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Platinum Jubilee High School, Gadchiroli: An AQS-ASIST Cycle

PJHSpanel

 This case study was jointly written by Shubadra Shenoy, Lead Assessor at Platinum Jubilee High School, Gadchiroli and Swati Gupta, Research Lead, Adhyayan.

Platinum Jubliee High School (PHJS) is located in Gadchiroli[i] district in Maharashtra. It is a low cost private school that follows the SSC. The english medium school is co-educational and currently has 457 students enrolled. Focused on providing affordable quality education to the children in conflict region, the school management and leaders had anticipated the challenging journey that they decided to embark on.

PHJS began its journey of school improvement with school assessment as its first step in February 2013 when Adhyayan Quality Standard[ii] (AQS) was welcomed in the school. The Adhyayan school review process focuses on two key ‘non-negotiables’ that are inherently devised as strategies for stakeholder conflict resolution in schools. Firstly, the ‘school self-review team’ involves representatives from all stakeholder groups present in a school to form the school self-review team. Secondly, ‘evidence based for judgement’ as the key source for collecting evidence, while minimizing conflict in arriving at ‘judgements’.

Orientation day: Stakeholder engagement for school improvement The school’s journey towards improving the quality of education started with a whole school review. The school self-review team was formed with representatives from all stakeholders namely, students, teachers, school leaders, management, non-teaching staff and parents. The school self-review team had a one day orientation programme which focussed on understanding the AQS diagnostic tool and 4 methods of evidence collection. The four methods are learning walk, classroom observations, book look and interviews with stakeholders. The four evidence collection activities provide scope for understanding the difference between ‘evidence’ and ‘judgement’. For instance, while on a learning walk, participants make observations like “the corridor was clean” but the focus is to help each member understand that “clean” is a judgement and one has to question further regarding the detail what made the corridor look “clean”. At the end of the exercise, participants begun to detail out somewhat like, ‘the corridor was spotless with no water spilt on the floor’. During the orientation day, stakeholders on the self-review team most often share that they feel overwhelmed as it is one-of-a-kind, first-ever-experience for them. The reasons shared by them are largely regarding two aspects: the opportunity to look at the whole school for improvement and engaging with school community as ‘active’ partners in the school improvement journey which involves working alongside school leaders and teachers and children.

Adhyayan Quality Standard: Brief outline of the school review In February 2013, the school was awarded state silver on the completion of 5 day AQS school review process. Table 1 details the ratings of each key performance area (KPAs) as rated by SSRE[iii] and SERE[iv]. If we notice, there is one judgement distance between SSRE and SERE ratings across all KPAs except ‘The Curriculum’. One judgement distance could indicate either over estimation by the school self-review team or difference in understanding of the standard (benchmark). However, the trend of one judgement gap is expected from a ‘good’ school during the first round as the concept of school review is new in India. It is also expected that this gap between SSRE and SERE judgement must reduce during subsequent rounds of school reviews such that finally the school is self-sufficient in understanding and operationalizing their own school review.

Table 1: SSRE and SERE ratings of six Key Performance Area

Key Performance Area

SSRE Judgement

SERE Judgement

Leadership and Management

Sarvottam

Uttam

Teaching and Learning

Sarvottam

Uttam

The Child

Sarvottam

Uttam

The Curriculum

Uttam

Asantoshjanak

Community and Partnerships

Uttam

Asangat

Infrastructure and Resources

Uttam

Asangat

PJHS decided to prioritize its attention towards The Curriculum as they were rated the lowest there among all the KPAs. They further decided to work on The Curriculum and Teaching and Learning simultaneously as the two have simultaneity. PJHS immediately planned their next steps and desired goals based on the detailed AQS report. This involved commissioning the Adhyayan team to develop and deliver a training module to support the school’s achievement targets.

The school’s five key priorities for improvement were

1. Towards Holistic Curriculum

2. Integrated and Theme based Teaching and Learning

3. Experiential Learning

4.Good Lesson Planning Formats

5. Child’s voice in the school.

As the school, identified the above themes based on the AQS recommendation report, it further narrowed its focus to include, ‘understanding what a good literacy and numeracy program looks like’, ‘enhancing the understanding of classroom learning through exposure- engaging students with the community, partnering with schools in the vicinity or outside’. Thus, focus was on incorporating engagement of the community and partnering with other schools, including field trips, invitations to guest speakers, concepts of video conferencing and collaborative projects in lesson plans while including student’s feedback and active engagement. The workshops were consciously designed as an experiential learning process to enhance learning by doing as well as helping teachers to understand importance of experiential learning.

