The life of a School Development Lead

Blog: Liane Tylee , Primary Development Lead | Posted: 14/10/14
The life of a School Development Lead
The life of a Development Lead is an ironic one.  As teachers, the dawn of a new academic year led to sleepless nights and mad dash preparations to make sure everything was perfect for the arrival of our new class. As a Development Lead, the arrival of September heralds sleepless nights due to the excitement of getting stuck into school visits.

When schools sign up to the Mathematics Mastery programme they not only gain access to our online toolkit with a wealth of professional development opportunities  including planning guides, online forums, articles, tutorials and much more, but they are also assigned a dedicated Development Lead for the whole year.

As well as supporting through email and phone calls, the most valuable part of our role is the face to face development visits that schools receive twice a year; once in the Autumn term and once in Spring.

These School Development Visits are designed to give personalised, tailored support to schools to ensure they are implementing the programme accurately. Maths Leads and Headteachers report that they find the interaction with a Development Lead invaluable to supporting them and it is also what makes Mathematics Mastery such a unique programme, alongside the ongoing professional development. It is also our favourite aspect of the job, as we get to visit a variety of schools, observe excellent practice, build up strong relationships as well as see pupils engaged and enthused with their maths learning.

Each Development Lead will spend time before their visit ensuring we know all there is to know about a school, for example, how many form entry the school is and the key development points from the most recent OFSTED report. We also ask that before the visit, all teachers following the Mathematics Mastery programme complete a pre-visit questionnaire. We use all of this information to ensure that when we arrive at the school, we know exactly what the needs are so we can focus on them for that particular visit, as well as bring along any resources that we feel would be helpful.

During the visit we always ask to meet with the headteacher. For us, this is a vital part of the development day as it allows us to ensure that the Senior Leadership team fully understand and are on board with the principles of Mathematics Mastery.  It also gives them an opportunity to share their opinion on how it is all going and ask for specific advice on leading the programme. Effective leadership of Mathematics Mastery begins with the headteacher’s vision for their school and this part of the visit is essential to ensure a cohesive message is being given to all staff.

On both visits, the Development Lead will co-observe a Mathematics Mastery lesson. In the Autumn term, the MMSL (Mathematics Mastery School Lead) will be teaching Mathematics Mastery once a week and we observe them alongside the headteacher. Our rationale for this is our belief that, in order for an MMSL to effectively lead on a new initiative, they need to have experience of teaching it and to have engaged in the planning process. Co-observing with the headteacher also ensures that they are fully aware of what a successful Maths Mastery lesson will look like in practice.  In the Spring term the MMSL will co-observe a Maths Mastery lesson with the Development Lead. This time the aim is to develop the MMSL’s skills and confidence in evaluating the success of a Maths Mastery lesson so that they can continue to effectively lead it and develop the practice of their team.

The final part of a SDV involves action planning. The MMSL and Development Lead will sit down and discuss in an open and honest manner how the provision for Mathematics Mastery is impacting on pupil achievement. As a programme we believe in evaluating our own practice and we work closely with schools to do the same.  Actions are set based upon the observation, as well as the information collected by the Development Lead prior to the visit and anything that may arise during the discussion with the MMSL. This discussion should be the most valuable part of the visit as it allows schools to focus on specific areas for development as well as often allaying any concerns schools may have. Schools often feel a lot happier after their first visit and they know what they are doing well and where they need to improve.

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