Curriculum Futures – Building a learning culture for now and for tomorrow

There is an imperative to make sure every learner who returns to school or college this week knows that they bring with them a whole host of positives from their experience of home schooling, a loss of freedoms and lost opportunities to be a part of their community and the wider world.  No one can capture lost learning or bring back missed experience, so the best way forward is to celebrate what has been learnt and give huge credit for all our pupils’ resilience, stoicism and optimism.

Everyone from the learner to the teacher, to the leader and to the parent can reflect on what has gone before and be duly proud that we are turning a corner but also that learning has taken place. Our pupils have managed their own space, their own time, learnt how to use new technology, listen more attentively and be less dependant on the teacher. Have a look at our ‘Top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from home schooling to the classroom’, collected together from several influential pieces of research.  Evidence is powerful that learning will continue and where there is catching up to do the essential ingredients are fostering self-esteem and self-belief.

Learning Cultures weaves a coaching philosophy into the design of all our training courses and programmes. One of the most important messages to instil in any individual who wants to be a part of building a coaching strategy is to always look for the positive, never dwell on the past and believe sincerely that there is no such thing as failure just time to learn and grow every day. If this is your starting point you will see a way forward that will be inspirational and create for all those who are part of school life a belief that the rest of this academic year and the next is an opportunity to innovate and be creative in how to build on prior achievement and develop expert learners whatever their starting point.

Our team have revelled in the opportunity to learn new skills. Our live webinars have proved to be overwhelmingly popular and the feedback has been outstanding.  It is a new medium for CPD and we are unlikely to see it disappear from our training repertoire. We have also created a suite of asynchronous courses that allow schools and colleges to use the five sections in each course either to conduct their own INSET or to deliver training over several sessions. They are flexible and have an unprecedented amount of materials, presentations and resources that can be used again and again. We have also created a suite of shorter ‘In a Nutshell’ courses for individuals and teams to use when they are looking for bite-size CPD opportunities.

We have hosted online whole organisation INSET and have designed bespoke courses for leaders, managers, teams and others within a school or college.  The future is most definitely blended, it is doubtful we will return to the expensive and time consuming off-site courses that involve travel, cover and sometimes an overnight stay for all our CPD needs. There is potential for a lot more learning and a lot more interaction with an online platform that still delivers high quality training and deeply pertinent messages for the new world we have watched emerge over the past year or so.

We have created a wealth of relevant and interactive training titles, here are a few that are a must go to as we emerge from a year like no other. Here at Learning Cultures, we are delighted to share our expertise, deep research and innovation to bring answers to your questions and solutions to your problems. For CPD there is no better start, here are a few of the titles we think will be essential over the next few weeks.

There is loads more. Have a look at our website and start your journey towards a positive future.

The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – creating a culture where lesson observation is a collaborative part of continual professional learning

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In this news post I want to focus on the outstanding opportunities that exist in ensuring lesson observation is a key part of professional learning and development for all those with a pupil facing role. Where individuals see lesson observation as an important part of their own professional development it is transformational. The key however is to make it a two-way process. It should not be an imposition where senior and middle leaders decide who should be observed and when.

Our course “The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – creating a culture where lesson observation is a collaborative part of continuing professional learning” focuses on how using coaching techniques can have a significant impact on how the observer feeds back to the observed and those being observed accept and use the feedback as part of their own learning and continued development as a good or outstanding teacher.

Where lesson observation is a part of performance management it becomes an imposition and is often an unwelcome intrusion into the teacher’s classroom. Where a coaching culture emerges, the teacher is an integral part of the observation process, welcomes the opportunity to reflect and can accept the positive and constructive feedback that is shared.

The best way forward is to make it explicit that lesson observation is part of professional learning for all those concerned. Every member of the teaching staff needs to be involved, all should have the opportunity to observe others and engage in professional learning conversations about the quality of the lesson, what worked well and what the teacher might do differently next time.

To create a less judgemental approach to lesson observation it is important that all teaching staff understand and can talk about the teaching strategies that underpins their classroom practice. In this course we give the participants an opportunity to explore pedagogy and what constitutes independent, active and participative learning that ensures all learners are fully involved in their learning. Giving teachers an opportunity to talk about teaching and learning as part of lesson observation gives them the opportunity to celebrate what they do well, share what achieves impact and take away the ideas and best practice from other practitioners.

