To be fully effective, every school department has to take a regular, long, hard look at itself and ask some tough, searching questions. In between, there should be plenty of glances in the mirror to check there is not a hair out of place. Self-review can be a fundamental force in driving and achieving improvement and it should be a reflective, professional process through which staff get to know themselves better in terms of their strengths and areas for development. It is one of the most overlooked forms of explicit evaluation.
Self-review shouldn’t be an overly administrative or mechanistic process; but rather, robust and conducted within a coherent framework underpinned by a set of structures that support systematic processes to collect a range of evidence from different sources. This can be time-consuming and demanding – but if you are lucky enough to teach design and technology then assessing, reviewing and evaluating your departmental provision is now a lot easier thanks to the D&T Association’s Self Review Framework (SRF). This is an online tool providing you with the structure you need for reviewing your school’s provision of D&T, which will in turn help inform your overall school improvement strategy and plans. It also provides compelling evidence in support of your school’s inspection profile.
The purpose of the SRF is to identify the level of your school’s maturity in design and technology and importantly, how you are meeting the requirements of the 2014 National Curriculum. The online tool has a set of descriptors which enable you to see where you can make design and technology more effective. You can use the framework to see where you are now, where you want to go and how to get there by prioritising areas for development in teaching, learning and assessment. It enables you to focus on the explicit details to reflect accurately, gather evidence efficiently and move your subject forward.
To get an instant mini-review of the quality of D&T in your school you start by responding to nine statements, which are quick-fire explanatories answered by clicking an appropriate box and selecting ‘Not met’, ‘Partially met’ or ‘Fully met’. This gives you a flavour of your provision and leads into the full Self-Review after the system has analysed your answers and produced a brief report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses in your department.
The full SRF then requires you to evaluate provision in three distinct domains, namely: principles for learning, curriculum for learning and environment for learning. Undertaking the review means you are guided by a series of questions in each domain, which involves colleagues identifying suitable sources of evidence. Areas under the microscope range from your ethos, values and vision to planning, teaching, assessment and resourcing, to name but a few. The same click-box criteria are selected as for the overview and this enables you to see whether the level of your provision is emerging, established or embedded. All this is accessed via a very intuitive and user-friendly dashboard
This review isn’t just about ticking boxes though. Within each statement area there are examples provided to illustrate good quality work for the particular descriptor you are reviewing. These are from real schools so they have genuine credibility. Then there are a whole pile of linked resources to click into to guide your department towards better provision. These vary from descriptor to descriptor, but they are all immensely useful and will save you hours of time. There is the option of uploading that all-important evidence; and really, it’s essential that you do, to showcase with pride how you are meeting requirements.
There is more. The D&T Association has developed the D&T Mark, an aspirational quality mark for schools that recognises their excellence in design and technology education. Having undertaken the self-review process, schools can apply for the quality mark, which involves assembling a portfolio of evidence as well as engaging with an external moderator.
If you are not already a member of the D&T Association then now is the time to join as it is the place to go for the tools, knowledge and information you need to be more effective. If you have individual membership then it is a wise move to convert into a departmental one, as the SRF is then free. All schools are required to complete an annual self-review. For D&T members, the self-review process via the SRF is one to embrace rather than dread as the organisation has provided a tool that simplifies rather than complicates matters. It professionalises a vital process – and gives your department the chance to shine.