Creating the curious learner – some tips to facilitate enquiry learning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Create a culture of positive curriculum and pedagogical change through coaching

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For leadership teams

For subject and curriculum leads

For all those who assess learning

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

For leadership teams

For subject and curriculum leads

For all those who assess learning

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

How does coaching deliver high quality curriculum and learning outcomes?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Literacy and numeracy: at the very heart of successful curriculum implementation

Are you striving to ensure unconscious competence in the use of creative literacy and fluency in the use of Mathematics across  all subjects and all learning?

These skills are the building blocks that deepen understanding, allow pupils to see connections and create opportunities for higher levels of response.  Those planning the curriculum and how it will be taught need to focus on the skills pupils are using and developing; they need to identify how they are taught as a concept in English and Maths and then how they are applied in the context of learning elsewhere. To miss opportunities for pupils to make these connections denies them access to a wealth of knowledge and a growing comprehension that will help them to remember over longer periods of time.

There are many simple ways to encourage a skills focused tapestry curriculum that highlights the literacy, numeracy and the wider skills for learning that pupils use naturally as part of learning in every subject and in other cross-curricular learning opportunities.

We have developed highly specialised training courses for those teachers who have a responsibility for raising the bar for reading, writing, speaking, listening and the use of Mathematics across primary, secondary and post-16 learning. The role of a literacy and numeracy co-ordinator is a vital role whether it falls to a member of the English or Maths department in a secondary school or college, or is the responsibility of a middle or senior leader in a primary school.  Highlighting the skills that knit the knowledge, the wider learning concepts and the ability to reason, infer, analyse, evaluate and reflect become much more adept where the use of language is highly honed and there is strength in the interpretation of number.

Have the evidence that all those responsible for curriculum planning and delivery are fully committed to the imperative to weave skills, concepts and deep knowledge acquisition in a truly sequenced and seamless curriculum for all.

Focus on the wider curriculum issues and join us for the latest information and resources linked to planning an ambitious knowledge and skills focused curriculum offer for all pupils.

 

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.