Rydon Community College is a maintained comprehensive middle-deemed-secondary school for pupils aged 10 to 13. The school is located just outside Storrington, West Sussex, England, in the village of Thakeham. Paul Blackmore, Deputy Headteacher, has been using the SchooliP software for over three years and discusses why he ‘can’t live without it ’. Even though the school will be closing in July, Paul states the one thing he will be taking to his next leadership role will be SchooliP.
What did you use before SchooliP?
“We had an antiquated paper based system which was in different folders, in different places which we had to try and centralise which was very unwieldy. It was very challenging to gain an overview and it was very laborious. Most schools used to do this before the world of IT and SchooliP made this a much more streamlined and efficient process.”
What were the limitations of your paper based system?
“As there wasn’t an efficient system whereby teachers were in control of their own performance management, and it wasn’t easy for them to collate information for appraisals, it always became a ‘chase of the paper trail’. Staff would complete things at different speeds, paper and evidence would often go missing and line mangers would have to spend a lot of time chasing them up. As a result, there was a lot of duplication of work as things had to be redone and the process wasn’t conducive of efficient work practices.”
What attracted you to SchooliP?
What I liked about SchooliP was that it effectively brought the school development plan, appraisals, performance management all together under one umbrella.Paul Blackmore, Deputy Headteacher
“It was centralised, pure and simple. When I was looking for a system, there were a number of products available on the market, but what I liked about SchooliP was that it effectively brought the school development plan, appraisals, performance management all together under one umbrella. I felt it allowed objectives to be transparent for everyone. Transparency was the key aspect and the ease of access from anywhere. I had staff accessing SchooliP using iPads, mobile phones and computers. This was very important for the transition from a paper based system, and those teachers who were new to the concept of capturing all of this information using technology – I wanted something that they could all use simply and effectively.
From the outset it integrated all staff, not just teachers. We could all start from the same point, it doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher or a member of the support team – we value your position in the school and SchooliP allows us to support all staff effectively and equally.”
What benefits do you now see as a result of SchooliP?
SchooliP allowed us to ensure instant consistency for performance management and the appraisal objective setting process.Paul Blackmore, Deputy Headteacher
“First off, it gave appraisal more credence, made it more purposeful and gave colleagues a collegiate sense of responsibility. Everyone was doing the same thing on the same platform and it wasn’t dependent on the appraiser or line manager. SchooliP provided a framework for what we wanted and the bespoke development we requested allowed us to ensure instant consistency for performance management and the appraisal objective setting process.
The Derventio Education development team were very quick in implementing any changes we wanted to make and due to the nature of our school it was crucial that the system was bespoke to our needs. When we reviewed other systems, we felt only SchooliP were able to offer this level of flexibility.”
All of our support, development and quality assurance teams are in-house. We place the highest value on our customers and feel that the only way to truly support them effectively is to offer all of these services in-house, unlike other software solutions. With all development completed by our in-house team, it means we can very quickly respond to changes to education legislation, as well as implement requests from our customers.
Paul comments on the incomparable benefits of SchooliP vs paper based for PRP:
“Coinciding with the 2012 Teachers’ Standards, issues with performance related pay and other pay awards based on evidence would have been a real struggle with a paper based system. We now have everything housed in a central depository that all leaders can look into and analyse data more effectively. SchooliP is such a robust system and the nature of it allows us to have early interventions whereas before, due to the ‘drip feed’ of a paper trail, we wouldn’t necessarily get to that intervention as quick. As a consequence this could negatively impact a staff members’ performance management. With SchooliP, we could quickly outline any emerging issues and intervene. We did this on a number of performance management cycles to avoid any potential capability issues, and that proved successful and as a result they achieved their appraisal and performance management objectives – this wouldn’t have happened without SchooliP.”
Although SchooliP leaves no hiding place, the element of support is much stronger with a magnification on school development and everyone having a collective responsibility. Staff feel SchooliP is none threatening as their performance is in their hands and they can upload their own evidence. Colleagues took that on so well, they could deliver and upload evidence and the quality has been outstanding. They wouldn’t have had the time to produce this level of quality if it was paper evidence. There is no massive file of evidence as everything provided is chiselled to meet their needs specifically which made it far easier for both the line manager and the staff member to see exactly how they had achieved their objectives. SchooliP has facilitated the opportunity for staff to case study and showcase themselves explicitly both for achieving their objectives and providing recognition for their achievements as part of their own personal portfolio.”
How have you found the support provided?
The team were so friendly and made me feel confident in the help that they gave us; there was no problem that they couldn’t resolve!Paul Blackmore, Deputy Headteacher
“The ongoing support I have received from SchooliP has been absolutely outstanding. All support is seamless and there is complete continuity between personnel. They understood our school and in turn allowed us to understand SchooliP to its full potential. The support was faultless; the support contacts were so calm and approachable. The level of approachability was amazing for us – Staff’s early reservations that it would feel like a seismic change going from the comforts of a paper based system to an online system were quickly abolished. The team were so friendly and made me feel confident in the help that they gave us; there was no problem that they couldn’t resolve!”
What would you tell another school if they were considering SchooliP?
“You have to have it! As a leadership tool, it puts so much power at your finger tips. I am much more confident when Ofsted walks through the door to talk about teaching and learning, the school development plan and impacts on performance.
It supports staff transparently and what is said about staff is captured effectively. I wouldn’t be able to live without it, I will take it everywhere with me - it’s honestly that great!”
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