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Support Staff Case Studies
The Highfield School
School No: 13
N. M. – School Business and Finance Director
N. M. is School Business and Finance Director and has worked in the school for just over five years and is a member of the SLT. She oversees all Support Staff.
Induction programmes take place within specific teams.
The school employs two Learning Supervisors, who cover short term teacher absence, delivering lessons from the teacher’s plans. Their Induction plan involves shadowing various members of staff and observations of peers and teachers. This process lasts for two weeks before they go into class alone but support is still there if required.
Although each new staff member is given a guided tour of the school on interview day, this is repeated when they take on their new roles. Support staff are further inducted with sessions which cover learning about other support staff roles, ICT, Reprographics, Health and Safety, Data, Child Protection etc. All support staff are issued with a CPD folder for them to record their job description, INSET and CPD opportunities, their contribution to the Every Child Matters Agenda, and “nice letters”.
The Highfield School is a Leading Edge School and tends to have a high turnover of Teaching Assistants as it is happy to employ gap year personnel who then move on to PGCE.
There are more than seventy members of the Support Staff team and they are line managed by various members of staff including a team of support staff middle leaders. Three of the TA team with responsibility for core subject areas, are line managed by the head of the relevant departments. The other eight general TAs are line managed by the Lead TA who has been newly appointed to this role. She has recently attended the PM course at HDC and is eager to take on the role of reviewer.
N. undertakes Performance Management for all team leaders who in turn review the members of their respective teams. It is hoped that all staff are appraised yearly, with N. preferring to let the reviewees ‘be in the driving seat’ and gives dedicated time to this procedure. The cycle begins in September and is an ongoing procedure throughout the year. It is hoped that all staff will have had their appraisal by July of the following year. Staff can however request their PM to be done at any time, and it will be arranged accordingly. The Performance Management procedure involves review of job descriptions, reflection of the past year, contribution to the Every Child Matters Agenda, agreeing CPD requirements, setting objectives and opportunities for growth. Interim meetings do not generally take place as N. catches up with all staff on a regular basis. If N. feels the need to catch up with staff for a more structured meeting, she will arrange a meeting (often over a cup of coffee).
For the first time, as part of an INSET day, N. arranged whole team appraisals. Teams met with their team leaders to celebrate and reflect on their successes and achievements for the past year. Each team also drafted their own team development plan for the next three years. This proved to be a very positive and worthwhile exercise and it is hoped that this will be undertaken yearly. Additionally, as part of the INSET day, support staff middle managers gave all support staff an account of their role and that of their team and what specific training had been received by team members
Domestic Staff are employed by the school and are line managed by N. Performance Management is undertaken through informal discussion, as she meets with staff regularly. All staff are aware that they can talk through any issues or concerns with her as and when required.
Catering staff are not employed by the school but are very much part of the Highfield School team and are happy to report any concerns and issues to N.
Performance Management is pay related and staff can make submissions to the governing body regarding pay increases. However it is more usual for submissions to be made to governors through N.
CPD and Training
All staff are encouraged to attend INSET days and have the opportunity to attend courses as appropriate. The school holds an annual Conference for all staff. Support staff are an intrinsic part of this both in terms of delivering and attending workshops.
Invigilators attend a training day lead by the Exams Manager and Assistant to plan for the year a head.
The month of January at the Highfield School, is the ‘How do you do month?’ This involves all staff members being given the opportunity of choosing to shadow a colleague in order to find out exactly what their role involves. This is a very successful and enjoyable activity.
The school offers accredited DeBono Thinking Skills training as part of their series of Toolkit training sessions for all staff. All Toolkit sessions are also extended to staff from other schools within the area. Toolkit sessions are led by teaching and support staff.
N. feels that: ‘CPD is beneficial and makes the role more rounded and that all staff members are equally valued and equally valuable’.