A Journey in Coaching: our certification programme is a powerful driver for curriculum and whole-school change

 

Lead powerful change by creating a team of skilled coaching and curriculum ambassadors or champions using Learning Cultures’ Certification Programme.

The current imperative is to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered to mirror the leadership’s clearly defined rationale and ambition. This needs a clarity of purpose across all subjects, year groups, phases and stages. Developing a coaching culture for your school or college is without doubt the most powerful way to cascade positive and consistent improvements in pedagogy, pupil outcomes and team delivery. Coaches develop a range of skills that motivate others, encourage self-reflection and that focus on the positive. It is through these qualities that coaches can support others to begin to use the professional and motivational dialogue that will create measurable and tangible results for all staff and all pupils.

Sustaining a culture of change through coaching has been the guiding principle that has led us to develop this coaching programme for schools and colleges to use.  We will train a group of individuals over an academic year, ideally a group of six or nine, who will have the opportunity to be a part of three training sessions, a series of self-directed twilight sessions and a commitment to undertake 30 hours coaching with colleagues. This will lead to certification endorsed by the Association for Coaching.  Those who embark on a coaching journey won’t turn back, coaches inspire ambition, encourage challenge and foster innovation.

Choose the first group of Coaching Ambassadors who want to develop as coaches and begin your journey towards ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all. Have a look at the programme in detail below.

The Certificate in Coaching Competence – A journey in coaching

We have a whole range of other coaching courses providing something for all staff. All our training is designed so that it can be disseminated to others after the event.  Training is never a stand-alone experience, where it is shared it has far more impact on the individual, the learner, teams and the whole school.

 

New content for our curriculum CPD linked to current research and expert commentary

Current and new curriculum research and expert commentary helps us to shape our thinking and understanding of what makes a high-quality learning experience for all pupils.  Myself, Glynis Frater and the curriculum team at Learning Cultures continue to develop highly interactive and superbly challenging courses linked to curriculum theory into practice.

We have incorporated the visual strength that is found in the properties of a triangle as we focus on how best to deepen understanding of how to lead on and manage strategic change in how the curriculum is designed and delivered. There are three distinct themes with which to build a project plan that quality assures how the curriculum intent is translated into positive implementation.

  1. Ensuring a clarity of purpose for all staff and pupils through the use of highly structured professional learning conversations
  2. Lesson observation and teacher reflection through a critical focus on pedagogy and the learning that emerges from skilful classroom practice
  3. Assessing carefully defined pupil outcomes that build on prior learning and allow pupils to deepen their skills and knowledge over time

The new and re-designed curriculum courses we are now offering are designed to incorporate issues and best practice that is emerging from our own work and that of the education specialists we consult.  We focus on how those with responsibility for curriculum design and delivery can create a cohesive whole school offer that is consistent, sequenced over time and delivers quality outcomes for all pupils across the ability spectrum.

Our training is the beginning of a journey and with this in mind we ensure that the resources we use are designed to be cascaded to others following on from the training. In this way we know that the CPD from Learning Cultures is both sustainable and cost-effective.  We deliver a high quality learning experience for staff who develop the skills to take their learning back to their teams and into the classroom.

It is the coaching element that is an integral part of all our training that makes it so special and successful.  One of the sides of the triangle or triad is the imperative to ensure there is a framework for professional dialogue across the school. Creating a coaching culture will ensure this is firmly embedded.

Moving on from re-defining the curriculum offer, we now focus on realising the vision or intent through innovative and highly effective strategic thinking.

Where assessment of learner outcomes is consistent and linked to planning there is profound evidence of a cohesive curriculum strategy.

Develop a coaching culture for the senior leadership team, middle and subject leaders, teaching staff,  support staff and pupils and have the evidence that professional conversations and dialogue underpin strategic planning and implementation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leading from the Middle – using coaching to enhance the skills of subject and curriculum managers

Ensure your middle managers are leading their teams with clarity of purpose by developing their ability to coach others. Coaching allows managers to use highly effective professional conversations to ensure that curriculum rationale and ambition is translated into positive pupil outcomes.

Essentially, it is subject and curriculum managers that must communicate the messages established as curriculum intent and inspire their teams to plan and deliver a sequential learning platform of the highest quality. The most successful approach to ensuring this happens is to create a culture of self-reliance, reflection and trust.  Each individual needs to feel empowered to take risks and make relevant and positive changes. They need to have the skills to collaborate within teams and departments as well as across the curriculum, year groups and key stages.

