Does lesson observation support professional development?

Does lesson observation support professional development?

Lesson observation is an essential tool in the pursuit of high-quality education outcomes.  For many schools, in the classroom observation has not been possible during the pandemic. The return to full time schooling has been fraught with extra pressures and calls on the time of everyone which may mean observation of learning has taken a bit of a back seat. So, now is the time to look again at the purpose of lesson observation.

Is it

  • part of the performance management process
  • a formalised approach to assessing the quality of teaching and learning
  • linked to pay and promotion within the school system

or is it

  • a shared opportunity to support individual teachers to continuously improve
  • a part of the CPD strategy that allows teachers to observe each other and reflect on their practice
  • an integral element in creating cohesion within subjects and across the wider curriculum

Creating a culture where lesson observation is for teachers to learn from each other, reflect on their own practice and that of others, deeply commit to setting their own goals for incremental change and improvement and welcome the feedback from colleagues or line managers who genuinely have more or different experiences to share is powerful.

Lesson observation and answering ‘deep dive’ questions about the curriculum

Be visible and consistent in how to share curriculum and pedagogical excellence

‘Deep dive’ scrutiny’ is high on the agenda for all those senior leaders who may be due an OFSTED visit in the not- to- distant future. For many who have already been inspected they will know the importance of having the right answers about the curriculum across a range of subjects and within a whole school context. There is an imperative to ensure that all subject and middle leaders have created profound opportunities for their teams to be able to articulate how well pupils are retaining and deepening knowledge over time. Teachers must have the evidence that they are building on pupil’s prior learning and have grasped basic concepts before moving onto more complex ideas. There must also be evidence that lessons are differentiated so that opportunities to access and retain knowledge can be the privilege of all learners whatever their starting point.

What comes through from much of the feedback from OFSTED reports, speeches and briefings is that they are seeing a cumulative lack of continuity across different subjects. Where there is an intense look across the curriculum, subject leaders and teachers are not consistent in their understanding of how curriculum intent is translated into implementation. There is a significant emphasis by OFSTED on how well the curriculum is planned to ensure that pupils remember and retain important knowledge that can be accessed across a range of contexts.

Developing a strategy where lesson observation is part of a process of ongoing learning for all those with a pupil facing role will create the culture where conversations explicitly define how pupils are learning and the depth of knowledge they are accessing. Professional learning conversations that flow from lesson observation will also support a collaborative review of how learning is assessed to ensure that knowledge is retained as a springboard for deeper understanding. Positive change emanates from giving teachers a collective opportunity to share and disseminate good and outstanding practice.

Lesson observations shine a collective light on the quality of education

Putting the spotlight on knowledge and learning

Before we can begin to use lesson observation as a vehicle for continuing professional development and provide an opportunity for the pursuit of challenging reflection and feedback all those involved need to have a profound understanding of the indicators that define high quality education. They are set out in the OFSTED Handbook for Schools, so that is one place to begin to define high quality. However, there are other indicators that provide a broader definition and build in many other factors linked to learning. Have a look at UNESCO’s paper, Defining Quality Education. Read around the research from the Education Endowment Foundation. Join us for a live webinar where we look at the seven principles of quality assurance that influence positive change and ensure all staff play their part in the delivery of high quality outcomes across the whole school or college. Quality Assurance Strategies for Outstanding Curriculum Implementation and Impact. This course provides all the materials, research and resources to develop a quality assurance strategy across your school or college. Book here now.

The curriculum is the focus within the OFSTED handbook  and creating conversations linked to observing learning in the classroom will build consensus and create the evidence that all staff are working together to understand what high quality education outcomes look like to an external observer as well as an internal observer. Learning in this way provides individual teachers with the opportunity to observe pedagogy, focus on cognitive science, build a collective view of how well the curriculum is sequenced, understand where there are connections across the curriculum and share how literacy, numeracy and metacognition are essential to the learning process everywhere.

Defining quality as a process through lesson observation

Pedagogy and pupil outcomes – putting the pieces together.

OFSTED have devised for their own process of quality assurance a list of 18 indicators of what they want to see from observing lessons. We have used these to focus on the outcomes we are looking for from pupils as a result of observing learning through the lens of these particular indicators.  They provide a framework for building consensus on what is working well in the classroom and how that manifests itself in relation to the outcomes that pupils produce, and the deep knowledge they possess as well as how competent they are at using a range of core and wider skills. It is the learning and the depth of knowledge and understanding pupils have that create the evidence and the measures of the quality of education in a school or college. Have a  look at the 18 indicators and what we have added alongside each one and that focuses more on what an observer should be looking for in terms of impact. Explore some of the online box sets and live webinars to enrich CPD for your staff.



Coaching and the Role of the Subject Leader


Coaching and the Role of the Subject Leader

The subject leader is pivotal in ensuring the planned curriculum; the curriculum intent, is translated into knowledge rich content across all subjects and in the wider curriculum context. OFSTED are back and by all accounts their remit is a zero tolerance approach to anything less than high quality education outcomes defined by a cohesive approach to a whole school drive for curriculum excellence.

