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Curriculum Conversations and Professional Dialogue to Shape a Learning Culture

Curriculum conversations and the power of coaching

We need to start to have curriculum conversations especially about the three questions that emerge from the latest announcement on changes to the OFSTED handbook for next September relating to the curriculum.  Amanda Spielman’s speech to Schools North East summit

  • What is it that schools want for their pupils? (Intent)
  • How well does teaching and assessment fulfil this intent? (Implementation)
  • What is the impact on results and the wider outcomes that children achieve? (Impact)

These questions are explored in our Re-defining the Curriculum courses.

The fundamental changes link closely to how well leaders, managers and teachers can articulate their intent in relation to the content of the curriculum and how it is sequenced. There is a clear emphasis on ensuring leaders and their managers are able to show through collaboration and professional dialogue that there is consistency of curriculum delivery across all year groups, subjects and key stages.  The flow of learning is seen as important and all those involved in delivering the curriculum need to understand fully the debate about skills and knowledge and how this impacts on the way the curriculum is taught and assessed to ensure breadth and deeper learning over time.

The shift in emphasis is clearly drawn.  The focus for those involved in planning for curriculum change is in ensuring there is an unambiguous vision. The vision must be translated into a consistent and cohesive plan for delivery that focuses on excellent teaching, learning and assessment. Success can then be measured through a well-crafted quality assurance process.   Cohesion, consistency, the use of structured professional learning conversations and opportunities for cross-curricular and cross-phase interaction are important components.   The essential ingredient that will create the right conditions to make this happen is coaching.  Essentially, coaching encourages high quality professional dialogue, the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice and encourages collaboration, positive conversations and a willingness to embrace change.  Have a look at our comprehensive suite of coaching courses and plan your coaching journey linked to curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Amanda Spielman: OFSTED speech to Schools North East summit.

“I’ve used the word ‘conversation’ a number of times in this speech.  The nature and impact of the conversations in an inspection are fundamental. As we shape the new framework, with your help, we really are thinking about how each inspection can be the most productive exchange between a school and its inspection team: how we can make it about substance, more than about numbers.”

“I am firmly of the view that a focus on substance……will move inspection more towards being a conversation about what actually happens in schools.  Those who are bold and ambitious and run their schools with integrity will be rewarded….”

There is to be no prescribed curriculum model, no preferred approaches. The emphasis is on how individual leaders and their teams can justify their strategy and how it is delivered and can demonstrate clearly the impact their approach is having on their particular and unique pupil cohort.

Our Rethinking the Curriculum courses are essential for leaders and managers. We offer well – researched resources, in-depth information and expert advice linked to a coaching model.

Planning your curriculum for 2019 and beyond. Intent, implementation and impact

OFSTED want schools to communicate their curriculum intent, plan a strategy for successful implementation and create a culture where collaboration and positive professional dialogue delivers a curriculum that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge and enhances skills that foster learning and achievement. This is the third news post linked to the latest news from OFSTED and other influential researchers. Read the first post here and the second post here.

We have put the main priorities into the mnemonic below.

C.U.R.R.I.C.U.L.U.M.

  • Curriculum intent communicated through distributed leadership
  • Unified approaches to assessment across the whole school
  • Realising potential through breadth, depth, stretch and challenge
  • Reflecting on what currently works and building from there
  • Implementing a curriculum that builds on prior learning
  • Creating opportunities for cross phase, stage and subject collaboration
  • Understanding the focus on knowledge and/or skills and how pupils learn
  • Learning from colleagues, partners and research to inform planning and strategy
  • Using a common conceptual language and coaching to share cross curricular success
  • Measuring impact using qualitative and quantitative data

The Curriculum and Assessment team at Learning Cultures are using the growing body of research and comment to ensure our curriculum training courses provide the resources, information and practical strategies to ensure that all schools can:-

  • build on their current good practice
  • focus on how to create a continuum of learning
  • define how the curriculum will be taught and assessed
  • ensure all staff are involved through effective CPD
  • create the tools that will measure positive impact

Join us for one of our interactive and solutions focused training courses for those with responsibility for strategic and curriculum planning.

