“BlueSky allows us to ensure that all staff are treated fairly. With BlueSky, everything is on one system, from application to approval to evaluation, so the whole process is much, much simpler.” – Daniel Brown, Director of Professional Learning and Development, Dulwich College Singapore
How is BlueSky supporting Dulwich College Singapore?
Dulwich College Singapore, part of the Dulwich College International Group of schools, was established in 2014 and has grown rapidly in the ensuing years. BlueSky Education is used by most of the colleges in the Dulwich College International Group and was introduced at Dulwich College Singapore when it opened.
The school has moved away from traditional approaches to performance management and appraisal, instead focusing on professional development targets. Daniel Brown, Director of Professional Learning and Development at Dulwich College Singapore, says: “We have an assumption that everyone is a good teacher – we have about 100 to 150 applicants for each teaching job, so we get good teachers coming in to start with.”
“As a result, we’ve focused on having an inquiry question system, where instead of having set objectives to meet, every teacher identifies one aspect of their teaching practice and sets an ‘Inquiry Question’ as a focus for professional development. They create a professional learning community with other staff who have chosen a similar theme to share research, plan how they will change their teaching practice and evaluate whether that change has had an impact on students’ learning.”
“We use BlueSky to document the whole of that process, from setting the inquiry question, to review meetings with their line manager, recording evidence, through to the end of year review. What has been particularly useful is the ability to now tailor BlueSky to this approach, so we have been able to change the terminology that is used in the platform – for example, ‘Objectives’ is now ‘Inquiry Question’.”
The school has a more traditional approach to performance management for business support staff, which has meant that they needed to access a different process in BlueSky. “Business support staff have three to five objectives which are tied to their performance review at the end of the cycle. One of the joys of BlueSky is that we can run two different processes within the same platform, and they are ring-fenced so teaching staff see one and business support staff see another, while I can simply switch between them to manage everything.”
What is the impact?
Professional development is offered to all 433 teaching and business support staff across the school, which requires a significant amount of management. BlueSky Education reduces the workload of this process while also helping the professional learning and development (PLD) team to ensure that training is allocated fairly and is aligned with the school improvement plan.
“BlueSky Education helps us to manage all professional learning and development applications consistently across the school,” explains Daniel. “The school is split into a kindergarten, a junior school and a senior school and we have a PLD lead for each. BlueSky allows us to ensure that all staff are treated fairly. With BlueSky, everything is on one system, from application to approval to evaluation, so the whole process is much, much simpler.”
Recording the PLD process in BlueSky also ensures that Daniel and his team have full oversight of all teachers’ professional development goals through BlueSky’s Admin console. “At the end of October, I meet with the PLD team to review everyone’s inquiry questions. Within less than a minute, we can collate the report and see which teachers may need to adjust their target so that it connects to the school improvement plan.”
“BlueSky also helps us to identify common professional development themes and group staff into categories so that we can assign them on the same course or share resources. The platform really helps us to differentiate training for the people who need it.”
“My role is to make everyone better at their job,” says Daniel. “The main focus is on teachers and improving the quality of teaching and learning across the school, but also developing better leaders and working with our business support staff who support the functioning of the school, to make them better at their role as well.”
Dan believes that BlueSky is helping staff to understand the value of engaging in professional development. “It’s very useful to have everything in one place where staff can see the impact of their work adding up. BlueSky allows us to identify training needs and offer differentiated professional learning, with everything tracked and documented. I think that staff are now seeing that this system is here to help them become better at their jobs.”