Here at Learning Cultures we are focusing on how to create the right CPD experience and the most useful resources that will arm subject and curriculum leaders with the tools to demonstrate to OFSTED that they have the will and the expertise to inspire their teams to deliver a substantive and high quality curriculum and articulate with powerful aplomb the impact that the pedagogy, sound subject expertise and positive feedback to learners is having on the life chances of each and every learner they teach.

Why Coaching is the Essential Strategy in Building Cohesion

Complexity and positive conversations – developing a cohesive curriculum

An essential role for the subject leader is to be an integral part of planning the wider curriculum vision and then translating that vision into subject specific strategies for their teams to implement. Coaching provides an opportunity to involve the whole team. It provides the catalyst for each and every team member to realise their own essential part in defining how they will teach, what they will teach and how they can support their learners to achieve their full potential.

Curriculum cohesion does not happen by osmosis. It requires serious strategic planning. A school is a series of highly intelligent silos where individual teams of experts know how to teach their subject, how to impart knowledge and how to help learners to increase their level of competence in a range of essential skills for learning.

Without careful and deliberate manoeuvres that will create opportunities for teams to work together not very much can happen. Where there are opportunities for professional learning conversations to take place learning can be sequenced over time, there are clear opportunities to plan how to build on prior learning and how to set carefully crafted goals that lead to high impact outcomes. Where these conversations are crafted using the powerful skills of coaching the results are outstanding, the evidence of cohesion and collaboration evident and the motivation to succeed powerful.

What do Subject Leaders Need to do to Develop a Coaching Culture?

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential. It is helping them to learn not teaching them.
  • Know your team and the strengths within it, build a consensus as to who has expertise and where the gaps are that need to be filled
  • Define and communicate the whole school curriculum vision and rationale for an ambitious and rich curriculum offer
  • Create space and time for joint planning where individuals can work together to develop curriculum maps that take account of how learners build on prior learning, how the learning is sequenced to build and deepen their knowledge over time and how specific end points are planned along the way
  • Train and be trained in essential coaching skills so that teams can work together to define their goals and focus on how within the strategic boundaries that encompass curriculum intent they can ensure the taught and learnt curriculum delivers high quality outcomes for all learners
  • Develop proactive and highly motivated professional learning communities who will challenge each other and build a consensus that over time learners are deepening their understanding where knowledge is retained in the long term memory and all pupils are becoming increasingly and unconsciously competent in a range of learning and thinking skills
  • Ensure that there are opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good practice where pedagogy, assessment and subject expertise are celebrated within individual subject specialisms and in cross-curricular forums that will help to demonstrate where concepts, skills and knowledge transcend specific subject divides.

Support for Subject Leaders from Learning Cultures

Strategic planning to create high quality curriculum outcomes for all

Coaching is at the heart of everything we design and deliver here at Learning Cultures. Creating the right culture where the curriculum vision and rationale is translated into ambitious subject specific and cross-curricular content is vital for success. OFSTED make the role of the subject leader pivotal in how they approach their deep dive inspections. The questions they ask require all members of phase, subject or departmental teams to be able to answer with clarity, confidence and a deep understanding that the curriculum intent is translating into powerful strategies for implementation that lead to measurable impact and learning for all.

The Curriculum team at Learning Cultures have used a wide range of research and our many contacts in outstanding schools, MATs and the wider education community to develop a range of exceptional training courses for senior, middle and subject leaders, teachers and support staff. Our aim is to ensure that all those with a pupil facing role have the expertise, the resources and the tools to deliver a knowledge rich, skills focused and sequential curriculum that delivers high quality outcomes for all. We receive phenomenal reviews and we are proud of the feedback that tells us just how valuable our input has on improving opportunities for collaboration and professional learning conversations that a coaching culture encourages.


How to manage a deep dive into curriculum implementation

Take a deep dive into subject specific curriculum implementation

A deep dive into subject specific implementation of a well-crafted curriculum must be part of the role of the senior school or college leader in partnership with subject and curriculum leaders and in collaboration with teachers and support staff.

Senior leaders will not have the relevant knowledge of every subject taught across the school and nor should they.  Instead a senior team must focus on the domain-specific knowledge relevant across all subjects and create for their subject leads and curriculum leads the right conditions to enable strong expertise to translate the aims and content of their specific programme of study into highly relevant and challenging knowledge rich subject content. Time for subject specific and cross-curricular collaboration that leads to a shared understanding of the knowledge, skills and concepts within subjects and across the subject divides will reap richness, breadth and creativity that leads to evidence that the curriculum has substance and the school is delivering high quality education.

