Blackwood Primary School is in Caerphilly local authority. There are currently 416 pupils on roll with 15 classes and a two-form entry including a nursery and Rising 3s. 22% percent of pupils are eligible for FSM and 16% have ALN. Very few pupils are from a minority ethnic background or Welsh first language.
Blackwood Primary School is committed to providing the best learning experiences for our children in a no blame, risk taking culture where staff are encouraged to engage in research, professional enquiry and use external expertise.
As a regional professional learning school for the EAS consortia, it was paramount that we enabled our staff to engage in research that would ensure that all our practices were current and reflective of an international, national and regional context. Research and enquiry in the Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership plus staff fully engaging with the school as a learning organisation (SLO), meant that research and enquiry was an integral part of the school’s culture.
Internally, professional learning was identified as a focus in the school development plan and all staff engaged in professional learning processes with support. Initially all staff worked collaboratively in teams to determine research that would inform practices within the school. Staff all began their own learning diaries to record any professional learning which included their own reflections, commitments to act and impact. The impact was then shared in the form of professional learning posters which feature on the school website.
Although action research quickly became a vehicle to support school improvement, it was evident that external expertise would help to secure the depth needed. School leaders identified staff who would engage in several external enquiry projects:
All the varying professional learning opportunities have enabled the school to develop a highly effective professional learning offer which includes staff at all levels.
Staff view professional learning as an entitlement that supports and builds coherence linked to pedagogy and curriculum design. We have been able to consolidate what has been learned in a culture that encourages staff to use professional learning opportunities to evaluate and improve approaches to teaching and learning. Professional learning is planned through a combination of whole staff, phase, team and individual foci. Strong links with EAS have provided opportunities for staff to regularly work at a cluster, regional and national level on current educational issues which are driven by research and collaboration.