Primary schools use motivational training to sustain Ofsted improvements

 Two federated primary schools in Lincolnshire have run a motivational training programme to acknowledge and sustain their Ofsted improvements and to further enhance the attitudes and engagement of all staff.


Sutterton Fourfields and Swineshead St Mary’s joined together to form a federation in 2006, after they were both categorised by Ofsted as ‘schools causing concern’. Since then, they’ve worked collaboratively, with a single governing body and a shared headteacher. As well as bringing economies of scale, this alliance has enabled the schools to improve teaching and learning opportunities, share expertise, pool their leadership and create more flexible staffing arrangements.


“It’s been a challenging journey but, through the dedication and commitment of our staff, the two schools are now ranked as ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’,” said Rob Little, Executive Headteacher of the Federation. “The first phase of change was getting our processes right and getting people to do things in a different way. However, change is never easy and the extra effort required was beginning to take its toll. The second phase was therefore about changing mindsets and how we approach work. To help achieve this, in a way that didn’t leave people feeling demoralised or negative, we decided to run a motivational training session for all staff that would celebrate what was good about our schools and what we’d accomplished.”


The schools chose to underpin this session with the world’s best-selling training film. Called FISH!, this shows how the fishmongers at Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle bring energy, commitment and fun to their work.


“FISH! helps you to instil a more positive mindset in the workplace, using simple principles such as ‘choose your attitude’ and ‘make their day’,” he said. “These key messages encompassed everything we wanted to achieve.”


Two trainers from Video Arts, the UK distributors of FISH!, created a tailored training programme, on the FISH! philosophy, for all 58 staff at the two schools.


“The FISH! messages were very powerful and the session reinforced the good work that’s been undertaken and what people like about the schools,” said Rob Little. “It brought our teaching and non-teaching staff closer together and this has had a beneficial impact on working relationships within the schools.”


The FISH! principles, and other key themes from the day, have been posted up in the staff rooms within the schools to serve as a daily reminder of the session.


“To become an outstanding school, you have to do what you do a little bit better,” said Rob Little. “The starting point is the attitude that people bring to school in the morning. The FISH! session helped us to get this important message across to people. It has had a positive impact on the attitudes and behaviour of all staff and it fuelled an increase in internal energy. This will help us to maintain our momentum as we try to further improve our performance in the future.”

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