Frequently Asked Questions

We have talked to a lot of people now as they make use of the SKEIN service and we are beginning to get a good idea of the most common questions which arise. Here we try to answer those questions. The list grows every day so keep looking. And if you have a question you can't find the answer to, let us know and we'll try to help - and add it to the FAQ if others are likely to want to know the same thing.

SKEIN-Momentum

Will the outcomes of your work with us remain confidential to us?

Each SKEIN Momentum school receives its own report which is fully confidential to them. It’s up to each school to decide whether and how they want to share the findings internally or otherwise. For example some school leaders chose to share excerpts from their report or report summaries with their staff while others just use them to inform their organisation’s strategic development. Some schools use their reports during Ofsted visits; others publish a sentence or two about their particular strengths on their website or other marketing materials or e.g. when recruiting new staff.

SKEIN-Momentum

You claim that the service is rooted in the evidence about effective school improvement. What is this evidence?

The service is based on research that was carried out with Teach First. You can read one of the reports highlighting the evidence here.

SKEIN-Momentum

How does SKEIN Momentum relate to OfSTED?

SKEIN momentum is not simply a mock Ofsted but it does support schools in fulfilling Ofsted expectations. The service focuses on enabling schools to increase their capacity to accelerate school improvement leading to improved pupil outcomes. Skein Momentum give schools practical strategies to move forwards which align with Ofsted. 

SKEIN-Momentum

How much of my time as a head/senior leader will be taken up?

We understand that your time is very precious and endeavour to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible. We will use documents that already exist within your school, so you will not have to create any paperwork. We will send links and instructions for completing the survey as an email that simply needs to be circulated. During the visit we will mainly work with other colleagues but do ask you to participate in an interview of approximately one hour. Schools find that participation in the interview is a valuable way of supporting you and your SLT to reflect on key aspects of your school improvement practices.

We recommend that you involve emerging leaders/ administrative colleagues in e.g. assembling the documents and preparing a schedule for the visit day.

SKEIN-Momentum

What documents do I have to prepare?

None!

We will use documents that are already in existence within the school. We will send some clear guidance about what we need so all the documents will be easy to assemble. Schools often find it valuable to involve an emerging leader/ administrative colleague in compiling the information.

SKEIN-Momentum

How long does the whole process take?

The overall process tends to take about 7 weeks.

We try to allow for around 3 weeks before the visit to collect and analyse school documentation, agree the schedule for the visit and provide pupils with an opportunity to respond to our on-line survey. After the visit, it takes us 3-4 weeks to analyse the data and prepare the draft report which is then sent to the school leadership team for validation. Where schools wish to proceed faster than this in order to align SKEIN Momentum with their timelines for strategic planning and development we will always try to accommodate.

SKEIN-Momentum

Why should I choose Skein Momentum over other evaluation services?

Unlike (superficially) similar services, Skein Momentum;

  • is rooted in international evidence about effective school improvement that is associated with accelerated pupil progress;
  • is NOT simply a validated self-assessment. The assessment is undertaken by trained experts using benchmarks derived from research;
  • does not make the school do all the work, fill out any forms or provide standard answers to questions;
  • builds capacity in the client school and leaves them with additional capabilities and resources; and
  • includes follow up support in driving forwards developments from highly skilled and knowledgeable consultants.

SKEIN-Momentum

Do you monitor us to see if improvements have been made?

Schools that take part in the leadership enquiry will be supported in making improvements and collecting evidence of impact. We also offer a follow-up service, which involves us visiting the school after two and a half terms to track your progress and offer advice.

SKEIN-Momentum

How does SKEIN Momentum relate to the Professional Standard in CPD?

Skein Momentum is fully aligned with the Professional Standard, and CUREE’s CEO Philippa Cordingley is a key member of the expert panel that developed the Standard.

The process includes consideration of your school’s professional development environment so giving you an insight into how CPDL (continuing professional development and learning) can be further strengthened. This will help you use the Standard to support your school improvement.

Schools that take part in the leadership enquiry will benefit from ongoing support that is in line with the Standard’s expectations of providers. 

SKEIN-Momentum

How much does it cost for schools?

The full price is £4,350 which includes the full evaluation and a developmental feedback meeting to support you in making use of your report. 

We highly recommend that you take part in our supported leadership enquiry process which empowers you to carry out action planning, implement developments and develop leadership capacity and is available at additional cost.

SKEIN-Momentum

How much time do you need to spend in school and how many students, members of staff will be involved?

Prior to the visit we will send you a link to an online survey and ideally this will be completed by all students. Many schools find it helpful to assign a designated slot e.g. part of an ICT lesson for students to complete the questions.

We will need to visit the school for up to a day. We will do whatever we can to fit in with your timetable to carry out the following activities:

  • meeting with the SLT (for 1 hour)
  • holding individual interviews with 4 colleagues (each interview 30 minutes)
  • carrying out an interactive and developmental focus group with 6-10 colleagues (1 hour)
  • observing any other teaching and learning/CPD activities as appropriate. This might include sitting in on a CPD session, observing a SLT meeting or doing a learning walk. 

