“This is an excellent result,” says Vice Principal Mike Bryant (right). “It shows that we have worked extremely hard to offer our staff the best possible programme of skills development and recognition, and to provide both teaching and support staff clear guidance on how they can develop a fulfilling and worthwhile career at the College. The areas of particular strength and good practice highlighted by the visit also show that our work to involve staff in all aspects of the work of the College has been extremely successful.”
The visit highlighted:
- Growing appreciation of the need to work with colleagues to better enable worthwhile and workable solutions which staff can more readily buy into;
- Widely respected and trusted leadership team;
- Increasing appreciation of the need to successfully engage with the workforce through an increasingly comprehensive range of activities and approaches;
- An increased clarity in the provision and resourcing for learning and development activities for support staff;
- Innovative use of action learning type activities.
A key element of the visit was interviews with current staff and their comments on their involvement in different areas of College work. In Strategic Planning, for example, one person commented: “We’re always encouraged to put forward new ideas – to think of something better.” Staff were positive towards the way their views were sought at departmental and all-staff meetings and appreciated the collaborative, shared approach taken by College management.
There were also positive comments about the management of the College and the way that senior management represents and lobbies for the interests of the College at both a regional and national level.
Culture and Communication
Morale is improving. One person commented that “It’s been nothing but a happy and supportive experience,” with the College culture focusing on driving change; and enabling, empowering and encouraging colleagues to learn from each other. Mechanisms for feedback are increasingly open and include a range of potential stakeholders – including that of the student voice.
Staff feel that they are encouraged to look at new ways of working, with teachers enjoying collaboration with very different departments: “The peer-to-peer support means that we learn from each other as we go.” The comment: “There’s been a shift towards peer support and changes in … observation. It now feels … more collaborative,” highlights the new approach to teacher development.
Peer coaching and support are increasingly practised, and the teaching and learning coaches were commented upon by a number of those interviewed.
The ‘supported experiments’ approach, based around the concept of action research. has also been favourably received: “‘The supported experiments gave a real boost to my morale – you don’t always think about what you’re doing on a daily basis as an experiment.’
Support staff have much appreciated recent training initiatives which lead to additional and transferable qualifications. Many feel that they have in any case additional skills and qualifications from which the College might benefit and which could be exploited more fully.
There is evidence that learning and development provision is increasingly innovative in its approach – with people describing a range of activities including on line, peer review, role play and carousel based activities.
Staff were positive about the new termly performance review, which has just replaced the annual system. Staff also said that they were able to speak to managers both formally and informally. Managers are generally good at informally recognising staff achievement.
Further strengths were noted which we can use as a basis for work towards bronze, silver or gold accreditation in the future:
- Staff are increasingly focused on learning and development provision and appreciate the benefits of regular review and update. From discussions it is apparent that staff increasingly takes responsibility for identifying their own learning and development needs;
- Innovative and flexible methods of learning and development have been considered and utilised as appropriate;
- People can confirm that knowledge and learning is shared appropriately between colleagues as evidenced through discussions.
Mike concludes: “We have a highly committed and enthusiastic team of support and teaching staff at the College who offer students excellent support, and this was recognised in our recent OFSTED inspection report. The Investors in People visit follows on from and endorses the positive comments made at our recent Ofsted inspection. I would like to thank all the staff who willingly gave up their time to talk to the Investors in People staff, and all those whose hard work and dedication has helped to make Long Road such an excellent place to work and study.”