News

Creating the curious learner – some tips to facilitate enquiry learning

It is normally the role of the teacher to do the research, plan the content of the lesson and steer pupils towards achieving the outcomes already decided the lesson should lead to. In these very different times why not create the right conditions for pupils to become masters of their own learning journey.

Think about what it is you want your class to know and remember. Define what you would like them to produce at the end of the allotted time and resist the temptation to lead pupils towards the information or the facts.

Leave it to your pupils to build their own set of questions.  Create as a starting point some prompts. Who? What? Why? When? Where? This could apply to investigating the Romans, learning about women’s suffrage, the slave trade, the reasons for the start of the First World War, the invention of the telephone.

Encourage pupils to create their own presentations to illustrate their enquiry. This could be a piece of writing or a powerpoint, it could be a drawing or a short video.

Create a two-way process between teacher and pupils in this virtual world where the teacher encourages self-reflection.  So, following an exercise in enquiry learning that leads to pupils presenting their work the teacher asks questions to challenge the pupil to compare, contrast or explain their reasoning, define their thinking and encourage further discussion about the topic.

This approach can lead to pupils becoming more confident in their desire to learn through their own enquiry. Pupils are more likely to exhibit curiosity and can be encouraged to want to find out more.  There are many skills that pupils will gain from this approach such as organising their time for learning, learning how to ask deep and rich questions, compiling their own answers into a coherent narrative or visual representation.

We must find new ways to teach without classrooms.  Motivating pupils to want to learn is essential. Teaching pupils how to be investigators of their own learning can be hugely beneficial even for quite young pupils.  Whilst the teacher isn’t there to support pupils and manage their learning it is a gift to give them the opportunity to be driving their own learning, fostering their own instincts for being curious and helping them develop a range of enquiry skills that will hold them in good stead throughout their education and beyond.

We are nearly there with our online learning platform for leaders, managers subject leaders and teachers. We are offering all of the courses at a special price for schools of £595.00 + VAT. One course can be used by as many staff as need to take part in the training within your school or college. Make sure all staff have the CPD they need through these extra-ordinary times. Our first six courses will be available from 26th April.

Download our ten top tips for creating the right pedagogy for enquiry learning.

Learning on line – top tips from Glynis at Learning Cultures

Most teachers probably have little experience of distance teaching.  Their role is fundamentally to be there in the classroom to teach, facilitate learning, support and challenge.

While schools are closed how can teachers offer a presence that ensures pupils can continue to have a meaningful and valuable education?

We have been building some of our training courses for educators to be delivered through an on-line platform.  This has given us an extraordinary insight into how to create that presence remotely. I want to share some of our learning that you can use to ensure that pupils are inspired to continue to learn and progress.

Here are 10 top tips that have helped us to develop our on-line presence:-

  • Create some protocols to share with pupils prior to embarking on any kind of on-line learning strategy
  • Check the technical capability of your IT infrastructure and what pupils are using at home. If diagrams, text and pictures are difficult to see it will impact on motivation
  • Plan carefully so that there is a sequence to the learning that becomes a clearly defined map or journey for pupils to follow
  • Make sure pupils are prepared in the same way you would expect if you were still in the classroom, the right equipment, good posture, comfortable dress and readiness for learning
  • Focus on the end points and work backwards to ensure that the learning is sequenced well and be clear what you want pupils to achieve
  • Be very clear as the to the learning goals and objectives. Focus on how you can ignite interest by matching your expectations with the pupils’ interests and capabilities
  • Define a study plan that outlines what pupils are learning, how long will the session last and how the session builds on prior learning and prepares for next steps in learning
  • Use this opportunity to focus more on study skills than on content, such as specifically teaching listening skills, note taking skills; how to use enquiry techniques to support self-study or a focus on reading to learn (comprehension)
  • Create opportunities for discovery learning by posing questions to stimulate pupils to find out for themselves
  • Find activities that are fun, and learner centred. On-line is their domain trust your pupils to be solutions focused and innovative in how they use their time for learning

Our on-line learning suite of courses for leaders, managers and teachers will be available in April.  The first courses are listed below. Email us to register your interest.