There is an imperative to give teachers and their line managers an opportunity to share their experiences of the past few months. Observing lessons has taken place but in very different ways. Now is the time as we welcome learners back to the classroom to use CPD time to consider new ways that might emerge where teachers develop different and more blended learning strategies. Creating a coaching culture where teachers can experiment, take risks and build a repertoire of new pedagogies will enrich the learning for both the teacher and their pupils.

The message we are conveying as part of this training course is that there should be a high degree of trust between the observed and the observer. In a coaching culture the observer is not there to judge but to feedback in a positive way that creates for the teacher an opportunity to learn and grow in their role.

The course provides those who take part with opportunities throughout to practice coaching skills and deepen their understanding of how to feedback positively to encourage reflection and foster a motivation to want to make changes and to learn.

Where coaching is an integral part of the process of observing learning there is a willingness for individuals to share, grow and innovate.  Where coaching is embedded as part of the feedback process the school or college culture changes and everyone is a part of the desire for continuous improvement and the quest for high quality learning for all.

This course The Art of Lesson Observation”   is one of our asynchronous Moodle packages that those with responsibility for lesson observation, professional development and performance management can use to suit their CPD timetable or planning time. It is divided into five sections that are designed to cover a full INSET day. They can be broken down and delivered over time and revisited as often as is needed. The whole course sits on a Moodle platform where all the resources are easily accessed. There is even a multiple-choice quiz, bibliography and extra resources at the end of each section.  It also comes in a box with a memory stick that houses all the resources, sets of cards, a user manual and because we can’t offer you lunch, a box of chocolates. We can also run this course for leaders and managers from an organisation either remotely or face to face when allowed.

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Re-thinking Appraisal – creating the right culture for continuing professional development to flourish

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This newsletter profiles our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations  It looks at the process of appraisal and the undoubted advantages of using coaching as a means of ensuring the vision, the school improvement plan and the road map that defines the way forward from here can be all be realised.

We must not forget the implications for staff development as well as for pupils’ progress and achievement as the academic year rolls on and we begin to look to future plans for learning and development. We are certainly aware here at Learning Cultures that training and CPD has not been high on the agenda for school leaders and line managers during the last year, which is understandable in the circumstances.

There will be an imperative to include continuing professional development for all staff in any strategic planning that takes place over the coming months. There is much talk about what learners have lost but this can be just as telling for those who teach, manage learning or design the curriculum. In all of the professions CPD is a vital component of maintaining standards and high-quality outcomes and education is no exception.

Achieving carefully crafted goals and objectives may not have been possible for all those at the frontline of trying to educate and keep a school safe and running smoothly. Therefore, appraisals may need careful thought as we move towards the new academic year and begin to look at the whole school or college vision and organisation, team and individual improvement plans.

We have a coaching solution to the need to rethink appraisal. We can support all those who need to reflect on how future plans will redress the impact of the last year and refocus how an appraisal process will help to reset the compass in order to steer learning towards positive futures.

The answer is to make sure that all staff are involved in the process and all have a say as to their own goals and aspirations for the future.  It is essential that leaders in education encourage their staff to reflect on what they have learnt over the past year. It has been tough and for many exhausting and overwhelming, but we have all had to adapt and change our ways of working and we have all gained new skills in the process.

Going backwards is unlikely to be the way forward. We cannot capture what has been lost but we can build self-esteem and celebrate the achievements bound up in survival, change and positive action that has been taken to minimise disruption that has been the default for many. This is where coaching comes in.  Making sure line managers create the right culture that ensures appraisals are a two – way process with the individuals they manage is essential. This must acknowledge the individual’s strengths and skills and give them the opportunity to share their own solutions to achieving positive outcomes and measurable impact for all learners and all staff.

Coaching is about setting goals and focusing on how these can be achieved smartly. Creating an appraisal process that focuses on accountability for each individual to be responsible for achieving what they say they want to achieve is far more motivating than when goals and objectives are imposed by others. Each individual needs to know the part he or she plays in achieving the school or college vision. Their focus is then on what positive actions can be taken to achieve success, measure impact and focus on priorities for change and improvement.

