This ‘hub and spoke’ initiative was set up in 2007 to provide a forum for secondary school mathematics departments across the whole of Leicester. Its aim was to enable mathematics teachers to work collaboratively to address CPD at a time when the future of the Local Authority was uncertain. It is mainly funded by the Education Improvement Partnership (an initiative of local Headteachers) but with some Local Authority funding. Soar Valley College, as the Specialist Mathematics and Computing College, sits at the hub leading this initiative, CPD activities have been many and varied, ranging from specialist training for NQTs and TAs, to conferences where over 80% of the city’s secondary mathematics teachers shared a wide range of in-service training on current issues.
Soar Valley College is an 11-16 community comprehensive college in the North Leicester with around1250 students from a wide range of backgrounds. It moved into new premises in 2009, and has been a specialist Mathematics and Computing College since 2004. In 2009 Ofsted highlighted the work of the mathematics department which ‘has been identified as a lead department in the local authority and facilitates the exchange and sharing of good practice in schools across the city’.
Babington Community Technology College
Beaumont Leys Specialist Science School
Crown Hills Community College
English Martyrs Catholic School
Fullhurst Community College
Hamilton Community College
Judgemeadow Community College
Moat Community College
New College Leicester
Riverside Business and Enterprise College
Rushey Mead Sports and Science College
Sir Jonathan North Community College
Soar Valley College
St Paul's Catholic School
The City of Leicester College
The Lancaster School and Specialist Sports College
The EIP (Education Improvement Partnership) was formed by Headteachers in Leicester to combine and share expertise in a combined effort to raise standards across the city. The hub and spoke model for the mathematics departments was set up initially to share good practice in intervention strategies, to address issues with performance across the city in GCSE. As the Mathematics and Computing College, Soar Valley became the hub of the project, and has continued to take a lead in the network through its director of specialism, Greg Holyland, and its AST, Lesley Hall, as well as Shane Elsworth, the AST from Lancaster Boys School. Soar Valley also employed a Hub coordinator in the academic year 2009/10, who facilitated all the activities of the group.
The initial impetus was to improve GCSE results, and reduce variation across the city, and this has remained a key issue, but subsequently further CPD initiatives have been added to continue the sharing of good practice in other areas, such as the new GCSE courses, meaningful assessment and other current issues.
Leadership and Management
As the hub, Soar Valley has been leading the project from its inception. Leadership has moved from the director of specialism, through to a Hub Coordinator, and currently is under the direction of two ASTs, Lesley Hall from Soar Valley, and Shane Elsworth from Lancaster Boys School. The steering group that drives the project is broadened to include three other heads of mathematics from the city.
In the first phase of this collaboration, the group was able to compare conditions in their different schools in order to inform a rigorous discussion of the best methods of intervention. Their first conference was focused on intervention strategies.
As the agenda broadened out, further issues were addressed, including: the best use of APP to provide meaningful assessment; the STEM agenda; the introduction of the new GCSE. The power of working together encouraged a high proportion of schools to adopt the same specification, so that they could benefit fully from shared planning. The second conference provided more general INSET with workshops on: data management; APP; the new Ofsted inspection system; and ICT. There was a mixture of outside speakers and Leicester contributions. It has been a deliberate policy to use teachers from within the network to deliver sessions whenever possible. Twilight sessions have been held for NQTs and TAs.
As well as the CPD meetings, the hub has provided an effective lobbying body to improve the conditions of mathematics departments, providing additional weight to negotiations between them and senior leadership teams over staffing, rooming, timetabling and resources. This support from the hub has extended into frequent conversations with heads of mathematics seeking support, whether with routine queries and clarifications, or crisis counselling, for example over staffing problems. These open channels of communication have ensured that the AST, Lesley Hall, is known across the city, and that her time is used very effectively.
The main funding for the Hub and Spoke comes from the EIP. This funding is used to pay teachers a small sum to attend meetings, and conferences, as well as to cover the costs of holding a working weekend at a local hotel. Some funding has also come from the Local Authority from their budget for ‘Transforming Leicester’s Learning’.
Because the model touches on all the schools in the city, dissemination locally is by the involvement of all the heads of department, who can ‘trickle down’ from the Hub meetings, and share and drive developments in their own schools. This is to be backed up by further development of a Hub weblog, as well as further conferences.
Follow up activities
The mathematics results in the city have shown a steady year-on-year rise since the hub and spoke began work. The steering committee has been able to move on from the original focus on intervention to address other aspects of improving teaching and learning. As well as maintaining the successful programme of network meetings, two main projects are taking place in the Autumn Term, 2010. In order to support the introduction of Functional Mathematics, the Head of Mathematics at New College is delivering INSET using the Cre8te materials. A second project is a collaboration between the ASTs at Soar Valley and Lancaster Boys, along with Judgemeadow and Babington Schools, to develop the Level Ladders using the ACTIVexpression handsets, to give pupils and teachers an easy and immediate snapshot of progress.
The high attendance figures (at least 80% of schools represented at all network meetings, and all schools having attended at least one network meeting) and the success of the conferences, suggest that this project is very successfully meeting the needs of the City’s mathematics teachers.
Key Influential Factors:
- The Hub and Spoke was set up to meet a particular, shared need to identify CPD to help raise pupils’ achievement at KS4
- A steering group has extended the organising capacity but maintained a streamlined, relevant and efficient planning process
- Using local expertise, as well as bringing in outside contributors, has helped deliver the message of collaboration
- By paying teachers to attend meetings and conferences, their contribution to meetings has been both recognised and rewarded
- The Hub has provided a lobbying power to represent mathematics departments to their senior leadership teams
- The role of the ASTs has been enhanced by their involvement in Hub planning, as well as raising their profile across the city through participation in networks and conferences.
For further information contact:
Greg Holyland GHolyland@soarvalley.leicester.sch.uk