 

 

CPD in a Box – An on-line training and development opportunity to continue to learn during the Corona Virus crisis

Whether schools remain open or are closed there is always an imperative to ensure that teachers and learners can continue to learn and be challenged in preparation for the return to normality. If you wish to avoid travel and close contact or find yourself having to stay at home for a length of time, we are in the process of completing our ‘CPD in a Box’ range of on-line training courses that will be available in April.

These courses provide the same level of detail and content as those we run in hotels and conference centres or in schools. The box will contain access to an on-line Moodle platform and a host of materials including:-

  • video content where a trainer will be in the room with you
  • card activities to stimulate discussion and provide opportunities to plan and define strategy
  • down-loadable proforma planning sheets to promote goal setting and provide a structure to decisions to be made as a result of the training
  • access to a range of articles and research papers that back up the content of the training
  • a bibliography of further reading
  • a multiple-choice quiz at the end of each section to check knowledge and understanding

The first six of these detailed training programmes are:-

There is a lot more information on our website about these courses.  One box will cost £595.00 + VAT and can be used by any number of staff within the host school. Each course is broken down into five units. Each unit can be delivered over time or all five units will equate to a full day of training as if your staff member were to join us at one of our off-site venues or be a part of a training course we run in school during an INSET.

Give us a call on 01746 765076 or email us if you would like to discuss this in more detail.  Visit our website by going to the CPD in a Box page and start or continue your CPD journey with Learning Cultures.

How do you avoid the dip in performance at times of transition?

There is a worrying dip in performance and self-esteem as a result of transition from one phase or stage to the next. This can have a dramatic and profound impact on learning and achievement as pupils cross the bridge from school to school, phase to phase or key stage to key stage.

Planning for transition should be a priority. This imperative is well-documented in current research and commentary linked to high quality curriculum design and delivery.  Curriculum and subject leaders are encouraged to focus on ensuring that pupils work towards ‘clearly defined end points’, to ensure that ‘pupils are ready for the next stage of their education’ , that ‘pupils build on their prior learning’ and that ‘the learning is sequenced to ensure a deepening of knowledge and understanding’. OFSTED Handbook for schools.

To have the evidence for any of the above, stakeholders involved in transition must have the resources to work together to design strategies that support a shared vision for cohesion and co-operation across the transition bridge. The dip is most profound when pupils move from school to school such as from infant to junior and from junior to secondary.

There should be evidence of a shared understanding of what has gone before and what is expected of pupils when they arrive at their new school. Data in itself is useful but there is a wealth of other information that needs to be gathered and shared in order to make sure that all pupils can thrive and continue to learn as they move from one setting to the next. There are so many opportunities for transition and curriculum leaders to gather vital intelligence about pupils and their potential.

  • How well has the dispatching school covered the national curriculum across the core and foundation subjects?
  • How can the receiving school build on prior learning?
  • What skills do pupils have that support their acquisition of knowledge and how can these be built upon?
  • How well do pupils read both fiction and non-fiction and what strategies can be transferred to support intervention?
  • What are the interests, hobbies and strengths that individual pupils bring with them when they move school?
  • How different is the pedagogy and how does a change of approach impact on learning?
  • How can the receiving school assess the quality of writing and competence in speaking and listening and numeracy skills to ensure a dip in performance can be allayed?

This intelligence will not happen without a clear strategy developed and implemented by a coalition from both sides from the relevant phase or stage. Communication, visual resources and clearly defined actions agreed by all will deliver a new dawn that ensures pupils do not dip in performance but accelerate their learning and move inexorably towards successful outcomes for all pupils.

Learning Cultures have two superb and highly praised courses to support transition leaders, year heads and those with the responsibility for the curriculum. Bring your transition partners and work together with our experts to develop seamless learning between KS1 and 2 or between KS2 and 3.

 

Create a culture of positive curriculum and pedagogical change through coaching

How do leaders and managers foster an ethos where influential professional learning conversations lead to positive and highly visible change?  The answer is to create a coaching culture where each individual knows the part he or she can play in achieving the vision, intent and rationale for curriculum innovation and pedagogical improvement.