Our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations will give those with responsibility for managing appraisal with a wealth of materials, resources and activities to re-think the process. We also contain within the course the opportunity for those attending to learn some coaching skills that will help them to support their teams to define their goals and objectives, know and articulate their strengths and learning agenda, conduct appraisal interviews and create opportunities for ongoing professional learning conversations to take place during the interval between formal appraisals.

This course is an asynchronous package that those with responsibility for planning and conducting appraisal can use to suit their CPD timetable or planning time. It is divided into five sections that are designed to cover a full INSET day. They can be broken down and delivered over time and revisited as often as is needed. The whole course sits on a Moodle platform where all the resources are easily accessed. There is even a multiple choice quiz, bibliography and extra resources at the end of each section.  It also comes in a box with a memory stick that houses all the resources, sets of cards, a user manual and because we can’t offer you lunch, a box of chocolates. We can also run this course for leaders and managers from an organisation either remotely or face to face when allowed.

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Coaching: the key to outstanding teaching and learning

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In this newspost I want to explore coaching as a powerful pedagogy. Where teachers learn to coach, they quickly see the parallels with the strategies they use to deliver exceptional teaching and learning. We have a highly regarded course for all teachers it is called ‘Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning’.

Picture walking into a classroom where all the pupils are engaged, focused and absorbed in what they are doing. The teacher is there to facilitate the learning, not necessarily simply to deliver the content. There is a buzz of learning and a confidence for all that taking a risk or making a mistake is absolutely fine as long as it leads to some kind of deeper understanding. The teacher’s role is to encourage, challenge and foster a love of learning that will remain forever.

The teacher uses the classroom to foster independent learning, group interaction and the blending of skills and knowledge. He or she creates opportunities for learners to make sense of their growing understanding and what they need to do next to progress.  There is a trust that is implicit in the relationship between the teacher and his or her class. The quality of learning is dependent on that teacher’s inspiration and expertise and the learner has the confidence to use the resources, rise to the challenges of the tasks being presented and is motivated towards achieving above and beyond their potential.

Where teachers develop a range of coaching skills and learn how to use them as part of their teaching repertoire, they are more adept at creating a classroom culture that puts the onus on learning rather than teaching and creates for the pupils a tacit understanding that they are responsible for their own learning and are accountable for what they achieve.

The skills teachers will develop as part of learning how to coach are the ability to use deep and rich questioning to put the onus on the learner to find their own solutions, be ready to take risks with their learning and accept challenge as part of their experience in the classroom.  The second skill is learning how to become an active listener. Listening raises awareness of what others think. It allows the listener to build a picture of how much a learner understands, their attitudes to learning and the barriers that might hinder learning.

It is also important that teachers have the opportunity to reflect on their pedagogy and how the way they teach impacts on learning, enjoyment, progression and achievement. Here at Learning Cultures for this course we have created a set of pedagogy cards that give teachers an opportunity to talk about their teaching approaches and what works well for them. We ask them to share their best practice examples and we encourage those who are listening to use the incisive questioning techniques they have been learning about to find out more, to challenge perceptions and to define how the approach leads to learning.

We also challenge teachers to focus on their strengths, how can they articulate what they are good at and how they influence others to achieve their full potential.  There is often a reluctance for us all to talk about ourselves and certainly to say what we are doing well. To be a good coach it is essential to know yourself, how you influence others and what it is about you that others will trust with their dreams and aspirations. We use this as a powerful opportunity to focus on how to plan a learning agenda linked to strengths and gaps in skills and knowledge that will help all to move towards an ideal professional future.

The essential final element in learning how to coach is to have the opportunity to practice coaching with others over time. This is profoundly linked to having very clearly defined goals for how this future will be achieved. Articulating one’s goal and then determining the road map for how it will be achieved is a crucial first step.  It is also important to recognise what currently works well but also to know the barriers that might impede success.

Where individuals can set out their own goals and how they will achieve them and then share this with others there are opportunities for coaching conversations to take place that have a twofold impact. Firstly, the goal setter consolidates their understanding of what they want to achieve and secondly, the listener is able to practice their questioning, influencing and listening skills.

Coaching and teaching have a synergy that cannot be easily ignored by anyone who has spent time learning how to coach.  We will all need new approaches and positive answers to welcome back learners who have been away from school. Coaching provides so many answers to ensuring both teachers and pupils have the confidence, self-esteem and self-belief to move forward from here and continue to make exceptional progress. Follow the link to the course discussed below.

Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning

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Coaching – an essential skill for all those with a pastoral role

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Coaching and the pastoral process has a symbiosis that should not be ignored. Coaching is about allowing individuals to find solutions, reflect on their own behaviours and have resilience when faced with difficulties. Delivering the pastoral system requires a range of skills that will nurture learners and allow them to grow and progress throughout their education.

Learning how to coach is a gift that creates a culture where individuals know their limits and are challenged to take responsibility. It is the opposite to telling individuals what is best for them, instead it is a collaborative process that leads to independence of spirit and fosters high levels or self-belief.

Stepping into the harsh reality of returning to education in the classroom will be a difficult process for many. The routines, the spaces and the management of learning is different in the home environment. Even for those who have remained in school things will change as class sizes grow.  There will be a wide range of different experiences that learners have faced and their ability to cope will vary as a result of many different factors. It will be for the pastoral team to work together in synergy to ensure all learners thrive, return to learning in the classroom as easily as possible and begin to find their equilibrium.

Learning how to coach will enhance the skills of pastoral leaders and tutors. They will become more intuitive, challenge limiting beliefs, use deep questioning to raise self-esteem and probe for clarity and understanding. Coaching is non-judgemental; a coach is a critical friend who will not disapprove, disagree or impose. A coach is there to listen deeply, to offer clarity and to give reassurance for anyone struggling with their own confusing reality.

In this course we look at how pastoral leaders can create highly effective teams that will support both their learners and their colleagues. We show how the development of a coaching culture will bring strength to the team and provide the model for ensuring there is a professional dialogue that fosters the celebration of good practice and where all those involved can learn from each other and collaborate successfully.  We create the opportunity for those attending to learn and practice some coaching skills including deep and rich questioning, active listening and influencing skills. We want the picture to unfold to reveal just how powerful coaching can be in the desire to develop within all learners, resilience, strength of character, a belief in fairness and a range of independent learning skills that will prepare them for a positive future.

This course is part of our suite of coaching courses. It can stand alone, or it can be part of a planned CPD strategy where all staff have the opportunity to learn how coaching can support them in their role. Making sure pastoral staff learn and practice a range of coaching skills and can see how coaching will enhance their role is a profound step in supporting all learners. The next few months will be an important journey where the pastoral team and the learners in their charge can cope with the realities of returning to the classroom, recognising there has been a cohesive learning journey over the past year and making strides towards discovering they have the confidence to move forward positively.

As with all the courses designed by the Learning Cultures coaching team the materials, resources, activities and presentations are all created so that those who participate in the training can take their learning back to their colleagues and cascade it. It is our sincere belief that any form of training must be sustainable and cost effective and by providing opportunities for others to share in the content of the training is essential. The delegate has the opportunity to pass on their knowledge to others but will also consolidate their learning through the process of discussing their learning with others.

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Leading from the Middle: Influence change, build outstanding teams and foster innovation

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This post focuses on our course Coaching for Middle Leaders. It is the fourth in the Learning Cultures series looking at how developing a coaching culture will provide the framework, the skills and the strategy to plan how to move forward to ensure continued high quality outcomes for all staff and learners.

Here, we look specifically at the role of the middle leader and how coaching will enhance their ability to enable their teams to deliver the plan for consolidation, change and improvement.

Leading from the Middle is a powerful coaching course for those with the pivotal role of middle leader. They work closely with the Headteacher or Principal and other senior leaders to interpret and contribute to the vision for continuous improvement and ensure curriculum cohesion and impact.

They lead their teams and translate the plans for success into workable goals and objectives that are realistic, measurable and achievable. The middle leader has to empower others to deliver specific quality outcomes to ensure there is a visible impact on learning and achievement.

All of this has to be managed within workable time-frames that fit into the academic year and that’s in a normal year. The middle leader now has an even more pivotal role. They must look forward to plan how to build on what has been learnt. They must reflect on how to recover lost learning for both teachers and their pupils. They will also have the responsibility for creating positive futures linked to self – esteem, motivation and confidence.