 

Skills versus knowledge – Let’s explore the conundrum using a haiku poem

What is the poetry form of Haiku?

There is a clear form

To write haiku poetry

That I need to know

——-

Two fives and a seven

Syllables are key to this

Carefully structured

——-

To use the form well

I must learn the word syllable

For this I need skills

——–

 I need to know words

To make my prose explain

About haiku poems

———-

Reading and writing

Are the skills I need to have

To finish the poem

———–

I love the genre

No need for anything to rhyme

Just rhythm and style

Glynis Frater

Just a bit of fun but hopefully it demonstrates what I am saying,

Carry on reading more about my thoughts below

I wrote last week about the latest information from OFSTED about their intended changes to the Inspection Handbook for September 2019.

Their research into how the curriculum is planned and implemented focused on three different approaches to curriculum planning,

  • Knowledge led
  • Knowledge engaged
  • Skills led

The College of Teaching’s new magazine IMPACT focused in its 4th edition on the curriculum.  It is well worth a read.  The conclusion I draw from both the OFSTED report and the collection of essays within the IMPACT magazine is that skills have their place as an integral part of learning in the first as well as the second and third of the suggested approaches.  In one article, Designing a primary knowledge-rich curriculum which focuses on the knowledge-led approach, there is clearly an emphasis on rich and deep subject specific learning. However, the need for pupils to have access to materials and resources that are ‘text-rich’ is cited as essential.  In order to access rich text linked to knowledge acquisition requires the skill of comprehension, the ability to read and draw inference and the competence to sift and select the relevant information in order to demonstrate understanding.  The term skill was deftly left out of the observation of the need for rich text.  Reading is an essential skill and one that is fundamental to all learning.  Subject specific learning requires the same level of comprehension skills as scaffolded learning in English or literacy and those teachers who are not specialists in English may not have the relevant skills or understanding to ensure that pupils can access the complex language in say a piece of History source material or an unfamiliar piece of science explanation.

I don’t disagree with the three approaches to curriculum design. My thoughts are that we need to ensure that we always identify the skills that are fundamental to deepening learning and to building a seamless continuum that ensures pupils become unconsciously competent in their ability to apply their knowledge across a wide range of contexts within the national and the wider curriculum.

We have two courses full of ideas, resources and well researched practical suggestions, the testimonials and praise we have received for these two events are outstanding.  Book now and have a powerful plan ready for implementation in time for September 2019.

 

OFSTED, the Curriculum and moving towards a change of emphasis

OFSTED have this week released a commentary on the second phase of their research into curriculum design, implementation and impact. Amanda Spielman is clear in her assertion that the real substance of education is the curriculum and how it is structured so that all pupils can access it, learn through it and make progress linked to how it is delivered and assessed.
There will be, the report states, a new approach to inspection that moves away from simply focusing on outcomes linked to end of key stage data and more towards looking at what complements that data.

This, it suggests, includes evidence of:

  • a clearly defined and fit for purpose curriculum design that is linked to the school vision and purpose
  • positive leadership that includes devolved leadership to subject specialists and teachers
  • collaborative and whole school involvement
  • pedagogy that deepens subject knowledge and challenges the pupil’s ability to make connections across different subject disciplines
  • how pupils demonstrate competence in their use of skills that help them to access curriculum knowledge
  • a carefully sequenced content that builds depth and breadth of understanding over time

The research found that the sample schools used one of three approaches to planning their curriculum.

  • Knowledge – led approach -skills come from knowledge, “skills are the bi-product of knowledge”. Through the deepening of knowledge comes the ability to use associated skills. The characteristics of this approach are fewer topics that are taught in greater depth
  • Knowledge – engaged approach – “knowledge underpins the application of skills” This approach focuses on how the skills and the knowledge are integral, the pupil learns skills alongside knowledge acquisition. This involves planning which skills the pupil will use to access knowledge. Within this approach there is a greater emphasis on cross-curricular teaching, ensuring an understanding of how knowledge applies in a context
  • Skills – led approach – Skills have the higher priority in the planning process, knowledge is seen as a series of disconnected facts unless the pupil has the skills to place them in their context

There is no suggestion that one approach is better than another and schools remain free to make their own decisions as to the best model in their specific local setting. However, it is the reasons behind the choices made that will need to be clear and focused on holistic, deeper and sequential learning and not simply on how to achieve the best outcomes for the schools at times of testing or examination outcome.

