Solihull teacher wins prestigious national award

Recognition for improving pupil achievements.

This week, a pioneering group of teachers working in schools in challenging contexts across the Midlands are to graduate from a prestigious leadership development programme ran by education charity, Teaching Leaders.

Teaching Leaders is a national charity that addresses educational disadvantage by developing middle leaders in schools in challenging contexts. Since 2008, Teaching Leaders has worked with over 450 schools nationally and this is the first event of its kind in the Midlands. On average, 60% of pupils in the Midlands schools these teachers work in, have been eligible for Free School Meals over the last six years (Ever 6 FSM), indicating that these schools are operating in areas of high social deprivation.

Pank Patel, Regional Schools Commissioner for the West Midlands, will address the graduating cohort during the ceremony at Birmingham Council House on Thursday evening. The Graduation will celebrate the hard work that the participants have done in their schools to improve the life chances of children over the two-year duration of the TL Fellows programme, and the impact they have had on the attainment of their pupils. The ceremony will be attended by the participants and their headteachers, as well as local and national influencers and supporters of Teaching Leaders.

Pank says: “It’s an honour to be addressing the first graduating cohort of Teaching Leaders Fellows in the Midlands. These individuals are pioneers who have embraced intensive leadership development, outside school time, in order to improve the life chances of the children in their schools. Great middle leaders are critical to school improvement. As leaders of teams of teachers, they can make a transformative impact on the quality of teaching so that every child, regardless of their background, can achieve to the best of their ability.”

Prizes, sponsored by Pearson, will also be awarded to those middle leaders who have shown outstanding commitment and made the greatest impact on pupil achievement. The two Pearson Prize for Pupil Impact winners are: Chris Byrne, Assistant Head, Ormiston Sandwell Community Academy (1st Prize) and Ellie Ellis, Head of RE, Smith’s Wood Sports College (2nd Prize).

Prize winner Ellie Ellis is Head of Religious Education at Smith’s Wood Sports College in Solihull. Ellie focused on increasing the numbers of students leaving school with a GCSE in Religious Education, whilst ensuring that grade quality was not compromised. In previous years, pupils had not continued with the qualification if they were likely to achieve a low grade – in 2013, only 77% of year 10 pupils completed the exam, and only 9% achieving grade B or above.

Ellie wanted to change this. Working with staff in her department to identify development areas and encourage a collaborative team approach to advancing pupil progress, Ellie designed new methods of assessment, pupil feedback and an innovative system of rewards that were implemented across the department to encourage pupil progress.

She says of the programme:“The Teaching Leaders Fellows programme has enabled me to focus and lead my team to support pupils in completing their qualification and give them the best chance of success. The programme offers unique training and coaching, with every session providing me with ideas I could take back and apply in the classroom the very next day. Being a part of the TL Fellows has made a real and measurable impact on my team and my pupils.”

By the end of the Teaching Leaders Fellows programme, Ellie’s pupils’ achievements had notably improved. This year, 83% of year 10 pupils completed the exam in 2014, with 50% of students achieving grade B or above.

CEO of Teaching Leaders, James Toop, says that he is “very proud of what the 2012 cohort has achieved. We have seen them challenge and develop their own leadership over the two years, and they will continue to develop themselves and others in the future through their learning on the Fellows programme. This is an exciting time to be part of the movement as there has been a real drive recently in the education sector for excellence in middle leadership.”

As this Cohort graduates, Teaching Leaders welcomes 380 new Fellows as they start their two year professional development in schools in challenging contexts across England.