Deep dive questions for Senior Leaders

Working together towards a shared goal

The first step in creating a profound understanding that subject and cross-curricular curriculum content is delivered linked to the stated intent is to create a set of deep dive questions that will reassure leaders that middle, phase and subject leaders are consistent in their interpretation of the curriculum intent, their own subject’s specific content, skills needed to access that knowledge and the concepts that knit the curriculum together. These might include,

  • What through the teaching of your subject content inspires pupils to want to learn and find out more?
  • How is learning differentiated to embrace the needs, experiences and aspirations of all pupils?
  • What is the evidence that the planned curriculum builds on prior learning and is sequenced towards clearly defined end points?
  • How are rich texts used to promote a growing confidence and love of reading across all subjects?
  • Where do subject concepts transcend one subject and apply to others?
  • Where are there clearly stated opportunities to develop mathematical fluency where it is essential for the acquisition of knowledge in subjects other than Maths?
  • How can the defined curriculum content create for pupils an opportunity to recognise the generic and thinking skills that will allow them to access knowledge within and across all their learning?

Learning Cultures have two outstanding courses for senior and curriculum leaders

How can subject leaders use deep dive questions to inspire their teams?

Lighting the way through team working and collaboration

The planned curriculum, the intent, must not remain on the shelf, in a folder or in the cloud. It must be the pumping heart of the school’s ambition for all pupils. It must inspire, motivate and excite teachers to deliver high quality pedagogy and create for pupils a sense of wonder and a desire to continue to learn always.

A sample of deep dive questions to ask subject leaders:-

  • How does your planned curriculum build on what has been taught previously and acknowledge pupils’ growing confidence in what they know and seek to find out?
  • How does planned and observed pedagogy promote positive learning behaviours?
  • What are the strengths within the team that will support expert teaching across the subject?
  • What is in place to ensure that all staff have or will receive subject specific relevant CPD?
  • How can the planned curriculum ensure every child whatever their starting point has access to the full curriculum?
  • What is in place that ensures consistency in assessing how well pupils are learning the curriculum and producing high quality work?

This course for subject leaders is invaluable in setting the scene for managing this complex role

A deep dive into cross-curricular collaboration

Cross- curricular illuminates connections

Creating the right conditions that allow pupils to make connections across all their learning, deepen their understanding and retain knowledge requires them see where skills, knowledge and concepts transcend subjects and apply across other parts of the curriculum.

Here are some deep dive questions for senior leaders to share with their subject leaders

  • How do subject leaders work together to create the right conditions for their teams to share their understanding of how pupils learn and how learning is retained over time in the long-term memory?
  • How do teams across the subject divides share their pedagogy and celebrate good classroom practice as part of a CPD strategy?
  • Where is the evidence that subject leaders and teachers know where concepts, skills and knowledge overlap to help their pupils to make connections across all their learning?
  • How are subject leaders and their teams working together to ensure that pupils understand the key concepts that transcend subject learning?
  • How is literacy and especially reading a key part of learning across all subjects?
  • What is the evidence that there is no missed opportunities for pupils to develop their mathematical fluency in subjects other than mathematics?

Build the confidence of curriculum teams

Cohesion requires highly effective and active professional learning communities

Cascade learning through powerful conversations

Searching questions such as the ones above will take time, a collective knowledge and a cohesive understanding of how the curriculum is designed and delivered if there are to be meaningful answers. Where subject leaders and their teams work in isolation, in silos, it is unlikely that many subject leaders and certainly few teachers would be able to answer them with confidence.

Outstanding curriculum planning and delivery is no accident. It is predicated on a culture of distributed leadership where senior, middle and subject leaders work together to build a tapestry of learning within and beyond subjects. There is a focus on professional development through highly interactive professional learning communities that challenge and probe. They exist so participants can learn from each other how pedagogy, knowledge and skills development are intrinsic in the development of a sequential, broad and balanced curriculum.

We have a complete range of coaching courses for all staff in a school or college, have a look at our Coaching in Education section on our website.

Creating a deep dive culture

Team working and collaboration inspires deep learning

Building a consensus on what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed to ascertain how well learning is assimilated requires all those with a pupil facing role to share their own practice and learn from others. This can only happen if there is a well-defined strategy that creates the right culture of collaboration and opportunities for professional learning conversations to take place. There must be a curriculum of CPD for curriculum leaders, teachers and their support teams. Time is essential but even when time is set aside much more is needed in terms of strategic commitment, including the following essential ingredients:-

  • Introduce or continue with professional learning communities that focus on powerful strategies for delivering curriculum breadth and balance, progression and deep learning
  • Introduce coaching and in particular some of the techniques related to instructional coaching that will help to guide and support all staff
  • Reflect on the purpose of lesson observation to ensure that it is an integral part of CPD where opportunities for feedback and a sharing of good and improving practice are the focus
  • Ensure that all subject leaders and their teams are clear as to how their planning and delivery reflect the aims that are fundamental to their specific National Curriculum programme of study
  • Subject meetings focus on learning and the evidence that all teachers are building on prior learning, sequencing the learning and deepening understanding over time
  • Assessment of learning is formative with regular opportunities for teachers to work together to moderate pupils’ work and share how they feedback to pupils
  • There are staged opportunities prior to a new academic year and throughout the year for cross-curricular CPD sessions where teachers can share their pedagogy, define concepts that transcend individual subject curriculum and focus on generic learning and thinking skills

Leading a coaching culture in a school or college is profound and achieves the results that other processes rarely do. We have the expertise and resources to build dynamic strategies that will lead to positive impact for pupils and staff. Have a look at some of the services we offer for leaders.



