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History teacher making history - by Governor Mona Adams

posted 7 Feb 2017, 07:24 by Michele Colt
Five years ago, David Doy joined the staff of Richmond Park Academy – and breathed a justifiable sigh of success. Since his first placement with us as part of his PGCE a couple of years previously, he'd been looking for a vacancy here, one that would give him the chance to return on a permanent basis to a school where he'd had such a positive and productive training experience.

Now head of history, he remembers what the school was like when he first joined the staff.  'It was in the middle of the building programme and it was at a time when there were a lot more challenges than there are now. For example, during my five years here, I've seen a vast improvement in behaviour. In 2017 our students are polite, eager to learn and respond positively to both staff and to their peers. They are proud of the school's new facilities, the landscaping and the variety of spaces for sport which the re-developed campus now provides. Richmond Park Academy is a good place to learn and it is also a good place to teach'.

Under the new school management, there are plans afoot to keep both teaching and learning ahead of the game. The two that excite Mr Doy most are, first, the introduction of a new data analysis programme which is user friendly – very important – but also provides broader based information. For example, it highlights not only individual performance but also class and cohort outcomes so that these key groups can be targeted quickly as and when required. Secondly, the new principal, Paul Mundy-Castle, has revitalised the way in which teachers communicate information to each other and how they report progress to him. He runs regular academic board meetings with senior leadership and faculty sub leaders which provide opportunities to swop ideas, make joint decisions and share feedback. 'Because our principal is a stickler for detail and his questioning is always forensic, staff are consequently more accountable for individual progress and overall standard setting. It's a very motivational set-up and I'm already feeling – and seeing – benefits'.

Mr Doy also sees engaging with parents as a top priority. He plans to set up information evenings for parents of his Year 11s so that information about text books, homework requirements, the availability of IT research sites and so on can be shared, enabling parents to be better equipped to support student learning.  In episode two, he will roll out the programme to Year 10 parents as well.

Three RPA staff are currently being groomed for senior leadership – and Mr Doy is one of them.   He's just embarked on a 2-year teaching leaders course which will include challenge days, seminars and online group sessions. 'It is just as important for teachers to take on new challenges as it is for our students', he says. 'The course will require me to work to clear targets, just like my students, The current  target in the history department is for 80% of them to pull off A-C GCSE grades. Special assemblies led by our principal are honing in on the importance of resilience and self-determination.  And yes, there's a stronger possibility than last year that we can meet that target'.

Good news, indeed – and history in the making.