SKEIN-Momentum

SKEIN-FE

How much of my time will be taken up?

We understand that your time is very precious and endeavour to ensure the process takes up as little of your time as is possible. We will need to visit the college for up to one day and will use documents that will already exist within your college, so you will not have to create any paperwork. We recommend that you involve junior colleagues in e.g. assembling the documents or preparing a schedule for the visit day.

SKEIN-FE

What documents do I have to prepare?

None! We will use documents that are already in existence within the college. We will send some clear guidance about what we need so all the documents will be easy to assemble.

SKEIN-FE

How much time do you need to spend in college and how many members of staff will be involved?

We will need to visit the college to interview the leadership team and some individual staff members and hold a focus group with colleagues. The numbers of staff involved will depend on the size of your college. The leadership team interview will take 60-90 minutes, the individual interviews will take about 20 minutes and the focus group will take 60-90 minutes. We will suggest how to organise the day most efficiently, making the most of the timeslots when staff are not teaching and causing the least disruption to your normal operations. We also ask members of staff to complete an online survey, which is very short and can be completed when convenient to colleagues.

SKEIN-FE

How long does the whole process take?

The overall process tends to take about 6 weeks. We try to allow for around 3 weeks before the visit to collect and analyse college documentation, agree the schedule for the visit and provide all staff with an opportunity to respond to our on-line survey.

After the visit, it takes us 2-3 weeks to analyse the data and prepare the draft report which is then sent to the college leadership team for validation. There have been instances when colleges have wished to proceed faster than this in order to align SKEIN with their timelines for strategic planning and development and we always try to accommodate that.

SKEIN-FE

Why should I choose SKEIN over other evaluation services?

Unlike (superficially) similar services, SKEIN;

  1. is focused on education, its core business (teaching and learning) and links between staff and student learning;
  2. is NOT an externally validated self-assessment. The assessment is undertaken by trained experts using benchmarks derived from research;
  3. does not make the college do all the work, fill out any forms or provide standard answers to questions;
  4. builds capacity in the client college and leaves them with additional capabilities and resources; and
  5. is cheaper than the (non-self assessment) alternatives.

SKEIN-FE

Do you monitor us to see if improvements have been made?

We offer a follow-up service, which involves us visiting the college after two and a half terms to track your progress and offer advice.

SKEIN-FE

Will the outcomes of your work with us remain confidential to us?

Each SKEIN college receives its own report which is fully confidential to them. It’s up to each college to decide whether and how they want to share the findings internally or otherwise. E.g. some college leaders we’ve worked with chose to share excerpts from their report or report summaries with their staff whilst others decided to just use them to inform their organisation’s strategic development.

SKEIN-FE

But I already do a lot of staff development. What is the SKEIN service going to tell me I don’t already know?

SKEIN can help even the best colleges to better focus their energies and money on professional development processes, systems and activities which deliver actual benefit for students. Colleges, that are in general enthusiastic, organised supporters of their staff development, rarely evaluate (or know how to evaluate) the impact of the PD they provide or pay for.

Those who see PD as an add-on or something to buy in from others from time to time find SKEIN helps them ensure that their CPD becomes focused on doing the day job better and paying attention to important longer term goals at the same time as addressing urgent priorities.

SKEIN-FE

How much does it cost for colleges?

This is a bespoke service priced individually (depending, for instance, on the size of your college). As a broad guide the service would cost from £1500, but please contact us to discuss the price for your college.

SKEIN-FE

SKEIN-CPD

How much does it cost for schools?

This is a bespoke service priced individually (depending, for instance, on the size of your school). As a broad guide, the service would cost from £1150 for primary schools or from £1500 for secondary schools. Please contact us to discuss the price for your school.

SKEIN-CPD

How much of my time will be taken up?

We understand that your time is very precious and endeavour to ensure the process takes up as little of your time as is possible. We will need to visit the school for up to one day and will use documents that will already exist within your school, so you will not have to create any paperwork. We recommend that you involve junior colleagues in e.g. assembling the documents or preparing a schedule for the visit day.

SKEIN-CPD

What documents do I have to prepare?

None! We will use documents that are already in existence within the school. We will send some clear guidance about what we need so all the documents will be easy to assemble.

SKEIN-CPD

How much time do you need to spend in school and how many members of staff will be involved?

We will need to visit the school to interview the leadership team and some individual staff members and hold a focus group with staff. The numbers of staff involved will depend on the size of your school. The SLT interview will take 60-90 minutes, the individual interviews will take about 20 minutes and the focus group will take 60-90 minutes. We will suggest how to organise the day most efficiently, making the most of the timeslots when staff are not teaching and causing the least disruption to your normal operations. We also ask members of staff to complete an online survey, which is very short and can be completed when convenient to colleagues.

SKEIN-CPD

How long does the whole process take?