Continuing Professional Development in Education – Creating a sustainable strategy for curriculum and pedagogy

Continuing Professional Development in Education

Here at Learning Cultures we are noticing a significant difference in how schools and colleges are thinking about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the coming academic year and beyond.

We have always known that the pivotal role in a school or college is that of the middle and the subject leader. They are essential in how they work with the senior leadership team to interpret and translate the curriculum intent. It is their role to communicate the school or college vision into a carefully crafted strategy for successful delivery of a rich and deep curriculum that is taught by outstanding practitioners and leads to measurable and tangible impact for all.

Creating a sustainable strategy for curriculum and pedagogy

CPD for the journey towards excellence and improvement

Senior leaders in schools and colleges are looking to their middle leadership teams to create the road map for learning that will deliver powerful curriculum outcomes and high-quality pedagogy that is sustainable and cost effective.

The events that have disrupted part of two academic years have given all those who play a part in educating our next generation with pause for thought. It is essential that we do not dwell on the past but look to the future to develop highly innovative strategies that will foster confidence, deepen learning and build the right pedagogy to ensure learners can fill gaps where they exist and use their experiences from their time learning from home. Have a look at our 15 top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from
home schools to the classroom.

The Role of the Middle and Subject Leader is Pivotal

OFSTED’s research into curriculum design makes it very clear that the way forward is to build teams that can work together in order to plan for curriculum coherence. The only way to do this is to create a culture where senior, subject and middle leaders work together to plan the curriculum. Senior

Middle and subject leaders need to weave a coherent strategy to create a tapestry of learning

leaders must make sure that those they have appointed to manage the process have the knowledge, skills and resilience to work with their teams to ensure that the curriculum intent can be translated into meaningful outcomes for all learners.

Leaders in schools that prioritise the curriculum make it their business to ensure that the planned curriculum is implemented successfully across a wide range of subjects so that curriculum quality is high. By doing this, they ensure curriculum coherence………..

OFSTED January 2019 phased research into curriculum design

Building this coherence requires definitive structures that will lead to a consistent strategy that will work across all subjects and to embrace cross-curricular conceptual themes. Those involved need to have the skills to empower, to influence and to manage change.

Continuing professional development for curriculum coherence

There is profound evidence that we as a nation are not particularly good at articulating the nuances that create a curriculum that delivers sequential learning, builds on prior learning and is carefully planned towards clearly defined end points that lead to positive and measurable impact.

Working together through the development of professional learning communities

The Learning Cultures’ curriculum team have the expertise, the outstanding course materials and a wealth of research to support schools and colleges to ensure that their teams have the skills they need to implement a relevant and rich curriculum. Here are three examples of how we have developed bespoke programmes for individual organisations who want to strengthen their middle leadership teams to support senior leadership and build outstanding teachers and support staff.

An Academy in Nottingham focusing on continuing professional development

1) An academy in Nottingham asked us to develop a coaching programme for all the staff in the school. They already have a team of coaches and to save on the cost of the day four of the coaches joined the trainer for a separate online training session to develop their skills in facilitating two of the three groups we were planning to work with. We then worked with the CPD lead to plan a day where all the staff were together for the first session to focus on goal setting linked to the school vision and intent. We then worked in three groups, teachers, Teaching Assistants and support staff and SLT/HODs. We focused on the different roles and how each can play their part in ensuring the school is delivering what it says it wants to achieve. This was an outstanding day; we feel that all the staff are now very clear as to their way forward.

A new school in Manchester using 360 degree reviews and coaching

Professional conversations that challenge all staff to achieve beyond their potential

2) A brand new school in Manchester who will this year have its first full cohort of learners is working with us to develop a coaching model over two years. In the first year we are conducting 360 degree reviews with senior and middle leaders and then embarking on an opportunity to coach individual managers and leaders to support them in determining their goals for ensuring there is a collective goal for achieving excellence across the whole school. Following this initial phase, we plan to train the same team in how to use coaching to work closely with their teams to make sure that everyone in the school has the same vision and the skills and resources to deliver it.

360 degree review process. Creating a culture of excellence and improvement

A grammar school in London using blended learning strategies

3) The third example does show the flexibility that we have been able to build into our courses as we have all learnt the power, efficacy and cost effectiveness of online training and communication. This grammar school in London is embarking on six twilight sessions, three online and three face to face to introduce a coaching model for their senior and middle leaders. several other members of the senior and middle teams are attending some of our other coaching training to complement the group training. The aim is to develop the coaching skills of the teams to create a culture where professional learning communities can build a consensus on curriculum cohesion, the delivery of outstanding pedagogy and opportunities to evaluate learning and achievement over time.

