Last year, the heads from 6 primary schools in our cluster decided that we would really go for the mastery model and invest time to get things right. We organised a staff meeting every term involving all 120 teaching staff. In every one we fed a bit of what Shanghai teaching is all about --a technique or an aspect. We’ve looked at variation and intelligent practice, keeping the whole class together and how to stretch the ‘faster graspers’ by going deeper, as well as elements of subject knowledge. After the termly input, teachers in the same year groups went away together and planned for the term ahead and then tried things out in their own schools. At the next meeting, they were able to come back and evaluate how things had gone before another idea was introduced.
One of the most powerful things at these sessions was the impact of the collaboration between year group colleagues. The teachers now know their colleagues really well and they’ve formed their own networks. This year we’ve linked new assessment procedures to our new expectations for teaching: moderating and looking at work together to unpick how children learn and their misconceptions through three twilight sessions early in the autumn term. Again the impact has been high.
In the spring term last year, we also decided that across all schools we’d change the structure, the depth and the length of teaching blocks. For example we decided to spend a whole term on place value as without this, many of the building blocks for later work were impossible. We also spent a whole term on addition / subtraction in every year group in each school. The improvement has been significant and standards are rising rapidly, particularly for those children who were traditionally classed as ‘lower ability’. The collaboration has been a key part of the success and working together has been an efficient use of time and resources.