This course examines the role of coaching in middle leadership and how through the development of a range of coaching skills middle leaders can foster highly visible professional learning communities that will model best practice, empower others to explore and innovate, foster a culture of trust and inspire new ideas in pedagogy and learning.

We look at the skills of listening, influencing and the powerful use of questioning. We focus on the difference between mentoring and coaching and how to use both effectively. We ask middle leaders to look within themselves to define their own strengths and gaps in learning and how they can foster a culture where their teams work together to cohesively deliver high quality outcomes that make a difference.

We then focus on how developing and using these skills creates a culture where teams are more cohesive, they feel enabled and motivated to find their own solutions and are inspired to be a part of a collective vision that delivers outstanding learning, excellence in teaching and a commitment to consistent high quality outcomes.

Coaching is the most powerful way to manage change where all teams, curriculum, teaching and learning, subject, pastoral, support and administration are all a part of the collective vision that will help the organisation, school, college, academy or university to find the positive and build on successes rather than dwelling on lost learning. Positivity breeds self-esteem, is motivational and is the only way to plan for the next steps in minimising the impact of what has gone before.

This course is part of our suite of coaching courses. It will give middle leaders a wealth of materials and resources to use with their teams. It is the starting point for middle leaders to learn a range of coaching techniques and it gives all those who attend with the framework for taking coaching forward as part of the vision for a successful future.

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Leading a Coaching School or College: Coaching is the key to exceptional leadership

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Bringing staff and pupils back into school will bring its challenges and require exceptional leadership skills. Learning CulturesLeading a Coaching School or College live webinar is the place to start for senior leaders to focus on how they can create a collaborative culture that delivers outstanding learning, powerful pedagogy and a shared commitment to the highest quality education for all.

Making coaching an essential part of the strategy for the future is the best decision a school or college leader will make.  Coaching equips the leader with the skills to empower others, to influence change and to unlock potential.  The coaching leader will create a culture of reflection where he or she engenders trust and a belief that everyone can achieve what is crafted in the vision, rationale or ambition for all staff and learners.   Where a leader believes that everyone has the capacity to continuously improve there is a motivation to uphold high standards of performance and for each member of staff to accept challenge and find their own solutions to issues and problems that arise.

To build new futures, leaders will need to re-evaluate the ambition for continuous improvement, curriculum rationale and the best way to ensure that learners make the transition from home schooling to the classroom and continue to thrive. Focusing on using strategies linked to coaching will ensure that the imperative for change is the collective responsibility of all staff. Incorporating learner voice into the mix can only strengthen the outcomes.

For this to happen, the senior leadership team need to make the commitment to build a coaching culture and allow others to share in the responsibility to make sure that all staff and pupils can recapture their enthusiasm and motivation to learn and enhance their self-esteem.  Where the process of change is driven by collaborative professional learning communities who share a common goal, the team can build on what they know works well, identify barriers that might need to be overcome and carefully refine the options they can choose to ensure success.

Essentially, coaching leadership must be highly visible so that there is a constancy of purpose that is built on a culture of trust and respect. Opportunities to foster collaboration must be inherent in all aspects of team and individual planning. There needs to be a commitment to ensuring the highest quality implementation leads to desirable and positive impact.  Coaching must be about learning through a process of continuous improvement where there is a willingness to share success, where individuals know their strengths and their gaps in professional learning and where they accept failure as part of the process and reflect on how mistakes lead to learning.

Leading a Coaching School is a training course that will provide senior leadership teams with the skills they need to begin their journey towards creating a coaching culture. However, this course goes much further than that, challenging those in attendance to focus on how they can implement a strategy that leads to transformational change.  We challenge senior leaders to focus on their sense of urgency and how this drives the vision for excellence and continuous improvement. We ask that leaders know how to delegate, how to empower and influence others to take increased responsibility for how they set and achieve their own goals and targets that flow from the whole organisation improvement plans.

We include a range of tools and techniques that provide those who attend with all they need to continue to learn how to coach and how to use coaching to create a culture where professional learning conversations provide the basis for a collaborative culture built on reflection, the celebration of good practice and the collective desire to deliver a constancy of purpose that insists on the highest quality of curriculum, pedagogy and learning.