Curriculum design, the report concludes, is a reflective process involving leaders, subject specialists and teachers. It suggests that there needs to be much more evidence of progression models that show how pupils will build their subject knowledge and their ability to use associated skills adeptly and competently. It is also clearly stated that curriculum and assessment are inseparable and welcome evidence that leaders in the sample schools believe that skilful formative and summative assessment strategies are integral to deep learning and are useful in identifying gaps in learning.

In conclusion:

  • No one design fits all, the National Curriculum is the benchmark, but the choice of design is up to the school and linked to the school’s context and the expertise of those involved
  •  The curriculum should be linked to the school vision and purpose. It should be the yardstick for what leaders want their pupils to know and be able to do by the end of their school life
  • The curriculum design should be clearly defined, the content should be carefully sequenced, have thoughtfully designed assessment practice and include an appropriate model of progression
  • The curriculum should have substance, depth and breadth and be more than preparation for tests and examinations
  • There should be a rich web of knowledge where skills weave opportunities for a continuum of learning that deepens understanding and allows for progression

The Learning Cultures Expert Curriculum team have developed two outstanding training opportunities that will give school and curriculum leaders an opportunity to reflect on what currently works well and how to ensure that new strategies and innovations create a curriculum design for now and the future that enriches learning and deepens knowledge and understanding. We weave our deep knowledge of curriculum design with our expertise in coaching to explore how to create a whole school, collaborative curriculum and assessment model that inspires and nurtures learning and achievement.

Re-defining the Primary Curriculum – Content, cohesion and purpose
Re-defining the Secondary Curriculum – Defining purpose, designing content and delivering impact

Focusing on behaviour management; a coaching perspective that delivers responsibility and reflection

A new and thought-provoking course with content that can transform classroom management and allow teachers, support staff and pastoral teams to reflect on their current behaviour management strategies and build new skills that will ensure low-level and more disruptive behaviour is minimised or eliminated.  Coaching is powerful when it is used to challenge and question behaviour that is unwelcome or not tolerated.  Coaching can be highly manipulative, for instance, learning how to use questioning skills effectively can have a devastating impact on the miscreant.  Their behaviour is challenged but in a way that deflects it back, where the trouble-maker is left owning the behaviour and having to take responsibility for the actions that have proved unacceptable.  Listening and learning from what is not said but seen can also be highly revealing in managing a pupil or an adult whose behaviour is disruptive. The reasons that lie behind the conduct displayed can be heard and explained through the development of deeper listening skills and provide the person who is managing the situation with the opportunity to disarm and un-nerve the perpetrator. Learning how to influence change can be highly useful for those with responsibility for dealing with the unacceptable. These might include voice control and management, using the power of silence, focusing on the positive and using interview techniques that ensure agreement or a contract for improving behaviour is accepted and implemented.

This course is part of our suite of coaching events. We have delivered it over the past term and have received high praise for its content and the quality of resources that those who attend can take back to use to share with colleagues.  Coaching is akin to excellent pedagogy and the outstanding lesson will rarely expose poor behaviour. Highlighting and practicing some of the powerful coaching skills that improve performance can have a significant impact on improving practice inside and outside the classroom especially for those teachers who sometimes find the behaviour of some of their pupils to be a challenge. Just send one person to this course, they will be able to share their learning with others back in school.

How seamless is your curriculum?

OFSTED are currently reviewing how the curriculum is designed and delivered in all phases of education.

