In seventeen years of working in schools as a qualified teacher, Joanna carried out the roles of Deputy Headteacher in two schools, Acting Deputy Headteacher and Assistant Headteacher in another school, class teacher in various settings (from Year 1 to Year 6, but with a specialism in Y5/6), specialist music teacher from EYFS to Y6, and secondary music teacher in two schools in KS3 and KS4. During her time in schools, she had experience of leading teaching and learning, English, Maths, music, history, geography and able pupils, and was also SENCO for a year.
After carrying out a three-day audit of Maths at a primary school, she put in place a new action plan for Maths with a focus on fluency, reasoning and problem solving and implemented new calculations policies. She led staff meetings to move Maths forward rapidly, and worked one-to-one with teachers to develop their pedagogy, planning and subject knowledge.
Progress against this new strategic direction for Maths was rapid, as noted by both governors and the MIT team; for example, in April that year, only 40% of teaching was “good” in Maths, whereas in October, following intense work on her action plan, a MIT audit demonstrated that 80% of teaching was good or outstanding.
As a seconded deputy headteacher, Joanna worked with a Year 6 teacher to raise standards in writing. When she took up post in April, the projection was for 25% to meet expected standards; through support, encouragement, joint planning and improvements to assessment for learning, the school ultimately attained 50% expected standard in writing and 10% at greater depth).
As Acting Deputy at another school, she worked with staff to implement a new approach to guided reading. Tracking then demonstrated significantly improved attainment across the cohorts and pupil interviews demonstrated a marked improved attitude towards reading. Furthermore, the KS2 SATs result in reading was for the first time above floor standard and above the national average. At KS1, reading scores were 14% above national average, and the Year One phonics check was 12% above national average.
Joanna was always keen to harness the findings of her own school-based research; for example, she wrote articles for the National Association for the Teaching of English which were used by the Lancashire English team for training purposes. She was also asked by the Lancashire English team to be a guest speaker on guided reading for headteachers and English subject leaders within Blackburn with Darwen.
As a seconded deputy headteacher with a particular focus on teaching and learning, it was Joanna’s remit to work with middle leaders to develop their skills in action planning, book scrutinies, learning walks and reporting to governors.
She carried out appraisals for a number of teaching and non-teaching staff; this meant that teachers in her team developed their leadership skills as a result of mentoring and coaching. One teacher took on board his appraisal target to develop technology and liaised with a local high school to arrange for a class to experience their virtual learning space; he then worked on a project to make more effective use of iPads in school. This subsequently had an impact on improving standards in writing.
She worked regularly with a Lancashire leadership cluster; for example, by leading training alongside other headteachers to develop middle leadership. She also set up and chaired a maths cluster in Burnley to develop maths pedagogy across several schools.
At one school, with responsibility for the financial management of the pupil premium grant – accounting for 34% of the number on roll - Joanna managed a substantial budget and had a clear impact as a result. She considered the strategic implications of this money through action planning based on an evaluation of the needs of the school’s pupil premium children and also ways in which they could make improvements as an organisation. Her analysis of whole school data indicated particular gaps for PPG pupils in two cohorts and so she targeted these cohorts for a number of additional interventions. Following an audit of PPG provision, she developed the pupil premium policy and strategy and improved systems to encourage parents to apply for pupil premium funding. She was innovative in her approach, for example, by planning an opera project to develop disadvantaged children’s self-esteem and confidence.
As backup DSL, Joanna completed DSL training, and more in-depth training in the Toxic Trio. She had experience of leading TAF meetings, was lead professional for CAFs, supported families who were experiencing difficulties and directed them towards early help, and attended Child in Need meetings, Child Protection initial case conferences and subsequent core group meetings.
She dealt with numerous disclosures from children and worked with police, health professionals and Children’s Social Care on several occasions, including for children at risk of significant harm and those who were subject to legal proceedings.
She led safeguarding training and induction for a number of staff and continues to do so now with the staff of her piano school.