Having received the Silver Quality mark award for CPD, we continue to go from strength to strength in the arena of Professional Development and have nearly met the requirements for the CPLD Gold Award, making us one of the few schools in the country to do this. Although the two full days of interviews with a range of staff, students and Governors and the close scrutiny of all our policies and paperwork is intense, it is merely the final stepping stone in ensuring all of our staff have access to high quality personal training and development opportunities suited to their needs. Our commitment to achieving this Gold Award is not simply for the benefit of improving our staff’s already wide skillset, but our primary motivator is to improve the learning experience of the students at Quest.
New members of staff and those new to their role receive a comprehensive induction programme and handover in order to ensure a seamless transition and a maximum positive impact on the students.
The Quest Academy operates an ‘open door’ policy, and this, paired with a ‘Best Practice’ table, encourages staff to observe each other on a regular basis to see various experts in action, according to their needs.
It was noted in the report that: “CPLD provision is an impressive aspect of the school’s improvement.” Challenge partners September 2014.
Improving Teaching and Learning is of the upmost importance to us here at The Quest Academy and we employ a wide range of strategies to ensure that we uphold this commitment to our students.
The Quest Academy makes full use of the IRIS camera system to enable us to ensure we are constantly improving the quality of our teaching.
IRIS is a mobile camera system which enables teachers to securely capture their practice on video wherever they may be. By videoing our lessons, we are able to reflect on our own practice and through reviewing these lessons with other teachers, we have established an effective coaching model between teachers of different departments to fully promote cross-curricular collaboration. All teachers are required to use IRIS in their lessons at least once a year but the use of the system has been considered so valuable that we have invested in more camera systems to fully enable our teachers’ commitment to outstanding teaching and learning and improving their practice.
“IRIS has helped rapidly push satisfactory teaching up to good and good teaching to outstanding”
All teachers at The Quest Academy are part of a learning trio. In order to do this and ensure we maximise its full potential, we have adopted the Lesson Study model. At Quest, we are lucky to have an expert on Lesson Study, one of the leadership team, to guide us through this as she is conducting her doctoral research on this very topic.
Learning trios maximise the training of teaching and learning coaches and promote inter-departmental collaboration with the goal of producing outstanding lessons focussed on achieving a specific goal. Teachers co-design an optimum lesson and then review it using IRIS or observation. Improvements are then made to this lesson design so that our students receive lessons which are consistently improving.
TRegular twilight sessions enable our staff to learn from best practitioners in a wide variety of areas of teaching, all of which reflect the aims of the Academy Development Plan so that every member of staff is committed and plays a role on the Academy’s journey to Outstanding.
Twilight sessions are arranged to cover a range of topics such as lesson design, Assessment for Learning and Feedback as well as a range of other practical topics including effective use of data and specific strategies helping teachers to best adapt their teaching for students with specific SEN needs. Teachers must attend at least three sessions over the course of the year, but many teachers attend more than this as the sessions are very popular and teachers see how these benefit their students. Twilights and INSET sessions are not just for teachers, but are open to all support staff and many of them attend: everyone is committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning for our students.
Staff at The Quest Academy are regularly encouraged to seek and undertake external CPD sessions to help with their development. A number of teachers are currently engaged in leadership programmes such as the NPQH and staff are encouraged and supported to undertake their own studies in the field of education, with members of staff completing their masters and doctorate degrees with the aim of bringing the fruits of their research back into the Academy.
Each year, we encourage as many of our staff as possible to become examiners or moderators for the exam boards both at GCSE and A Level. With numbers of qualified examiners increasing year on year, we are ensuring that our students receive the best teaching accompanied by lots of practice with exam techniques in these important exam years from the people who will be responsible for marking the final exam.
Newly Qualified Staff
The Quest Academy puts a great deal of time and resources into the development of new teachers. Working closely with Bromley Schools’ Collegiate, we ensure that all Newly Qualified Teachers receive weekly mentoring sessions and tailored NQT support to ensure that they continue to develop into excellent teachers, meeting all of the Teaching Standards. The Quest Academy also works very closely with Teach First, having been part of the scheme since the beginning, to train teachers at the beginning of their career and to mould them into outstanding practitioners.
The Quest Academy is one of the founding members of the Croydon Hub. The Croydon Hub is an innovative partnership between five local Croydon schools whereby all of the new teachers, both Teach First and NQT alike, come together once a week to receive high-quality training from experts within each of the member schools. Such a training programme is very unique and participants are encouraged to reflect upon and share best practice from a variety of teaching environments as well as getting the opportunity to observe practice in other schools.