Middle leaders are pivotal. Across the range of subjects and within a broader curriculum remit there needs to be a clearly defined plan of action that covers a wide range of potential change to current practice.  Subject and curriculum design expertise are a pre-requisite of the job role. However, there are a range of other more generic skills that are also vital. Managers need to be able to lead change, inspire innovation, understand how teams are formed for success and ensure that stated goals become positive outcomes.

Leading from the middle is the key to ensuring everyone is on board and knows the part they play in achieving the school vision for continuous improvement. It is the role of the senior leader to define the vision, rationale and ambition for the school. Middle and subject leaders then disseminate to their teams how they can all work together to create well focused strategies for change or review.  Therefore, they must have the right professional development that will enhance their role as effective communicators, powerful influencers and positive motivators.

Developing their coaching skills and implementing a coaching culture is, we know, a sustainable and cost-effective way of ensuring middle leaders develop and cascade a wide range or leadership skills and achieve sustainable change and cohesive teams.  The skills of a coach are those that empower others to find solutions, reflect on their own strengths, focus on the positive and deliver within well-defined frameworks. Our suite of coaching and curriculum courses provide the solution that will deliver cohesion, professional learning conversations and strategies that are time efficient.

For middle and subject leaders, we have two well-researched one- day courses

For leaders who want to use coaching as part of a sustainable and cost effective CPD solution start with,

All teachers and support staff will benefit from learning how to coach,

 

 

How is progress assured as part of a well designed and sequenced curriculum?

How pupils make progress as they travel through the curriculum must be at the heart of curriculum planning.  An essential part of this is to ensure we can accurately assess that progress is being made and that learning is sustained.

It is therefore essential that assessment of learning is a critical part of the substance of the curriculum design.  The introduction of the National Curriculum in 2014 saw the end of a generic system of assessment linked to clearly defined levels. Learning curriculum content and deepening knowledge and understanding is now much more of a focus for defining pupils’ progress whether in the primary or secondary phase.

The emphasis is more on progress linked to the knowledge and skills pupils develop incrementally within subjects and across the curriculum.  There needs to be a cohesive whole school strategy where teachers work together to ensure that the learning is sequential and developmental. Reading is a critical skill, as are all the other literacy skills embodied in the programmes of study across all subjects.  Maths is taught conceptually but mastery will come when pupils can make connections and apply the concepts they learn in Maths in contexts across the curriculum.

The curriculum programmes of study are a blueprint for creating a progression model. What pupils will learn and how they will learn it needs to be clearly defined in order that teachers can assess whether progress has been made. A rich curriculum offer will recognise that subjects are interwoven, that concepts transcend subject learning, that the core and wider skills for learning are an integral part of every subject and pupils need to know where and how to apply them in and across all subjects.

This won’t happen unless time is given to shared planning across year groups, within and across curriculum subjects and at transition points. There needs to be a culture where professional learning conversations articulate the ambition for what pupils will achieve as they journey towards well-defined outcomes and achieve their potential. School leads to a final end point which is life and work but there are steps along the way and assessing learning and progress must define these carefully.

We have an outstanding range of CPD that will support leaders, managers and teachers to be at the forefront of this curriculum evolution.  Our knowledge and expertise are highly praised and we have a wealth of well-researched resources that provide a platform for future learning across the whole school or college.  Below is a flavour of our curriculum offer. Coaching is the best way to build a culture of professional learning, have a look at our Coaching in Education section.

For primary schools

For secondary schools

 

Building pupils knowledge sequentially in both the core and wider subjects – do you have the evidence?

Taking a look at the most recent OFSTED reports where inspectors have been into schools this term makes interesting reading.  There are several entries where schools have been judged inadequate or requiring improvement who were previously outstanding or good.  The change of emphasis to a much deeper dive into the way the curriculum is planned, sequenced and assessed is clear in the improvement strategies these schools are invited to address.  I have listed here several quotes that are typical of what is deemed to be missing,

“The school’s curriculum is not sufficiently sequenced and coherent. The breadth of the National Curriculum is not covered in all subjects.”

“Leaders need to make sure that the curriculum is planned so that teachers can build pupils’ knowledge sequentially, over time, allowing them the learn more and remember more.”

“The curriculum is poorly planned and taught. Pupils do not gain enough skills and knowledge of subjects outside reading, writing and mathematics.”

“Improve the effectiveness of leadership by ensuring that learning in the wider curriculum is carefully sequenced so that pupils make good progress within topics and year on year.”

