Summary of School Development 2009 – 2011

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The core purpose of the development plan is to create a framework within which school improvement can take place and standards improve. An assessment of progress made in meeting the targets and objectives of the school development plan takes place annually with the teaching staff.

The key successes in the first two years have been:

(1)  Linking Whole School and Departmental Development Plans

All Departments will be asked to complete a three year development plan 2012 – 2015 to complement the new whole school one.  Planning for this will take place during 2011-12.

Departments now produce a development plan to complement the priorities of the whole school plan and to meet the needs of their department. To date some have been one year plans but from September 2012 all departments will produce a 3 year plan to mirror the new whole school development cycle.

(2)  Target-Setting

Whole school GCSE, AS and A2 targets are now set annually.

Departmental GCSE, AS and A2 targets are now set annually.

Individual pupil targets are set for those in Years 12, 13 and 14 in all subjects.

A key focus of the school next year will be setting targets for all pupils in Yrs 8-14.

(3) Curriculum – Entitlement Framework

 The following subjects have been made available to our pupils:

GCSE – Engineering, Photography, Moving Image Arts

AS/A2 – Electronics, Travel and Tourism, Moving Image Arts, Health and Social Care and Music Technology (from September 2011).

A number of Heads of Department are researching among the following subjects as possible new offers from September 2012/13:

Computing/Programming/Gaming/Land Based Science/Business Related Qualifications.

A recent audit has shown that we as a school now meet the entitlement framework 24/27.

(4)  Curriculum – Science and ICT Changes

KS3 Science will be separated to reflect the changes at GCSE with the introduction of 3 separate GCSE subjects from September 2011.  The changes at GCSE will prepare pupils better for A Levels in Science.

To allow for a greater focus on ICT skills across subjects and inform the learning and teaching in all Departments, ICT is discontinued as a discrete subject at KS3.  ICT subject skills days will be organised at KS3 to ensure pupils understand key terms and concepts.  ICT GCSE has reverted to a full timetable and is once again in Option Blocks and not a core subject.

These changes have made it possible to increase AS teaching by one period and GCSE by one period over two years.  Lack of pupil contact was identified by Heads of Department as a barrier to improving standards in their departmental evaluation meetings in September 2010 and 2011.

(5)  Standards, SEN to include Gifted and Talented

Standards of achievement are above average at GCSE, AS and A2 compared to Northern Ireland Grammar Schools.  Progress has been made in increasing Oxbridge success and YASS participation (Open University).  A greater emphasis will now be placed on ensuring pupils on our internal SEN register are supported by core departmental practice and the creation of the new post of Gifted and Talented/Oxbridge Co-ordinator will focus our energy on early identification of the most able and ensuring clear ambitious targets for individual pupils are set.  Our target, given our intake, will be to produce the best GCSE and A’ Level results of any post primary school in Northern Ireland.

A review of the timetable structure at Key Stage 3 and 4 will take place in the next year to establish a framework for accelerated learning pathways, early GCSE entry, early AS entry, increased YASS completion and Oxbridge application and success.  However, this whole school framework must be supported by continued high levels of pastoral care, Departmental agreed learning and teaching strategies and a clear sense for all our pupils of what they need to do to improve.

Consequently a Year 8 – Year 14 approach to benchmarking, target setting and pupil tracking will begin in September 2011.  The role of class teaching in facilitating individual self-evaluation will be at the core of its success criteria.  The role of parents will be important also in understanding, supporting and evaluating the extent to which their child/children is/are meeting agreed subject targets.

A new Reporting System to include criterion and norm referenced grades will support this new strategy.

(6) Policy Review

The following policies have been reviewed/created:

  • Behaviour Management
  • Uniform
  • Sixth Form
  • Charging and Remissions
  • Controlled Assessment

All Departments have been asked to submit draft core policies.  All Departmental policies, once approved, will inform a final body of whole school policies to ensure clarity of purpose and procedures across school life.