The future of professional development has to be collaboration, learning through coaching and sharing and cascading good and outstanding practice. The genie is out of the bottle and won’t go back in. Translating intent into implementation is an essential part of creating an outstanding platform for learning. Intent is not a wish list it is a blue-print for excellence. Coaching is without a doubt the way forward in the pursuance of change and challenge and successful outcomes for all.

Instructional Coaching in Schools – building professional learning communities

Instructional Coaching in Schools – building professional learning communities

The term instructional coaching puts a new emphasis on the value of coaching as a vital component of CPD in schools. With the introduction of the Early Career Framework and huge spotlight on the role of the subject expert in the delivery of a substantive and high quality curriculum focused professional learning is essential.

Sharing the load through positive conversations

Equally the many issues that remain unresolved for pastoral leaders and their teams require a focused approach to team-working and collaboration that will support learners who have struggled with events of the past few months.

Instructional coaching requires the coach to understand the principles of a specific subject area, conceptual learning, pedagogy or leadership. In order to transform practice, the coach must have the expertise in the arena for which he or she is supporting another.  Coaching creates a powerful narrative that is non-judgemental, motivational and inspiring. It is therefore a highly effective approach that can transform practice and build confident professionals. Instructional coaching is, essentially, more structured, more directed in terms of what the process sets out to achieve. It does however, still use the principles of coaching that remain the same and necessarily so to ensure successful outcomes that can be sustained.

The principles of coaching and instructional coaching

Finding solutions through deep and rich questioning
  • There is an imperative for all those involved in the process to establish SMARTE goals that form the basis of their coaching journey
  • Goals are set within the context of improving learning for pupils, developing staff expertise and working in harmony towards a clearly defined whole organisation vision or mission
  • The coaching process is collaborative, those who are coached set their own agenda where the coach is supportive non-directive and respectful
  • Those who are coached have a responsibility to focus on their learning journey and continuously reflect on their progress towards their clearly stated goals
  • The instructional coach has the skills to empower change, build confidence and guide their coachee to identify the specific learning needs that will support their development
  • There is no judgement or advice given so that coaches are accepted as giving support but not evaluating performance.

Instructional coaching and the Early Career Framework

Instructional coaching to create inspirational pedagogy

The Early Career Framework now statutory in all schools in England sets out a series of clearly defined indicators of the aspects of teaching that early career teachers should know and what they should learn how to do over the two years now set aside for the process.

Where ECT mentors learn how to use instructional coaching principles as part of their repertoire there is a profound opportunity for the new teacher and their mentor to engage in deep professional dialogue that will create structure and opportunities for learning, progression and reflection. The new teacher works with their mentor using carefully crafted principles that lead to a continuous process of learning, self-evaluation and growing expertise.

Creating the stairway towards excellence and improvement

The ECF provides a basis for the coach and the coachee to work together to define a set of incremental steps linked to the ECT’s own goals. The process is manageable and gives the participants opportunities to work within carefully structured evidence-based indicators, reflect on progress, understand where further support is needed and share good practice outcomes.

Subject expertise and specialism in developing high quality curriculum outcomes

A high quality education is predicated on the richness of its curriculum content. Subject experts must work collaboratively with others within their subject and across subject disciplines to ensure breadth and balance and a process of sequential learning that leads to the acquisition of deep and profound knowledge over time.

Curriculum cohesion starts with coaching

As with the Early Career Framework there is an opportunity to use instructional coaching to create the cohesion leaders with responsibility for curriculum and teaching and learning need. In order to collaborate there should be carefully structured professional learning communities that begin to define the process that will lead to high impact change and challenge. Where coaching is integral to this process transformational change happens. If subject leaders and their teams collaborate to define their strategies for implementation of a deep and rich curriculum the combined effort leads to evidence that there is a synergy that weaves subject specific learning, conceptual learning and skills competence.

Instructional Coaching for Well-being and learning

This new academic year will inevitably bring its challenges for both new and experienced teachers and certainly for those with responsibility for the pastoral care and well-being of pupils. Once again, deciding to use a coaching approach will provide pastoral leaders and their teams with the skills to foster self-esteem, share successes and create opportunities for pupils, their peers and their teachers to reflect on the positives and find ways to fill gaps in learning that strengthen the belief that the future will ensure successful outcomes for all.

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Building successful structures for positive learning

Instructional coaching techniques build structure that allows the coach to look closely at the needs of individuals and develop coaching strategies that support an incremental and step by step approach towards self-belief. Conventional coaching does require the coach to leave the person being coached to find their own solution with little guidance except through the skill of deep and rich questioning. Instructional coaching requires a collaboration between the coach and the person they coach. The coachee knows what they want to achieve and understands the research that underpins the theory behind their aspiration.  The role of the coach is to support their coachee to articulate the philosophy and work out a set of actions that will lead to success and to measurable impact.

Instructional coaching is about partnership working. Where two individuals work together towards a common goal transformational change can happen. The teacher or employee knows what they want to achieve and understands how their goal is underpinned by a proven philosophy or sound research. The coach knows how to make it work through their own research and deep experience in the classroom or elsewhere. The coach does not impose their beliefs or knowledge onto their coachee but carefully creates the culture where he or she makes the right choices in how to improve practice, change approaches or try something new.

