Kenilworth Project Evaluation
Enquiry School Evaluation Questions
Impact on Young people
What have been the key impacts on the attitude to learning of the young people who have taken part in this project? Do you have any evidence of this?
This project focussed on raising achievement through the development of student leadership and student voice in Kenilworth School. Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher) and Mr H Abbott (HT) were enthusiastic and delighted with the many positive changes in attitude to learning that they perceived in all the students that were most involved in the project: “YF, CB and many of the other students in this project group have improved their behaviour and their attitude towards learning tremendously. We have observed that they have taken on a completely new responsibility for their own learning.” Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher).
The school uses ‘Behaviour for Learning’ (BfL) to track and monitor individual students behaviour at school. Two students in the project group showed significant improvements in behaviour over the period of project. One student (YF) made the greatest progress of any student in Year 10, (gaining a score of +40). A second student (CB) made a gain of +20, making the highest gain of any female in year 10.
“Our students have been challenged in so many ways and with the support of Jay Gardiner, our creative partner - they have risen to the challenge and achieved far more than their teachers, or they themselves thought they were ever capable of. As a direct result of this project we have seen that the confidence of many of the students has absolutely shot through the roof!” Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher).
“During the Cross Curriculum Day that the Y10 project group planned, organised and led they produced a day of really interesting and challenging learning for Y9 - with 4 different lessons designed and researched entirely by the students. The project group were amazed and delighted at how the younger students ‘hung on their every word’.” “They followed up with a SWAT analysis and the comments they made were very insightful about how they started to see the learning process from a different viewpoint - they had obviously all gained a real appreciation of the need to be resilient, flexible and resourceful as they experienced at first hand things activities do not always go to plan and also how difficult it was to provide motivation and maintain students’ interest throughout the whole school day - especially in the afternoon sessions.”
After the success of the Curriculum Day, the project group decided they wanted to present their new knowledge and their emerging ideas about learning to SLT. They planned and led a practical learning experience for SLT that forcefully and clearly illustrated exactly what they disliked about much of the current teaching at the school. They also challenged and presented their own ideas for a different classroom layout of desks, new ideas for student seating plans, and suggested different ways that teachers could help individuals and small groups of students that needed extra help during the lesson, without the need for the disruption of the whole classes learning. They challenged the use of worksheets and made clear their desire for more practical activities to enhance learning.
What have been the key impacts on the creative skill development of the young people who have taken part in the project? Do you have any evidence of this?
Increased team working and organisational skills - the curriculum day and also the Business Breakfast for the school’s business partners required huge amounts of preparation and organisation. The students had to work well together and individually under pressure of tight time schedules and with huge expectation of the creative partner and the school as these events were so high profile. Some of the students that had always been disorganised previously were seen creating numerous spreadsheets, timetables, photocopying documents and student list calling meetings to disseminate information and sort the team duties out and they were seen by everyone to take responsibility for booking rooms and resources very seriously.
Students were seen to develop better persuasion and communication skills - they needed to ask SLT for permission to access resources and it was noted that they gained new skills at communicating and developing reasoned arguments in order for school resources to be made available for their use. The staff were surprised at how focussed the students were at how a very clear and unified and serious message was being transmitted by the student project team.
What have been the key areas of impact on attainment in subject areas and beyond of the young people who have taken part in the project? Do you have any evidence of this?
One teacher noted a real change in two of the students from the project group. In the afternoon (YF) and (S) would generally come into a lesson and’ just let it just pass by them’ - but once they were involved in the project with Jay Gardiner, she noticed that they started to come into her class with a far more positive ‘ready to work’ attitude. She is expecting better exam results for these students as a result of this new enthusiasm for learning in her subject area (Geography).
Increased motivation - One boy from the project group was off school ill but still a request came in from his mother that he wanted to carry on the work at home to plan and deliver the Curriculum Day.
Another boy (YF) was seen to try far harder in PE - running the 15,000m - he made his best time ever and said after the race that he had told himself constantly during the run that ‘he could do it’!
