What’s a Performance and Development Culture?
A Performance and Development Culture is one in which:
- Teachers new to the school have the support they need to contribute effectively and gain new understandings and support where needed.
- Individual teachers and teams of teachers receive effective feedback from a variety of sources that allow them to continuously improve their practice.
- Each teacher is assisted to develop a customised yearly learning and development plan that targets both their individual needs and those of the school and school system.
- This plan includes very specific professional learning targets and identifies high quality, best practice opportunities for that learning to occur, most often provided at the school level.
- All professional members of the school community share the belief that they are a learning community where all of the above points encourage and support them to be high performing teachers, who strive for continuous improvement.
Eltham North started on the path to accreditation when members of the leadership team completed the school-based self-assessment frame work and the results showed that the school was ready to apply for accreditation.
Our school nominated so early in this process because we were confident that we have in place a culture and processes that focus clearly on continuous improvement in the types of teaching and learning our students encounter, and on the professional learning and support we provide for all staff to enable them to do their jobs to the highest level.
The leadership team began work on each of the five elements outlined above. As we identified positive structures and processes the school had in place for each of the elements, we met with the whole staff and gained their ideas and views as well. Together we created a picture of the professional culture at Eltham North that supports individual teachers, teams of teachers and the whole school. This culture was represented in diagrams we created of each element, which was a valuable process in itself. The diagrams became communication tools we used to promote constructive dialogue and conversations with staff. In addition to this all teachers were asked to complete a highly confidential on-line survey, which contained detailed questions on each of the elements.
An application addressing each of the five elements, along with a summary of supporting documentation available was written, according to strict guidelines, and submitted late in Term 3. A key component of the application was the data that came from the on-line survey; we received a complete analysis of the data from an independent company. Without very strong data we would not have been able to submit an application; the minimum requirement was 75% on each sub-section for every element. Many schools that had nominated for accreditation at the same time subsequently withdrew because their data did not support their application.
The stringent application guidelines only allowed us to provide two pages of ‘relevant artefacts’ or documentation to support each section of our application.
We had numerous documents to support each element, several many pages long, so we had to find a solution that would best suit. We listed all supporting documentation and provided a brief summary of what each of the documents contained; these were our ‘artefacts’.
Finally, we put each of the ‘real size’ documents into folders designated for each of the elements, so that all documentation was accessible and referenced.
After the application was submitted, the independent ‘accreditor’ (an approved, contracted company) contacted the school to verify some aspects of the application. Once this was complete, we waited to be notified of a verification visit. One in every two schools was visited as part of the verification process. During the school visit, the verifiers check all relevant documentation you have listed as supporting your application. They also interview, independently, relevant groups of teachers; this is to check that what your application says, what the data says, and what is actually happening each day really match up.