Book one of our coaching courses and start your journey towards excellence and achievement for all.



Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion

Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion

How do we create cohesion across the curriculum and build a way forward where schools re-focus in order to create successful futures? At the end of this tumultuous year and a half children have had to learn in different ways, teachers have developed innovative ways to ensure pupils thrive and a new academic year is hopefully a fresh start for all. Successful futures requires specialised and high quality CPD that involves all staff and pupils in a journey towards excellence and improvement. Find out about Learning Cultures’ powerful coaching courses and programmes.

Creating curriculum cohesion

It is essential that subject and middle leaders understand their role in delivering the overarching curriculum intent. There has always been an imperative to have well-defined structures in place that allow those with a middle leadership role to work together with their teams, with wider cross-curricular teams and with those with senior leadership responsibility to define the curriculum content and how it will be delivered. Their role is pivotal to the successful implementation of the whole school vision and the curriculum intent within it.

However, this year is different. Each individual pupil and each individual teacher has their own experiences to draw on, their own successes to remember and their own undoubted frustrations to work through. It has been a learning curve, where technology has played a larger part in our lives than we could ever have imagined.

Weaving a tapestry of knowledge and skills

Autonomy in how pedagogy was planned, how curriculum content was delivered and how learners were assessed was an essential part of the whole school experience during recent school closures.

The genie is out of the bottle. Resuming a regime that is top down or focuses on performance management and imposed lesson observations will be hard to manage. There is a real imperative to give teachers the space to work together with their colleagues to interpret the vision and intent and create a rich tapestry of curriculum content, pedagogy and assessment that delivers high quality outcomes for all learners.

Learning as a continuum – building on the positive

Catch up is not the answer in itself. There must be a focus on deepening understanding, engaging with subject and cross-curricular themes and building depth and breadth in pedagogy and learning. This will undoubtedly help learners to capture lost learning as part of an ongoing strategy designed by teachers and delivered by teachers who have built strong communities of practice.  The best way to achieve this is to ensure there are opportunities to engage in professional learning conversations that define and share best practice in how learners access learning that is retained, expressed and reflected on.

Coaching as the catalyst for change

Curriculum Collaboration and Cohesion

Coaching is all about finding solutions, never turning a crisis into a drama and celebrating the positive. There are many reasons why developing a coaching culture at this time will be a catalyst for sustainable change. Coaching relies on creating the  opportunities for professional learning conversations discussed in the last paragraph and that move individuals to think differently about their practice. Coaching is all about positive feedback; coaching is also about creating the right culture where individuals are trusted to take risks, coaching provides the vehicle for individuals to find their own solutions and to know that making a mistake is seen as a route to deeper learning and should not be dwelt on.

Coaching has a positive impact on motivation, for all staff and for pupils as it is non-judgemental, is never prescriptive and allows each individual leader, manager and teacher to grow professionally and personally in a way that impacts on whole school improvement and that is difficult to achieve otherwise.

Planning a Coaching Culture

Creating a cohesive curriculum – emerging from the past

Here at Learning Cultures we know the value of coaching as a catalyst for positive change. We have a team of experts that can lead coaching CPD for leaders, managers, curriculum and subject specialists, teachers and support staff. We understand the pastoral process and have some highly innovative tools for ensuring coaching is part of ensuring the well-being of all staff and pupils and creates harmony that leads to an environment where poor behaviour is rare and understood.

Coaching and the Pastoral Role in a School or College Setting – coaching builds confidence, fosters well-being and improves behaviour

We have a range of diverse solutions that will support schools and colleges across the spectrum of learning institutions and we know from many of our success stories that we make a huge difference to the life chances of pupils and to the career chances of all staff in education. We also understand the value of ensuring the curriculum is seen as the fulcrum for delivering a high quality education for all.

Below are more of the courses we offer. We can also deliver any of these as INSET, training sessions or twilights in school for groups of the whole cohorts of staff.

Curriculum cohesion is about pulling the strands together

Moving towards a cohesive curriculum

Without a clear plan for how to ensure curriculum cohesion is an essential element of the strategic future for any school there will be scant evidence that senior leaders and their teams are fully aware of how well the curriculum is being implemented linked to how successful learning was over the past eighteen months. Coaching conversations create a uniform voice that can answer the deep dive questions about their own and their teams contribution to individual, group and whole school success.

Start or resume your coaching journey here by talking to one of our experts about our highly successful coaching strategies. Contact us here


Instructional Coaching CPD and the Early Career Framework

The Early Career Framework

The Early Career Framework (ECF) provides an exceptional opportunity to review your strategy for CPD for those who will mentor Early Career Teachers (ECT). This two-year programme outlines the essential elements that those new to the profession need to have competence in and further develop in order to grow and deepen their skills towards becoming and remaining outstanding professionals.

