What can we learn from what’s happening in schools? (2014)

Ranald Macdonald & Damian O’Reilly

Having moved from OFSTED’s ‘notice to improve’ in September 2011 to ‘good’ in September 2012, Highfields Secondary School in Matlock has put a significant emphasis on a range of approaches to enhancing the process and outcomes of learning and teaching. These include: promoting active learning and independence; meeting the needs of all students through differentiated teaching; sharing good practice; and using the outcomes of regular assessment to measure whether students are meeting expectations and intervening if they are not.

A particular initiative has been the introduction of Highfields Heroes, whereby students identify their progress within five Rs – Responsible, Resilient, Reasoning, Resourceful and Reflective.

In this session we will briefly introduce the five Rs and provide examples of the characteristics that students will demonstrate under each one.

We will also provide the cards that students use to provide evidence of their achievements as the basis of an approach which we believe will work equally well in promoting effective and challenging learning in Higher Education. Small teams will take a particular aspect of the five Rs to examine their own practice and the experiences of their students. In plenary we will explore the applicability of the approach to Higher Education.

Damian O’Reilly was previously Head of Music and is now Assistant Head Teacher (Teaching and Learning) at Highfields School, Matlock, an 11-18 community secondary school. He is leading many initiatives across the school including Highfields Heroes and the introduction of tablets in Year 7 (first year at secondary school) as a precursor to them being used across all years to support innovation in learning and teaching.

Ranald Macdonald was, before retirement in 2009, Professor of Academic Development at Sheffield Hallam University and remains an Emeritus Professor. He has been a Governor at Highfields School since 2012, is Chair of the Governors’ Curriculum Committee and is taking a role in the professional development of Governors who are being held to greater account under the new OFSTED framework for inspection.

We will also try to bring some students with us to facilitate the small group sessions but this may be too difficult.