“Coaching is empowering people by facilitating self-directed learning, personal growth and improved performance”

Coaching is about building trust where staff can use their imagination, channel their energies and share ideas.  The coaching conversation provides an opportunity for two or more individuals to work together to find solutions and build strategies that lead to positive change. Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive so that all staff are able feel empowered in taking the initiative and the responsibility for achieving their own clearly articulated goals and targets.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

When individuals learn how to coach, they change their approach to professional interaction with others and begin to have much more control over the outcomes and impact of the strategies that are planned and implemented. This is so powerful in education. Individual staff are emboldened to want to find the solution and not to dwell on the problem.

“Telling or asking a closed question saves people from having to think. Asking open questions causes them to think for themselves”

The power lies in the learning. Learning how to listen actively and incisively. Learning how to ask open and deeply rich questions linked to what is being said or inferred. Learning how to be patient and sometimes silent in the quest for collective ownership and the successful solving and resolving of issues and problems. Learning how to challenge but be objective and fair. Learning how to focus on the positives and find strengths in self and others.

“If I give you my advice and it fails, you will blame me. I have traded my advice for your responsibility and that is seldom a good deal”

Developing a coaching approach builds a learning culture where collaboration ultimately leads to the sharing and cascading of ideas, of good practice and of innovation and achievement. All staff are able to communicate through motivational dialogue the part they play in achieving the stated vision. They articulate and celebrate their successes and don’t dwell on when things go wrong but focus on how they can learn from the situation and move forward.  Every school or college has a wealth of potential to achieve great things. Untap the talent that is within every individual that has chosen to belong to an education community by giving them a chance to learn how to be a coach.

The coaching courses Learning Cultures offer are designed as a CPD journey. For leaders to plan a strategy, for middle leaders to implement a coaching culture, for teachers who can learn together and use coaching as a powerful pedagogy in the classroom; for Teaching Assistants and support staff who can learn how to nurture and challenge using coaching; for Cover Supervisors to help them have the presence to be more confident when the teacher is not present.

Quotes are attributable to John Whitmore and Bresser and Wilson. All our courses are built on extensive sector led research.  We have created an approach that ensures those who attend can take all the resources back to their colleagues to share and cascade their learning.

Have the answers to the ‘deep dive’ questions being asked about your curriculum

Our expert curriculum team have developed a suite of highly interactive training linked to  the ‘deep dive’ questions OFSTED are asking of school leaders and managers. We have drawn on several commentaries to compile this list both from Headteachers who are currently mopping up after an inspection to eminent researchers and commentators who have surveyed the depths to offer advice on how to reach the surface successfully.

Creating the culture that will ensure there is a synchronised approach to curriculum design, high quality pedagogy, subject expertise, assessment and evaluation requires senior leaders to create a clearly defined plan that all staff can navigate by. In order to achieve this everyone needs to work together within their subject and as part of cross-curricular and cross-phase teams to confidently have the answers to  some of these questions.  

All staff need to have a definite and clear understanding as to the answers that mirror the school’s intent and ambition for the curriculum and for the pupils it serves. The right management processes need to be in place.  Subject and curriculum teams need to have the answers at their fingertips about how they deliver  a well-sequenced, conceptual and progressive curriculum. The focus must be on leaders and managers creating a longitudinal and latitudinal chart that all staff can interpret, plan with and deliver.

One theme that resonates across all the examples of questions we have seen is the need to ensure there is professional development support including high quality training  so staff can confidently deliver the curriculum.

Here at Learning Cultures we have focused on the answers to the many questions being asked of leaders, managers and subject specialists.  We have created a CPD offer that covers all the elements that need to be in place to ensure the curriculum is safely delivered. Our training offer is highly interactive, provides a range of useful re-usable resources and activities and is built on highly respected sector led research.

The questions provide a revealing spotlight into what school leaders in both primary and secondary schools need to look for themselves when assessing the successful implementation of their stated aims and goals for the curriculum. However, subject leaders and their teams need to have the  answers that reveal a kaleidoscope of creative and innovative learning that is consistent and leads to parity and progression for all learners. Essentially, this requires schools to embark on an immersive CPD journey towards dry land.

For leadership teams

For subject and curriculum leads

For all those who assess learning

Look at our courses on transition from KS1 to KS2 and transition from KS 2 to KS3 and our courses for those involved in embedding literacy and numeracy across the curriculum

 

What are the questions that will reassure leaders that intent is translated into subject specific deep learning?

