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Dedication to Excellence
Start date: Jun 1, 2016, End date: May 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

Saint Gabriel's College is a small, inclusive Church of England secondary school in a deprived area of South London, serving an international community, mainly from West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. Our students are very multicultural but have little experience or understanding of what it means to be part of Europe. Our principal visited the municipality of Jarfalla, Sweden in 2013 and in January 2015 we hosted the headteacher Johan Nystrom Hjertvinge and colleagues from Viksjöskolanon a visit to Saint Gabriel's College, which was supported by the local authority international officer. At that visit we put together plans for a joint project which can improve professional practice in teaching and learning between the two schools.Through self-evaluation and external monitoring (Ofsted), Saint Gabriel's College has identified areas for development in teaching and learning. These areas have been built into the schools development plan and various strategies have been initiated throughout this year to address ways in which teachers can develop new teaching methods. This 'Dedication to Excellence' project address just one aspect of the development plan, developing international links in order to develop the quality of teaching. The areas we would like to address are as follows:Differentiation in the mixed-ability classroom - The school has recently changed from setting to mixed ability for key stage 3. Staff feedback have highlighted that there is a need for staff to develop strategies of teaching mixed ability as this is something they feel they struggle with.Challenge for higher ability learners - The demographic of pupil applying for Saint Gabriel's College is changing. Whereas previously pupils were less able (Low band and middle band) they are now more able in Year 7. It is essential our teachers are skilled enough to address this. Ofsted feedback, Lesson observations from the senior leaders and also data analysis has highlighted this as a major area for improvement. Assessment - Nationally, levels no longer exist and schools are required to create their own strategies to assess learners understanding. Citizenship (including citizenship of the EU) - Whilst many of the students at Saint Gabriel's come from across the world, mainly from West Africa and the Caribbean, they have very little understanding of what it means to be a member of of the European Union. Likewise many staff have little experience of engagement with the EU. Curriculum Improvements - The government have recently overhauled the curriculum for 2016 - 2017. These are now very loose and faculties are responsible for the first time, for ensuring the curriculum meets the needs of all pupils (I.e. that it is broad and balanced) and that it is engaging and inspirational.Activities will include: - Staff to shadowed subject teachers in their subjects (develop teaching pedagogy/subject knowledge/teaching styles) - Staff to take part in lessons, where language isn't a barrier (develop teaching tools) - Staff to exchange resources (develop the curriculum) - Staff to meet with the leadership team and subject teachers to discuss the structure and how they lead learning (develop leadership and to develop the curriculum) - Staff to take part in day to day school life (develop knowledge of culture)Proficiency in the key teaching areas will be measured through a staff questionnaire before the participant goes, and again after the training has been delivered on their return. Improvement in the quality of teaching will be measured through lesson observations and learning walk. Improvements to the curriculum will be measured from pupil questionnaires and also from faculty reviews, conducted by the leadership team. Pupil progress will be measured through in-year academic progress through the five Tracking Cycles which take place each year. The impact of the European citizenship dimension will be measured through student participation in the e-Twinning relationship and through assessment of their knowledge, enthusiasm and understanding of the European Union in Citizenship lessons. Cluster groups will collaborate to come up with a way to measure the impact of the strategy that they chose to implement.Moving forward, future strategies will include spreading our findings to ensure the local community benefit. We will disseminate information across our local cluster groups by sharing reports, sharing recommendations and strategies staff devised, overseeing the implementation of strategies in local schools, inviting teachers in the cluster to observe the participants who went to Sweden once they are implementing the best practice learned in their own lessons, ensuring teachers observe other teachers in the cluster once they have adopted and embedded some of the strategies.
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