In a recent presentation Sean Harford of OFSTED made a plea that schools should be ‘bold and courageous’ with their curriculum.  There are many clues from different commentators and especially from Amanda Spielman as to what is wanted here.  Essentially the curriculum should have depth and breadth, build on prior learning and challenge pupils to master the essential principles embodied in the learning of the core skills especially, reading, writing, communication and Mathematics as well as digital and scientific literacy.  Pupils should be able to make connections and become unconsciously competent in their use of these skills in the pursuance of deeper knowledge and understanding that expand their horizons.

There are, according to Sean Harford of OFSTED, three parts to a framework that make up the essential planning of a cohesive and successful curriculum, these are:

  • Intent – What will be included in the curriculum framework and what knowledge and understanding will be gained by pupils at each stage?
  • Implementation – How will the curriculum be translated over time into a structure and narrative within the institutional context
  • Impact and achievement – Evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations

‘Depth and breadth’ are words liberally used in much of the documentation and transcripts from speeches.  Sean Harford admits that there is some ambiguity as to how different schools interpret these words.  For me, the essence of this is to create a seamless curriculum where pupils build on prior learning from lesson to lesson, subject to subject and from year to year.  The curriculum design is a tapestry of learning and the planning of the curriculum needs to draw on all those who will deliver it to understand how their input is an integral part of a whole school drive for deep and meaningful progression for all pupils.

There will be a new OFSTED handbook and framework from September 2019 and if the current literature is correct there will be a greater emphasis on how schools plan, implement and evaluate their curriculum.  If this is so, now is the time to start to focus on ensuring there is a dialogue that involves everyone at school involved in teaching and learning to focus on how the curriculum is woven together to ensure pupils are continually developing their knowledge and skills and deepening their understanding over time.

To create the right culture for cohesion and collaboration the curriculum needs to be at the heart of the planning process.  The vision for school success must be linked to the design, delivery and impact of a curriculum that develops pupils to know more and remember more over time.  An assessment policy needs to be seen to support the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum and be pupil centred.  Pedagogy needs to be explored and defined in terms of how it allows pupils to deepen their understanding, refine metacognition and create the unconsciously competent learner who deftly uses skills in a wide variety of contexts within school and beyond.

Following in-depth research our curriculum experts have some ‘bold and brave’ solutions and a wealth of resources to support schools in both the primary and secondary phases of education to focus on their curriculum, what to keep, what to change and how to create the evidence that your curriculum delivers high quality learning over time.

Create a CPD strategy that will sustain outstanding learning for the next academic year and beyond

Create a CPD strategy and a coaching culture that will sustain outstanding learning and teaching for the next academic year and beyond.

If you read a few OFSTED reports for those schools that have been judged outstanding you will see that they have something in common.  Learning is at the heart of their vision.  Every strategy and decision is made on the basis that it will ensure learning is a continuous process not just for the pupils but for the staff as well.

Leaders, managers, teachers and support staff all play their part in developing a common thread that focuses on their own potential and how each member of staff can learn from their practice and the practice of others.  The wealth of talent that is within the school is shared in the pursuance of a culture of positive continuous professional development and learning.

Creating this culture requires forethought, commitment and detailed planning so that everyone is involved and has a part to play in the pursuance of a learning community. This is the perfect time to plan your CPD strategy for the next academic year to ensure that it will be sustainable, relevant and totally in line with achieving the outcomes stated in the school improvement plan.

The senior leadership team need to have the inherent belief that every member of the school can and will continuously improve their performance.  There is no such thing as failure, a mistake is a jewel that leads to learning and creates an atmosphere of trust that fosters innovation, creativity and challenge.

Middle leaders are the pivotal force in creating a platform for learning that empowers their teams to work together in the pursuit of excellence and improvement across the whole school, in departments, for phases and within key stages.

Teachers and support teams share and cascade their practice through the development of learning communities and the use of professional conversations that will empower them to be reflective in their quest for progression, achievement and attainment for all their pupils.  Pupils are resilient and motivated, they embrace challenge, they are aware of how they are learning through listening, deeper thinking and the development of their memory skills and they know they are part of an organisation that puts their learning needs first.