We have put together a set of ‘deep dive’ questions for leaders and managers. They are modelled on a wealth of education articles and from some headteachers who are currently drying out after OFSTED’s plunge into their school’s curriculum and how it is constructed and delivered. It is these questions that OFSTED are asking senior, curriculum and subject leaders before they submerge themselves in classroom practice, pedagogy and learning outcomes and then embark on conversations with teachers and pupils.

All staff need to be able to answer with confidence some of these questions.  Essentially, their purpose is to ascertain to what extent there is consistent high- quality pedagogy, expert subject knowledge and a profound understanding of learning and how it happens across all subjects and within cross-curricular learning.

Creating this cohesion requires the right management processes to support subject and curriculum teams to have the answers at their fingertips about how they deliver a well-sequenced, conceptual and progressive curriculum. They need to have cohesive curriculum maps will that give all leaders and managers with a curriculum focus a blue print or roadmap to ensure that learning builds over time taking into account prior learning, gaps in learning for some and extending learning for others and assured progression for all.

The emphasis on continuing professional learning and support for all staff across the school is evident in all the examples of questions that we have drawn from. All staff need to know what it means to sequence learning, to develop pupils’ conceptual understanding, to create curriculum maps, assess for progression and assess for deep learning and understanding. We have been an integral part of curriculum development and the CPD that is an essential element of it for over twenty years. There is a logic to what is being asked for here. It is not about the inspectorate it is about your school, your staff and your pupils and ensuring the best outcomes for all. The questions are a good starting point for an immersion into curriculum design, powerful pedagogy and expert teaching and learning. Our training will give you the answers that are still lurking below the surface either forgotten or not yet understood.

For leadership teams

For subject and curriculum leads

For all those who assess learning

Look at our courses on transition from KS1 to KS2 and transition from KS 2 to KS3 and our courses for those involved in embedding literacy and numeracy across the curriculum

How does coaching deliver high quality curriculum and learning outcomes?

Coaching in education is a powerful pedagogy. Creating the right culture for change is far easier to manage where coaching principles are a part of the process. Coaching is solutions focused, builds on what already works well and highlights the positive.

The current imperative to look closely at the curriculum and how it is designed and delivered has many elements that all need expert leadership and careful management.  Research from OFSTED is helping to explain some of the drivers for change but does not necessarily provide the answers to how that change might be implemented effectively across all phases, year groups and subjects.  Learning how to coach can provide all staff with the skills, self-belief and self-awareness that will help them to have the confidence to innovate and give them the tools and skills to shape a new future together with their teams, their colleagues and their pupils.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

It is clear from reports and experiences from those who have recently been visited by OFSTED that inspectors are not spending much time interviewing the head or the senior leadership team, they are heading into the classroom, talking to teachers and to pupils, reviewing how the curriculum content is determined, sequenced and assessed and looking closely at the quality of output from pupils. They want to see the expertise of leadership as a part of the learning process and how that leadership translates into a high quality, deep and rich curriculum delivered by highly trained and well-informed practitioners.

Where coaching is the driver for change there are superb opportunities for professional dialogue where individuals can share their planning, look for cross-curricular opportunities and collaborate about pedagogy, progression and learning.  Where teachers learn how to coach, they also have a repertoire of skills including deep and rich questioning strategies, influencing techniques and active listening skills that will reap outstanding opportunities for progression and deeper learning in the classroom.

Create a learning culture through coaching and be safe in the knowledge that there is outstanding learning emerging from a deep and rich curriculum and through a shared dialogue and commitment to continuous improvement. We have designed a coaching culture with a series of coaching courses for all staff working in education.

Cultural Capital as part of subject specific learning

The latest news from OFSTED continues to deepen our own understanding of what schools and colleges should have in place in relation to curriculum design and delivery.  It is with this knowledge that the Learning Cultures’ Curriculum team can support senior leaders and their teams to determine with clarity and purpose their curriculum intent and design. We can also advise on the quality assurance processes that will give senior teams and subject leaders the confidence  that their curriculum vision, rationale and ambition for pupils is translated into high quality learning outcomes.

