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Sharing good practice is key for more success; Working together is helping schools improve says Ty Golding, head teacher of Ysgol y Draig in Llantwit Major.

WE CURRENTLY find ourselves in an education moment. A moment of systemic reform; improvements that will ultimately permeate and impact upon every detail of our Welsh education system.

This reform isn't the typical top down approach that we have experienced previously. There is a clear and common message from all directions: this is a genuine opportunity for our profession to inform and steer both the process and content of our new curriculum.

As a head teacher within the Central South Wales Challenge I saw this was an obvious and logical next step with which to engage our profession through ownership of change.

I believe this has been less of a "leap of faith" for me as an outcome of my involvement in the Central South Wales Challenge (CSWC).

From the outset, the CSWC raised some important questions. How exactly does our school, fit into a self-improving school system? Is it about a self-improving school system or a system comprising of selfimproving schools? You could argue that they are one and the same but for me the difference goes beyond any semantic subtleties.

At the risk of over simplifying it, I see it as the difference between top down structures and bottom up influence. As such, they aren't mutually exclusive and each needs the other to improve the chances of success.

The Central South Consortium provided us, the schools, with the macro model for change, in turn we have built our own capacity to deliver high quality school to school support and training. School to school working; improving schools sharing their experiences and skills to help improve other schools.

My initial venture with the CSWC was an extension of what I already knew and what I was already doing. Having already been part of an active and successful network of schools for a number of years.

By becoming a HUB network, the CSWC allowed us a unique opportunity to build upon these experiences, formalise our existing relationships and share our good practice both in a more strategic way and to a much broader professional audience.

As a group of four schools we were able to establish a genuinely collaborative and sustainable model of delivering training and sharing good practice.

Being a HUB network has been so much more than delivery, it has been a means by which my team and I have engaged with a large number of professional colleagues from a diverse range of schools, gained invaluable ideas, resources and relationships that previously may have not been so readily available.

Most recently I have been working in a much more focussed and tailored way as part of the Pathfinder initiative. As a recently amalgamated school we have been working closely alongside another school which has been through similar circumstances with a great deal of their own success.

We have partnered our senior leaders with those in our Pathfinder school with the aim of developing strategies to improve consistency and progression. This has been an invaluable process in terms of building capacity for us as a school leadership team.

In being partnered alongside another school with similarities in circumstance we have been able to assimilate and apply any new strategies with great efficiency.

This detailed and internally focussed work is in stark contrast to the broad and outward nature of those experiences as part of the HUB school network.

For myself there isn't a secret to the outcomes of the CSWC. It continues to be about providing us as head teachers the most appropriate conditions for our schools to collaborate in ways that are applicable to both our own context and specific school improvement agendas.

Key to the continued success is using the evidence of impact from these collaborations to promote what has been successful both with the regional consortia and to other schools.

In this way the self-improving school system ie the infrastructure, can be continually updated to meet the evolving demands and concurrently we in self-improving schools can evaluate how best we are able to use these outcomes to have an impact upon our own school's performance.


Ty Golding, head teacher at Ysgol Y Ddraig, Llantwit Major
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jun 29, 2017
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