The Learning Cultures’ suite of coaching training has been designed to create the right CPD to allow this culture to unfold.  Where individuals develop the skills that will influence positive change including allowing them to articulate and pursue their own learning goals, deepen their knowledge and skills, acknowledge their own strengths and share their successes with others the positive results are profound.  The evidence of impact is obvious both qualitatively and in the data sets that confirm the change and the improvements.

 

Create a CPD strategy that is individualised, sustained, intensive, focused and cost-effective

The right professional development will ensure that all teachers continuously develop so that they feel able to challenge, innovate and always deliver good and outstanding lessons.  This is the basic premise of an article about coaching in the TES of Friday 20th April.  Written by a Rhode Island US Professor, Matthew Kraft, he says,

“if you want better teachers, schools need to embrace the power of coaching”.

CPD is an essential part of school life.

The phrase professional development has replaced performance management in the current incarnation of the OFSTED handbook. This suggests that OFSTED want to see that there is a clear link between ongoing teacher improvement and the professional development that teachers have access to.   Measuring teacher performance is an output, professional development is an input. Without highly effective training, collaboration and the sharing and disseminating of good practice improvements in performance are unlikely to be sustained.

The article goes on to say that, “teacher coaching models are one of the most promising alternatives to traditional CPD. ”

Why introduce coaching CPD in a school or college context?

Coaching is challenging and focuses on continuous learning.  The reason why coaching is proven to be a highly successful medium for delivering CPD in a school is that coaching starts with what is working well. The school recognises the talent and expertise that already exists and uses whole school CPD to cascade good and outstanding practice widely.  There is an inherent belief that all teachers are able to improve and grow in their role.  There is a culture where there is no such thing as failure, only the opportunity to learn from mistakes through the use of highly effective professional coaching conversations.

What are the first steps towards developing a coaching CPD model in your organisation?

The first step is to be clear about what coaching actually means.  How is it different from mentoring, teaching, instruction or counselling?  Learning how to coach is a powerful leadership skill.  A leader can take control whilst focusing on how others can be the drivers for the vision, where one can delegate and be confident that successful and well-trained and well-informed teams can deliver.

What happens next is critical.  Leaders and managers need to have a profound understanding of where excellent practice exists and how it can be shared and cascaded as part of a sustainable CPD strategy.  Staff across the school, in whatever phase of education, need to be aware of their own strengths, gaps in their learning and how they can fill them through collaboration with their peers and through focused CPD that is carefully planned and linked to the individual, team and organisational goals.

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college takes time to embed.  However, from the very beginning there are benefits and high quality learning opportunities where staff, whether they are leaders, managers, teachers or their support teams begin to develop a range of coaching skills that are without doubt those that link closely to the pedagogy that delivers outstanding learning and teaching.

As part of the journey towards creating a coaching culture all staff will learn and develop a range of skills associated with coaching.  The most important of these are how to use deep and rich questioning techniques and how to listen actively in order to be able to influence change and support others to self-reflect and find their own solutions.   These skills are inhererent in good classroom practice, essential as part of highly effective meetings and in the development of strategies that need to be communicated in order that they become successful outcomes.

Learning Cultures are leading providers of coaching CPD for schools and colleges

The coaching training that Learning Cultures deliver is built on many years of research and practical examples of what works in schools and college across the UK and beyond.  We can offer a suite of courses for individuals or groups of staff to attend on one or more of our off-site courses.  Alternatively, we offer a variety of in-school training, INSET and consultancy.  We are, without doubt, the leading provider of coaching training for the education profession.  Delegates learn new skills, are stretched and challenged and leave full of enthusiasm and real practical ideas of how to take their learning forward. Below is a list of the courses we recommend to start your coaching journey.

 

Curriculum Breadth and Balance at Key Stage 3 – Planning for impact and successful outcomes

Schools need to look carefully at their curriculum plan for Key Stage 3. The report from OFSTED Key Stage 3: the wasted years? was written some time ago now but it has been mentioned recently by OFSTED and the message is clear, since its publication there is not enough evidence of significant change or improvement in how this important key stage is planned and delivered.

