Andy Oliver was appointed as an NQT at Holte School, Lozells, Birmingham in 1998. Holte was graded ‘Outstanding’ in 2009 and 2012, is an Inclusion Quality Mark Flagship School and also recently achieved the Equalities Award.
Andy undertook a variety of pastoral posts at the school including Head of Year, Assistant Headteacher and now Deputy Headteacher. He has also been the the school’s DSL for the last 10 years.
Andy spent a year as an Acting Headteacher for a Primary School in Walsall in 2012 that had gone into Special Measures which then became ‘Good’ within 7 months. He was also part of the ‘Senior Leadership Team of the year’ in the TES Awards in 2012-2013 and recently won a Midlands Education Award for ‘Transforming Lives through Partnerships’.
In this episode we meet Andy and some of the NQTs at his school.
Holte School has just been made a Pivotal Regional Hub School. Andy tells us that when he went on his Pivotal training it wasn’t to revolutionise the behaviour management in the school because they already had an Ofsted outstanding rating. Rather, it was to help the school improve further and to change the school’s approach. Now, all senior staff have been through Pivotal training, Andy runs whole school sessions and all NQTs are inducted into the Pivotal approaches.
The school is now very positive about behaviour management and this is borne out by the comparisons in data between now and before the adoption of the Pivotal ways of working. For example, there have been 10 permanent exclusions in the past 7 years in a school which has a significant amount of behaviour challenges with gang issues in the local community and high levels of mental health problems and crime.
Andy agrees that this success is based on a whole school emphasis on warmth and kindness, right from the initial meet and greet to every lesson.
What has the school been doing with the community?
The BBC and ITV have recently been in Holte to cover the launch of a Police anti knife crime initiative. The school uses metal detecting wands a random sessions every week to ensure the school is a safe environment and this has been championed by the Police across Birmingham. The school has arranged for many outside speakers to come in and talk to the pupils about knife crime including mothers who have lost their children to knife crime and ex-gang members. University criminologists have run staff training sessions on how to divert children from the path to knife culture and the school has an excellent relationship with the Police leading to cross promotion of work. There is a confidential online reporting system for pupils and the combination of their approaches has helped them to tackle the issues.
The school has managed to create a robust, safe environment combined with their caring, kind, warm approach.
“I think that the pupils will work harder and respect people more if they see that we care about them – that we’ve got their interests at heart and that we want the best for them.”
On the basis of this work and other initiatives, Hoilte school have recently won the Midlands Education Award in the category of Transforming Lives Through Partnerships.
Holte’s NQTs: Sameya Bi, Jennifer Campbell and Christina Sutcliffe
Sameya, Jennifer and Christina all agree about the importance of setting high expectations and clear boundaries right from the start – ‘right from the door’. Once these are established, you can start to build relationships with the pupils.
What processes do you go through to keep yourselves grounded and preserve your enthusiasm?
Positive people around you are essential and at Holte there is a great support system – other NQTs, your department. Weekly NQT Programme meetings help where problems can be shared and the realisation that everyone else has similar ones, even with the same pupils is very helpful! This is particularly important because the pupils soon learn that the staff communicate and share which builds consistency.
What advice would you give to new teachers or those starting something new in September?
The NQTs have used resources which are freely available such as:
- TES programmes
- Facebook, blogs and other social media groups
- Twitter – especially for sharing work and getting ideas from others
- Conferences where you can meet up with those you have met on social media and concentrate on research-based practice
More tips from the NQTs:
- Stay consistent – this will help you and your students who will thrive on knowing exactly what to expect
- Treat each lesson as a brand new event, letting go of any baggage from the previous lesson and meeting and greeting all students with a positive tone
- Always remember to follow up with pupils- have restorative conversations – approach them and talk about what went wrong
- Let things go – reflect on what went wrong but then move on
a.oliver [at] holte.bham.sch.uk (formatted to avoid spam)
Holte School tel. 0121 566 4370