In November 2014 Mrs Vicky Marshall became the acting depute headteacher, in charge of Breadalbane Academy primary. We caught up with her to find out how she’s getting on and to learn a bit more about her, her priorities and her approach to leadership.
Parent Council: Mrs Marshall, thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Please could you introduce yourself and tell parents a bit about your professional history?
Mrs Marshall: I was interested in teaching from an early age and went on to complete a PGCE (Primary) after finishing my degree in agriculture. I came to Breadalbane as a probationer in 2004 and shortly afterwards I got a permanent contract. The start of my teaching career was spent teaching infants and more recently I was teaching expressive arts and providing cover for Probationer teachers. In August I became the nursery teacher then Acting DHT (Primary) in November.
When the Acting DHT post was offered as a secondment, I decided to apply because I was keen to build on things I had started earlier. I had started to work on the tracking and monitoring of pupil learning and attainment since becoming the Acting Depute in November and wanted to further this. As a class teacher I had been in working groups looking at progressing learning and teaching and was interested in taking this further as the Acting Depute.
Parent Council: Can you give us a snapshot of the primary department as it is now?
Mrs Marshall: As the primary is part of the whole school the Primary DHT works closely with the school Senior Management Team. In the primary itself there are eight classes and one Gaelic Medium Education class. In addition there is a nurture class, the Pit Stop. This year in the nursery, there are 32 part time morning places, 16 part time afternoon places and 8 full time Support for Family and Children places. There are currently 212 pupils in the primary and 58 pupils in the nursery.
Parent Council: What are your priorities for the primary?
Mrs Marshall: This year in the primary we are building on the work started last year in tracking pupil attainment. Last year was the first time we carried out baseline assessments in reading, spelling and maths for all children from P2 upwards. When we repeated it this year we were able to track the progress pupils had made. We also track and monitor the writing attainment through an assessed piece of writing every term.
Pupil attainment is already tracked in terms of the Curriculum for Excellence levels, but using these additional methods of tracking and monitoring gives us a more rounded picture as well as additional information such as gaps in learning. Through monitoring the results I can work with staff to ensure that pupils are being appropriately challenged and supported.
As a department we started to look at our planning and assessment formats a couple of years ago, aiming to streamline and make them more manageable. Due to staffing changes we haven’t been able to complete this work. We need to progress further with this and hope to have made significant progress in time for the next academic year.
Parent Council: As part of an all-through school, the primary works closely with the headteacher and colleagues in secondary. Can you give us a run-down of how that works?
Mrs Marshall: The Senior Management Team generally meets twice a week to discuss whole school as well as departmental issues. Staff across the sectors frequently work together with part of most inservice days dedicated to whole school working. There are also whole school meetings held a couple of times each term. Teachers form working parties working on moving the school forward. Again, these are generally whole school working parties.
Pupils from the nursery and primary benefit from being part of all through school and learning in a community campus, for example, through shared resources such as access to the PE facilities. We also have primary pupils from P4/5 upwards being taught regularly in the secondary department. This means when pupils are moving into the secondary from primary 7 they are already know some secondary staff and the learning environment.
Parent Council: Thinking of the future, when you move on from this post, what do you want to able to say about your time as depute head at Breadalbane Academy?
Mrs Marshall: “In my time at Breadalbane I have helped pupils fulfil their potential“
Parent Council: If a parent needs to get in touch with you, how do they do it?
Mrs Marshall: Please phone the school office on 01887 822300 or email VLMarshall@pkc.gov.uk
Parent Council: Thank you very much, Mrs Marshall.
This interview is a summary of a longer presentation, which Mrs Marshall gave at the parent council meeting on March 31, 2015.
The staff speaker at the next parent council meeting, on Wednesday 20 April, 6:30pm, will be Mr Macluskey, depute head (school improvement). Mr Macluskey will explain how the school monitors and tracks pupil attainment, and how to understand your child’s school report.