The questions below address some of the criticisms that are evident in recent reports and speeches about how schools are planning their Key Stage 3 offer.

  • What is the evidence that there is sufficient breadth and balance across three years?
  • How effectively does the teaching prepare pupils for Key Stage 4 study?
  • How much emphasis is placed on the teaching of literacy and numeracy in subjects other than Maths and English?
  • How well do pupils build on their prior learning from Key Stage 2?
  • How is Year 9 planned to continue to offer a wide range of subjects but prepare pupils well for Year 10 and beyond?

OFSTED’s annual report published in December comments that some of the above are not in evidence and the criticism echoes the theme that Amanda Spielman has talked about in several of her recent speeches.

“I cannot reiterate it enough: exam performance and league tables should be a reflection of what children have learned. Tests exist in service of the curriculum. Curriculum should be designed to give children the best pathway to the future, not to make the school look good.”

Amanda Spielman speaking to the Church of England Foundation for Education Leadership.

Choosing to have a two-year Key Stage 3 is not in itself considered unacceptable. However, if this is the status quo in your school it is important to ensure that the reasons for this decision are clearly defined and are not simply to give pupils an extra year to study for GCSEs.

Below are some examples of what is considered to be good practice:

Here at Learning Cultures we have a great deal of expertise and experience of working with schools to develop highly effective strategies for both transition and Key Stage 3 planning.  Join us at one of our highly praised training courses to reflect and learn with an expert.

We have a new course for the summer term focusing on Careers Education and Information, Advice and Guidance which reflects changes to the statutory requirements schools now must work with,

Coordinating Careers Education and meeting the new Statutory requirements for CEIAG

Creating a Coaching Classroom delivers positive, successful and outstanding learning

Coaching as a powerful pedagogy in the Classroom – Innovative training that impacts on learning and pupil motivation

Coaching is the most successful pedagogy we can use in the classroom. For many coaching remains something else or something different that does not immediately equate to learning with pupils.  On the contrary, the principles embodied as part of a coaching culture and put into practice in a coaching classroom align so completely to those that an observer would look for in an outstanding lesson.  The impact on learning and achievement is visible and tangible.

The ultimate lesson is one where the teacher has high expectations of all pupils, where pupils are encouraged to focus on how they learn, are able to share their strengths and happily embrace challenge. Also, the teacher celebrates effort and the success that flows from it.  Pupils are expected to find their own solutions and learn from their mistakes.  There is an atmosphere of positivity from which flows self-belief, resilience and reflection. All of which embody the principles of coaching completely.

The Learning Cultures’ coaching team have recently designed a new coaching course specifically aimed at coaching with pupils in the classroom.  There is a consensus from those who have attended one or other of our coaching courses that the opportunities to use coaching as a powerful learning strategy in the classroom are profound.

The day will include:-

  • Establishing a coaching pedagogy in the classroom – the positive coaching ethos that motivates and inspires pupils to reflect, solve problems and be able to articulate how they learn as well as what they learn
  • Coaching and resilience – fostering for pupils a sense of their own self-worth and how developing a deeper understanding of how they learn can have positive benefits that deepen understanding and raise aspiration
  • Focusing on the coaching skills specifically listening and questioning and how developing these skills for both the teacher and the pupil unleash a positive learning culture in the classroom
  • Reflecting on specific classroom situations and weaving coaching solutions that will ensure positive actions are taken, learning takes place and the self-esteem of pupils is raised
  • Time to practice coaching in triads using a coaching model to decide on next steps in developing a coaching culture with learners in the classroom

Where teachers learn some coaching skills and model them for their pupils outstanding change happens and a culture of positivity means that pupils put in more effort, teachers believe all their pupils can achieve and there is a measurable impact on teacher and pupil well-being as well as pupil behaviour, progress and achievement.

Have a look at the course details on our website and book your place for the summer term.  It will be the tonic you have been looking for after another action-packed year.

Coaching as a Powerful Pedagogy in the Classroom – effective pedagogy and skills that foster mastery, progression, resilience and self-belief.