Realising potential and emerging as true professionals

The ECF is designed to complement the Teachers’ Standards and is clearly set out in eight sections. These are:

  • Setting high expectations and communicating a belief in the academic potential of all pupils
  • Knowing how pupils learn through a focus on working memory, building on prior knowledge and knowing how to ensure learners retain what they are learning
  • Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
  • Plan and teach well-structured lessons
  • Adapt teaching methodologies to a deep understanding different pupils’ needs
  • Make accurate and productive use of assessment
  • Manage behaviour effectively
  • Fulfil wider professional responsibilities

Meeting the standards is necessary to become a fully qualified teacher. The role of the mentor or coach in creating the opportunities for ECTs to grow in their role, feel confident to take risks and find solutions when things go wrong is essential. Their role is equally important in helping their mentees to develop a profound understanding of what constitutes high quality pedagogy and deep learning. All of this does not happen by accident.

The Role of the ECT Mentor

The role of the ECT mentor is a critical one and requires that they have the expertise and knowledge in order that they can support and guide their mentees towards excellence and improvement. The task is quite daunting, the standards exacting and the challenge complex. A new academic year following the tumultuous previous 18 months will not make things any easier. Mentors need structured CPD and ongoing opportunities for professional conversations with their peers and other professionals to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and competence to develop others.

Feedforward through inspirational coaching conversations

Their role is pivotal and complements other CPD activity for the more experienced teacher. The need for the development of professional learning communities that embrace ECT mentors and all other pupil facing leaders and managers who have a responsibility for CPD is essential if the celebration of good and outstanding practice is shared widely providing for the ECT mentor a rich vein of outstanding pedagogy and deep learning across the whole school or college.

An online webinar – Coaching the Early Career Teacher – Going beyond mentoring to foster outstanding pedagogy

Instructional Coaching CPD for ECT Mentors

Building a culture of excellence

There needs to be a highly structured framework within which the ECT mentor can build positive relationships with their mentees. They need a range of skills that will allow them to motivate and inspire, create learning opportunities and foster reflection in order that new teachers have the confidence to be creative, innovative and dynamic in their interactions with pupils.

Instructional coaching can be a highly effective way to build that framework from deeply rooted and very strong foundations that will lead to highly influential and positive change. This strategy is not just a tool for those who are new to teaching but it is a very good place to start. We know here at Learning Cultures that coaching is infectious, fosters positive change and leads to deeper learning, much improved pedagogy and as a consequence much more engaged learners who do not have the inclination for anything but a desire to learn.

An online webinar – Coaching the Early Career Teacher – Going beyond mentoring to foster outstanding pedagogy

What are the key principles of Instructional Coaching?

Coaching towards deep reflection and incremental steps that lead to learning
  • Instructional coaching is designed to move teachers and schools from professional development to professional learning
  • Structured as an interconnected combination of process, pedagogy, practice and content that together support continuous professional learning
  • Designed to meet the individual needs of teachers and to reflect their ‘voice’ through one-to-one and small-group support received from the mentor or coach
  • Born out of a culture of trust and respect that is non-judgemental allowing the mentee to find their own solutions
  • Based on quality standards linked to what is deemed high quality educational outcomes from a range of perspectives
  • Based on evidence-based good and best practice across the school in both curricular and cross-curricular contexts

Online webinar – An Introduction to Coaching for Educators – Learning the First Principles of Coaching

The Future of Professional Development and CPD

Our expert coaching team at Learning Cultures have successfully embedded coaching across many organisations within the education sector. They know the benefits of instructional coaching and how it is a powerful strategy for supporting the development of new and recently qualified teachers as well as being a model for continuing professional development for all staff including leaders, managers, more experienced teachers, Teaching Assistants and support staff.

Cascading outstanding learning through coaching

For many leaders in education the last year has been a time of great change where many teachers have had to work in isolation using technology and ploughing their own furrow of learning experiences for their pupils. The genie is out of the bottle in terms of how they have had to work autonomously and reflect themselves on the quality of their teaching.  This leads to an inevitable need to look at the future of performance management and changing the emphasis to a much greater focus on professional development. We know this is the right way forward and coaching, maybe particularly instructional coaching is the framework that will deliver highly effective change and challenge. Have a look at our CPD offer here.



CPD for a Deep Dive into High Quality Education

CPD for a Deep Dive into High Quality Education Outcomes for all

Have a look at Glynis’s White Paper that focuses on the absolute imperative to focus on a suite of deep dive strategies that will deliver high quality educational outcomes for all.

INSET  – Cost effective and sustainable whole organisation solutions

All our training courses are designed to provide a wealth of materials, resources and activities that challenge all staff to manage change, focus on excellence and know the part they play in achieving the school or college vision. Our training is built from a deep understanding of the education sector and we draw on both national and international research.

CPD for a deep dive into leadership in education

Effective leadership in education leads to outstanding results. Build your strategy with our expert team of school and college principals, highly trained and successful coaches and curriculum experts. Develop or deepen your coaching skills so that you can empower others to achieve and excel. Create a culture where every member of staff works in synergy to deliver outstanding learning for all.

