Curriculum Cohesion and the Role of the Middle and Subject Leader

Curriculum Cohesion and the Role of the Middle and Subject Leader

OFSTED are receiving funding to increase the number of visits to schools and colleges from September 2022 to ensure that all schools can be inspected by the end of 2024. Therefore, there is an imperative to focus on the latest Education Inspection Framework (EIF) and look in detail at what is required in terms of curriculum cohesion within subjects and across the curriculum. It is the pivotal role of middle and subject leaders to shape the strategies that will ensure all staff plan and deliver a  curriculum offer that meets the needs of all pupils.

Middle and subject leaders have to work closely with their senior leaders to shape, share and translate the curriculum intent. They must create the inspiration to influence members of their teams to implement well planned and highly innovative knowledge rich and skills focused content that delivers breadth, depth and sequential progression over time.

Emphasising the Importance of Dialogue

A focus on dialogue cannot be underestimated. Professional conversations are an integral part of how middle and subject leaders create the right culture of cohesion in their own subject areas. This must then translate into time to share where cross-curricular concepts, skills and knowledge connect across different areas of learning.  Amanda Spielman in her recent speech to the  Schools and Academies Show emphasises exactly the points made above.

“……… in its fundamentals, the EIF is still the same. Our focus is still squarely on substance and integrity. Bringing the inspection conversation back to the curriculum – what’s taught and how, not just about exam results. Treating you as experts in your field, not data managers…And our emphasis in the EIF is on dialogue. I know you appreciate these professional conversations…”

AmandaSpielman speech to the Schools and Academies Show last week (18/11/2021).

Recent OFSTED reports from across the education spectrum re-enforce this absolute need for a consistent approach to planning, to quality assurance, to pedagogy and learning, to equality, diversity and inclusion and to assessment.

Lesson Observation and the Power of Learning Conversations

A triangulation – delivering quality through the curriculum

OFSTED’s research from 2019  looks in some detail at a series of criteria for what inspectors are looking for when they observe teaching and learning in the classroom. Lesson observation is a key factor in determining the quality of pedagogy and how well the curriculum intent is being interpreted and translated into high quality implementation that fosters depth, breadth and parity in all subjects.

These indicators are a useful barometer for senior and subject leaders to use as part of their strategy for ensuring lesson observation provides an opportunity for the sharing of good practice, a focus on consistency and interpretation of the curriculum intent and a dialogue about continuous improvement.

However, a top-down approach to lesson observation that is led by the senior team is unlikely to have the desired results. It is the quality of self-evaluation and positive feedback from lesson observation that should be related to clearly defined criteria consistently linked to the Teachers Standards, a deep understanding of what constitutes quality and highly motivated teachers that ignite their pupils passion for learning. The dialogue of challenge, positivity, reflection and self-reliance build trust and a willingness to innovate and set the highest standards.

Continuity in the assessment of pupil outcomes

Assessing pupil outcomes provides all those involved with curriculum implementation with an opportunity to determine how their planning and teaching have impacted on their pupils’ ability to develop competence in skills for learning, deepen their knowledge over time and apply a range of curriculum concepts within subjects and across the curriculum.

Creating the evidence of learning from what pupils achieve in all aspects of learning across the curriculum.

Below is a list included as part of OFSTED’s research into what is an essential part of assessing how what pupils produce provides profound evidence linked to the quality of education judgement in the EIF.

  • Building on prior learning
  • Depth and breadth of coverage
  • Pupils’ progress
  • Opportunities to re-enforce learning through practice
  • Acknowledging the skills that support knowledge acquisition
  • Linking skills and concepts across other curriculum areas

Once again it is the dialogue that will create the opportunity to share a deep understanding of how well the curriculum is being implemented through the assessment process. It must transcend all subjects both core and foundation and build a deeply held conviction that there is a collective vision that translates into evidence that all learners achieve their full potential whatever their starting point.

Creating a Culture of Positivity and a Shared Vision

Quality Assurance principles set the scene of positive and shared dialogue.

Creating a consistent whole school approach to designing and maintaining high quality assurance systems requires middle leadership to play a pivotal role. The secret is in the power of challenge through the ability to ask incisive and probing questions that lead to individuals taking responsibility for achieving the best possible outcomes for all, both staff and pupils. The three statements below are taken from the Quality of Education judgement in Section 2 of the EIF and relate directly to evidence of positive implementation. Current OFSTED reports show just how important these discussions are to the inspection process and inconsistency in the way different subject leaders, specialists and teachers answer the related questions collectively bears weight on the final judgement.

  • discussions with curriculum and subject leaders and teachers about the programme of study that classes are following for particular subjects or topics, the intended end points towards which those pupils are working, and their view of how those pupils are progressing through the curriculum
  • discussions with subject specialists and leaders about the content and pedagogical content knowledge of teachers and what is done to support teachers, including with remote teaching
  • discussions with classroom teachers about how often they are expected to record, upload and review data

Quality of Education OFSTED Education Inspection Framework

It is essential that there is a sharp focus on how to create the right culture where professional conversations lead to the sharing of good and outstanding practice, a consistent message as to how pupils are progressing and a profound understanding of how pupils learn and retain knowledge over time. This won’t happen without a clear strategy that creates opportunities for teams to talk to each other, time for cross-curricular discussion and the use of lesson observation and the assessment of pupils’ work as an essential part of professional development.