Impact on Teachers
What have been the key impacts on the learning of your teachers and other school staff who have taken part in the project? Do you have any evidence of this?
Following the presentation to SLT, the project group went on to plan and present to the wider staff - inviting all staff to attend two separate twilight meetings. They were determined to share with their teachers how they had decided they wanted their learning to be organised. These CPD sessions were well attended by staff, more than 40 teachers (out of a total of 120 attended).
Following the formal sessions the students were amazed that their teachers stayed on to question and seek out the opinions of the students for more than 30 minutes after each meeting. They were also delighted that the student’s ideas for new classroom layout were tried out immediately by several of their teachers in subsequent lessons. Lots of comments were made by the staff to the Deputy Head saying how much they had enjoyed and had been inspired by the CPD sessions delivered by the students and that they wanted to involve students in the planning of their lessons more.
“I don’t think it is too strong to say that this project has caused ‘a positive earthquake’ at the school and the tremors are still going on! It has been the catalyst for many serious and meaningful discussions between students and teachers about learning. It has also created a new type of student leadership - one that is not limited to the sorts of things traditionally discussed by school councils – for example discussions are not confined to deciding the colour of toilet walls or sorting out issues of organisation of the dining room! ” Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher).
“I am delighted that this project has enabled a forceful and high profile group of students to find a new positive direction for their energies and they have started to lead and challenge their teachers about many aspects of their own teaching and learning. They are now starting to collaborate and work better together to find new ways to learn that meet the particular needs and interests of the students.”
“Some of our teachers are very successful at teaching motivated and high achieving students, but struggle to engage their more challenging students or those that are not high achievers. This project has highlighted to all the staff that they need to collaborate more with their students if they are to find new and different ways to engage, motivate and communicate in a really meaningful way. Also, staff have suddenly seen that our students themselves present us with a valuable resource to develop these new skills and ways of working.” Mr H Abbott (Head Teacher)
One teacher who at first was reticent about allowing students to miss her class apologised publically to the students and practitioner when she saw the effort, motivation and quality of work they were doing. She also asked if it would be possible for Jay Gardiner to organise more CPD for staff using the students to lead the learning about ICT as she had become aware of their skills.
“This project has reminded me of my beliefs that I had when I first started teaching –that it is vital to get to know students as individuals and create exciting challenges where they can achieve and grow a hunger to do more...that education is not just about targets and exam results!” ” Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher).
“This is tying in with the schools use of the ‘Accelerated Learning Cycle’ which requires lessons to Connect - Activate - Demonstrate - Consolidate. Students have become more aware of it though the project and as a result staff are feeling there is more of an onus to make sure they use it.” ” Matthew Snape (Deputy Head Teacher).
The profile of this project has been very high in the school –with many teachers, students and parents being involved. A short article about the project has also been included in the newsletter that is sent to all parents.
What have been the key impacts on the learning of the creative practitioners who have taken part in the project? Do you have any evidence of this?
“Jay is already such a good practitioner it’s hard to see where he can improve. I think though that working in this very high achieving school has presented him with a different set of challenges....
I think he has had to listen very carefully to the teachers and the students and find ways innovative of incorporating all of our ideas.”
What are your assessments on the quality of the different aspects of the project?
The project idea - its relevance and link to issues in the School Improvement/Development Plan, Self-Evaluation Form or Creative School Development Framework and the level of challenge presented by the project to the young people involved
This project has presented a very high level of challenge and has been tied closely to the SIP and SDP. The first 3 targets our SDP are:
1.To develop leadership and accountability
2.To further develop cohesive teamwork in school and in the wider community, in partnership with Trust; University of Warwick and Thomas Vale construction, with a specific focus on sustainability ( Thomas Vale) and innovative teaching and learning (University of Warwick)
3. To improve tracking of students’ progress and develop early intervention for underachieving students, particularly in key stage 3 and in the sixth form.
This project has addressed these three points through the student led Business Breakfast meeting, student presentations to SLT, student led CPD for teachers and a through the Curriculum Day . The SDP targets the need to engage further with a group of challenging students that were at risk of becoming disaffected in Year 10 and this has worked extremely well.
