Author: Lucy Morris, Deputy Headteacher – Kingston Academy
The Kingston Academy is an Ofsted rated Outstanding school and we want our classroom experience to be excellent for both pupils and teachers. Our ethos is ‘going beyond what schools ordinarily do’; we expect excellence, we learn from the best and we will constantly strive for improvement. We pride ourselves on our inclusivity, catering for a range of pupils including special educational needs and physical disabilities and we are deeply passionate about providing all of them with a positive classroom experience. We have expanded over the last 7 years from 1 year group to now accommodating pupils up to year 13. This has seen our staff body grow enormously and as you would expect, maintaining that consistency of excellence becomes more difficult. As we expanded, we noticed that our high expectations of learning weren’t being met as they were previously, so we wanted a way of sharing good practice across the school more widely and easily to ensure that our standards of excellence are maintained. This is when we came to ONVU Learning; it gives us the ability to share good practice across our growing teaching staff.
We are moving out of the early stages of our journey with ONVU Learning and our experience has been a positive one. It was important to me that our teachers knew that the system was not designed to watch them all the time, be intrusive or in any way designed to catch them out. Giving our teachers the option to use the system when they wanted was really powerful; they understood that ONVU Learning was there as a supportive tool enabling them to reflect on their own practice and improve in ways they felt they needed if they desired to. Once a significant proportion of our teachers began to use ONVU Learning, more and more of the teaching staff began to see the footage captured and understand how it could help them with their development, positivity around it began to spread and I received more and more ONVU Learning requests . ONVU Learning really gave them ownership over identifying what happened in their lessons, they could identify things for themselves or with their coaches in real time rather than trying to remember a class afterwards or relying on notes, which can be at times unreliable. Understanding why they did certain things, what worked and what didn’t and, things that might otherwise be missed or forgotten are captured in the footage, helping to them to learn, improve and provide the best possible learning for our pupils.
We have some staff who want to film everything from start to finish and others that want to film short clips for specific training purposes. It is great to see how our staff are being creative and using ONVU Learning in a variety of ways that suit their specific needs. It hasn’t only been our qualified teaching staff that have seen the benefit of ONVU Learning; at The Kingston Academy we have a large amount of teaching assistants, who have also asked to record lessons they are involved in so they can discuss and reflect on their practices with the class teacher afterwards to reflect and improve.
The Kingston Educational Trust and is presently made up of a secondary and a primary school. As I have worked previously as a teaching and learning advisor, I am also primary trained, so I am keen to develop teaching and learning across both schools. This is an area where I feel ONVU Learning could bring real value. The ability to be able identify and share elements of great teaching that span both secondary and primary schools has the potential to be really useful. I believe it’s worth having conversations around what makes great teaching regardless of age group; ‘how is what’s happening in a year 9 class similar to what’s happening in a year 1 class?’ ‘How can we learn from both?’ ONVU Learning can make this possible. We can compare real life examples rather than just relying on theories with the added benefit of not needing to visit schools and view live lessons, saving time – which can only be a good thing!
As we continue to grow and improve, we want to bring to the forefront our high expectations of what should be happening within our classrooms and do this we need our teaching staff to reflect on their practices and I want ONVU Learning to feature heavily in this by giving us the ability to share, collaborate and learn from each other. We are also going to implement ONVU Learning into our ECT training, getting them to view and analyse footage of great teaching practices. Having group discussions as a result of this I believe will really help them to understand what great teaching looks like and how they can implement that into their own practices.
Professional development is really important to everybody at The Kingston Academy and having a solution like ONVU Learning is really going to help us get consistency in our teaching and cement those high expectations. It allows teachers to create ownership of wanting to improve, creating reflective practitioners who are always looking for ways of making their practices as good as possible which will hopefully lead to us continuing to be an outstanding school and providing the best possible learning to our pupils.