Up Holland Case Study

School Synergy; a platform supporting School Improvement.

Up Holland High School is a Good school and one which is “Dedicated to Excellence”. It prides itself on the excellent opportunities it offers to all students. However, the school was in a much different position when Paul Scarborough arrived as the new Headteacher in 2016. Prior to the appointment the school had faced a number of challenges including a significant budget deficit exacerbated by a spiralling falling roll. The school had found it difficult to secure and maintain a good judgement from Ofsted. With a clear vision and ethos, Paul with the new leadership team, systematically raised standards and transformed the school to one that is oversubscribed and has re-gained the confidence of the community.

“Synergy is an outstanding platform on which to build system based change; it helped to accelerate and deliver rapid school improvement.”

Paul Scarborough, Headteacher
Up Holland High School

Paul Scarborough: Headteacher

Q How has Synergy supported school improvement?

A “Synergy came along at the time when we had secured initial growth and improvement following our staffing changes and restructure, but were seeking a platform to support more accelerated positive change. We had willing and positive staff but we found too many working independently regarding procedures and expectations which provided an inconsistent learning experience for our children.

Synergy provided a platform to deliver system based change. It placed a spotlight on working practice and helped streamline and provide consistency across many aspects of school life.

It helped structure a consistent approach to behaviour and student rewards and provided a ‘one-stop-shop’ for all school information. Synergy was an outstanding platform on which to build a system based change; it helped accelerate school improvement and for us, that was rapid. Synergy is a real listening company. They are not averse to feedback, in fact they encourage it. It feels like a real partnership rather than just providing a system.”

Q How has Synergy impacted on the Home-School relationship?

A “Communication is often the area that Parents comment or complain about in schools. For us, Synergy has had a big impact on developing two way communication between home and school. Before Synergy, Parents would phone in or try to communicate in a variety of ways but often wouldn’t get the feedback they needed or as quickly as they wanted. Synergy provided structure and efficiency. The lines of communication are clear and parents always get a timely response which is consistent. It helps develop relationships with parents and our reputation for being a responsive school.”

Q Would you advocate School Synergy to another Headteacher?

A “Yes; I have recently done this at our regional meeting of Headteachers. I can talk about Synergy with authority and honesty and say that it really has revolutionised the way we work. It has brought consistency and helped drive up standards and improvements at all levels. If I promote the system, then ultimately more children are going to benefit from it. It aligns perfectly with our ethos “Dedicated to Excellence”

“A system-based approach to school improvement, driving up standards and aiding improvement at all levels”

Megan Dewhurst: SENDCo

Q How has Synergy supported your role as SENDCo?

A “Before Synergy we operated from SIMS, spreadsheets and other systems. Although I was communicating information to colleagues, I wasn’t always sure of who was engaging; I felt isolated, almost ‘sectioned off’. Synergy has helped transform SEND to a truly whole school approach. Information is readily accessible to staff and their attention is drawn to new information. Access to information is logged which provides a level of accountability and responsibility for staff to acknowledge and be involved.

The SENDCo area has everything that I need. It supports the SEN code of practice model of ‘Assess-Plan-Do-Review’ and when I come to apply for EHCP’s, there is clear evidence backed up by Synergy.”

Q How have staff reacted to this new way of working?

A “Staff are engaged and pro-active. They use Synergy to put forward referrals which help capture key information of their concerns and what they’ve already put in place to support a student. The referral comes through to the SENDCo team where it is handled and dealt with. Nothing is missed. It’s interesting to see the reaction of new staff or when we collaborate with other schools; they are amazed by the system. They can’t quite believe they have access to all the information they need at the click of a button.“

Q How has Synergy supported Parents and Students?

A “Students have enjoyed being part of their SEN support plans. Synergy has enabled us to take ‘Student Voice’ to the next level. We record student interviews and store them directly within their support plans. It has been great for teachers to actually listen to their students and learn more about them and what they need. Students genuinely feel more listened to now.

Parents are more engaged. We use Synergy to send out support plans and communicate with parents to ensure that they are actively involved in their child’s education. It has had a big impact for both parents and children.”

“The SENDCo area has everything that I need. It supports the SEN code of practice model of ‘Assess-Plan-Do-Review”

“I am not just saying this but there is no way I could do my job without Synergy. I really couldn’t! ....It’s been brilliant.”

Megan Dewhurst, SENDCo
Up Holland High School

“It’s revolutionised parental engagement”

Scott Priestley, Lead for Behaviour and Attitude
Up Holland High School

Scott Priestley: Lead for Behaviour and Attitude

Q How has Synergy supported you in your role?

A “Synergy has made a massive difference. With previous systems, student’s got away with much more! Synergy is systematic and provides us with the information we need, when we need it. We can respond quickly to situations, see immediate hot spots and also longer terms trends emerging.”

Q How has Synergy helped from a teacher’s perspective?

A “Attendance, ‘ClassWork’, Seating Plans, Assignments, behaviour is all fantastic for staff especially because it is all in the one system. Everyone knows where to find information. Pastoral Logs have made the job so much easier; you choose who information is shared with. They are invaluable when speaking with a parent as you can review the log and are always in the know.”

