Ask other schools about your challenges; Tips for MS Teams; 9 barriers to parental engagement.

Hello everyone,

I spent my childhood being slathered in factor 50 by my mum. In adulthood, I know full well that baldness and sunshine don’t mix well. Despite that, last weekend, I managed to get sunburnt! This weekend, brrr. It feels like Autumn has arrived.

To counter the chill, the impending lockdown measures and help answer the questions we’re being asked about the challenges you’re facing, the We Are In Beta newsletter is in your inbox sharing solutions.


This week:

🤝 Community Support: Get answers to your questions from your peers. #ShowUpToHelpOut

🌐 Community Networks: How do you get the best out of MS Teams?

📝 Article: How can schools improve parental engagement?


🤝 Show Up to Help Out

Last week I said we were planning a series of conversations to help you get answers your questions from your peers.

During these trying times, we could all use a helping hand, advice, direction, resources and even some words of encouragement and reassurance.

That’s why We Are In Beta, and our a growing community of remarkable school leaders, are launching Show Up to Help Out:

  • Join up with 5 peers to meet live every week for 1 hour.

  • Present your most pressing challenge, question or request and have the rest of your group give answers, suggest solutions and share their thoughts and ideas.

  • Help the others in your group when it is their turn to ask for help.

  • Post your problem as a thread on the wider We Are In Beta community, for anyone else to chime in and provide support.


Secondary - Show Up to Help Out

To check out what’s on the agenda and join one the pilot groups of secondary leaders…

Get involved here


Primary - Show Up to Help Out

To check out what’s on the agenda and join one the pilot groups of primary leaders…

Get involved here


🌐 Expert Tips for MS Teams

Image

Before lockdown, the chances are you’d never used MS Teams in your school. During lockdown, it was a life saver, helping you meet your colleagues and teach your students remotely. Now it’s here to stay.

But with a possible second lockdown on the way, are you getting the most out of it?

We’ve set up a group of MS Experts in Education, led by Head of Computer Science and ICT, Christopher Harris to make sure you do.

If you’ve got questions or want to get the best out of MS Teams…

Join the network


📝Connecting with parents and carers

“So why is a lack of parental engagement a problem? It’s clearly seen that students from disadvantaged backgrounds perform less well than their peers from non-disadvantaged backgrounds in key examinations – but the assumption that part of this is down to lack of parental engagement has recently been challenged”

Lucy Flower, shares nine strategies to remove the barriers to parental engagement.

Read Lucy's learnings


Thanks for reading and playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon.

@NiallAlcock


If you were forwarded this email and learning about great schools doing great things is your bag…


🆕 New here? Catch up with previous editions, podcasts and webinars via the archive

️️❤️ Like learning from other schools? Give us a cheer. It’ll help us win real internet points and help others find us.

123 primary schools achieving the highest outcomes for disadvantaged students; Headship experiences shared; Breaking free from the shackles of quality assurance.

Hello everyone!

It’s clear schools are facing a serious challenge and it’s having an impact.

If you’ve had enough of thinking about testing, isolating and risk assessments, today I offer you some completely imperfect, but totally geeky research. And a member article with not a single mention of corona virus. I promise.

But if you are in need of some connection and support amid all the corona related stresses you’re facing, we’re working on something you’ll like.


This week:

🔬Analysis: Which primary schools achieve the highest outcomes for their pupils in both progress and attainment across reading, writing and maths?

🤝 Community Support: Headship experiences shared: HSE calls, interim Ofsted visits, school closures and remote strategies.

📝 Article: Break free from the shackles of quality assurance.


🔬123 primary schools who are achieving the highest outcomes for their pupils in both progress and attainment across reading, writing and maths.

In this, the second part of her four-part series, our awesome Head of Helpfulness, Frances Ling reveals the 123 schools who are achieving the highest outcomes for their pupils in both progress and attainment across reading, writing and maths (based on 2019 results).

Her five observations from the data are well worth a read. One of them leaves me asking ‘What is going on in that borough?!”

Read part 2 of 4

Catch up on Part 1: Top-performing secondary schools with high Progress 8 scores for disadvantaged students 2019.


