Accountability or Responsibility



Turton Triads, CPD/Performance Development

My inquiry question: Can individual responsibility be truly intrinsic within the culture of school, thus completely removing the requirement for a top down structure of enforced accountability? Through the culture of the school, can teachers effectively reflect and develop their practice and hold themselves and each other to account without an enforced structure from senior leaders?

When we embarked on our Triad process, we had a collective imperative to transform teaching across school. Our intention was to re-focus our attention on what students were learning in the classroom, the content and sequencing of the curriculum and how well students were learning it. We undertook a good deal of research and analysis into the culture of teaching at Turton, the effectiveness of our taught curriculum, current pedagogy and the extent to which students were learning what was being taught and how we knew (assessment). We combined this with extensive conversations about current educational research outside of school and our personal values in relation to the purpose of education at Turton.

Subsequently, our school priorities were threefold:

  1. Our Hive Switch ensures that all students develop good character through a strong work ethic and excellent learning habits.
  2. Embedding the three ways of the Trivium (grammar, dialectic, rhetoric) into our curriculum to ensure that we deliver a world-class education for our students.
  3. Teachers as experts in their subjects who provide a broad and deep learning experience for students.

Moreover, our mechanism for meeting these priorities was through the Triad process for professional development and performance development. We established the Triads as a way of developing this together, and there was much work to be done!

A culture change in teaching had to be brought forth with a requirement for all teachers to immerse themselves in their own professional development and supportive of the development of others. We began working on developing a reflective, transformative culture, where everyone sought to improve their practice and invoke school improvement through each of us getting a bit better, year on year.

As part of the triad process, each member of staff set out three intentions for developing their practice for the year. Intentions rather than targets because targets has implications of a straight-line path towards an immovable goal, whereas intentions can set you on a curious and exploratory journey to improvement that is flexible and varied, with many possible routes.

These intentions link to school priorities but are crucially decided by individuals and Triad groups. Teachers firstly reflect on and assess their current practice, then discuss their intentions for the year with their Triad group and their Triad lead.

Now in our third year of the Triad process, I am highly impressed by the work that all teachers are doing within their Triad groups. The research, evidence-informed developments, the collaboration and collegiality and the notable improvements and excellent practice that is taking place in classrooms, tell me that a real culture shift has occurred. A culture that is now embedded in the practice of every teacher across school.

Once the culture change has occurred, there is no longer a need for the same rigidity in structure. I am now confident that teachers reflect, develop, collaborate and improve as part of their yearly practice. Thus, this year, we will move to each teacher setting just one intention in September. This will be set up as an inquiry, leading to evidence-informed improvements to practice. If appropriate, a second intention may be introduced at the review stage in February.

The teaching profession suffers from accountability overload, forcing people into practices that can destroy the fundamentals of great teaching: supportive relationships and self-growth. Our Triad structure provides the guidance needed to ensure that everyone can flourish in a collaborative community. It is a move away from accountability towards responsibility and integrity, values that better align with our culture. We value teacher professionalism, trust, collaboration and community and I hold a strong belief that my teachers want to do their very best for the students on a daily basis.


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