Our team at Learning Cultures have all been leaders in education. We know how lonely it can be. The role of the senior leadership team is to be the Captain of the ship, to steer the vessel and the people within it to safe and secure futures.  Where everyone pulls together using coaching as the driver, the leader is reassured that all staff are working as one to weather storms, deal with difficult people, manage behaviour or address poor performance.  Delegation means that the leader or leaders return to being the strategists whilst middle, team or subject leaders deliver and anchor deep learning opportunities for teachers and pupils across the whole organisation.

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Why Coaching is your Absolute Strategy for an Outstanding Future

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Creating a coaching culture is probably the most important strategic decision a school or college leadership team can take.  Coaching strengthens the potential of the organisation to have the evidence that the quality of education remains good or outstanding and all staff have the skills and potential to make a difference. Below are some of the reasons why Glynis at Learning Cultures advocates coaching so strongly especially now. Then find out what you can do to implement a strategy where coaching is at the heart of your pursuit for ensuring continued excellence in learning.

The need to create a framework for how leaders can set a new course towards a smooth return to normality in education should now be high on the strategic agenda. There is an imperative to build on the learning from the past year, manage how to fill the gaps in learning and create opportunities for everyone, leader, manager, teacher, learner and support staff to feel motivated and ready for the challenges ahead.

The first imperative in creating a coaching culture is a commitment from the Principal or Headteacher and their senior teams to learn how coaching skills empower, influence and inspire others to be the masters of their own change agenda and to know the part they play in achieving the school or college vision. The return to school for all does require a collective will to ensure learners and staff can rise to the challenges, reflect on the skills and learning that have been achieved over the past few months and find innovative ways to make sure lost learning is captured in a different way.

Messages can be lost in translation especially when they are given out as instructions. Making the decision to create opportunities for professional learning communities to come into being provides a solution. Where the vision is a shared communication and is the subject of deep learning conversations that involve every team member in the decision-making process the messages are strengthened and have a resonance that fosters the will to succeed, raises morale and builds a desire for positive change to take place.

Those leading from the middle are pivotal. They must have bold enabling skills that will help to interpret the priorities for continuous improvement and create the right culture so that teachers, the pastoral team and the support teams set their own SMART goals and objectives linked to the role they play. Where coaching exists in a school or college as the catalyst for change the smooth transition to normality will be a much easier journey because all staff are working together, share their strengths and positive gains and build a collective belief in their ability to be a part of a new learning culture.

Self and peer reflection are known to have an impact on school improvement. Encouraging a coaching culture to emerge allows this to happen and will be a powerful driver for success for so many who have had to work in isolation with little peer or colleague contact allowed for so long.

Learning Cultures are a leading provider of coaching training for the education profession. We have developed a suite of highly acclaimed coaching training programmes for all those who work in education. We have a training experience for senior leaders that helps them to develop their own coaching skills and focuses on how to set out the steps that will lead to a coaching culture for everyone.

Training for middle leaders builds their coaching skills so that they are able to influence change, manage teams and create a culture of collaboration, cohesion and reflection.  Coaching can also support the process of positive and effective lesson observation that leads to a commitment to share, change or improve. Coaching can ensure a more collaborative approach to appraisal where feedback is a two-way process that leads to profound change.

Where teachers develop a range of coaching skills, they are learning how to create an environment where learners are self-directed, collaborative, independent in their approach and become creative thinkers. Teachers are using coaching as a pedagogy and that has a profound impact on learning. Coaching also provides opportunities for teachers to share their practice, celebrate their successes and work with their peers so that they build on their repertoire of teaching strategies.  Coaching can also work for teaching assistants and support staff where positive coaching conversations can have an impact on the shared commitment for the teacher and teaching assistant and where support staff work directly with the learner.

Coaching has a massive part to play in the pastoral process, impacting on behaviour, well-being, challenge and attitudes to learning.

So, putting all this together provides the ingredients for a coaching culture to emerge.  Building a CPD strategy around coaching creates a sustainable and cost-effective answer to how to ensure a successful future. Anything else is piecemeal, lacks cohesion and is difficult to measure in terms of impact. Now is the time to make the decision to use coaching as your absolute strategy for an outstanding future for all staff and all learners. Learning Cultures have all you need and more.