This kind of content and analysis won’t be free forever. Soon this will be the only place you can access it.


🤝 Headship experiences shared: HSE calls, Ofsted visits, school closures, remote strategies

On Monday night, I got a text message from one of our members, Exec. Principal Mike Wilson

My thoughts were, “This sucks. I’m sure the We Are In Beta community can help."

There are an increasing number of new and challenging scenarios that lie ahead. HSE calls, interim Ofsted visits, sending year groups home, full school closures, designing blended curriculum models and remote learning strategies.

As our community members go through them, they can share their experience to help you prepare for them.

We are planning a series of conversations across both primary and secondary schools for headteachers to share experiences had, challenges faced and lessons learned.

Whether you’ve been through these scenarios already or you haven’t yet and want to learn from them…

Get involved


📝 Break free from the shackles of quality assurance.

“For the past few years, I knew that traditional quality assurance processes and lesson observations had never fulfilled their purpose for me. In fact, I would go as far to say that I grew to find the whole thing very toxic. I knew I wanted to change, but in all honesty, I wasn’t entirely sure what that change was going to be”.

Emma Mills, Headteacher at Birchwood Community High School shares why lesson observations had to go, the changes they made and how they have made their staff feel trusted.

Read article


Thanks for reading and playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon.

@NiallAlcock


If you were forwarded this email and learning about great schools doing great things is your bag…


🆕 New here? Catch up with previous editions, podcasts and webinars via the archive

️️❤️ Like learning from other schools? Give us a cheer. It’ll help us win real internet points and help others find us.

144 schools achieving +0.5 progress 8 for disadvantaged students; 10 steps to lead through chaos; 8 lessons learned from a positive covid test.

Hello everyone!

My plan this weekend was to get married. Alas, corona virus had better ideas. So instead of embarrassing myself on the dance floor, we’re spending the weekend away on the South Coast.

So we can enjoy every minute of it, I’ve kept the introduction this week short. In fact, I’ve cheated by borrowing some rather excellent words, so the intro writes itself.

They summarise this week perfectly.

“We have changed ALL routines & rituals; we have whole sale changed the school spaces; we changed times; we changed lunch; break times. Students have shown resilience & pragmatism. They have taken to it dutifully & with no fuss. People underestimate young people. They are amazing.” Exec Head, Allan Osborne.

Thanks, Allan, for making my job, and others’, a whole lot easier!


This week:

🔬Analysis: Which schools achieve +0.5 Progress 8 for disadvantaged students?

📰 Column: 10 Steps to Lead Through Chaos

📝 Article: 8 Lessons Learned from a Positive Case of Corona Virus


🔬 Top-performing secondary schools with high Progress 8 scores for disadvantaged students 2019

Top-performing secondary schools with high Progress 8 scores for disadvantaged students 2019

Last week I promised to share the research we’ve been doing behind the scenes. Wait no longer. Here it is.

Which schools do an incredible job with their disadvantaged students? What do they do? How do they do it? What do they have in common? Some of the questions we’ve been considering.

In this, the first of a four-part series, by our Head of Helpfulness, the awesome Frances Ling, we reveal the 144 schools, who achieved a Progress 8 score of +0.5 with their disadvantaged students.

Her seven observations from the data are fascinating. So good in fact, a grand fromage at Ofsted has been Tweeting about them.

Edu-data geekery this way

If you’re a serving school leader or teacher, access premium content like this for free, for a limited time only here. Soon this will be the only place you can access it.


📰 10 Steps to Lead Through Chaos

10 steps to lead through chaos

Is education is chaos? What does school leadership have in common with being a navy SEAL? When things do get tricky, what steps can we take to bring clarity at a time of confusion?

In his latest fortnightly column, George McMillan, Exec. Head at Harris Ockendon, shares his answers and guides you through ten steps that work for him. He even gives you a sneaky peak at his flip chart.

Let me see


If reflecting, learning and sharing is your thing, and you like doing it through your writing, while getting feedback before you publish, join our growing team of columnists. Email saar@weareinbeta.com.