Fostering Challenging Dialogue Through Coaching

Achieving a consistent whole school approach to quality assurance in every subject and facet of school life is made far less daunting if there is a constructive and well-defined strategy that embraces every professional across the school. Creating an opportunity for senior, middle and subject leaders to learn how to coach will provide the models and the tools that shape a solutions focused future. The outcome will focus on the positive, create the mechanisms to share good and outstanding practice and build teams that know how they can work together to achieve the vision and realise the ambition they have for all their pupils and their colleagues.

Coaching creates a culture of self-belief, trust and a shared dialogue that leads to excellence and improvement.

Coaching is a powerful approach to CPD that will define consistency, self-belief, trust and a commitment to excellence and high-quality outcomes. The opportunity to learn how to listen, how to ask probing, challenging and incisive questions, how to influence others to solve their own problems, be innovative in their practice and steadfast when things go wrong.

Here at Learning Cultures, we have a suite of coaching courses and programmes that will build a coaching culture. Where coaching is at the heart of a vision of excellence and improvement it creates outstanding futures for all. Have a look at our highly praised coaching courses or join our Certification Programme.

Mathematical fluency across the curriculum

Mathematical fluency across the curriculum

OFSTED make it very clear in their latest handbook for school inspections that they are looking for specific evidence that all pupils can access a range of key concepts across the curriculum and apply them in a range of contexts. Mathematics provides the key to understanding across many subjects. Applying their learning in the context of other subjects will enhance a deep understanding of where learning in a Maths lesson is applied in many contexts elsewhere.

Pupils … need to develop fluency and unconsciously apply their knowledge as skills. This must not be reduced to, or confused with, simply memorising facts.

See the quote below from OFSTED that is included in the list of indicators that were used to inform their own rationale for what constitutes a high quality education linked to excellence in curriculum design and delivery (intent) and (implementation), mathematical fluency is clearly highlighted.

Mathematical fluency and confidence in numeracy are regarded as preconditions for success across the national curriculum.

OFSTED 2018 Intent indicator 2d

This September 2021 the Department for Education have published a guidance paper in conjunction with the National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics (NCETM)  focusing on Maths in key stage 3.  This follows a similar publication that looks at Mathematics in the Primary School published in July 2021. Both of these focus on the sequencing of the content of the Maths curriculum from year to year and key stage to key stage. Neither focus on the absolute importance of sharing mathematical concepts and using mathematical skills across other foundation subjects.

Making connections through collaborative CPD.

However, both papers create a powerful CPD opportunity for those with responsibility for ensuring depth and breadth and positive interleaving of curriculum subjects to ensure that all learners can make connections and develop fluency in Mathematics as is clear in the quote above.

Ask subject leaders and their teams where some of the concepts that are included as part of the narrative of these distinctly Maths focused documents apply in the context of other subjects.

Cross Curricular Mathematics – moving towards maths fluency

Maths is integral to many subjects across the curriculum. Map reading in Geography requires skills in interpretation of scale, measuring distance, working with contour lines that represent the steepness of a slope and measuring weather patterns demands intricate maths skills. Design Technology requires pupils to work with measurements, shapes and 3D as well as mathematical modelling. The opportunities in Science to use maths learning in a real world context are everywhere. Pupils are required to test predictions, record and measure, apply mathematical concepts, calculate results, use and interpret data appropriately, create tables and graphs to name a few of the many examples from The Science Programmes of Study at key stage 2 and 3.

Using words to figure out the reasons why…

The guidance discussed above talks about the need to focus on literacy and language as an essential element of teaching Maths. Opportunities abound to build for pupils a much greater understanding of the Maths concepts they are learning about in Maths lessons if they are able to share their findings from experiments using group work discussions or where they can use percentages to build a pie chart linked say to pupils’ preferences in relation to a study of food and health and then to discuss their findings. Writing up experiments that involve the interpretation of data, describing the weather patterns over say the past ten years to back up an argument on the evidence of climate change or putting together a presentation to sell a design for a product or model in a design lesson. All the examples given provide a rich vein of opportunity to put Maths in its context and create for pupils a deeper understanding of the reasons they need to have a sound grasp of the concepts that underpin Mathematics.

Creating opportunities for cross-curricular conversations to aid maths fluency

Whilst there is within the current debate about the curriculum a focus on subject specific knowledge it is essential that pupils from across the education spectrum can see the connections across the different subjects. Subject specific curriculum planning in isolation misses many opportunities to see where the learning in Maths lessons can be enhanced by seeing where it is applied in a variety of other subjects. Creating opportunities for inter-departmental conversations to take place will reveal just how much the Maths taught is also an essential element of learning elsewhere.

Where departments can work together to share the National Curriculum programmes of study and see first-hand where the connections exist conversation begin about methods, depth of knowledge, how to assess, ways of teaching, emphasis in relation to context and so on. Where these connections are made explicit for the learner there are real advantages to how the retention of mathematical knowledge is more easily translated from the working memory into the long-term memory.