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Quality Assurance: an education perspective

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There has never been a more important time to focus on the overused and misunderstood word ‘quality’, especially when it is coupled with the word assurance. Quality Assurance means achieving what you set out to achieve, where the outcomes are those that meet the needs of all stakeholders and where mishaps or failures along the way are not dwelt upon and have been carefully analysed and refocused so that they become successes. Quality assurance is different from quality control and it is this difference that needs to be clearly defined in education.  Let me give you an example,

In Britain in the 1970s we had a car industry and we tended to wait until the end of the production line to check whether the car met the standards required. If something was wrong, it was difficult to see where the mistake had been made and the system of remote supervisors who were not involved in the car making process didn’t help. This was quality control. At the same time in Japan, they were adopting a system called ‘Kaizan’, a system of quality assurance. Team leaders and their teams had a responsibility for checking each part as it was added along the production line, their involvement was recorded. This meant that at the end of the line if there was a problem it could be traced back to where the part was added. This meant that everyone had a responsibility for the quality of the final product.

Something similar can be applied to schools and colleges if we rely too heavily on summative data at the end of key stage 1,2 and 4 and 5. The principles of a Kaizan or traceability system that underpin this concept in business can be applied to the building of a collaborative and positive school or college structure that ensures the curriculum vision translates into outstanding pedagogy, profound learning opportunities and has an impact on continuous improvement for all.

Quality Assurance is a process that ensures what is to be delivered or produced achieves a clearly defined set of outcomes. The emphasis is on ‘self-review’ rather than checking by a third party or inspector.  Quality assurance is a well-used term in business and well-documented systems exist that give staff the tools and techniques to monitor their own quality output. Total Quality Management or (TQM) is a term many businesses have now adopted and implies that quality assurance is an integral part of all systems and is, therefore, an essential element of every individual’s performance.

Applying these principles to a school or college setting requires a deliberate focus on defining what constitutes a quality culture for any education setting. There are many benefits to adopting a process driven quality system for education, such as,

  • The imperative to define a set of incremental steps that lead to a collaborative and highly effective system that can be implemented across all teams, departments or phases within a school, a college or across a trust or alliance
  • The need to clearly set out the vision, the rationale and the ambition as to what is expected in terms of curriculum implementation and how it can be achieved so that it can be communicated and interpreted by all
  • Individual leaders and managers are empowered to work with their teams to determine the priorities that will lead to successful outcomes over time
  • All those involved can plot their progress and the progress of others, celebrate success and define where action is needed to make changes to achieve success
  • The process provides a visual picture of where there are issues and problems that need to be addressed along the way and create for those involved clear evidence that actions need to be taken or a change in strategy adopted to steer the process towards completion

Here at Learning Cultures we have investigated the concept of quality in relation to what OFSTED here in England are looking for, by looking at the international and European perspective and to how business fosters a collaborative approach to ensure the highest possible quality outcomes.

Translated into what is necessary to implement a process of quality assurance for your setting there are a number of steps that need to be in place, these include matching curriculum intent, vision and rationale to implementation and impact consistently and  coherently across the whole organisation and then focusing on how the curriculum is sequenced, how key concepts, knowledge and skills are embedded across all learning: creating a unified approach to assessment linked to formative assessment that fosters progression as well as summative assessment to gather data.  For this to happen the final step must be planned CPD to ensure all staff have the relevant skills and expertise.

The Curriculum and Quality Team here at Learning Cultures have designed a course for senior and middle leaders who are charged with developing a Quality Assurance strategy for their school or college.

We have used our own and others research in the quest for our own high-quality product. We look in detail at the current imperatives linked to the design of a deep and rich curriculum and how that is successfully implemented to ensure impact that leads to high quality learning outcomes for all. We have built the design around 7 quality indicators that define the quality processes that lead to outstanding educational outcomes. These include:-

  1. effective leadership
  2. identifying the needs of all learners
  3. engaging and empowering all staff
  4. a focus on pedagogy and learning
  5. consistency in assessment across all learning
  6. data handling
  7. the involvement of a range of wider stakeholders including learners, parents, Governors and the wider community

We have designed a detailed and in-depth focus on these 7 indicators in the form of a RAG report that allows quality teams to determine what is currently working well, what is work in progress and what needs to change.