“Improvements should be made by developing the curriculum, in both the core and the wider curriculum subjects, so that it is well planned, builds on prior knowledge and understanding, meets the needs and interests of all pupils and enables them to achieve well.”

The messages could not be clearer. There is a sharp focus on curriculum sequencing, building on prior learning and planning to ensure pupils develop deep knowledge and skills across all their learning.  I could have included several other quotes about issues relating to assessment and the concern about subject knowledge and subject expertise as well as issues about how the curriculum is taught but this is a news post and not an essay.

Over the past few months we have followed the development of curriculum research, commentary on curriculum design and finally the publication of the latest OFSTED handbook for schools in a series of news posts and comments.  You can read the story so far here. We have developed some outstanding resources and tools to support leadership teams, curriculum managers and subject leaders to plan and deliver a deeply knowledge rich and skills focused curriculum.  We have focused on how to make this happen using practical approaches and well-researched strategies that are receiving high praise.  Our training is practical and solutions focused and is based on the principles of coaching. There is no better way to cascade outstanding practice and build a culture of professional dialogue that is shared across the whole school.

Have a look at our website for the many other training courses that are both relevant and will enhance the CPD potential in your school. We run superb INSET training or off-site courses.  There is something for all the staff in your school or college.

Incremental Coaching – taking small steps that deliver high quality classroom pedagogy

Q: What is the best way to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered across subjects, year groups and key stages?

A: Design a quality assurance system where the incremental components are carefully crafted and communicated so that all staff know the part they play in the successful delivery of a curriculum that is rich in knowledge and develops the skills learners need to access that knowledge.

We have a brand new training course that focuses on how to create a QA system in your school: Quality Assurance – a framework for curriculum cohesion, collaboration and impact 

Q: How can leaders and managers create the culture that ensures that good and best practice in teaching and learning is shared and opportunities for further development decided upon to incrementally build excellence?

A: Lead a coaching culture and create opportunities for leaders, managers and teachers to learn the coaching skills that will allow them to tease out their strengths, identify their gaps and focus on small steps and positive actions that will enhance their potential and allow them to continuously improve their performance. We have the sequence of courses to support your school on the journey towards a coaching culture.

Q: How can subject leaders empower their teams to create the curriculum that weaves skills and knowledge to deepen understanding and deliver a visionary, ambitious and innovative curriculum?

A:  Ensure strong subject teams use professional learning conversations and coaching skills so that there is a consensus about how to build on prior learning, sequence that learning towards clearly defined end points and decide how the knowledge and skills will be consistently assessed and moderated. Join us for a ‘deep dive’ into how to create strong subject teams that work together and also share cross curricular collaboration. Defining and Enhancing the Role of the Subject Leader – managing curriculum change that delivers sequential, seamless and deep knowledge and skills.

Then focus on assessment,

For an in-depth review of the story so far in relation to the need to focus on curriculum intent, implementation and impact and defining quality read our series of news posts from the past twelve months here. or follow the posts on our website here.

 

 

 

What are the curriculum priorities for the new term?

What are the curriculum priorities that will guarantee a rich and deep curriculum offer that sequences learning over time?  They must include,

Creating the right teams that can take forward the vision and rationale for breadth and balance of the curriculum. Teams that can work together to create a sequential curriculum that weaves concepts, knowledge and skills into a body of learning.

A balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy that creates informed choices for how the curriculum should be taught. Developing a culture of professional learning that means staff within teams and departments, across year groups and at transition points all talk to each other and learn from each other.

A clearly defined strategy for highly effective CPD that is agreed linked to individual and team development needs.  If change is fundamental to re-defining the curriculum and how it is developed and delivered all staff will have their own collective and individual needs.  It is vital that this is planned and implemented to ensure that all staff are able to collectively deliver curriculum intent.

How the learning is assessed must be woven into the curriculum plan, assessment is fundamental if we are to measure the impact of the curriculum being taught on learning and progression.  There needs to be a balance between formative and summative assessment and opportunities for those with pupil facing roles to plan their assessment approaches together to ensure consistency, consensus and cohesion. There also needs to be agreement across all teams, departments and year groups as to how and when to intervene when pupils fall behind.

Building a system of positive quality assurance is key to defining the success of the curriculum and its implementation.  It is essential that the process secures high quality outcomes while retaining any strongly supportive team culture.  The process should be qualitative and not quantitative. Data is the result of a lot of other processes that are measured over time.  Lesson observation, learning walks, measuring pupil outputs, student voice, parents’ views are all part of measuring quality. It is, however, essential that all are used to celebrate a learning culture and are not seen as a measure of what is going wrong.  If we build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it will highlight the strengths within the organisation, inform the need for change and provide the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

Wherever you are on the curriculum journey we have a superb range of training and development courses that have been specifically designed to bring clarity and deeper meaning.  We are a coaching organisation and we achieve outstanding results.  Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

We are launching a coaching certification programme and some on-line training courses which we are calling CPD in a Box this term.  Have a look at our website for more details.