CPD and a deep dive into our coaching and curriculum training courses

Choose from online training, face to face training in hotels and other venues or ready to use off – the – shelf packages that give you all the materials, videos and resources for a deep dive into CPD at a time to suit your CPD timetable. Discover how uplifting it is to use coaching skills to inspire others to innovate, share ideas and build highly effective professional learning communities.

Why choose CPD that builds a coaching culture

The imperative is to build positive futures that will ensure that all learners can learn from the past and take the skills they have learnt over the past year and a half to enhance their approach to the next steps in their education. Using coaching as the catalyst ensures that all staff and pupils focus on their successes and not their failures. Coaching is all about empowerment, creating the right conditions where change is seen as a way forward and not an imposition.

Learning how to coach gives leaders the opportunity to allow others to find their own solutions, take risks with their own learning and development and innovate where they know they are trusted and respected. Learning about listening gives teachers and their line leads the power to facilitate a learning environment. Coaching gives leaders, managers and teachers the skills to question so that individuals are challenged to find their own solutions and feel confident that they have the skills and the strengths to make a difference.

Coaching is the solution to building a high quality education where consistent good and outstanding practice leads to excellence and improvement across the whole organisation.

Building Tomorrow’s Classrooms Today

Coaching for Impact in Education

Coaching for Impact in Education

How does coaching have an impact on organisational improvement?

Using coaching for impact in education is powerful. It is an essential element of systems redesign in a school or college and has proven significant and far-reaching benefits. Put simply coaching is about dialogue, creating opportunities for a two-way conversation that is positive and solutions focused. Creating a coaching culture has many benefits in an education setting.

Coaching creates a culture of shared responsibility

Planning strategy, implementing the vision for school improvement, the ambition for curriculum innovation and the rationale for organisational change all require collaboration with and trust in the decision makers. Devolved leadership, especially now, is essential and coaching creates the framework for this to happen.  Where leaders believe in their staff there is a culture that expects them to grow in their role. Where leaders convey the tacit understanding that they don’t have all the answers and trust their teams positive change happens.

How does coaching deliver the vision?

Working together to deliver a learning synergy

The role of the leader is to inspire all staff to achieve the carefully crafted vision linked to positive outcomes for all. Senior leaders must have the influencing skills to communicate that vision and create an inspirational canvas so that teaching and learning, curriculum innovation and the well-being and motivation of staff and learners is woven.  Defining the priorities and entrusting successful implementation requires a coalition of talented senior teams. They must work together to empower others to be instrumental in making change happen.

Transformation comes when individuals work together successfully to deliver mutually agreed goals that focus on positive change, exciting innovation, and who will foster powerful learning conversations.  Creating a coaching culture has a significant impact on how teams collaborate, communicate and inspire change.  Join us for our one day course and learn the skills, plan your strategy and be inspired to take back your learning to cascade to others.

Strategies for Leading a Coaching Culture in a School or College

How does coaching inspire middle and subject leadership teams?

Where middle and subject leaders learn how to coach they have the skills to facilitate clarity of purpose and direction. Their role is to translate the vision into clearly defined goals and priorities that will inspire high quality curriculum outcomes, outstanding pedagogy and well-motivated and reflective learners.  Coaching for impact in education requires those with this pivotal role to share the ambition for high quality outcomes with their teams and create a culture where individuals work together to achieve their own SMART objectives.

Creating a culture of collaboration and reflection

A coach will instil trust and confidence, provide the space and work closely through structured professional learning conversations to create for their teams the opportunity to demonstrate their own ability to make changes, take risks and find their own solutions that will ultimately build for them self-belief where they grow in their role and continue to achieve and exceed their potential. We have inspirational and highly praised coaching training to lead your teams towards exceptional outcomes in curriculum, teaching, learning and well-being.

How does Coaching Impact on Learning and Teaching?

Coaching is without doubt an outstanding pedagogy in itself. When teachers learn the skills related to coaching such as deep, incisive and rich questioning techniques, exceptional listening skills and the ability to inspire others to find their own solutions, accept challenge and have a high degree of self-belief they see how learning to be a coach will help them to be better practitioners.

Inspirational coaching questions challenge learning

Teachers who can coach, naturally raise self-awareness within their learners. They help to build their self-reflection and their independence to solve problems, work collaboratively and accept mistakes as essential to learning.

A coaching culture in a school or college builds capacity where teachers work together within professional learning communities to share their practice and learn from each other. They feel empowered to take risks with their teaching, share ideas with others and talk about their strengths and what they need to do to continue to improve and grow in their role. Build the coaching skills of all your teachers with our award winning course, Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning and train your NQT mentors to learn how coaching can inspire new teachers to be exceptional. Coaching the Newly Qualified Teacher: going beyond mentoring.

Involve learners in the process of coaching and see them grow and develop as independent and responsible members of their school, college or wider community.

What are the benefits of coaching for your school or college?

Find out more from Learning Cultures and make sure you have the culture that will deliver a truly 21st century future for all learners and staff. We are members of the Association for Coaching and we offer a Certification Programme that they endorse.



Coaching that delivers 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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