Create a culture of positive curriculum and pedagogical change through coaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How does coaching deliver high quality curriculum and learning outcomes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cascading quality in teaching and learning – collaboration that delivers a sequential curriculum

The dawning of this new year and new decade promises a future where change is inevitable.  Although education policy has not been high on the political agenda over the past three years, we can expect new blood will bring new ideas. OFSTED have not been part of the impasse and have, on the contrary, been very proactive in their quest for change in relation to how the National Curriculum is planned, delivered and assessed. Although there are difficulties with time, expertise and the sheer audacity that questions the old accountabilities and measurements of success the approach that OFSTED have taken does focus on teaching and learning as the keys to creating a curriculum that equips pupils with the knowledge and skills for their future. This is unlikely to change, certainly not in the short term.

The current OFSTED handbook is a Pandora’s box where leaders need to be fully aware of the enormity of the changes and the implications for their leadership and management teams and for their teachers and support staff.  The emphasis on a curriculum that delivers sequential learning over time has profound advantages for teachers and their pupils.  The need for much more collaborative and solutions focused planning time, opportunities for reflection and the sharing of resources and good practice are an essential pre-requisite to success. Where these exist all staff feel empowered and motivated to work together towards a clearly defined blue print that delivers high quality outputs and positive impact.

OFSTED talk about a triangulation that incorporate:-

  • a review of the pedagogy that delivers high quality learning driven by a  well-constructed deep and rich curriculum
  • a scrutiny of pupil outcomes from the work they produce as well as their ability to articulate their understanding of how they learn the curriculum and how they make connections across their learning
  • evidence that time is created for professional learning conversations that are the backbone of a highly innovative and pro-active programme of continuing professional development

CPD has to be a prominent driver for all schools. Creating the evidence that there is a consistent whole school, trust or alliance focus on collaboration, high quality delivery and positive and measurable impact are critical. The Learning Cultures’ philosophy is to provide training that can be cascaded widely ensuring it is cost effective and sustainable over time.  Below we have listed some of our curriculum courses. We also specialise in coaching and our suite of coaching courses will create the culture to deliver powerful change. We have experts, we use the most up to date research and we have developed powerful interactive resources that continue to deliver a long time after the training itself is complete.  We also have developed a suite of training that delves into all aspects of curriculum change and the quest for high quality learning.

Curriculum intent, implementation and impact

A focus on formative assessment as an integral part of curriculum planning

Quality assurance – a system for education

Preparing for the ‘deep dive’ into subject specific learning

Transition a vital key to sequential learning

Literacy and numeracy – weaving a tapestry of skills across the curriculum

We can help you to cascade best practice and deliver high quality learning. Don’t waste time and resources on less effective training. Build a CPD strategy that defines high quality through the development of skilful and highly motivated coaches and educators for the 21st century.

 

 

Time is our most precious commodity-tips on how to use this finite resource efficiently

Time is finite. We all have the same amount of time. It is what we do with that time that makes a difference to our well-being and our success at work. How often in your place of work is time cited as the reason, the problem or the issue? We need to turn this paradigm around and focus on how to make the best use of the time available to us in order that what we set out to do we can actually achieve.

Developing a coaching culture within your school or college can have a significant impact on how leaders, managers, teachers and support staff use time wisely and well.

Coaching starts with goal setting and focuses on how to ensure there is the will and the skill to achieve that goal. The goal needs to be effective, clear and structured and linked to a wider vision for improving learning.  A goal must be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and be defined in terms of the time it will take.  A goal needs to focus on what can be achieved in the future based on what success will look like. Probing deeply to ensure that the goal is the right priority for the individual goal setter requires a coach who can ask incisive and rich questions that will foster reflection, self-awareness and self-belief.

In order to use time effectively to achieve that clearly defined goal the individual must have a commitment to ensuring success. He or she needs to be aware of the risks and barriers that might impede their progress and use up valuable time.  It is their responsibility to empower others to work towards a common outcome and celebrate the steps along the way. The owner of the goal must keep sight of progress being made, emphasise what has been achieved and what is still to be completed and remain focused on achieving the carefully agreed steps along the way. It is essential to remain fully on task. The temptation to take on other priorities or follow a path less troublesome will eat up time and ensure that nothing is achieved.

Creating the right coaching culture can save valuable time, build your teams so that they can manage time efficiently and inspire each other to work together towards carefully structured outcomes that have an impact on improvement, learning and achievement. Follow this process and time will become less of an issue or an excuse.

  • Encourage the setting of carefully structured and SMART goals linked to the school or college vision for improving learning
  • Become adept at asking deep and probing questions that raise awareness and ensure that the responsibility lies with the goal setter
  • Develop the coaching skills of all those involved in achieving goals for improvement and encourage a culture of positivity and accountability
  • Ensure all staff reflect on how they are using their time to prioritise what they have set out to achieve
  • Use questioning to foster self-reflection where individuals go off task or begin to focus on issues that are not a part of their stated goal for success
  • Encourage individuals to set their own time limits for when they will achieve their goal
  • Celebrate small successes along the way and communicate the impact that is the result of achieving the end goal
  • Create opportunities for individuals to reflect on their own ability to achieve the task in hand and how they can continuously improve their performance

We have the most prestigious suite of coaching courses  for all staff in a school or college.

Coaching creates the right culture for reflection, awareness and responsibility and is a powerful driver that gives all staff the confidence in their own ability to make a difference.

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.