Developing a deeper understanding of cross curricular maths to aid fluency

Another highly successful way of creating opportunities for cross-curricular teams to work together in a focused look at Maths in context is to gather together exam papers for subjects such as geography, design technology, physics and chemistry and simply look at how many of the questions include a core theme linked to Mathematics.

Cognitive science and mathematical fluency

Deep understanding of learning and memory will help to create mathematical fluency.

Learning Maths theory without a context will inevitably lead to cognitive overload where some pupils can’t take any more knowledge into their short term memory. Research into learning and memory confirms the absolute importance of creating opportunities for pupils to understand how concepts translate across different aspects of learning. There needs to be many opportunities for learning to be reinforced, revisited and retrieved over time. In this way the learning sticks and will be retained for longer.

It therefore makes a great deal of sense that teachers from across the subject spectrum can work in tandem with their Maths colleagues to share where the Mathematical concepts overlap and provide for the learner an opportunity to see the connections and for many a chance to understand why learning the Maths theory is so important to their ability to make sense of the world and how it works.

The role of the maths or numeracy co-ordinator in a primary or secondary school is an important one. Creating a culture where numeracy and Maths are seen as an integral part of learning across the subject spectrum really does have a significant impact on pupils’ motivation, understanding and ultimately their achievement in both Maths and other subjects.  Join us at our highly praised curriculum event:-

Enhancing the Role of the Numeracy Coordinator – Maths concepts into context across the curriculum and beyond

You may also want to send a colleague to a similar event focusing in detail on literacy across the curriculum, both have the power to change perception and build high quality outcomes for all pupils and the teachers who teach them.

Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator – weaving literacy through the curriculum

Literacy at the heart of a deep, rich and sequential curriculum

Literacy at the heart of a deep, rich and sequential curriculum

Every child should be able to read for pleasure and to access knowledge with depth and clarity, speak with passion and fluency and write with style and fluidity. This ambition should be at the heart of every school’s vision and rationale for curriculum design.  Each subject across the curriculum, at each phase, key stage and in every element of learning there is an imperative to read, write or speak. It is therefore, every teacher’s responsibility to focus on how learners are developing and using their key skills in literacy.

Creating the role of the Literacy Lead

Words and patterns of language build meaning and create structure for learners.

How do schools, both in the primary and secondary phases ensure that the implementation of a systematic programme for ensuring high levels of literacy is embedded across the whole curriculum? In the early years and key stage 1 this will include expertise in the school’s chosen phonics programme and how this works in synergy with other important pedagogies. For key stage 2, 3 and above the role of the literacy coordinator requires a deep understanding of how important competence in literacy is across all subjects.

Their role is to build a strategy that ensures all teachers can help pupils read fluently, comprehend what they read and articulate through the spoken and written word to demonstrate they have understood, can infer, explain, analyse and evaluate the knowledge they are gaining. The literacy lead needs to communicate what progress looks like for each age group, ensure sufficient resources are available, build a picture of pupils who are falling behind, identify those who need more challenge and lastly but so very importantly coordinate training for all the teaching and support staff.  Our online webinar will provide a wealth of resources and strategies.

Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Co-ordinator – weaving literacy through the curriculum

The Reading Framework – Teaching the Foundations of Literacy

The Department of Education have recently published (July 2021) The Reading Framework – Teaching the Foundations of Literacy . Within this document there is a wealth of advice and guidance on how to ensure that reading is prioritised across all subjects. It is mainly aimed at early primary school leaders and how they can organise a collaborative and highly focused approach to ensuring that no stone is left unturned in the quest for all pupils to be able to read and therefore access the curriculum. It is called The Reading Framework but there is a clear emphasis on the importance of reading in influencing pupils to write and speak as part of their growing depth of understanding from reading.

The effective teaching of reading, requires not just a systematic synthetic phonics programme but its consistent implementation….and a recognition of the importance of talk, of accurate assessment, and of building a love of stories and reading. Headteachers need to prioritise reading and make it their mission to make sure every child in their school becomes a fluent reader.

Foreword from the The Reading Framework July 2021

The importance of talk on the road to comprehension

Talking is an essential element of learning to read, to deepen understanding  and to build a bank of essential vocabulary. The number of words a child has heard by the time they start school is often an indicator of how well they will do in developing skills in reading and as part of their ability as writers. Schools play an important role in helping to bridge the gap between those children who do not come from language rich homes and those that do. Teachers must consciously focus on the absolute importance of talk on the road to helping all pupils to become fluent readers not just in English or literacy lessons but across all learning in every subject and beyond.

Talking and listening allows learners to make connections and weave their thoughts into a deeper understanding of the written word.

The emphasis  in the Reading Framework is primarily aimed at those who teach in the early years or in key stage 1. However the guidance given and some of the principles apply to pedagogy at any stage along the education trajectory. Thinking out loud, listening attentively, validating new vocabulary, asking deep and rich questions, explaining why things happen, making connections, all support a deepening of understanding, the acquisition of knowledge and greater competence in reading and comprehending.

