Gloucestershire LA EiML Case Studies: School A
Sarah Cartmell is subject leader at a semi-rural 11-16 mixed comprehensive school with about 1 050 pupils on roll. At the time of the network meeting which first introduced the EiML materials she was acting subject leader for the department of seven teachers which included a newly qualified teacher, an acting second in department, one person on a temporary contract and the former subject leader who was now part-time and taught in a different part of the school. After several months in this transitional phase, Sarah was appointed permanently.
In that time Sarah decided it was appropriate to focus on the ‘Vision and Aims’ Key Element and the Core Responsibility of ‘Developing a common purpose and shared culture’. We asked Sarah a few questions about her experience of using the EiML materials:
GM: How were the materials used?
SC: I first came across the EiML materials through the network for new subject leaders that was being run in Gloucestershire. We had the opportunity to review them in some depth as a group of relatively inexperienced subject leaders and consider which aspects of them could be of use in our own settings. I also benefited from onsite support through the Gloucestershire Maths Advisory Team and was able to identify key points for development in my school and work on them with this assistance.
GM: What did you choose as a focus and why?
SC: I felt that there had been little action to move the department forward over the past few years and that there was a real need to give the members of the department an opportunity to input and feel valued. Reading through the EiML materials made me realise that focussing on ‘Developing a common purpose and shared culture’ and ‘Vision and Aims’ was an absolute necessity.
GM: What actions did you take?
SC: The case studies and stories of change provide some thought-provoking ideas relating to identifying where you are now, and how you can move forward from that point. After careful consideration of these I decided to use the idea of an informal approach which would build a picture of the team’s philosophy about the teaching and learning of mathematics. I created some posters which were placed on the wall of the dedicated mathematics staffroom, and teachers were asked to contribute ideas by writing on them over a set period of time. I then collated these, and the consequent vision for mathematics at the school forms the basis for the departmental handbook which is now under development.
GM: What is the current situation?
SC: The departmental handbook has been produced in draft form and is due to be distributed amongst staff for their feedback. Whilst this is the direct result of our work on developing a common vision and shared culture their have been other beneficial consequences of these discussions; for example, the renewed Year 7 scheme of work and the improvement in the information provided to GCSE students about ‘what a grade looks like’.