Aim: To develop a collaborative learning culture where staff and students are not afraid to take risks and to trial new ideas to improve the quality of teaching, learning and assessment to improve student outcomes.

Background: Following the 2016 Estyn Report and the new appointment of the Headteacher and two Assistant Headteachers, the SLT wanted to concentrate on rapid school improvement with a focus on teaching, learning and assessment. Good internal CPD was in place and it was decided to continue to use the PTI model for a collaborative Professional Learning Programme.


Year 1

  • The Programme included sessions to address areas identified for development e.g. teacher questioning, quality of teacher feedback, student reflection time, engaging boys and skills development. This was evaluated termly by SLT and monitored by Governors and the Local Authority and regional Challenge Advisor. Staff completed evaluations of the Professional Learning Sessions.
  • All staff took part in all sessions with a focus on improving pedagogy.
  • All staff had a Professional Learning file to evidence the workshops, the research and their personal reflection.
  • In Year 1 a third of staff were involved in peer observations as part of ‘Open Classrooms’.
  • 60% of lessons were assessed as good or better.
  • No evaluation of the Professional Learning sessions was graded lower than ‘useful’, with the majority graded excellent.

Year 2

  • There was a move away from the compliance, tick box models of the past, to quality assurance of the progress made by students in books and in the classroom.
  • Each half term the Programme focus was published to meet the needs of all staff and to drive the improvements in teaching and learning.
  • The Programme improved the weekly ‘Sharing Good Practice Fridays’.
  • Every member of staff had agreed lesson protocols, new Teaching and Learning Handbooks and Feedback to Students Policy, to ensure consistent practice.
  • From January 2017 all staff were involved in peer observation using the Open Classroom and Lesson Study Models.
  • Significant improvement in KS4 results in September 2016 evidenced the improvements in the teaching, learning and assessment.
  • The School Council was fully involved in teaching and learning and some peer observations.

Year 3

  • The main focus for the Professional Learning Programme was to develop Partnership Working with feeder primary schools and local secondary schools to ensure that the school was “outward facing”.
  • The Year 7 SWAN Project was introduced in September 2017 led by a second Assistant Headteacher, working closely with primary colleagues. Planning a brand new project based on oracy, writing and numeracy was developed through the Professional Learning workshops in the summer and autumn terms.
  • In November 2017, the school was removed from an Inspection Category and the Professional Learning was one of the key drivers in this significant and rapid improvement journey.
  • All Middle Leaders produced detailed reviews of department and pastoral areas based on formal and peer observation and Work Scrutiny.
  • All Performance Management targets included a focus on pedagogy appropriate for each teacher and based on detailed quality assurance.
  • Half the staff, apart from SLT, led Professional Learning workshops for their peers upholding the main aim of the CPD – “run by teachers for teachers” as modelled by the PTI.
  • 70% of lessons were graded good or better.

Year 4

  • More external speakers were included and research conducted to inform practice and to continue to drive school improvement. Student involvement was extended in improving pedagogy; the Open Classrooms involved students observing with teachers and then providing feedback.
  • The SWAN Project for Year 7 was developed further through the Progress and Learning workshops. This was presented as part of a regional conference to all primary and secondary colleagues in Wrexham.
  • The school introduced more research in the sessions including work from Tom Sherrington’s ‘The Learning Rainforest’ which provided a model for creating the right learning environment.
  • Greater collaborative working was established within the school and with other schools. In this final year, the school worked closely on shared professional learning with feeder primary schools.
  • The school was selected to take part in a National Collaborative Learning Project led by Lyn Sharratt which fed back into the CPD programme.


  • Improved KS3 and 4 results across the last 4 years with a particular focus on boys and students on free school meals.
  • Improved collaborative working with local primary schools and with secondary schools across Wales.
  • Invitations to present the school's work on Professional Learning and SWAN in other schools and conferences

Reflections: The project has demonstrated that changes for improvement take time but gain momentum and power each year. The project has also reinforced the power of collaborative working, which includes students as well as staff, to create a positive culture in school. Listening carefully to learners can be an undeveloped resource and yet the contribution students make to the school improvement agenda is invaluable.

Contact | Melanie Ferron-Evans