Make sure all your staff have a CPD offer that is sustainable and provides profound learning that can be cascaded to others and has an impact on the organisation, the team and the individual.

 

Preparing for subject specific ‘deep dive’ conversations and observations

The phrase ‘deep dive’ is the latest new terminology to come out of OFSTED’s focus on the curriculum and how it is planned and delivered.  I can’t help it, every time I hear the phrase it conjures up for me an image of an OFSTED inspector, in a rubber swimming hat, goggles and baggy trunks preparing to dive into the depths of murky subject knowledge or the dearth of it. Let’s unpick what this means for subject specialists or leaders.

Managing how the curriculum is implemented should fall to the subject team leader or subject expert.  It is their responsibility to create opportunities for that in-depth look at what is happening in the classroom to ensure that the content of subject learning is rich, builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage of their education. It is their role to translate the curriculum intent into clearly defined strategies for implementation.

This includes a focus on what the National Curriculum is asking for in their particular subject or wider area of study.  English, Maths and Science have a much more in-depth overview of what should be taught than the foundation subjects.  There is a degree of choice and opportunities for subject teams or departments to use their own local context, expertise and knowledge as the starting point for determining the content of their curriculum plan. The essential ingredients are,

  • the sequencing of learning over time
  • creating opportunities for pupils to make connections within and across their learning
  • ensure pupils understand the key concepts that link their learning within a subject and across subject boundaries
  • highlight the key skills that pupils will use and strengthen as part of their learning

In order for the subject or department lead to build a continuum of learning they must define the strategy that ensures schemes of work identify all of the above.  They must look closely at their own criteria for ‘deep dives’ into evaluating the quality of teaching and learning within their subject.  This will include collaborative planning meetings, opportunities to share through the use of professional learning conversations, highly interactive lesson observation and the review of pupil outputs such as in their written work, question and answer sessions and what they have produced in terms of models, presentations, art work and other media.

Some of OFSTED’s research provides a starting point for what subject leaders can use to determine how they can assess the quality of education and learning within their sphere of influence.  Specifically phase 3 of their research which includes 25 curriculum indicators that define what good curriculum design might look like. Also, the more recent publication of their research into lesson observation and workbook scrutiny. These documents give us clues as to a definition of high quality in education outcomes. Individual leaders and managers can add their own deep knowledge and understanding and create a powerful strategy for change or maintaining the status quo.

There is a lot to do and a lot to think about but now I think it is time for a deep dive into rest and recreation as we head for a well-deserved holiday for everyone with a pupil or curriculum centred role in a school or college.  We will continue to dive into the research, create our own and strengthen the Learning Cultures’ CPD offer based around our own deep expertise knowledge and understanding.  I will also keep publishing news-posts through the summer to highlight anything new that emerges.

Happy Summer and we look forward to working with you next term.

Glynis Frater

Observing Quality in the Classroom – measuring the impact of curriculum design

The quality of education is defined by OFSTED as ensuring pupils learn the content of a well sequenced curriculum across all subjects.  This re-balance (their language) requires leaders and their teams to look more closely at what is taught and how it is taught linked to their rationale and ambition for curriculum intent.

The clues to how this can be managed in school are linked to the myriad of speeches, publications and research that OFSTED have published over many months.  My post from last week, Curriculum Coherence and Coaching Conversations talks about a triangulation. This includes, lesson observation, book scrutiny and professional conversations with all stakeholders. The imperative to translate what is planned (intent) into education outcomes that deepen learning over time (implementation) and clearly define how all pupils will achieve their full potential (impact) is critical.

What we have to work with can help to create highly useful best practice models. The result of using these will deliver curriculum clarity to satisfy the inspectorate but will, more importantly, also foster a culture of highly interactive collaboration and the sharing of positive pedagogy that will have a lasting impact on morale, motivation and high quality learning.

Observation of learning is the key. This includes observing pedagogy and the learning outcomes that emerge from that. It also includes assessing the learning through what is written, how well pupils read, how pupils answer questions and what is performed, played, displayed or recorded for practical subjects including drama, PE, design technology, music and art. I have taken the observation indicators that OFSTED are using as part of their own validation and added to them a set of indicators of what observers and teachers might be looking for in terms of learning outcomes. Essentially, a far less subjective set of indicators that are linked directly to evidence of what pupils produce, learn, what they retain and their attitudes to learning.

