Jablai Saleh is Headteacher at Story Wood School, a primary school in Birmingham. She and her team began using the Great Teaching Toolkit in summer 2022, and we caught up with her to see how the staff were benefitting from access to the tools, courses and resources the GTT provides.
How has the GTT helped you as a coordinator and school leader?
As a Headteacher, looking strategically at school improvement and how to utilise staff meetings in a beneficial way, the GTT platform has been an effective tool. It has allowed staff to all develop their knowledge and skills together, which has contributed towards our School Development Plan and impacted positively on practice.
There is no preparation required and all staff can learn at their pace. The Foundation Course and Questioning modules have contributed to high-quality teaching in lessons. The platform has engaged staff in academic reading and given a profound understanding of evidence-based practice and cognitive science: working and long-term memory, retrieval practice and more importantly how these elements can become part of our practice. This has really helped staff understand how our curriculum can be improved and how elements such as questions and retrieval practice can impact on children’s learning.
I’ve noticed this in particular when seeing how confident staff now are in articulating concepts as part of teaching and learning. They understand why we are implementing different practices as part of teaching and can see the benefits of these practices on learning. Using the GTT approach means all staff have had the same high-quality input: the same messages. Everyone is learning together.
It is clear to see that staff CPD has been successful: staff have developed together around this common language, and pupil voice has also reflected this positive impact.
How have you implemented the GTT around the busy lives of teachers and school leaders?
The GTT has been built into our School Development Plan and the development plans of individual teachers too. The GTT was identified as a platform that would support and help staff achieve the pedagogical objectives in both these documents, as we aim to ensure all teachers are delivering high-quality teaching across our curriculum.
Staff can see how everything ties together and that the GTT complements their actions, their next steps and the whole school’s development.
The GTT sessions are mapped out across our staff meetings to ensure everyone is working on the same module at the same time. We believe this is a good use of directed time. It also means that when we come together to discuss the SDP or curriculum development, everyone can use their learning to contribute to the discussion. Having staff meetings that tie in with our SDP, implemented across the whole school, has eliminated time spent on meetings in non-priority areas; this has really helped with staff engagement too.
It sounds like the focus on one Element has really worked well for you and the team. How have you found the structure of the courses, and has there been anything else you’ve found useful in the GTT?
The quality of the courses has been great. The Questioning course, in particular, has really helped teachers with using questioning for different purposes. The information comes in lots of different forms which keeps it interesting, and retrieval quizzes are used well—practising what the course preaches! This has given teachers the knowledge they need to reflect and develop their own practice, and while we’ve focused on one particular aspect more in-depth, there is a good range of strategies covered.
Staff have also been exploring the use of the student surveys, building on the modules that they have completed. We can see from this that the learning from this course has impacted on teachers’ practice.
And what would you say to others considering the GTT?
I have already recommended the GTT to other schools I work with and would be happy to speak to anyone considering 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!