Phonics play their part along with a range of other strategies

There is some evidence that suggests that explicitly teaching phonics especially in the early years and key stage 1 does have a positive impact on helping pupils to learn to read. The Education Endowment Foundation in their research on the efficacy of explicit phonics teaching emphasise that phonics are important but they should form a part of a much wider approach to learning how to read, how to understand what is being read and develop a love of reading and the pleasure it can bring to all of us.

Learning to read is a highly complex undertaking that is underpinned by two fundamental processes:

  • word reading through the recognition and decoding of words, and
  • comprehension of texts through a range of knowledge and skills.

It is the skilled combination of these two dimensions that facilitates all reading success.

Caroline Binton: Phonics: Mastering the basics of reading (EEF)

There is clear advice from several research studies that the teaching of systematic phonics should be combined with the development of fluency and comprehension. The need to ensure all teachers have the knowledge and pedagogical skills to create the right depth and balance is essential. Teachers also need to focus on pace, engagement and responsiveness.

Literacy is an essential element of all learning. Pause to reflect on how to create a culture that allows all subject specialists to see the role they play in creating a culture of positive reading for pleasure and learning.

Early reading is crucial for all pupils so that they can begin their curriculum journey and become  successful learners. Using texts that tell stories, build suspense, capture the imagination all help to make the experience of learning to read enjoyable. Using non-fiction ignites curiosity, extends knowledge and widens experiences and must also match the pupil’s own interests. Developing fluency in reading is a complex process. Exposure, accurate understanding, learning the meaning of new vocabulary and revisiting texts all helps. The magic formula is in the pedagogy and how teachers talk, read aloud, listen and build new language to add to existing language in a classroom full of rich texts and innovative learning strategies.

For all those who have the role of Literacy Lead or Literacy Coordinator our training course will give you all you need to enhance your role and create for you the strategy to make a significant difference.

Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator – weaving literacy through the curriculum – An online webinar

The clear message from many researchers and the latest paper The Reading Framework from the Department for Education recommend a literacy lead or co-ordinator. Focusing on literacy across every aspect of learning, in every subject and throughout the learning journey has lasting benefits for the pupil, for the school and for the community.


How Green is Your Curriculum?

How Green is Your Curriculum?

A curriculum for the future must include a serious focus on the current global crisis that continues to dominate our lives. The evidence that climate change is a real and ever-present phenomena cannot be ignored. The people that will be the most affected are those we currently teach in our schools, those who will soon go to school and those yet unborn.

I was at the Chelsea Flower Show last week and had the happy chance to visit a unique stand inside the pavilion where the most beautiful displays of flowers, plants and vegetables told an exceptional story about the resilience, imagination and determination of those who choose to work in horticulture.  The stand in question nestled alongside this exceptional show case of talent and told the story of a remarkable collaboration between Putney High School, architect Clare Bowman from architects RCZM and the Royal Horticultural Society.  They have created a ‘biophilic’ classroom’ Their website celebrates their stand being awarded a gold award at the show and says the following,

The school showcased its ground-breaking research into the impact of plants and nature on student wellbeing.

Putney High School’s ‘Breathe’ campaign, of which the biophilic classroom is a part, shows how a few simple steps can have a significant impact on both wellbeing and the ability to learn.

Headmistress Suzie Longstaff, with the help of sustainability architects Clare and Richard Bowman, and many keen botanists and green fingered students, embarked on a mission to ‘bring the outside in’ to improve the learning environment and encourage restorative benefits such as wellbeing and increased focus.

The project began with a few plants in the Sixth Form Centre but is now spreading into other areas, including the libraries, with the Junior School Reception classrooms the latest to undergo a green transformation over the summer.

The Environment as a Cross-Curricular Concept

Sow and reap the fruits of learning through a green curriculum

My mind raced with possibilities. The advantages the school were seeing from their decision to use plants and green aesthetics were easy to evidence but the emphasis is about a cleaner atmosphere, well-being and a calmer more serene environment. This, clearly, also goes a long way to enhance the potential for learning. However, I could see the possibilities for much more in terms of developing subject knowledge within specific subjects and as a way to create opportunities for pupils to see connections across the subject divide.

Think of the vocabulary associated with discovery around the world of plants, trees and flowers such as nourish, drought, systems, photosynthesis, osmosis, verdant, temperature, pollution, moisture, condensation, texture, infrastructure, symmetry.

Putting the environment in the hands of the next generation

Opportunities to make sure that the curriculum includes a plethora of ways to explore the natural world and bring many elements into school are boundless, not very expensive and provide rich possibilities for deep learning across all subjects. Art and creativity, English through poetry and literature, science brought to life, literally, a chance to delve into history and how plants and horticulture shaped the past and the lives of many who have gone before us. Geography; well, here I would need to write a whole post; the possibilities are boundless. Music and how the natural world has inspired many composers, design and the use of wood, paper, silk and cotton, to name but a few.

Learners want to be a part of a green curriculum

Growing towards a greener curriculum

The events that have shaped 2020 and 2021 have further raised many questions about how we consume, how we travel, how we spend and how we waste. There is no question that we will have to change our behaviours to build a greener future for the next generation and beyond. We have within our schools and through the curriculum an opportunity to raise awareness of how through a deeper appreciation of the natural world we can change the patterns of behaviour that have led us to this devastating impasse.