📝 8 Lessons Learned from a Positive COVID Test

Positive Covid 19 Test - Lessons Learnt So Far

Our case was reported at midday on a Friday. We alerted the PHE Team immediately and received an initial call 20 minutes later and were then promised a full follow up risk assessment and next steps call that afternoon. The call never came.”

Will Teece, Head at Brookvale Groby Learning Campus, reveals what happened next and shares lessons learned from an experience I hope you don’t have to endure.

Hit the button below to read them and share your experiences.

Read + share lessons


Thanks for reading and playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon.

@NiallAlcock


If you were forwarded this email and learning about great schools doing great things is your bag…


🆕 New here? Catch up with previous editions, podcasts and webinars via the archive

️️❤️ If you were pretty whacked on Friday night after a hard week but glad to be back, give us a ‘cheer’ below.

Is Progress 8 the best measure we have? Ten assessment recommendations. First day reflections. Six questions.

Hello everyone,

What a week! I hope your first days back doing what you love went well despite Ofsted’s announcements.

Given the circumstances, should Ofsted be visiting schools this term? Should they be reporting what their visits find? I’ll let you decide.

One thing we’ve decided at We Are In Beta is that we’ll be doing everything we can to find great schools, doing great things. And we’ll be reporting… I mean… showcasing as many of them as we can.

I can’t wait to share the research we’ve been doing behind the scenes. Watch this space.


This week:

📝 Article: Is Progress 8 the best measure we have?

Webinar replay: What recommendations did Heads Forward make about assessment?

📝 Article: How was the first day back? An Exec. Head’s perspective.

🌐 Community news: The big questions members have been sharing answers to: assessment CPD, planning virtual open evenings, EAL translation services, breakfast clubs and more.


📝 Progress 8 is the best measure we have. Here’s why.

Progress 8 is the best measure we have. Here’s why.

Dominic Salles - Assistant Headteacher at Kingsdown School, Swindon (my hometown 👍) - explains why he believes Progress 8 is such an important metric.

He explores the challenges we face finding great schools to learn from, poses the 11 questions he would ask them if he given the opportunity and predicts the challenges we’ll all be tackling this year.

If data driven school improvement is your thing, don’t miss out on his invitation to you.

I want to read this


Want to challenge yourself to share your learning with the community? Join our growing team of columnists. Email saar@weareinbeta.com.


Replay: Rethinking Assessment - panel discussion with Heads Forward

Recently, we joined forces with Heads Forward - the Teach First headteachers’ network - to address the questions raised by the results fiasco.

Top left to bottom right, Will Mackintosh, Helen Ralston, Manny Botwe, Oli de Botton (Chair) and Ann Donaghy used the opportunity to challenge thinking about assessment and what we know to be right for our schools and for our students.

Check out the panel’s 10 recommendations, watch the replay and treat yourself to the recommended reading list. While you’re there, take a look at organisations leading the way in training teachers in assessment.

Sounds good to me


📝 First day back reflections: An Exec. Head’s perspective.

After weeks of planning, cleaning and reorganising over the summer, the anticipation of the first day back was almost too much to bear. Would distancing be stuck to? How would face masks work? How would the risk assessment go down? Was the chosen CPD focus right?

Christalla Jamil, Executive Headteacher of St Paul's & All Hallows' Academy, shares her reflections on the first day back: the one question she’s kept asking herself, the school’s CPD priorities and what remains to be seen.

Read how it went


🌐 Community news:

With so much up in the air, it’s reassuring to know you aren’t alone in your role.

Here’s a selection of questions the We Are In Beta community have been supporting each other to find answers to:

📊 What assessment CPD are you giving your staff this year?

📅 How are you planning to run open evenings virtually?

🌍 How do you use translation services to support EAL students and families?

🏆Are you using changing rooms?

🍳Are you running breakfast clubs?

💭 What is the one thing you want to learn from other school leaders?


💼 Job & opportunities

Nat Parnell, former Headteacher of Northampton Academy and the new Regional Director (North) at United Learning, has a great opportunity for you to make huge impact leading one of his schools in Sheffield.