The enhanced CPD that has been provided as part of this project has enabled the remit of many staff to be broadened and give a better sense of teamwork and belonging amongst a large and at times, geographically distant staff. This project has enhanced the school’s already challenging targets and helped many underachieving students to shine and exceed their own personal academic and behavioural targets.
The ability of the creative practitioner to communicate effectively with both teachers and young people.
Jay Gardiner has proved himself beyond all our expectations. He has a natural affinity and passion and his ability to listen understand and communicated with teachers and students have been exemplary. As an example of this - at an early stage of the project a difficult situation arose. A girl (CB) that was supposed to be part of the group had to miss a session because she had refused to give up her mobile phone after being caught using it in a lesson. The situation escalated and the creative partner Jay was asked if he could talk to her. He listened carefully to her emotional outburst but then firmly and calmly explained that the school could not go back on the ‘consequence punishment’ and that he too had to abide by the rules of the school. From this point on the Deputy Head said she developed a new understanding of the need to work within the rules. This was seen as a real turning point for this particular student. She went on to show huge improvement in her behaviour at school - tracked by BfL and gained 20+ points so that her behaviour was one of the most improved in her year group. Following the CPD session for teachers - she was praised for her communication skills and several teachers approached her and complimented her and told her she would make a great teacher!
The language/professional vocabulary, skills, qualities, values and resources contributed by the creative practitioners. Jay brought many new and valuable ideas to the school. We were particularly impressed by the motivational work he did at the beginning of the project and introduced the school to an excellent template he used that had been produced by the Pacific Institute”.
This was an excellent resource – a reflective and esteem building programme. The school wants the Year 10 students to use this with the Year 9 students in future.
The organisational arrangements - timekeeping, conduct of meetings, the provision of appropriate pastoral care and due attention to safeguarding young people. Jay was always on time bar one occasion but even then he contacted us and let us know he was going to be late. He conducted meetings with students and staff appropriately and has become known throughout the schools as a sound and valued partner. He supported the young people really well and is acutely aware of their emotional and physical safety and wellbeing at all times.
The relationship building and communication between all project partners and participants was outstanding. The creative partner Jay brought many fantastic new ideas and considerable skill to the project. He had a good understanding of the organisation of the school and worked well with all different partners.
The collaboration - was it a joint project, equally authored, owned and driven?
The project was originally authored by the Deputy Head working with the Creative agent - but as soon as the Creative partner came on board he worked with the students to find a direction of travel that would suit them . The students very quickly took ownership of the project - driving it to new heights and to new levels of achievement not anticipated. Many of the ideas that followed on from the success of the Business Breakfast came entirely from the students. The decision to present to SLT, the student led CPD for teachers and the Curriculum Day all came from the students. They led and drove the direction of the project.
The young people's involvement as co-constructors of learning.
This project has all been about co-construction of learning. The young people have absolutely led the learning with the support and help of the practitioner and teachers. Many of the ideas for the events have come from the students. Following the Business Breakfast it was the students who decided they wanted to talk to SLT and then following that they decide they wanted to deliver 2 CPD sessions for their teachers and deliver a Curriculum Day teaching for year 9.
What are your thoughts on distance travelled and sustainability?
This project has started us off a new and exciting journey where we have started to really value the power and of student voice. Many of the teachers have been astonished at how a group of students - some who previously have not been the most engaged or motivated - have really stepped up to some really challenging tasks. They have achieved far more than we, or they, ever anticipated.
The students have recognised that they have a responsibility and a measure of control for their own learning and they have discovered that they are able to achieve where they have not had the opportunity to do so before - and in a very high profile way that is both valued and recognised by the school.
For teachers there has been a huge leap forwards to see students can be a source of inspiration and also a valuable resource to tap into and use. We think we are now on the start of a new journey of collaboration with students that before were often seen as challenging and unable to fit in to the school ethos.