So, when defining the quality of education, focus on the questions below so that you are clear as to what you would like to see when you observe pedagogy, practice and learning,

  • what are you expecting to see in the classroom, what do you want to see happening?
  • how does the content of this lesson fit into a sequence of lessons and other learning?
  • how is the learning assessed to ensure understanding and next steps?
  • to what extent are all pupils challenged to achieve more?
  • how involved are pupils in their own learning and how well can they articulate how they have accessed and retained knowledge over time?

We are as up to date with all this as it is possible to be. We continue to offer our suite of curriculum courses, including an in-depth and up to date focus on Re-defining the Curriculum.  One of our Leadership and Management courses looks specifically at Lesson Observation. The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – How to use powerful feedback that nurtures reflection, learning and outstanding teaching looks in-depth at the power of positive two-way observation that focuses on learning and successful outcomes for the teacher and their pupils.  At this crucial stage of change you may be looking at performance management and we have a highly acclaimed training day Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Influencing learning, empowering people and creating a culture of positive change  which will provide a focus on how to ensure every member of staff has a deep understanding of the contribution they can make to high quality education outcomes.

Make time for positive and highly praised CPD from Learning Cultures that is solutions focused, informed by sector led research and delivered by experts in education.

Book scrutiny and lesson observation – evidence for curriculum implementation that defines high quality education outcomes

How intent is translated into the delivery of high-quality educational outcomes must come from looking closely at pedagogy and how and what pupils learn. OFSTED have recently published research into ensuring they can assess this accurately. Lesson observations and ‘workbook scrutiny’ are seen as an essential part of what will provide a spotlight into the quality of curriculum implementation. They see an essential triangulation between observation, a deep review of pupils’ book work and opportunities for face to face conversations. Their research is small scale but it is thorough. ‘How valid and reliable is the use of lesson observation in supporting judgements on the quality of education?‘ and Workbook scrutiny – Ensuring validity and reliability in inspections’

The research is designed to inform the systems that will ensure accurate and valid inspection.  Some of the indicators and research questions could be useful in creating meaningful models for defining a school’s own internal standards that define the quality of education within subjects and across the wider curriculum. The imperative for quality assurance in schools is to ensure that classroom pedagogy reflects how the curriculum intent is translated into classroom practice that leads to effective and deep subject learning and skills competence.  For this there needs to be an opportunity to observe lessons across a range of learning contexts. The quality of teaching and the depth and sequencing of subject knowledge need to be reflected in the quality of work output that is included in pupils’ books, in displays and within their ability to articulate through conversations with adults and with their peers.

For ‘book scrutiny’ four indicators were selected as those that would be observable in workbooks, the focus will be on how subject matter is taught and learned to allow for efficient and meaningful acquisition of new knowledge and whether and how pupils consolidate knowledge so that it remains in the long term memory. The indicators are,

  • Building on previous learning
  • Depth and breadth of coverage
  • Pupils’ progress
  • Practice

The research into the reliability and validity of lesson observation is documented in a slightly larger piece of work. In this document there are a list of 18 lesson observation indicators that inspectors will use as a guide to ascertaining how accurate their judgements are at assessing the quality of education through lesson observation. We have included the indicators in a separate PDF which you can download here.

It is not possible for individual schools to carry out their own research on the scale that OFSTED and other researchers they cite have undertaken. It is eminently possible to use the findings from research to inform internal action planning. There are opportunities to model the research criteria as part of a structure that clearly defines the intention for high quality curriculum design and delivery. From this schools can then focus on identifying the strengths within their school, recognise the gaps and subsequently fulfil the professional development needs that arise. This will create the right culture to build a platform of continuous improvement, positive collaboration and professional learning conversations that will cascade good and outstanding practice.  Creating a triangulation for quality assurance that ensures the rationale and ambition for the curriculum is implemented to achieve a high level of success for all learners. This triangulation is essentially,

  • lesson observation that celebrates positive pedagogy that ensures curriculum implementation linked to the school intent, rationale and ambition
  • looking at learning outcomes within books and as part of displays and other media
  • creating opportunities for a curriculum dialogue to exist for leaders, managers, teachers TAs and pupils

We are continually updating our curriculum suite of courses  to create for schools a series of solutions focused and resource rich experiences linked to well-respected research and our own considerable expertise.