(7) Marketing and Publicity

There has been a significant focus on celebrating success through publicity in the local press.

A new style prospectus has been produced and new style magazines are planned to include a pictorial representation of school life.  Open Mornings are a key marketing tool and have been well attended with positive feedback from those attending.

Marketing of our Preparatory Department, the opening of a Pre-School and ‘Pre-Pre’ School facility has increased numbers from enrolment at September 2011 by over 30.  The appointment of a new Head of our Preparatory Department, a member of the school leadership team for the first time, allows for a greater sharing of ideas and a 3-18 perspective on curriculum, standards, assessment, pastoral care, learning and teaching, ethos and publicity/marketing.

(8)  New Transfer Arrangements

The school has used AQE assessments for transfer 2010, 2011 and 2012.  Local Primary School Principals have been kept informed of entrance criteria, AQE test development and arrangements for Wallace as a test centre.  Parents’ Evenings and advertisements in the local press have sought to keep parents informed of progress.

Almost 900 young people have completed AQE tests here over the last three years.  In 2010 the school was oversubscribed in the band 101-105 accepting all but one applicant in that band.  In 2011 the band was oversubscribed again. However, in this second year of AQE year this band was oversubscribed by 30 places i.e. the demand for places in and above this band had increased.

There has been a significant increase in successful applications from P7 pupils with scores of 115+ for September 2011. The expectations and targets set for students internally and for GCSE and AS results will link back to the intake trends.

(9)  The School Environment – Creating a Sense of Identity and a Respect for Tradition and Founding Principles

The entrance area has been transformed to reflect the history of the Sir Richard Wallace connection, a Year 8 themed day has been introduced, Art work displays continues to celebrate the talent of our pupils, photographs and displays about Prize Day, Open Morning, etc, enhance the feeling of community and identity.

(10)  Professional Development Opportunities

A significant focus has continued in offering opportunities for teachers to be involved in the planning and development of whole school issues throughout the working parties/strategy groups.  The make-up and focus of our groups will be reviewed annually to ensure they have a clear purpose in the context of the needs of the school.

Staff development has been made possible through the restructuring of the Leadership Team, retirements, voluntary redundancies and the creation of new posts.  In the last two years 26 internal posts have been advertised.  Last year, most importantly, saw a significant restructuring of the Pastoral Team with new Heads of Year and Assistant Heads of Year appointed.  This team has worked effectively this year to support, monitor and report on the progress of our young people. 

Setting the iPad2 Key Stage 3 Project in Context

  1. What are the likely benefits to learning and how will these be measured?
  2. Why introduce this project at this stage in the development of Wallace?
  3. What provision will be made to continue to support the professional development of teachers in using the iPad2?
  4. There are significant financial constraints on the school budget and there has been a reduction in staffing over the last two years.  Does the iPad2 project put teaching jobs at risk?
  5. Are teachers expected to be ‘experts’ in September?
  6. Consultation with parents, teachers and Governors.
  1. What are the likely benefits to learning, how will these be measured?

It is anticipated that pupil motivation, in some instances, will improve.  The iPad2 will allow learners to access a wide, rich set of resources which the school could not afford to offer in hard copy.  Such financial efficiencies will be an important benefit for the learning of all pupils as resources can be channelled more freely into areas of particular need if savings are made in, e.g., photocopying, book purchase, printing, etc.

Speed of access to information and a reduction in the transfer of information between teacher and learner is likely to occur.  The teacher’s role in the assimilation of information will remain pivotal, as will the teacher’s assessment of progress, feedback and clear direction to every learner about how to improve his/her previous best.  This device will facilitate a seamless home-school link in ICT and facilitate opportunities for pupil collaboration.

Evaluation of the iPad2 at Key Stage 3 will be an important part of the school’s action planning next year: the dissemination of good practice will be interwoven into our PRSD objective and a joint research project will be carried out between Wallace and The University of Ulster.

