was great to spend some time with Chris and her team.

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