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PEOPLE ARE THE MOST PRECIOUS RESOURCE - WINDSOR ACADEMY TRUST’S APPROACH TO DEVELOPING ITS STAFF

Windsor Academy Trust (WAT) has developed exceptional teachers, leaders and professional services staff in schools for over a decade.

 

They have an excellent reputation for delivering outstanding and innovative professional development across the Midlands and beyond. 

  

The Trust strives to be an employer of choice, and their sector-leading approach features as a case study in Sir David Carter and Laura McInerney’s book, Leading Academy Trusts: Why some fail, but most don’t.

  

The Trust's approach to staff development is based on the belief that people are their most precious resource. This is demonstrated in how the Trust supports, develops, and retains the best staff to achieve their moral purpose of unlocking students' academic and personal potential across their family of schools.

 

Creating a pipeline of excellence 

One of WAT's core strategic aims focuses on building staff talent. This ensures a steady pipeline of excellent and talented staff who have the capacity and capability to drive school improvement and create their own self-improving system. 

  

This pipeline of excellence starts in their schools with their sixth form students. Some students know that they want to become teachers from a very young age, and the Trust helps them on their journey with their Aspiring Educators programme.

 

WAT also offers several other routes for aspiring teachers. This includes their School Direct programme, which sees trainee teachers learning their craft from school-based experiences across the WAT family of schools and growing strategic partnerships with the University of Birmingham and other teacher training providers.

 

Combined with the Trust's ‘incubator departments' (excellent departments across the Trust with the greatest capacity to train and support early career teachers), these initiatives mean that their conversion rate of great trainees to fabulous teachers is growing year on year.

 

The Early Career Framework (ECF) launches in September and will support all new teachers during their first two years of teaching. It is well known that the first years in any new profession can be challenging. The ECF recognises this and provides comprehensive support, specifically to new teachers. 

 

WAT has extensive experience in delivering programmes that support new teachers. To support early careers teachers, the Trust will be offering the ECF to its staff and early career teachers from other schools and school trusts as a delivery partner with the University of Birmingham and Capita.

  

Leadership development and lifelong learning 

A culture of lifelong learning and self-improvement is encouraged from the start through in the Trust-wide staff induction. Here, staff learn about WAT and its vision and values and are introduced to the extensive professional development opportunities available to them.

 

This inspires staff to aim high and strive to be better every day in pursuit of the Trust’s moral purpose of unlocking academic and personal potential. 

Windsor Academy Trust is committed to offering a programme of lifelong learning for its staff and provides a progressive pathway of leadership development opportunities for teaching and professional services staff.

  

The Trust is a delivery partner with the Teacher Development Trust to deliver the reformed suite of National Professional Qualifications. They work collaboratively with the national lead provider, partner school trusts, other schools and Teaching School Hubs to offer these high-quality leadership development programmes for staff regionally and nationally. 

  

Unique opportunities are also provided through WAT Associate roles. These roles enable talented staff to take a sabbatical (one day per week for a year) from their role to bring their talents to critical trust-wide developments such as enhancing the Trust's digital learning strategy or embedding character education. This generates fresh and innovative approaches and encourages staff to have an outward-looking perspective, building system leaders of the future.

 

Professional Services staff benefit from a holistic continuous professional learning programme that enables staff to develop role-specific capabilities, professional excellence, leadership skills and essential business skills, such as interpersonal and communication skills.

 

Staff have access to an extensive range of internal and external resources through WAT’s dedicated professional development website. The website is an essential training tool that covers all areas of learning, from teaching and leadership development to interpersonal and digital skills, such as time management and Google apps training.

 

A creative and flexible approach to learning is adopted, with staff able to learn at a time and in a way that suits them best. This is achieved by providing learning opportunities in several formats, including online, face-to-face, and blended.

 

In addition to developing professional skills, the Trust is committed to promoting and enhancing staff wellbeing. There is a long-term strategy for improving wellbeing, and staff have access to an excellent collection of online resources that provide strategies and guidance to manage wellbeing.

  

Evidence-based and research-informed practice

WAT provides vibrant, research-grounded, and practice-informed professional learning for teachers, leaders and professional services staff from across the WAT family and their external partner school trusts and schools. 

 

Their ‘pedagogy champions’ programme is one such opportunity available to their staff - circa 50 excellent teachers and professional services staff who engage with educational research, not just as consumers of academics’ research, but as generators of new practice-informed evidence.

  

The staff have access to the fabulous research resources available from their partnership with the Chartered College of Teaching and select ‘wicked problems’ across education to explore and identify workable and effective solutions.

 

The impact of these practitioner-researchers is published annually in a research journal and iteratively becomes more scalable and transferable across schools, year groups and subject areas.

 

The Trust also provides outstanding professional learning opportunities through the apprenticeship levy. In conjunction with the University of Birmingham, they offer access to master’s level apprenticeship programmes tackling trust-wide challenges. This allows staff to develop their skills and earn a Masters in Educational Leadership or Business Administration.

 

WAT has recently begun designing and implementing an instructional coaching model to develop teacher effectiveness at all levels, working with national thought leader Jon Hutchinson.

 

Civic leadership and partnerships 

One of Windsor Academy Trust’s aims is to play a civic leadership role in supporting community development and educational improvement beyond its own schools.

 

Through its extensive range of professional learning opportunities and open approach to sharing and collaboration with other schools, local authorities and school trusts, WAT is unlocking staff talent and enabling school improvement within and beyond their own schools. 

 

The profile of the wider WAT opportunities is raised through encouragement to engage in cross-trust collaborative activities to build a collegiate mindset.

 

The Trust is part of a range of professional learning networks, working with industry-leading partners, such as the Chartered College of Teaching and Confederation of School Trusts, to deliver outstanding continuous professional development for all of their staff.

PROSPER MAGAZINE: AUGUST 2021

FEATURE ARTICLE

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