Raising Standards in Teaching – Willowbrook Primary School

Area of focus: Improving the quality of teaching

School(s) or partnership name: Willowbrook Primary School

Name of lead person: Steve Davies

Role of lead person: Headteacher

Lead person e-mail address: stdavies@cardiff.gov.uk

Lead person telephone number: 029 2079 5965

Local Authority: Cardiff

Phase(s): Foundation Phase and key stage 2


Context and background to case study

Willowbrook Primary School is located in St Mellons in Cardiff.  There are currently 352 full time and 64 part time pupils on roll.

The school’s last inspection was in November 2013. The school was judged to be good in all areas.   Teaching was judged to be good.

The results of the teaching observations in July 2016 were excellent, 26%: good: 63% and 11%: adequate.  As senior leaders we decided to focus on ensuring all of our teaching was either good or excellent.


Nature of strategy or activity

After discussions with staff a triad system was implemented.  These observations were scheduled in conjunction with lesson/session observations as part of our Performance Management process.

The triad groups were planned to encourage the sharing of good practice by grouping together teachers in the same phase.  Groups included at least one excellent practitioner; careful consideration was given to the balance of the groups.  A session observation takes place within the triad every term and staff are encouraged to reflect on their own practice whilst observing the practice of others.  There is no judgement linked to the observations within the triads, they were developed to be inclusive and are designed to improve practice based on a model of sharing good practice.

To further develop our understanding of teaching standards and to better analyse and target our CPD in the areas which would have the strongest impact we implemented a system to track and monitor our strengths or weaknesses within teaching.  Two members of our Senior Leaders attended a twilight session looking at the Teaching Continua (Collective Learning); this resource was considered by the SLT and was adopted in the autumn term of this academic year.  All teaching staff completed a self-assessment against the whole continua as a starting point for deciding which area of teaching and learning to focus on.

We have completed one area of focus from the teaching and learning strand and from this have agreed the second strand which staff are currently working on.


Impact on provision, teaching and learning and/or leadership

The impact of these initiatives has been that all teaching was judged either good or excellent in the last round of Performance Management observations.

All teachers in Willowbrook aspire to be excellent and the Continua has enabled staff to see clearly what they need to do to be judged excellent.  This has led to more focused teaching and a clearer understanding of teaching standards.

Improving teaching is a priority in our school improvement plan; we have linked this to developing our approach to The Donaldson Report.  We have considered Donaldson’s four purposes and developed our schemes of work to prioritise these aspects of teaching and learning.  Using the triads and the Continua has enabled teachers to consider their creativity whilst ensuring a focus on standards and quality teaching.

As part of the triads teachers are encouraged to complete anonymised evaluation forms – all the feedback has been positive.  Teachers have particularly focused on the positives of observing a range of pedagogies which could be implemented in their class.

For next year’s triads we will consider changing the mix of the groups to develop cross phase/year groups.  From the feedback this was an area that many staff felt could further develop their pedagogy.

The focus on teaching is improving standards within teaching across the school.  We feel the strategies have had a positive impact and we will continue to develop the use of the triads and the Continua to ensure the best outcomes for the pupils in our school.

As the Continua for teachers has had a positive impact on provision, we are considering using the Continua for Teaching Assistants to support our drive to improve teaching and learning across all aspects of the school.

The follow-up results of the teaching observations carried out in November 2016 and January 2017 showed the impact of the whole-school initiatives: excellent: 52% and good: 48%.


Where is the effective practice recognised?

  • Consortium Challenge Adviser
  • SIG5 Group