Overachieving schools

The NSW Department for Education’s Centre for Statistics and Evaluation helped select 30 overachieving schools to be acknowledged by the NSW government.

What did overachieving schools do well?

  • Used more data.
  • Used more technology.
  • Accessed more teacher training.

I am assuming they didn’t just use more of these things but used them more effectively as well.

“Inside the school walls the researchers found that successful schools broke down “classroom silos [to lead] to a culture where staff aren’t competitive, they are collaborative“.” CESE Report: Most overachieving NSW public schools revealed

Read original article.

Image source Overachievemedia

Re-Assessing Assessment

The Centre for Education Statistics Evaluation has released a report on Re-assessing Assessment.

What gives assessment a bad name? What is effective assessment? And what innovative tools are making assessment more effective? This paper examines developments in assessment around the world, and highlights cases of innovation and best practice.

Re-assessing Assessment, 2015

 Image source: Virtual team builders

Professional development and leadership

I recently read a blog post by Chris Wejr, called 8 Strategies to Bring Out The Best in Your Staff, shared on Twitter by @rhonimcfarlane.

The article gave me cause to reflect on my practice as a leader and how I support other staff. It also made me think specifically of the staff that I line manage and the effectiveness of my leadership in this area. This was something already in the forefront of my mind as I am currently meeting with and helping the staff I line manage to write their professional development review for 2015.

Chris’ article is based on the research of the Corporate Leadership Council who surveyed over 19000 employees in 34 large companies in 27 countries to determine key strategies to increase performance in the workplace. Chris has made links between what  was found by the survey and how it relates to a school environment.

I have asked myself some questions and reflected on my leadership based on some of the points from Chris’ post. I have considered these questions from two points of view:

1. As a line manager – directly in relation to those I line manage.

2. As Teaching and Learning Coordinator and my relationship with all staff at PBAS.

Research and Reflection Questions

1. Helping find solutions to problems at work resulted in an increase of 23.7% in individual employee performance.

  • As a leader do I find the time to listen to others, their issues and then take the time to help them find solutions?

2. Helping employees to attain needed information, resources, and technology resulted in an increase of 19.2% in performance.

  • As a leader do I help/support others to access the resources they need to do their job well?
  • Do I keep a constant message and long-term focus that is understood by staff in relation to teaching and learning? OR Am I constantly changing message –  confusing and alienating staff?

3. Emphasis on performance strengths (in formal reviews) resulted in an increase of 36.4% in individual performance while the emphasis on performance weaknesses resulted in a decrease of 26.8% in performance.

  • Do I help teachers build on their strengths? Do I know what teachers strengths are?
  • If acknowledging staff strengths in a formal setting has a positive impact on their performance how could I create more opportunities to do this (not just once in an end of year review)?

4. Providing fair and accurate informal feedback resulted in an increase of 39.1% in individual performance. Manager knowledge about employee performance resulted in an increase of 30.3%.

  • How often do I get into classrooms to see the teachers I line manage actually teach? When do I take the time to visit their classes to chat informally and interact with their students, so I can begin to understand their strengths and better support their development? (I see this as separate to more formal observations which might target a specific pedagogy)
  • How do I negotiate this with teachers? How often do I do it? How do I provide the feedback to the teacher?
  • Would my presence in the classroom and any feedback given help or hinder performance? Would it be valuable to the teacher?

5. Being provided with the opportunity to work on things you do best resulted in an increase of 28.8% in individual performance.

  • Do I know the strengths and interests of staff I line manage?
  • Do I provide support for teachers to build on these strengths?
  • Do I promote the sharing of these strengths with other staff?

What do you believe makes a good line manager? How do you want to be supported with your professional development? Would appreciate any comments.

Formative Assessment using BaM Video Delay app in PE


BaM Video Delay is an app that records video and then delays that video for a specified time allowing the athlete to look up after their performance and watch themselves performing a skill or movement sequence.




There is no need to press record or play back the video. The app continuously replays what is happening in front of the camera on a delay (set by the student or teacher). The app allows you to delay the video being shown so that the student can complete the skill and have time to view their performance. Students then use this feedback to adjust their performance.

The examples in this post are receptions students practicing their overarm throwing technique and year 9/10 students practicing a forehand topspin drive in table tennis.

Below is the process I used for the Receptions and the Year 9/10 students. Part of both processes was to ensure students knew what they are looking for so corrections can be made.

Receptions (overhand throw)

  • Discussion about the importance of the opposite foot stepping forward when throwing.
  • Discussion about what opposite meant and how this related to our hands and feet.
  • I gave a demonstration which was recorded. We played it back on the big screen discussing if I had used my opposite foot and how did we know.
  • The class watched each other perform the skill and then turned to view the big screen and decide if the student had used their opposite foot. Ideally this would be done in smaller groups but as we were learning how the app worked we did it as a class.
  • The Receptions were only looking at one thing: Was the opposite foot used? This was easily visible from watching it live. However the chance to re-watch it and confirm their decision was useful. The app becomes more powerful the more areas of focus you have. If the Receptions had to make multiple decisions, for example, look for the use of opposite foot, standing side on and pointing in the direction of the target after the throw then the delayed video becomes more valuable.
  • While throwing in front of the camera was voluntary no one opted out. In fact, they were pushing each other out of the way to see themselves on the big screen.

Year 9/10 (table tennis – topspin forehand)

  • We viewed a video of a correctly performed topspin forehand. Four major points were taken from the video and written on the white board for students to have as a reference point.
  • The video was viewed twice and the four points discussed before students had a go.
  • Students then watched their performance, had a discussion with me and then had a go at using that feedback to improve.
  • While not all students improved in the limited time available a couple of students surprised themselves with a dramatic improvement in the amount of topspin and power they achieved using this process.

The app allows for a single screen or 4 screens. the receptions used a single screen as they didn’t require multiple views to make their decision. The Year 9/10 students used 4 screens, each delayed slightly more than the other (7 second intervals) allowing each shot to be viewed 4 times one after the other.

This is the first time I have used BaM Video Delay. The app has great potential to be used on a regular basis in physical education classes as a formative assessment tool.

A real life problem solving approach to maths for parents – Ann Baker

The teaching of maths looks at lot different for students than it did for their parents. How do we get parents to understand new teaching methodologies in maths? Maybe the following video is a starting point. Sharing the following video with parents might be one way to bring parents closer to understanding the Natural Maths approach to teaching maths.

If you are nterested in more information, resources and videos on Natural Maths then go to the naturalmaths website.

Natural Maths is the publishing and education consulting business of Ann Baker and Johnny Baker.”

“We both have a background in University research as well as practical classroom teaching so it is appropriate that our goal for Natural Maths is to “bridge the gap between research and practice” in maths education.”