Amanda Spielman spoke at the Headteachers’ Symposium on Creativity and Education about arts subjects in schools, cultural capital and initial teacher education this January 2020. Naturally, she focused on music and the arts for some of her speech and made it abundantly clear that these elements are essential to a broad and balanced curriculum and OFSTED will tease out what schools are contributing to music and the other arts subjects. She goes on to say, however, that:

“Creativity and creative thinking in any subject requires deep subject knowledge and understanding as well as the development of skills that enable the application of this knowledge and understanding.”

There is no doubt about her message here, which is, that all subject specific learning should have creativity and deep learning at its core.  All learners need to be able to make connections, build on prior learning and weave skills and knowledge in order that they deepen their understanding, grow in confidence and have the ability to apply and make sense of their learning across many different contexts.

Subject leaders, school leaders and teachers all need to look closely at the pedagogy that facilitates learning and at the outcomes they want to see as a result of their pedagogical endeavours.  There needs to be evidence that learning is re-enforced and re-visited, that literacy and numeracy skills are the bedrock of all subject learning and that pupils are challenged beyond just recall.  There needs to be a tacit understanding of how teachers encourage pupils to demonstrate that they can use higher levels of response and highly challenging questioning in order to have the evidence that pupils are progressing and growing in the pursuit of mastery over time.

The final message that I want to highlight from this speech is the use of the term ‘cultural capital’.  Her definition of this recent OFSTED phrase is this,

“It really matters that children learn and enjoy things they won’t necessarily experience at home or with their peers.”

She suggests that the Quality of Education judgement in the OFSTED handbook is trying to capture this element and she says that it is to cultural capital that we should focus when considering the extent to which the school provides a broad and rich curriculum and how that curriculum is taught.

“our quality of education judgement is trying to capture this [cultural capital] dimension of your work.”

There is clearly an imperative to ensure that the curriculum intent points to the need for all subject teaching and cross-curriculum thematic learning to take pupils beyond the narrow and into new realms of deeper understanding and broader experience. Defining this in terms of planning the curriculum content and ensuring that subject specialists have the expertise and confidence to be creative and innovate is essential. Hold onto your sanity and join us at one of our curriculum courses and we can provide a wealth of resources and materials to create the right culture for this to happen. The link will take you to the course details on our website. Or visit the Curriculum Courses section.

 

 

Curriculum Challenges – CPD in preparation for a subject specific ‘deep dive’

My overarching message is for all schools to realise the value of strategic thinking that ensures that it is the curriculum and how it is delivered that creates outstanding teaching and learning. There is an imperative for all schools to pull together the strands that weave a seamless and sequenced curriculum. The principles are the same for every phase of education, once those principles are defined the content can be woven to ensure progression and deep learning lead to successful outcomes for all learners.

The phrase ‘deep dive’ is well used by advisors, OFSTED inspectors and inevitably by trainers like ourselves. What do they actually mean and what do they actually achieve? Read my news-post Preparing for Subject Specific Deep Dive Conversations and Observations and our latest newsletter, where we have looked in some detail at the implications of these activities. We have taken the research and developed a suite of highly successful and practical courses and opportunities for INSET. They have been extremely well-received.

We want to stress in our capacity as advisors and coaches to the education profession that this isn’t about OFSTED or any other inspectorate. It is an opportunity to review your curriculum, focus on the rationale for what is to be included and have a clear perspective on what pupils already know and will learn in order that they thrive in the future.  It is essential that we see change as a powerful opportunity to empower all staff to focus on how they influence learning.  The key focus has to be on highly- effective and well-structured CPD for everyone who has a part to play in planning and delivering the curriculum.

There are three parts to ensuring that leaders, managers, teachers and support staff all have the training to ensure they can create depth, breadth and a continuum of learning linked to their own detailed and profoundly well thought through curriculum vision and rationale and these are,

We have training for senior leaders that sets out the strategy for change and provides a wealth of practical tools to use with senior teams.

We have an outstanding course for subject leaders, Heads of Department or curriculum managers that will prepare all those who attend with the tools and knowledge to ensure any spotlight will reveal the implementation of high quality curriculum outputs.

We have courses that focus on primary and secondary assessment and that look closely at how to develop a culture where quality assurance is every member of staff’s responsibility.

Reviews following on from our training rate the quality of the materials and the resources we provide as outstanding.  We publish reviews alongside the relevant courses on our website.  Work with us, we are the experts and we can help you to create a culture of positive change.