Many young people have already turned to activism to make their voices heard, others are asking questions and making the adults think about their habits and behaviours. Defining the curriculum in terms of how we can build better futures, learn from past mistakes and find innovative ways to determine greener and more sustainable lifestyles for this and future generations will inspire and nurture a learning environment that has so many possibilities. The environment is an element of curriculum implementation in most schools. Let’s make sure it is not an add on but a deeply focused element of all learning across every subject, cross-curricular possibilities and out of school exploration.

Small steps towards a greener curriculum

Embedding a culture where the focus is on sustainability and a more tranquil environment has well researched benefits. Small changes might include the introduction of plants and other additions such as colour schemes that reflect the outdoors, corridors that have plants, pictures of the pastoral, outdoor spaces where trees and shrubs are planted and areas to grow vegetables, herbs and flowers all reap real benefits for both well-being and learning.

In 2018, an environmental impact study of Putney High School’s campus revealed the benefits of the existing mature, natural landscape, and made recommendations to diversify the use of nature through the introduction of additional green infrastructure to support health and wellbeing.

A focus on some of the evidence that the climate is indeed changing with devastating consequences for many provides a rich vein for discussion, debate and enquiry. Finding out more about drought, flooding, forest fires, crop failure, bio-diversity and loss of habitat crosses subject boundaries and builds deep and important knowledge through the opportunity for increasing competence in a variety of essential skills for learning. The science of hope for new technology, changes in behaviour and more local environmental initiatives all provide opportunities for teachers to innovate and deepen understanding of how the next generation can make a significant difference.

Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower.

I had such an enlightening time at Chelsea last week. The whole experience reinforced my belief in the possible. Many of the exhibitors were used to planning for a spring show with all its possibilities for the summer ahead, autumn was a different challenge and without exception all those there rose to that challenge with great skill and imagination.  All our children, whatever their age, local-context and background deserve to have access to the beautiful world we live in and we need to bring them as close to nature as we possibly can.

Glynis Frater from Learning Cultures – have a look at our innovative and  sustainable CPD courses that will enhance learning and grow your staff whatever their role in your school or college.

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.

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


How do you measure high quality curriculum outcomes?

High Quality Curriculum Outcomes

High quality curriculum outcomes require a collaboration of expertise from across all subject areas. OFSTED are continuing to use their three Is Intent, Implementation and Impact as they evaluate the introduction of their Education Inspection Framework (2019) and plan how they will inspect the quality of education from September 2021 onwards.

OFSTED will maintain their focus on their ‘deep dive’ strategy that involves ensuring they embrace the whole school or college in the process. They are looking for consistency, that all staff across the organisation understand the rationale behind curriculum choices and know the part they play in delivering high quality outcomes that are ambitious and create parity for all.

Senior leadership are instrumental in making sure that there is a symbiosis between what is intended and what is delivered. It is the senior leadership team that must create the means by which subject leadership and expertise, the weaving of skills and knowledge and the sharing of excellence in pedagogy and practice build a vision for excellence and continuous improvement.  If you are a senior leader join us for one or both of the courses below:

Who should be involved in measuring high quality curriculum outcomes?

Teams are the building blocks to creating high quality curriculum outcomes

High quality curriculum outcomes can only be achieved if there is a powerful whole school or college synthesis where everyone involved in achieving the vision for continuous improvement knows the part they play. Translating curriculum intent into meaningful and cohesive implementation requires the skilful empowerment of teams who have the expertise, knowledge and resources to deliver a high-quality education for all learners whatever their starting point.

A ‘deep dive’ into how well this is achieved is best undertaken as part of an ongoing focus on how well curriculum intent is translated into subject specific and cross curricular delivery managed by expert subject leaders. There must be clear evidence that pupils are building on prior learning, that the learning is planned towards a series of clearly defined end points and is sequenced so that progression is assured. All of this needs to also have a very structured and consistent assessment strategy that is planned as an integral part of how the curriculum will be taught and what teachers are looking for in terms of success criteria and learner outcomes. Outstanding CPD will provide the solutions, have a look at these two highly praised Learning Cultures courses below.

How do you create a balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy?

High quality curriculum outcomes are achieved through the delivery of outstanding pedagogy that is a balance between innovation and a deep understanding of the teaching strategies and classroom practices that give all learners a clear pathway to success. All those with a learner facing role need to work together to share good practice and learn from each other in deciding on how the curriculum should be taught.

High quality curriculum outcomes rely on outstanding pedagogy and deep learning

Developing a culture of professional learning that means staff within teams and departments, across year groups and at transition points all talk to each other and learn from each other is an essential element in creating the clarity, collaboration and cohesion necessary for success.

OFSTED’s research published in the summer of 2019 reinforced the need for a collective approach to curriculum delivery and the assessment of quality. They focus on a triangulation of best practice that includes,

Our course: Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning provides all those with a pupil facing role with the opportunity to learn how coaching creates a culture where the sharing and cascading of good practice is essential CPD. The course dives deeply into the elements of outstanding pedagogy that lead to high quality curriculum outcomes.

Also, have a look at out two short nutshell courses, off the shelf ready to use packages that provide answers and some resources to use with your teams.