The overall process tends to take about 6 weeks. We try to allow for around 3 weeks before the visit to collect and analyse school documentation, agree the schedule for the visit and provide all staff with an opportunity to respond to our on-line survey.

After the visit, it takes us 2-3 weeks to analyse the data and prepare the draft report which is then sent to the school leadership team for validation. There have been instances when schools wished to proceed faster than this in order to align SKEIN with their timelines for strategic planning and development and we always try to accommodate that.

SKEIN-CPD

Why should I choose SKEIN over other evaluation services?

Unlike (superficially) similar services, SKEIN:

  1. is focused on education, its core business (teaching and learning) and links between staff and student learning;
  2. is NOT an externally validated self-assessment. The assessment is undertaken by trained experts using benchmarks derived from research;
  3. does not make the school do all the work, fill out any forms or provide standard answers to questions;
  4. builds capacity in the client school and leaves them with additional capabilities and resources; and
  5. is cheaper than the (non-self assessment) alternatives.

SKEIN-CPD

Do you monitor us to see if improvements have been made?

We offer a follow-up service, which involves us visiting the school after two and a half terms to track your progress and offer advice.

SKEIN-CPD

Will the outcomes of your work with us remain confidential to us?

Each SKEIN school receives its own report which is fully confidential to them. It’s up to each school to decide whether and how they want to share the findings internally or otherwise. E.g. some school leaders we’ve worked with chose to share excerpts from their report or report summaries with their staff whilst others decided to just use them to inform their organisation’s strategic development.

Some schools use their reports during OfSTED visits; others publish a sentence or two about their particular strengths on their website or other marketing materials or e.g. when recruiting new staff.

SKEIN-CPD

You claim that professional learning and development is the key to school improvement. What is the evidence?

Probably the best known report supporting this view is the McKinsey study of the world’s high performing schools which contains the much repeated quote “the quality of an education system cannot exceed the quality of its teachers”.

Some countries (like Finland) attain this high quality by having very high academic entry standards. The current British government is trying to do something similar by raising the bar on entry (in England) and providing a range of alternative entry routes for some highly academically qualified teacher candidates (e.g. Teach First).

However, raising teaching quality just through better ‘quality’ of new entrants would take, according to experts like Dylan Wiliam of the Institute of Education, a  "generation just to close the gap on Finland by 20%".  You can read the report here.

Professional learning and development of existing teachers and support for it is therefore key to improving teaching and learning in individual schools and system-wide. Hang on a minute, you might say, the McKinsey report and the one they followed up with, also highlighted the key role of effective leadership. There is a lot of evidence about what leaders contribute to pupil learning - helpfully, if rather densely, synthesised in a major international Best Evidence Synthesis “School leadership and student outcomes: Identifying what works and why”.

Happily, you can find CUREE’s much more accessible summary of the report here.The ‘killer fact’ in this study was that the activities of “promoting and participating in teacher learning and development” by leaders had an effect size of 0.84. This is twice as large as the next most significant leadership activity – “planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum”. 

SKEIN-CPD

But I already do a lot of staff development. What is the SKEIN service going to tell me I don’t already know?

SKEIN can help even the best schools to better focus their energies and money on professional development processes, systems and activities which deliver actual benefit for pupils. Schools, that are in general enthusiastic, organised supporters of their staff development, rarely evaluate (or know how to evaluate) the impact of the CPD they provide or pay for.

Those who see CPD as an add-on or something to buy in from others from time to time find SKEIN helps them ensure that their CPD becomes focused on doing the day job better and paying attention to important longer term goals at the same time as addressing urgent priorities.

SKEIN-CPD

How does Skein relate to OfSTED?

SKEIN helps schools address CPD weaknesses as identified e.g. by OfSTED.

In 2006 and again in 2010 OfSTED looked at the state of professional development in schools. They found much that was good but there were common weaknesses even in those schools that were otherwise good or outstanding. To quote the 2010 report:

“First, there were continuing weaknesses in the evaluation and assessment of the value for money of professional development. Second, teachers’ knowledge of subjects other than English and mathematics was seldom refreshed by suitable professional development, especially in primary schools. Finally, schools whose staff, particularly leaders, lacked skills in self-evaluation and in dealing with weaknesses, and needed help before they could meet their professional development needs”.

Since the mid-90s, CUREE has been collecting and analysing the international evidence about effective (and cost-effective) CPD. “Effective” in the sense that it has discernible positive impact on pupil learning. Much of this work is distilled in a series of systematic reviews which you can find here. From this we were able to identify with confidence the defining characteristics of effective CPD and of learning environments that enable it. We have been able to augment this international knowledge with our own large scale, empirical research in the English system. The most recent of those studies was a large scale evaluation of CPD provision offered to schools by a wide variety of providers. The study found much that was good (for instance collaboration and informing participants about the demands of the CPD) but also weaknesses (e.g. needs analysis and supporting teachers to consider the impact of their CPD on outcomes for their learners). We also found a very wide range of cost and value for money.

SKEIN-CPD