Bethany Ransom, Teacher:
I am now in my second year of working for St Benet’s MAT having completed my NQT year in 2019. I am so grateful for the support I have received since day one from my school, Dickleburgh Primary Academy. As well as support within school, I attended training sessions with other NQTs throughout the course of last year – these sessions gave me the opportunity to speak with those in a similar situation to myself whilst also sharing ideas with one another. Being an NQT at the school during the first year of conversion into an academy has also enabled me to support and advise the new NQT at our school this year. As part of the St Benet’s MAT, I was able to shadow experienced teachers in the subject lead Best Practice Groups (BPGs). This helped me develop the confidence to take on two subjects to lead as part of my second year in teaching.
Beverley Beaumont, Harleston:
In September 2018, I had the privilege of being asked to become the Early Years Best Practice group leader across St Benet’s, our Multi Academy Trust. This is a role that I had previously initiated with our Cluster, prior to becoming an Academy in 2018 and so had no doubt when accepting the challenge. My role as Best Practice lead enabled me to continue and most importantly, extend a supportive network across our schools whilst continuing to work with the schools outside of the Academy. A bigger group offers varied opportunities for gaining and sharing knowledge and expertise with a wider audience. As a group, we have developed new initiatives resulting in better outcomes and opportunities for all of our Early Years children. Over the course of the last 2 years, our Best Practice group has developed into a friendship group where professional support and challenge is at the heart of the way we work and open discussions and dedicated time just to talk can take place. Although being the leader of the Early Years group, my aim is for all members to contribute to the agenda and ensure relevance and value at every opportunity as time is precious.
As Early Years Best Practice lead, we have termly meetings and these have proven invaluable in expanding knowledge of practice within different schools. It has also given us the opportunity to explore each other’s settings and magpie ideas. We have shared improvement ideas, focused on the development of the outdoor area, moderated standards in reading, writing and maths, disseminated ideas from Inset training, suggested targeted training and played Phonic games with each other. I have implemented and highlighted the importance of ‘Reflections’ as a tool to develop and evidence improvements in provision and all schools are embedding this within their own practice. St Benet’s schools and our cluster schools have adopted my summative data grids and I have assisted colleagues in interpreting their data and suggested relevant intervention programmes to support next steps in learning. I have also had colleagues visit my class to gain an understanding of the structure, routine and pedagogy within my practice and supported them to create imaginative and creative learning environments. During our most recent meeting I updated colleagues on the proposed new Early Years curriculum, unpicked the Bold Beginnings document which revealed differences in opinions and healthy discussions and shared ideas re awe and wonder and cultural capital.
My role as St Benet’s Early Years Best Practice lead has made me personally become more reflective on my own practice, enhanced further my passion for early years and developed and enabled me to grow and flourish as a leader. I feel I need to be the best I can be, not only for my children and Early Years team but beyond and I relish in the opportunity to help others succeed and being part of St Benet’s has enabled this to happen for me. Colleagues from my own school have grown from being a part of this group and have the confidence and drive too to become the future St Benet’s Best Practice leads and one day when I retire, they will be ready to take away from me the gauntlet of Early Years lead, something I am not yet ready to give up!
To finish, we as schools across the Academy still have our own unique identity and sometimes differ in views but as a best practice group, we are united, know we can share our worries, concerns, pressures and successes and feel part of something with a common interest, which has the child at its centre. We offer support to each other, have someone to turn to and our meetings end up with lots of laughter and fun. Together we have the power to make united decisions, motivate and empathise with each other and feel empowered, ensuring the best outcomes for the children in our care.