Assessment an integral part of planning for high quality curriculum outcomes

Assessment is an integral part of creating high quality curriculum outcomes

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

Building a system of positive quality assurance is key

Shaping the dynamics of high quality curriculum outcomes

Quality Assurance is an essential process in business and has a powerful role to play in education.  Creating a quality assurance system is the blueprint for developing a supportive team culture where individuals work together to achieve consistent and positive outcomes for all.  The process should be qualitative and not quantitative. Data is the result of a lot of other processes that are measured over time.  Lesson observation, learning walks, measuring pupil outputs, student voice, parents’ views are all part of measuring quality. It is, however, essential that all are used to celebrate a learning culture and are not seen as a measure of what is going wrong.  Where schools and colleges build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it highlights the strengths within the organisation, informs the need for change and provides the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

CPD the most important ingredient in ensuring high quality curriculum outcomes

Wherever you are on the curriculum journey we have a superb range of training and development courses that have been specifically designed to bring clarity and deeper meaning to creating high quality curriculum outcomes.  We are a coaching organisation with exceptional knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy, leadership and strategy. Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

Learning Cultures for CPD that builds high quality curriculum outcomes

We are continuing to deliver our coaching certification programme. Have a look at our superb range of off the shelf ready to use packages all designed to provide a whole days INSET, twilights or other training sessions. For a shorter CPD opportunities we also have a suite of nutshell courses which provide bitesize CPD.

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


Sequencing the Science Curriculum from Early Years to Year 6 and beyond

Sequencing the Science Curriculum from Early Years to Year 6 and beyond

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Join us at the Science Museum in Birmingham on 3rd March 2022

Creating the Synergy that Delivers High Quality Science

Sequencing the Science Curriculum requires a holistic look at the knowledge that pupils need to acquire, the literacy and numeracy skills that will help them to access the knowledge and the thinking skills that will help them to process their learning. Building the systems that will deliver high quality science across the primary school and into key stage 3 is complex.  Science is a core subject along with Mathematics and English. It is mandatory for pupils to begin their science education in the early years foundation stage and the continuation of a deep and rich science schema is an essential element of the National Curriculum.

In order to have the evidence that Science is given high prominence, is sequenced over time and prepares pupils for the next stage of their education does require a profound understanding of the concepts that underpin scientific knowledge and the skills pupils need to build their understanding over time. Inevitably, this means someone within the primary school will have the role of science lead. He or she needs to have the knowledge and the time to build their understanding of  the aims and content of The Programmes of Study for Science and their importance within the wider curriculum offer. The science lead should also be working in synergy with their secondary school partners to focus on what pupils need to know in readiness for crossing the bridge and learning in year 7.

Delivering high quality sequential science from early years to year 6 and into key stage 3

The designated lead for science has an important role as a leader of curriculum design. They must lead on how pupils develop a wide range of vocabulary as an essential part of the EYFS curriculum that lays the foundations for building a complex scientific vocabulary for the rest of a pupils time in primary school and in readiness for key stage 3.

Creating wonder through science

The role of the science lead is to support teachers to work together to plan a sequential pathway that ensures pupils can make connections, deepen their learning and understand the concepts that underpin science in the widest curriculum contexts. Science subject quality is underpinned by the need to ensure systems are sufficiently robust to create the space, time and resources for meaningful science to take place. They must have a sound understanding of the pedagogy that defines high quality science teaching and create with their teams an assessment methodology that allows all pupils to progress well, that corrects misconception and encourages challenge, enquiry and problem solving.

The Classification of Scientific Knowledge is Essential for High Quality Science delivery

It is acknowledged by many commentators that the primary science lead may not have deep scientific expertise such as that required of a science teacher in the secondary phase.  However, whoever they are it is true that their own education will mean they have achieved at least a GCSE and maybe even an A level in one or more of the sciences.

Science makes sense of the world

Therefore, all those who teach science in the primary phase have learning way beyond that of their pupils. Recognising this expertise is a very good starting point in beginning to design a high quality science curriculum that creates a sequence of connected knowledge that allows pupils to build their understanding of scientific concepts and procedures.  Creating opportunities to work with science teachers in their secondary partner schools should also be an essential element of their role.

The recently published research review of science by OFSTED


The recently published research review of science by OFSTED describes how the distinction between substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge make a useful framework for constructing science curricula. Understanding the difference between these is useful and reflects how knowledge is used and arranged in the sciences. Substantive knowledge is essentially the laws, concepts, theories and models and disciplinary knowledge is creating the evidence, knowing how science works and how through enquiry and evidence proof is established or suggested.

Weaving these two elements together is the key to creating depth and breadth in science learning. Creating the opportunity through high quality CPD with Learning Cultures allows for a focus on how to blend the substantive with the disciplinary through the use of exciting subject matter, interesting resources and challenging activities that will lead the pupil towards deeper understanding, where the concepts become familiar and revisited and are therefore retained in the long-term memory.