Q Has Synergy impacted on behaviour?

A “Synergy has revolutionised the day to day monitoring of students, rewards and sanctions. It helps pass responsibility back to the student. They can monitor their own personal behaviour which helps them to make the correct choices. Nothing is missed. It allows us to intervene early and have conversations with students before escalation. The use of rewards has improved behaviour. The system alerts when milestones have been reached and is used to support strategies such as our ‘Points for Prom’ which has encouraged our Year 11s. Parents are more engaged and actively involved in supporting their child at school.”

“Pastoral Logs have made the job so much easier”

Jaclyn Harrison: Synergy Behaviour & Assessment Manager

Q How has the use of Synergy supported your role?

A “Prior to Up Holland I worked at another school using many different systems for areas such as Safeguarding and Behaviour. What is good about Synergy is that everything is in the one place and it’s intuitive; it’s a huge benefit.

The reporting aspect of Synergy is amazing. The system is easy and quick to use so staff input information such as Achievements or Sanctions in real time. I’m then alerted as certain thresholds or triggers are being hit and I can respond and react.”

Q What has been the impact on students and parents?

A “We have seen a positive change in behaviour. Students cannot hide or slip through the net like they used to. If it’s a detention, they know when, where and why. They are aware of their upcoming homework and they know that their parents can see too. It has been a very powerful tool to help support student organisation. Parents are also much more involved and engaged and able to help support their child; it enables early intervention. The number of parents regularly using the system is very high. Much more than any other system we have ever used.”

Q What would you tell other schools considering Synergy?

A “Do it!! Having used a multitude of systems it has been a breath of fresh air. The support is always there at the end of the phone with people I know. You don’t often get that connection with a company.

Quite often you’re sold a product and just left to deal with it. Synergy is different they listen; we feel the company want us to do well with the system.”

“Working together with Synergy has made us feel it is an Up Holland system”

“I would definitely recommend Synergy to others. It is a very straight forward easy system with everything available.”

Jaclyn Harrison, Synergy Behaviour & Assessment Manager
Up Holland High School

“I’ve not experienced this level of partnership with any other company; it’s unique.”

Rachel Bond, Director of Standards
Up Holland High School

Rachel Bond: Director of Standards

Q As the school “Synergy SLT Lead”, what has the Partnership Programme meant for you?

A “I’ve not experienced this level of partnership with any other company; it’s unique. Support is excellent, right back from implementation through to day-to-day support and our strategic reviews. I can pick up the phone and speak to our ‘School Partner’ who knows our school and journey. The relationship is close; they’re like an extra member of staff. They listen, they make suggestions, advise and also challenge our way of thinking or doing things.

I’ve not experienced the ‘Strategy Review’ process with any other system or company. It is a great way to reflect upon what we are doing and how we are doing it. Synergy provides us with an ongoing documented review of our system and discuss what we are doing well and provide best practice in other areas which could be improved. They also bring expertise from other school experiences along with information on new developments and features. It’s also an opportunity for us to explore our ideas and requests; it’s a two-way process.”

Q Has Synergy supported parental engagement?

A “Definitely. Increasing engagement has been a key focus for school. Parents need access to information quickly just as we do as staff. They need to be able to act upon information to help support their child at school. Synergy has been the gateway for them. Feedback from parent surveys over the past year tell us that Synergy has made a big positive change. The ability for parents to communicate through the ‘Gateway’ and for us to manage this centrally rather than through multiple channels is very efficient; everything is in the one place and automatically logged.”

Q How is Synergy viewed in school?

A “Synergy is highly regarded; we don’t hear of complaints or issues from staff. It is a critical part of our culture and ethos as a school and has positively impacted everyone right the way from SLT to our families. Staff were always eager to use more and more of Synergy thanks to it being so simple and easy to use. Synergy has supported staff well-being by removing the number of systems they previously had to access and search for different information. It has significantly impacted on staff efficiency. You can tell it has been built by teachers, for teachers.

Our students know that we see everything; nothing is missed. This has made a positive change to students’ own responsibilities. Synergy helps us to monitor daily concerns and enable us to react as it happens. We know if one of our students are struggling; we even know if one of our teachers are struggling. We can intervene and resolve issues early.”

Q What has made the biggest impact this year?

A “Clubs and Societies has been amazing. Being able to create school activities easily and for parents and students to see these and enrol onto has been a wonderful contribution to the system. This module also provides access to reports where we can track student engagement and report on areas such as attendance and PP.

The biggest impact overall for the school has to be the SENDCo area. Previously, it was a stand-alone area and difficult for our SEND staff to support whole school. Synergy has made information very accessible for all staff. They are not just aware of the needs of the students in their classes but they are notified of updates and actively contribute to their development and support.”

“Synergy is highly regarded...It is a critical part of our culture and ethos as a school and has positively impacted everyone right the way from SLT to our families.”

School Synergy, Suite F19, Preston Technology Centre, Marsh Lane, Preston, PR1 8UQ. 01772 36 76 30. REGISTERED ADDRESS: 7 STATION ROAD, HESKETH BANK, PRESTON, UK, PR4 6SN COMPANY NUMBER: 10593365.

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