Hit the button below to check out the role. If you’re hiring, post the roles you are recruiting for.

View + post jobs


Thanks for reading and playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon.

@NiallAlcock


If you were forwarded this email and learning about great schools doing great things is your bag…


🆕 New here? Catch up with previous editions, podcasts and webinars via the archive

️️❤️ If you’re excited about the summer, give us a ‘cheer’ below.

Rethinking assessment; 29 challenges on leaders' minds; How *you* can solve them.

Hello everyone,

I hope you’ve all had relaxing holidays, which weren’t ruined too much by the algorithm, like poor ol’ Gavin. If you haven’t seen *that* tweet of his, you really should; I’ve included it at the bottom for you.

I also want to say a massive congratulations to you and your students on their A-Level and GCSE results. And to everyone in primary schools, who set them on the right paths when they started school.

Here’s to 2020/21! 💪


This week:

🎥 Webinar: Rethinking Assessment - Panel Discussion With Heads Forward

🌐 Community News: 29 challenges being discussed by the community. Which ones are they prioritising?

🎧 Podcasts: Your story *will* inspire others. But what makes a good story?


🎥 Rethinking Assessment - Panel Discussion With Heads Forward

Join us and our partner Heads Forward* to discuss…

“Rethinking assessment”

📅 Tues 25th August (today)

🕕 6pm

💺 Chair: Oli de Botton (School 21)

🎤 Panel of school leaders: Helen Ralston (The Rise School), Ann Donaghy (Noel Baker Academy), Will Mackinstosh (The Forest Academy), Nick Edwards (Kensington Aldridge Academy), Manny Botwe (Tytherington School).

* Heads Forward is the network of serving Teach First Ambassador Heads.

Save my spot

Following the exams fiasco, assessment has never been higher on the agenda. The divide between school leaders and the DfE has never been more stark.

What opportunity do we have to think again about what and how we assess in schools? What can we change, lose or improve? How can we encourage dialogue with policy makers?

With a dual focus on the action we can take in our own schools, and how we unite our voice to drive change in national policy, the questions we’ll cover are:

  • What are our fears for the year ahead?

  • What has been laid bare about how current assessment policy and practice falls short of ensuring all students achieve the results they deserve?

  • What are we - as individuals, schools and a profession - going to do differently to avoid a new or repeated crisis in Summer 2021?

  • How can schools connect and collaborate with others to safeguard fairness and be confident in our own judgements?

  • What do Gavin Williamson and Nick Gibb need to hear and understand so the right decisions are made, at the right time and communicated effectively?

Save my spot


🌐 29 challenges being discussed by the community. Which ones are they prioritising?

We are on mission to connect schools and solve problems.

But which topics shall we research as the basis for webinars, articles, or resources to support you, our members, solve the challenges your schools are facing?

Here’s the list.

The handful of challenges consistently getting the most votes are fascinating.

See which ones top the list


🎧 Podcasts: Your story *will* inspire others. But what makes a good story?

Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals and moral compasses. They constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal. Storytelling is the most powerful way to put ideas into the world.

We are preparing for Season 4 of the We Are In Beta Podcast. It will be a return to the narrative format of Season 2. We are on the look out for diverse, powerful stories to tell.

You might not think you have a story to tell. But you do. Your experiences can and will help others overcome the challenges they face. And maybe even help you find your next team mates or collaborators…

Find out more


🙏 Big thanks to our friends at BAMEed, The MTPT Project, WomenEd, The New Schools Network, The Difference, The FEA, TeachFirst, Ambition Institute, The Teaching Schools Council and all of our previous guests for their support calling for submissions.


Thanks for reading and playing your part in making education the place we all know it can be.

Speak soon.

@NiallAlcock

Oh yeah, the tweet I promised earlier... Here it is.


If you found this useful and thought of a friend or colleague who would too…

Share

If you were forwarded this email and learning about great schools doing great things is your bag…


🆕 New here? Catch up with previous editions, podcasts and webinars via the archive

️️❤️ If you’re excited about the summer, give us a ‘cheer’ below.

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