CPD to build high quality sequential science outcomes

Primary scientists are hard to find. However, the best way forward is to build on the substantive knowledge and outstanding pedagogy that will be present within the existing school staff and can form an integral part of any job description and person specification for new staff. Science is an essential ingredient in the construction of a high-quality curriculum and must be integral to all other elements of curriculum design. We have designed a training day for science subject leads that will focus on the main ingredients of a high quality science education in the primary phase and into key stage 3, essentially these include,

  • The vocabulary of science and how to develop a language linked to substantive and disciplinary knowledge
  • A focus on the sequencing of the curriculum and defining attainment targets and learning goals linked to clearly stated end points
  • Creating opportunities for pupils to make connections within the science disciplines and across the wider curriculum to deepen knowledge and foster retention
  • Understanding science concepts and creating opportunities for pupils to see where their learning in one subject or discipline applies elsewhere
  • Defining the skills that learners need in order that they are disciplined in their approach to enquiry, data handling, problem solving and experimentation

Delivering High Quality Science in the Primary School and in key stage 3

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Join us at the Science Museum in Birmingham on 3rd March 2022 for a truly inspirational day focusing on how to ensure you have the evidence that you are delivering a high quality science curriculum that is sequenced over time and is carefully constructed towards well defined end points. Enjoy face to face discussions, presentations and opportunities to plan. When the work is complete there will also be an opportunity to have a look around the museum free of charge.  Immerse yourself in science and take a wealth of learning back to school to share with colleagues.

Visit the planetarium as part of your day with us at the Science Museum in Birmingham


Systems redesign – Innovative futures for learning


What are your priorities for creating positive futures for learning that will limit any damage caused by the events of the past year?  I am sure that there are so many it is difficult to decide where to start to ensure future planning creates the right culture for success.  Following ‘a deep dive’ into the current research and commentary from many sources I outline here some of the challenges that may require systems redesign where current systems and protocols may require significant change to deliver innovative futures for learning. The key is to choose the right focus for your situation, define the vision and ambition and know what success will look like.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”

Charles Darwin

Creating a Coalition of Team Leaders

Creating a coalition of senior leaders
Where teams work together excellence happens

The role of the leader is to inspire all staff to achieve the defined vision linked to curriculum intent, to know and be able to communicate that vision and create an inspirational canvas that shines a light on what success will look like. In order to define the priorities for innovative futures for learning the leader needs to have a carefully chosen and trusted coalition, a senior team of talented individuals to take forward any decisions made. 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.

Re-defining the Curriculum Content

We can’t capture what has been lost, if we try, we will alienate the learner and the teacher. We must move forward from here looking at what has been achieved and build on prior learning from the last year to stimulate and invigorate a belief that where learning goes next will fill any gaps and create for the learner a curiosity to build their own breadth of understanding, sharpen their skills and encourage deeper enquiry.

Creating a tapestry of learning
Weaving skills, knowledge and expertise together

The curriculum is a tapestry that weaves the core skills, the wider metacognitive skills, knowledge and concepts that transcend subject divides to provide the rich and complex threads for deep and profound learning. Finding a way to build a sequential and seamless curriculum from primary school, into secondary school and beyond should be the focus of all those who want to foster successful learning. Systems redesign here is challenging and requires a paradigm shift in current approaches to curriculum implementation which involves collaboration and a shared vision across all year groups and partner schools across the transition divide.

Pedagogy as a Key Driver for Success

Pedagogy as a key driver for success
Build a culture of outstanding teaching and learning

There is no substitute for outstanding pedagogy. The art and science of teaching is at the heart of what inspires learning. Expert subject knowledge, a deep understanding of how learners learn and an ability to create for the learner a deep desire to want to find out more, deepen their knowledge and build unconscious competence in their use of a range of skills describes the exceptional teacher.

Creating a CPD strategy as part of systems redesign should focus on the sharing and cascading of good practice. Planning professional development must create opportunities for teachers to reflect on their own successes and allow teachers to take risks, be innovative and look beyond the subject divide. Teaching in the 21st century and especially now as new approaches and new skills have changed the dynamics all of this must be close to the top of the priority list for innovative futures for learning.

Capture Learning at Points of Transition

Systems redesign for transition is likely to be a strategy that will provide evidence of impact more quickly than any other. There is a profound and well-researched dip in performance of anything up to 40% from the end of a transition period to the end of the following year, this is most profound when pupils move from primary to secondary school.

Creating partnerships that deliver seamless learning

Why? There are so many reasons all easily dealt with when there is a commitment to a shared partnership across the transition bridge whether this is key stage 1 to 2, 2 to 3 or when learners move from key stage 3 to 4 or from year 11 into a post 16 environment.  High levels of communication, a shared vision for a sequential and seamless curriculum, a focus on the needs of the learner, an understanding of what has been taught, what has been learnt and what skills are integral to the learning phase all play their part in negating any dip in learning.

Creating a Coaching Culture for Learning

Creating a Coaching Culture for Learning
Reach for excellence through coaching

Coaching creates a culture where the focus on specific systems redesign will make the most difference. Coaching empowers, defines the right channels for effective communication and allows individuals to find their own solutions. Now is the time to plan a strategy that will deliver your vision for the future of learning in your school, college MAT or Trust. Embracing coaching as the conduit for change to take place is elevating, motivating and uplifting.

