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Academic Excellence

Iona maintains an enviable tradition of academic achievement.

Quality learning outcomes should be the central concern and responsibility of all schools – Iona’s characteristic approach to this responsibility is to promote and operate within an atmosphere of high academic expectations.  We must ensure that our structures and curriculum offerings remain agile and responsive to the needs of 21C learners. Learning must become visible and we must maximise the power of feedback to ensure it enhances student outcomes.  It is what teachers know, do and care about which is most powerful in the learning equation.

Developments in the use of data analytics, evidence and research- based approaches to pedagogy, advances in cognitive neuro-science, the growing role of technology in the learning construct – and many more influences – have served to modify the landscape of schools and their core business. Added to this are moves to de-privatise classrooms, to expose the policy-practice divide which exists in accountability procedures. The preoccupation with the initiation phase (‘We have to do something about it’) and the tick-the-box style outcomes, often results in schools particularly (and organisations generally) masking deficiencies and avoiding the real issues of improving teacher performance.

Developing a high-performance outlook squarely positions practices of effective school improvement in the cultural domain. It focuses on collaborative patterns of staff development that encourage teacher enquiry and partnership – and understands that the best professional growth comes from teachers speaking and working closely with other teachers. Developing a performance culture involves encouraging leadership. High performance cultures are ones where everyone is expected to lead – and the teacher is the ultimate instructional leader.

High performance organisations are also high-risk/high-trust environments where innovation is prized and failure an expected sign-post on the path to success. This set of strategies devotes organisational time and resources – over a protracted period of time – to re-examine our appraisal/performance improvement processes, and asks to have them built on sharing Iona’s best practices in an atmosphere of mutual trust. In the face of cyclical change Iona must address renewal and continue to attract high performance teaching staff and develop its existing and new staff – and quality teachers have a professional responsibility to support and develop their peers.