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Excellence Through Teamwork

Using Joint Practice Development to drive teaching and learning forward


By using video to tap into the expertise of their staff and remove barriers to effective collaboration, Tuxford Academy is successfully engaging staff in Joint Practice Development research across the school, which is winning them awards and helping them maintain their Outstanding status.


An Ofsted visit in 2006 saw Tuxford Academy move one step closer to their goal of Outstanding with a grading of Good. The school motto ‘Excellence Through Teamwork’ inspired them to explore collaboration among staff as a way of working towards achieving that. They came across the Joint Practice Development (JPD) model and decided to try it out as a way of improving teaching and learning through research across the school.

By 2012, Tuxford had achieved their goal of Outstanding (twice) and wanted to continue the great collaboration work through JPD they had started. But there was a problem. There was no real way for teachers to see the impact their JPD research was having in their classrooms.

They then began using digital camcorders in order to try and capture and share their findings. This proved problematic as well: “Trying to get the staff using digital camcorders and all the different file formats that were incompatible with all the different devices in school was an issue,’ says Jamie Tegerdine, Assistant Principal.   

After some troubleshooting, they discovered IRIS Connect. Principal, David Vernon says: “The thing that really sold IRIS Connect to me was the security around it in terms of the ability to share it and then remove it if you wanted to. The ability to edit clips to create new ones and just share those with colleagues has huge advantages to it.”

“We were really grateful and pleased when a system (IRIS Connect) came on the market that was so user-friendly. This was key to engaging our staff, getting them to used it, and highlighting the benefits to them and more importantly the students,” adds Jamie.

How IRIS Connect helped

“We’re now in 2019 and IRIS Connect has really helped Tuxford Academy to improve the quality of the research by removing the need for teachers to access cover to observe a fellow colleague in a particular lesson,” describes Stacey Aisthorpe, Lead Practitioner. “It enables teachers to slow down lessons, so they can time-stamp particular areas as well as comment on those reflections. It’s also been key to helping our staff capture essential research findings and share them amongst colleagues in the academy. It’s so easy to use that almost everyone does now.”

Rose Hawcroft, Humanities Curriculum Teaching and Learning Leader says: “Before IRIS Connect came to the school CPD was really haphazard in terms of filming and reviewing ourselves. There was a set of cameras in the room and you just had to go down and borrow them if they were charged. You had to know how to work them and how to get the footage on to your laptop afterwards. Not great at all. IRIS Connect has helped in that it’s a really structured and more organised way of involving the whole faculty in CPD. I think one of the best things about IRIS Connect is how smooth it is to use. The more we use it the more we share and the more we collaborate; it’s just obvious that it’s such a useful tool and something that we need to do.”

David adds: “When we were using the camcorders and the other systems the biggest issue we had was the audio and that we couldn’t necessarily hear what the students were saying all the time and what the teacher was saying was off in the distance, whereas the ability (with IRIS Connect) to move microphones around at any time and place them on a desk is great.”

Results, return on investment and future plans

“Has IRIS Connect been an effective use of money? Yes,” says David. “What we’re doing less of is sending staff out to big conferences which are miles away. We know that we’ve got the expertise within our school, we’ve just got to tap into that and make it accessible. It’s not easy in a weeks timetable to release members of staff to go and watch other people teach, and that’s not always an effective use of time anyway because all they might need to see is a five-minute clip of a lesson. By being more selective and using IRIS Connect to its full potential enables us to be more flexible in and only spend time on what we need to.”

The school applied for the Investors In People Award in 2018. Their aim was to get Gold, but what they actually received was Platinum. “Only 1% of organisations in the world are actually awarded platinum,” explains David. “A massive part of that is our investment in staff and the way that we support them in terms of their own CPD. They were very impressed with the approach we’d taken to using IRIS Connect, and that staff spoke very highly of the professional development offer that’s in place here.”

Jamie, David and their team would like to use JPD across the trust and have written it into their strategic plans for 2020. They’re starting to think about using it not just with teachers but with the business teams, the marketing teams and so on. Jamie says:

“JPD can, of course, be done without a system like IRIS Connect but, as we’ve found out, it adds such value to the project. At the moment we’re the only academy in the trust who are actively using the equipment, so we need to think about where we go with that moving forward.”

Find out more:

IRIS Connect is a secure, personalised platform for teachers to record, analyse and reflect on their practice.

Teachers can take control and arrange their own professional learning experiences and resources. As well as share easily with each other to make collaboration simple, organised and effective.

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