Sustainability - there are currently plans to use the Year 10’s to actively participate and help lead the learning for the Year 9 s. Year 9 will be encouraged also to choose adults to support them in this venture. We need to ensure we have a substitute for Jay and also to calendar events and earmark time and resources to enable it to happen. Looking back we now realise that we started off with a narrow focus - looking to engage a group of boys that were in danger of becoming disaffected - it has broadened to bring in a much broader cross section of students and encompass lots of different challenges. This broadening has been pushed and led by the students themselves. We have seen students taking ownership of the co-construction of learning on the school. We originally thought that there would be a lot of objections from staff - we have been surprised and pleased at the willingness of staff to really get involved and embrace new ideas. “Our challenge now is to continue to develop a model that we can use to sustain our students as leaders of learning!”
Distance Travelled and sustainability
Was the enquiry question at the heart of the project and was it answered? What further questions have emerged?
Our enquiry question was: ‘How can a creative approach that places students as leaders of learning raise the engagement and achievement of a group of Year 10 students?” This project has absolutely proved that students can lead their own leading and get more involved in leading the learning of their fellow students too. The collaboration between students and teachers has improved. The young people are more engaged in taking responsibility for their own learning and through the high profile events they have run successfully they are seen to have achieved. Many of the teachers are commenting that they are seeing the value of working closely with the students to involve them in the planning of lessons. Teachers have been seen to have tried out the seating plans and suggested ways of dealing with individual students need for further help in the classroom as suggested by the students. Some teachers have also have requested more CPD of the type trialled in this project.
Were there any unexpected outcomes from this project?
Students delivering CPD to the staff! We never envisaged that this would be even a possibility. This initiative came directly from the students and supported and facilitated by the creative practitioner and the school. This has become one of the most valuable elements of the project and one that will ensure its sustainability in the school.
We have been amazed at the change in one particular student (C.B) who before the project was would often be described by her teachers as ‘challenging, difficult, headstrong, feisty, difficult to control and engage. During this project all her character traits have been channelled into a far more positive direction. Teachers have now recognised that she has massively strong leadership qualities of strength, courage, determination. She is now seen as a natural leader and a fantastic communicator. Not only is she seen differently and she now evidently sees herself very differently too! She has gained a huge amount of self esteem and self confidence from this work. She stood confidently in front of a class leading the learning, organising everybody, displaying bags of energy, motivation and drive showed she has great interpersonal skills too. This project has provided a turning point for this student that could potentially be life changing! Matt Snape (Deputy Head)
How has the project helped the school develop sustainable and embedded creative learning?
This project helped the school have an experience that was immensely valuable to a particular group of students. It has kick started us into realising that all students have so much more to give and they have a huge capacity to achieve! A large body of the staff are now ready and willing to share this model of work again and explore new ways of collaborating with students to ensure they engage well with them and find ways of working that are more enjoyable, more practical and more suited to individual learning styles. There are plans now in place for the current year 10 students to be working with Year 9 students - to build motivation, create challenges and assist them to organise themselves to plan, lead and deliver learning.
We also intend to continue with students talking directly to SLT and they will be an integral part of our CPD programme for teachers.
No longer needed
In what ways did the project make a specific contribution to the Every Child Matters outcomes?
Enjoy and achieve – this project has enabled every student to achieve in a very public way. They have all enjoyed the experience and their confidence and self esteem has been boosted.
Make a positive contribution – Every student has been enabled to make a positive contribution to their own learning and that of other student and most importantly their teachers’ learning. This project has made a valuable contribution to the school as a whole.
What would you do differently next time?
We would try to get more staff involved at the very beginning - and we recognise that we need to give the staff time to do this - so we would have timetabled time and included interaction into a calendar of events. We would also have allocated extra school funds. On reflection we think that we should have got parents involved more as they too could have been a valuable resource. We should also have planned to collect more evidence that shows impact - however this is difficult when we were not sure of the direction of travel of the project and not entirely sure of the sort of impact we might achieve .e.g. There were emails of comments made by teacher that have not been collected - these could have been useful source of information.
What do you intend to do next?
Both the students and staff are keen to continue this sort of work - there are plans in place for Year 9 students to get involved with Yr 10.