Driving the Durrington Way

While the fond memories of no-school Sundays or simply having a coffee in peace may remain a little painful, there is something amazing about a school churning back into motion at the start of a new academic year. As always, this first week back has been a great opportunity to reflect on the successes of last year and the summer, however it is always a time of evolving and re-establishing the important processes, routines and procedures that ensure the smooth running of any school.

One thing that has been talked about and referred to relentlessly since we returned at Durrington last week, is the “Durrington Way”. This initiative is being led by John Fuller, one of our Deputy Heads, and is an attempt to distil exactly what our core expectations are in regards to student conduct in school and perhaps most importantly what is means to be part of our community. The “Durrington Way” is intended to drive and shape our approach to expectations and routines in and out of the classroom at Durrington, leaving no “grey areas” of interpretation of what being part of “Team Durrington” involved. The “Durrington Way” is split 5 sections titled as follows:

  • We show kindness, aspiration, perseverance and pride in all that we do
  • We are kind and show respect to each other
  • We maintain a calm and purposeful atmosphere
  • We take responsibility for our own learning
  • We make a valuable contribution to the school community

John has led on this from the end of last term, and the Durrington Way has featured heavily in start of term INSET, staff meetings and student assemblies. It has been great to see staff and students respond to its implementation, however as with any project there is always the nagging fear of how do you sustain it and ensure it reaches every corner of your school. I think such concerns are particularly pertinent to strategies such as this that run the risk of being seen as quite abstract or something done outside of the classroom (i.e. during social times) rather than within it. As such it has been a pleasure to see the great work curriculum teams have been doing in discussing and then explicitly explaining to students how the “Durrington Way” will look in their subjects. This keeps the initiative at the forefront of everyone’s mind but also ensure a united front from leadership, pastoral and curriculum areas to drive the “Durrington Way”. Below are just a few examples of how some of our subject areas are making the Durrington Way very concrete in their areas:

In Maths the team have begun all lessons with a consistent presentation entitled the “Durrington Way in Maths”. The presentation repeats the expectations shared students first assembly, but goes onto to give concrete examples of how students in class and book work will reflect the “Durrington Way”. The team are keen to ensure students take responsibility for their own learning, telling students that they will be expected to take their books home after each lesson to support with their homework, but that they are responsible for ensuring they have their book with them at each lesson. The team also clearly outline to student the justification behind their expectations, for example when explaining how students are responsible for quickly entering the room and immediately beginning to the do now retrieval tasks on the board, all teacher within the team modelled and explained Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve. Students were also asked to stick into the covers of their books a small document (see below) outlining the Durrington Way expectations in Maths so these can be referred back to in future lessons

The Science team have done something similar, again sharing a consistent presentation to all classes – again focusing on the concept of students taking responsibility for the own learning by explicitly modelling how students can use knowledge organizer and checklists to regulate their own learning. The presentation also showed exemplary examples of past work clearly annotated with how it had met the expectations of the department and demonstrated the pride taken in the work by students.

In Geography students have also been shown examples of excellent work from previous years to set the bar, while also being guided through a “Durrington Way in Geography” document outlining the routines and expectations of students before, during and after lessons. Sam Atkins, Head of Geography, has aligned these expectations with out KAPP principles. For example, clearly outlining the importance of respecting the classroom environment and others under the banner of “Kindness” and the need for high quality presentation and organization of work under the theme of “Pride”. Once again, this document was taking centre stage on the front of student books so it could be regularly referred back to in future lessons.

Of course, it will take more than just a presentation at the start of the year or a Durrington Way checklist being stuck into books to ensure that the ethos and culture we want becomes embedded – however it is good way to start. Perhaps most importantly it builds a narrative to students that the “Durrington Way” is central to how our school wants to work, it is not just something that is said in assemblies; it is at the core of every lesson they go into. If we are to drive the “Durrington Way” forward then it cannot just be driven by a few voices in year group assemblies, it must be present at assembles, tutor time, social times and subject lessons (which is where students spend most of their school day).

By Ben Crockett (@BenCrockett1)

Assistant Director of Research School

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