  1. Why introduce this project at this stage in the development of Wallace?

The timing of the project is a natural linear progression internally and a recognition of the changing world externally.  The ICT network has been developed significantly here over the last 10 years, the e-learning committee has representation from each department, ICT is increasingly used to support learning and our young people in ever larger numbers are equipped with mobile phones with internet access, other portable devices and many are using them in the classroom and at home to extend their learning.

The following external factors have influenced this decision:

The economic environment for those leaving school and university is not bright; technology is moving at an increasing pace; one of Northern Ireland’s skill priority areas is that of ICT; our local economy is currently heavily reliant on public sector employment with rising unemployment; and examination boards are developing online GCSE and A Levels.

In light of these internal and external factors to move to a 1 to 1 deployment aims to equip our young people not only with access to a rich set of resources, but also with a unique set of skills allied to the new Key Stage 3 curriculum.

  1. What provision will be made to continue to support the professional development of teachers in using the iPad2?

The initial two and a half days of focused training will be the starting point.  It is recognised that skill levels among teachers in using the iPad2 are different and training will be specifically designed throughout 2011-12 to support all levels of skills.

From ‘drop-in’ sessions, department dissemination of practice, to individual support, there will be a clear focus on the provision of iPad2 training based on the needs of teachers.

  1. There are significant financial constraints on the school budget and there has been a reduction in staffing over the last two years.  Does the iPad project put teaching jobs at risk?

The block grant from DENI has reduced three years in a row so the school is effectively required to operate with less money.  DENI has made inadequate  provision for teaching salary or other staff salary pay increases.  Consequently the Board of Governors has sought to reduce staffing through the voluntary redundancy scheme and departmental budgets have been cut.

A further decision has been taken to change the school’s ‘Charging and Remissions’ Policy to reflect, more fairly, the costs associated with extra-curricular provision, to each family.  The ‘optional extra’ charge will be made for sport and the iPad2.   The school is charging exactly what Apple Finance has charged per pupil unit.

It is expected that the iPad project will reduce school costs over 5 years, covering quickly the investment made in teacher iPads.  The project is aimed at reducing medium term costs.  A plan has also been put in place to generate funds from this project; all profits will be reinvested in the school budget.

  1. Are teachers expected to be ‘experts’ immediately?

All teachers, having received training at the end of June, will have a clearer understanding of how the iPad2 will fit into their teaching.  This will be a transition and, for most, is unlikely to be an immediate change.  However, the challenge will be how to integrate this device into learning given that some parents will have made this investment.  It is not anticipated that every parent will take on the three year iPad2 lease immediately, so not every pupil in Years 8-10 will necessarily have an iPad2 in September.

Research based homework, summative end of lesson exercises, pupil group work, online peer assessment, video presentations etc will be among a menu of types of learning.

The capacity within evolving technologies to enhance learning will change and develop as the technology changes and develops.  No teacher will be an expert, the key will be how the school facilitates dissemination and the research project with the University of Ulster will help.

  1. Consultation with parents, teachers and Governors.

The Leadership Team, e-learning committee, Governors and Trustees have all been consulted as this plan evolved.  Until final decisions were taken about how to charge for the iPads aligned with final budget planning for 2011-12, it was not possible to consult more widely with staff.  If the budgeting were not possible, the project would not have proceeded.  Legal, intellectual property, project research, media management and technical advice were all sought to underpin the structures around the project for the protection of teachers, pupils, parents, Governors and Trustees.

A sample group of parents was contacted, agreed to sign a confidentiality clause and met to discuss the project.  They were chosen to represent those in receipt of Free School Meals, those who pay their voluntary contributions, those who don’t and families with more than one child in attendance at Wallace.  This group of parents was unanimously for the project, helped design the letters to parents and informed the content of the Parents’ Evenings.  The consultation was held before the lease was signed.

A new 3 year school development plan will commence in September 2012.  A clear, agreed strategy on the use of the iPad2 as one tool to support learning will be in this document and the information, experience and evaluation of 2011-12 will inform this.

Deborah O’Hare

Last modified: March 8, 2017