The first three day workshop, conducted in May 2013, covered aspects of all the above topics with loads of examples, hands on experiences and case studies. The workshop also reinforced the need for good school information systems and documentations that will supplement the effective teaching- learning systems. The teachers showcased a need to “change” and “learn” varied methodologies that made the class informative, fun and interesting. Stakeholder involvement was key while developing action plans during the workshop.

As a result of experiential learning and hands-on-learning format of the workshops, the participants took ownership of the process and led the change. It showcased improvement in the shaping of the curriculum, use of group work in classrooms, effective lesson plans, systems for monitoring student and staff progress and making the student body ready to take on the day to day affairs of the school with the Principal and the other school leaders. The determination of the Principal and the team to “be the change” and introduce international practices was truly applause worthy. Further, the school decided to conduct the school self-review before the next workshop to identify the scope of improvement and what they should celebrate. This allowed them to identify their strengths and reset their targets for effective planning. Below is the report of external validation of the school’s mid-term review conducted before the second workshop:

A (sample) SERE validation report by workshop facilitators before the workshop

A quick glimpse at the improvements

Session 1 ( MAY ) Session 2  ( SEPT ) Evidence collected from. To take ahead
Introduction to holistic child development. How does one stay Cognitive without the help of ESCAPES? The elements of holistic development were evidently seen in the lesson plans and in the break-up of activities sent to the parents. Lesson plans of teachers, interviews with students and staff. Learning walk Inclusion of other art forms like music, dance and social work
An ideal time table to promote holistic development The time table was seen promoting theme based learning with theme plans. Currently teachers are seen using various activities to incorporate the aspects of holistic development Time tables of all classes, lesson plan formats, observation sheets of the co-ordinators The time table can be more suited to options of co-teaching and Integrated learning
Plotting the syllabus as a yearly planner, including academics and co-curricular activities – checklist Concept map is used as yearly planner for topics Need to see the concept map and list of co-curricular activities To have subject wise yearly break up with total number of expected sessions.
Introducing theme based learning and integrated learning using examples Theme teaching visible. The web of themes done in the class is also sent to the parents along with the activities. Parent circulars and syllabus sheet sent home, lesson planning sheets reflect the same. The activities break up for every topic needs to be more detailed and relevant to the theme. More availability of teachers or teacher assistants for co-teaching is needed.
What makes a Good Lesson Plan? New lesson plan format was adopted to include elements that were discussed in the earlier workshop. Emphasis on using starter, plenary, home assignment, assessments were visible. Teachers were comfortable writing lesson plans that included activities and appropriate learning outcomes. Lesson planning sheet Teachers to work on more in-detailed session wise planning rather than unit plan. The higher classes to incorporate less teacher driven plans
Introduction to “the child’s voice”. Who are the decision makers? Elections and campaigning led to cabinet formation of 7 ministries, 2 prime ministers and 8 house captains. Plan to create committees that will support the ministries is in process. Interviews with students, meeting with Class 9 and the office bearers Portfolios with duties and roles list needs to be derived. Office bearers to become decision makers with the school leaders. Documentation of all meetings to be formulated.

The second workshop series focused on incorporating techniques learnt during the earlier workshop in lesson plans and how it makes way for an interesting and informative session for both the teacher and the students. The training also introduced various types of teaching techniques like team teaching and theme based teaching practices, provision of different levels for assessments and worksheets catering to students of mixed abilities.

A special focus was on developing displays as a learning tool and how they can be an interactive space for students to help each other to learn and share. The team also worked on the smaller nuances of effective documentation, observation and feedback from co-ordinators, communication with parents on theme based teaching practices and activities in class. The school management and leaders keen interest on achieving international levels of best practices motivated the staff to set an example for other schools that one can improve its standards against all odds.

 



[i] Gadchiroli district is a part of the red corridor that experiences considerable Naxalite- Maoist insurgency
[ii] AQS is the diagnostic tool which assesses quality of education provided by a school across six key performance area. For more details go here
[iii] SSRE— School Self Review and Evaluation
[iv] SERE—School External Review and Evaluation

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