Olivia Graham is Assistant Headteacher at Queen Elizabeth II High School on the Isle of Man, having previously been Head of Maths and Director of CPD at the school. She began using the Great Teaching Toolkit with the school’s staff in September 2022, so we caught up with her to see how the first six months have been—she talks in particular about the support received around embedding use of the GTT, the suite of courses and the “wow moments” provided by the student feedback tools.
How has the Great Teaching Toolkit helped you as a coordinator and school leader, and more broadly your teachers?
The GTT has been great in supporting staff to navigate the vast array of evidence that is out there. I have found in the past, due to time pressures, staff struggle to access the right evidence to inform their practice and therefore disengage. The GTT signposts the most trusted evidence out there which has helped massively.
As a model and a platform, it is very easily accessible by all teachers, irrespective of what they have accomplished previously. Channelling evidence into the four dimensions of the model, then the subsequent 17 elements within these, supports our staff to home in on their area of interest or focus, without too much time spent sifting through content.
Staff feel their teaching practice has improved during their time using it so far, and we hope that a similar opinion is felt at the end of the current academic year—as well, of course, as having the evidence to support that opinion!
How have you implemented the Great Teaching Toolkit around the busy lives of teachers and school leaders?
Through our new professional development framework that empowers staff to make choices based on their own professional development needs, we have been able to introduce the GTT as a bespoke way for staff to make those choices. Staff have been able to access modules and evidence during their regular professional development time, even collaborating with other teaching staff across the school at points.
After working through the Foundation Course, we have allowed staff to choose modules that are suited to their needs and interests meaning they are more intrinsically motivated to engage. At present, in my school, some staff are acting under action short of strike action, meaning engagement in professional development has been a challenge. The GTT has allowed staff a way round this.
You’ve also been using the student feedback surveys. How has this been received?
One of the biggest “wow moments” has been when colleagues have received feedback one way or the other that did not fit their expectation: confidence-building if receiving positive feedback they were not expecting, but still encouraging if they receive feedback that makes them think about a certain aspect of their practice they may not have before.
I think this is helped by the feedback being so clear, and also by there being defined “next steps” within the GTT—development cycles, use of the courses, the strategies within them. It feels more like CPD in its truest sense.
Finally, what would you say to schools or teachers considering using the Great Teaching Toolkit?
The GTT clears the way through the abundance of research, platforms and overwhelming range of opportunities out there! Our staff have engaged well, and feedback is that they would like to continue to work with the GTT.
The EBE team are available at every opportunity to support you to embed successfully within your school, which has been priceless. Go for it—you won’t regret it!
If you would like to speak to one of the team about how you might implement the Toolkit at your school or college, simply fill out this form, and one of the team will be in touch!