This course ‘Quality Assuring Curriculum Implementation for Impact – how the curriculum delivers outstanding pedagogy, seamless learning and progression’, is run as a two part online synchronous training opportunity where leadership teams, Quality Managers and subject leaders can use the resources and materials to build their own system of continuous quality improvement. We include tools to support developing timelines, priority schedules and resources that foster opportunities for professional learning conversations that lead to a collaborative desire to create a culture of continuous improvement.

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Strategic CPD Solutions – innovative examples of good practice

Strategy is probably a long way down the list of priorities for all those leading in education unless it is linked to the issues that crowd every day.  However, an increasing number of leaders are taking the longer view and beginning to focus on the needs of their teams, their teachers and their pupils when relative normality returns. I wanted to share some of the innovative CPD that we have delivered in the past nine months, remotely of course, to individual participants, middle, pastoral and subject leaders and large and small INSETs that have involved everyone. Below are ten areas where we have made a significant difference to how schools are preparing for a positive future.

  1. Transition from Key Stage 2 to 3 – We are training several groups of transition leads from across alliances of schools using our Crossing the Transition Bridge – from primary to secondary school to look at how to ensure partnerships and seamless learning for all year 6 pupils this year as they cross the transition bridge.
  2. Blended Learning Strategies are the focus for a senior CPD manager who has spent time attending this course so that she can use the materials and resources to train all middle and subject leaders in her school to be more adaptable with their learners. Other schools are using the content to share and cascade to others.
  3. Rethinking Appraisal using Coaching has been the strategic focus for one school. They have bought our asynchronous, ready to use course Rethinking Appraisal and Performance Management that focuses on how to use coaching to ensure appraisal clearly focuses on how the individual can play their part in achieving the school vision. They have also completed several of our coaching courses to ensure that the school vision and appraisal this year belong to all staff
  4. Leading a Coaching School or College – Many schools and colleges are using our synchronous, face to face live webinar to start now to look at how coaching will be the answer to reflective and positive futures. This course has the answers that will help senior leaders to support all staff now and in the months to come as we return to whatever normal will look like. Coaching creates opportunities for individuals to find their own solutions, remain positive and self-aware and build resilience in times of adversity.
  5. Leading from the Middle – Many school leaders are using the content of this course to give their middle leaders the coaching skills to ensure that their teams are collaborative and can deliver the strategic plans that need to be carefully crafted now and for the future. This course is a powerful coaching course that develops the coaching skills of those who have a pivotal middle leadership role and who are responsible for the performance of their teams in delivering high quality teaching and learning through a deep and rich curriculum offer
  6. Coaching to Create a Culture of Positive Mental Health – Several primary, secondary and special schools and A MAT are using our course that focuses on how developing a range of coaching skills can support those with a role in promoting well-being and positive mental health for staff and pupils.
  7. Quality Assuring how the Curriculum Design Delivers Impact, Seamless Learning and ProgressionIndividual senior leaders from several schools have attended this course and are using our materials, resources and guidance to develop quality assurance practices that will ensure there is evidence that the curriculum intent delivers high quality learning, outstanding pedagogy and evidence of a positive impact on whole school improvement. We are currently supporting the development of policy documentation and timeline structures to support schools to develop professional quality assurance processes
  8. Key Stage 3 – A Vital Piece in the Curriculum Jigsaw has been a very popular course and resonates with the need to make sure that learning is seamless, planning builds on prior learning and clearly defined end points provide a blue-print for progression
  9. The embedding of literacy and numeracy across all subjects are key elements of a high-quality curriculum offer. Our two courses ‘Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator’ and ‘Enhancing the Role of the Numeracy Coordinator’ have not diminished in popularity since our decision to move all our courses online. We have the answers to some pressing questions and we provide an outstanding array of best practice examples
  10. Our Coaching Certificate Programme is an opportunity to train to become a certified coach over three terms with expert guidance from our coaching team. We are running this course for several schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges. We are also now offering it to individuals from different organisations. We are receiving amazing revues for the content and process which leads to a Level 3 Certificate in Coaching from the Association for Coaching.

We have achieved so much in these times of deep adversity and many schools, colleges and other organisations have benefited from our talented and innovative team and our outstanding training packages. Now is the time to start to think strategically, we have the expertise to help you to make a difference to the future of learning and education.  glynis@learningcultures.org 0r 01746 765076 / 07974 754241