After completing his teacher training in the Welsh valleys in 1994, Gwynn Bassan started teaching at The Maplesden Noakes School in Maidstone and within two years became Head of Geography. He then moved for a promotion to The Hundred of Hoo School as Head of a large Humanities Faculty before commencing his career in senior leadership in Wrotham School in 2004 where he led on Teaching and Learning. In 2008, he became Senior Assistant Headteacher at The Rochester Grammar School (RGS) and led it on its journey to becoming a nationally and internationally renowned thinking school. It became the first secondary school in the country to be awarded advanced thinking school status by the University of Exeter and is now a global case study. Over a six year period Gwynn moved to Deputy Headship and then to Head of School. As Head of School, he created and led the New Horizons Teaching School Alliance, a group of 40 schools who share in one vision: to transform the life chances of all students. This group works together to lead teacher training, staff training, school to school support and research and development across Kent, Medway and South London. One successful teaching school collaboration has been with the University of Kent where Gwynn, along with Vicky Kirby at Brompton Academy, created and designed the first school-led Masters course, the MSc in Professional Practice – Teaching and Learning. As a result of this, he and his colleagues have now become associate lecturers and assessors for the University of Kent. During his time at RGS, Gwynn has been seconded in to two schools in special measures by his CEO, Denise Shepherd, more recently in the capacity of Interim Principal of City of Portsmouth Girls’ School (now Portsmouth Academy for Girls), to successfully move them out of category. He was appointed Principal of Rochester Grammar in October 2013 and still oversees the strategic plan for the Teaching School Alliance.
Jo Wadey, Assistant Principal of the Rochester Grammar School, will be taking over the work of the Teaching School from September 2014. She passionately believes in giving students the strategies and tools to think and learn for themselves and the ability to manage their own learning and is excited about the opportunities the Teaching School will offer to build this philosophy and transform the life chances of children within Kent and Medway.
Jo completed her teaching training at the Institute of Education and went on to work as a history teacher at Kelsey Park Sports College in South East London. At the end of her NQT year she took on the position as Head of Citizenship, a new department that she was able to set up and develop across the school. This involved her organising new schemes of learning and GCSE programmes of study as well as setting up a whole school charity day building on Citizenship ideologies. The success of this work was seen in the rapidly increasing Citizenship grades going from a new subject to second in the school within two years. Due to the success of the department Jo was asked to lead the RS and History department as well and improve the quality of teaching and learning and attainment in both of these subject areas covering a large range of staff and resulting in raising the history department’s GCSE results for three consecutive years.
With Kelsey Park Sports College electing to become a Harris Academy, Jo wanted a new challenge so decided to complete the gruelling AST application and accreditation building on the work completed at Kelsey Park. Having been successful she went on to develop a number of projects in her own school on others focussed on improving whole school teaching and learning and in particular AFL techniques. As part of this Jo has been trained from both London Challenge and the Harris Federation in lesson observation and feedback, particularly looking at the Ofsted criteria with the additional focus on literacy and progress over time, and she has used this training to work with many different members of staff from the most experienced to the least, helping them marry their immense subject knowledge with teaching students the necessary skill strands which are vital for success. This has helped her develop and implement a ‘Satisfactory to Good’ programme and a ‘Good to Outstanding’, to support existing teachers to improve their own standard of teaching and support the school’s target of improving the overall percentage of good lessons and outstanding lessons. This was highly successful and saw the percentage of good lessons rise from approximately 20% to 60% within a year.
Last year Jo decided it was time for a change, wanting to develop teaching and learning practices in a new environment so joined The Rochester Grammar School as Assistant Principal. During the past year she has worked at building on the already good work and moving Teaching and Learning forward to the current 92% good or better and working with the Thinking team to embed further the thinking strategies and the current vision of selecting the right tool for the right process. This has led her to be trained as a Thinking Consultant by TSI and she is looking forward to working with other schools within New Horizons to develop thinking further. She began her work with the Teaching School by leading the SLEs and has developed the previous work to ensure their deployment across a range of schools within the Teaching School and beyond building the current numbers to approximately 30 SLEs next year. She is currently involved in working with key strategic partners to discuss and develop the key points from the NHTSA to ensure the challenging targets set for the Teaching School in 2014-15 are fully met.