Case studies

Leadership and management

Task: introducing a new appraisal and performance management system

Impact: improved student outcomes and Ofsted inspection grade

I introduced an on-line performance management system which made better use of key student performance data, had clearer links between the appraisal of staff and the achievement of their students and led to focused plans for professional development in the areas that the college and the individual member of staff needed most.

There were immediate gains from the new process. On-line recording made producing data and evidence for Ofsted much simpler than a paper-based system and was invaluable in demonstrating the rigour of the process. It also made completing it on time easier, allowing for more timely reporting to senior management and governors.

Over time, it changed the staff view of appraisal and led to greater buy-in from all staff. Key to this was taking regular soundings from staff and adapting the process using this feedback. Staff felt they owned the process more and could see changes flowing from their responses. In turn, this led to more honest and accurate appraisals and improvement in student outcomes through focusing on the right areas.

It also made a significant difference to the college's Ofsted inspections, reducing the time spent discussing and evidencing good performance management of staff with the inspection team, allowing them and college staff to focus on other issues.

Strategic planning

Task: complete a staff restructuring in response to cuts in funding and falling student numbers

Impact: £1.5m savings in staff costs and more focused management structure

Cuts in government funding and a drop in student numbers meant Longley Park Sixth Form College needed to make very significant savings in its staff costs from 2013 onwards. As Associate Principal (Resources), it was my responsibility to plan how this would be achieved and implement those plans with minimal impact on the College’s operations, and with a focus on improving quality at the same time.

I developed plans that restructured the senior and middle management in the College, remodelled the teaching teams, and focused the roles of support staff more clearly on student-facing activity. The plans took three years to implement to make sure students already enrolled on courses could complete them.

By the end of the implementation, the College had achieved a £1.5m saving in staff costs, about 20% of turnover. This had been achieved with no industrial action and only one compulsory redundancy. The changes complemented our quality strategy and the College moved from Requires Improvement to Good over those three years. 

Funding expertise and support

Task: produce forecasting model for ESFA 16-19 allocations methodology

Impact: accurate planning led to meeting financial plan targets

I developed a tool to do this using key data used by the ESFA in calculating allocations. The tool calculates an accurate figure for future funding (within +/- 1%) and allows the use of  different variables to forecast several scenarios of 16-19 income. It links with your budget planning, allowing you to forecast future income and expenditure and surpluses/deficits.

The data it uses means you can calculate the next year’s funding very accurately within the first few weeks of the academic year, at least three months before the ESFA notify you of any elements of the funding allocation for the next year.

At Longley Park Sixth Form College, this proved invaluable in being able to plan staff changes and plan major non-pay expenditure where the timescales for doing so did not match the dates the ESFA publish the final allocations by. For example, when implementing major staffing reductions, I was able to start that process in the late autumn, obtaining the approval of senior leadership colleagues and governors before communicating plans to trade unions and staff shortly after Christmas. This meant plans had been implemented and income and expenditure accurately forecast for the next year, meaning realistic financial targets were set and met.

Data analysis

Task: use grade prediction data to provide accurate and usable information for staff

Impact: better and easier to use information for staff, leading to better student outcomes

High quality data analysis has never been more important in the post-16 sector. It helps make everyone’s workload easier and provides vital information to make the improvements to students’ experience.

Teachers at Longley Park Sixth Form College gave predicted grades for students on a regular basis. Collecting these was time-consuming so it was vital that the data from the predictions could be turned into easy-to-use information as quickly as possible. I developed a tool which took summary data from the grade predictions and turned it into simple tables and charts for teachers and managers to use in a timely fashion once data collection was complete. It took the data from staff and put it into the key metric of Qualification Achievement Rates, including the ability to model different scenarios and compare with targets and prior performance. This allowed course leaders, departmental managers and senior leaders to quickly and easily assess where their attention and effort was most needed.

I also developed a tool allowing bespoke Level 3 Value Added information to be produced from the grade prediction. The tool allowed the College to look at performance by a set of key metrics, for example, gender and ethnicity, that the Department for Education tools do not.

It produced information that highlighted strengths and areas for improvement which had previously not been noticed as they were ‘hidden’ in the high level data. In turn, this supported teachers and managers with understanding where to focus their efforts most to support students and obtain the best individual outcomes for them and the best overall results for the College.