We take the principles of coaching and use deeply respected research to create a pathway for all staff to work together, celebrate their strengths, learn from each other and cascade their successes widely thus building a culture of positivity and a willingness to embrace change. CPD is an essential element of professional life for all those who educate.  Using coaching as a key driver for ensuring all are working together to achieve a common goal will reap a harvest of outstanding learning and teaching. Reach for the future, don’t dwell on the past.

Building on Confidence in Technology

Building on confidence in technology
Creating a blended learning future

Who hasn’t learnt new skills over the past twelve months? Who hasn’t found out more about themselves and what they really want? We have all had to embrace technology and we have all had to learn differently as a result. This is true for all learners across the age spectrum, for teachers, leaders and maybe most of all for parents.

Leaving out the power of the learning through technology as part of your systems redesign would be a travesty. The future of learning must embrace the way technology has been an integral part of how the curriculum has been delivered and how learners have captured their understanding, revealed gaps in their learning and demonstrated competence in a range of new skills. We have updated our original Blended Learning course and it is now called Planning for a Learning Future: Better than before. Creating a blended learning future creates exciting opportunities for deeper, richer learning experiences across the age and the ability spectrum.

Capturing the Learner Voice

The learner, wherever they are along their journey in education has had a lot to deal with, not least a media intrusion that constantly suggests that they ‘will be the lost ‘generation’ and they have experienced ‘a catastrophic loss of learning’. On the contrary they have a great deal to celebrate and be proud of. Part of planning for systems redesign where leaders work out how to innovate for future learning must be to involve the learner in the process.

Capturing the Learner Voice
Creating the Expert Learner

It is by talking to learners, finding out how they feel, what they need to offset any loss of learning and highlighting the many skills they have gained that we will help them to move forward towards successful outcomes and positive futures.

Learners have had to work independently, be autonomous in how they have managed their time and planned their learning. The genie is out of the bottle, we need to build from here and not impose structures that existed before that will no longer feel right for learning. The possibilities are endless for ensuring that learners can take more control for their own learning and build new futures. Have a look at our 15 top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from home schools learning to learning in the classroom.

Read this article written by our Director Glynis Frater about the importance of staff and learner voice in taking account of curriculum choices . Written some time ago but the themes resonate now more than ever.

Assessment and Curriculum Futures

Assessment must be a key driver when designing and implementing a curriculum that will ensure all learners achieve their full potential.  Planning backwards may be key to this. What is the curriculum designed to achieve? How will the learning be assessed? What will be assessed, skills, knowledge, flair, deeper thinking? Where departments and teams are working together to define a common purpose for how learning is to be assessed there is a synergy and a collective approach to designing curriculum strategies that will challenge, nurture talent, ensure parity and foster a culture of curiosity that leads to independence and deeper thinking.

This year assessment in both primary and secondary schools has been turned upside down. Teachers have the responsibility for making sure that they can find enough time to teach the content, create an environment where learners can feel confident that they are learning and have sufficient evidence that the knowledge they are acquiring will be enough across the specific range of subjects they are studying. Read the current guidance from OFQUAL.

Assesment and Curriculum Futures
Creating ladders that lead to progression

This is a paradigm shift for many teachers and is an interesting ideological diversion for many political thinkers. The cushion of the exam or test takes the responsibility for assessment out of the hands of the teacher and the centre they belong to. In this brave new world, it is essential that all teachers have the right evidence to submit. They must have a deep understanding of the pedagogy of assessment for learning through the use of deep and rich questioning where challenging feedback is essential in the pursuit of accuracy, transparency and fairness. They must also feel convinced that they can make their own professional judgements across a range of evidence sources.

We have added to our courses Formative Assessment in the Primary School and Formative Assessment in the Secondary School to provide those teachers who are not familiar with teacher assessment in this way to learn some of the tools and techniques that will help them to be accurate and confident in their own adjudications so that they can be assured that they are doing the best for their pupils.

Strategic and Innovative CPD Solutions

Innovative futures for learning will lie in a focus on systems redesign and the associated CPD that will be essential. All staff need to feel they are an integral part of the learning journey that will ultimately lead to successful outcomes where minimum learning is lost and teachers and learners alike feel confident and empowered to look forward and not backward.

Strategic and innovative CPD solutions
Systems redesign – Innovative futures for learning

Have a look at Learning Cultures latest online brochure for all our latest courses and programmes for school and college leaders, subject and middle leaders, teachers and support staff. Visit our website for all the latest information about our services, courses and superb asynchronous packages. Let us help you to create a coaching culture that will ensure all staff work together, share their successes and build a truly collaborative and outstanding future. Work with our curriculum experts to redraw your curriculum vision, share the rationale and ambition and build the highest quality learning journey for every learner. Know what success will look like and have evidence at your fingertips that your systems redesign will impact on the life chances of everyone in your school or college.



Mind the Gap – Step up not catch up

Step up not catch up

Step up not catch up has to be the mantra for the future. ‘Catch up’ sounds simple until you unpick the complex layers of learning that are the essential life blood of educating a child. What are schools and other education settings catching up on? Some pupils have continued to learn, some have developed profound and useful life skills as part of organising their own learning and some undoubtedly will have missed the point, lost sight of the facts or misunderstood the task.

Now is the time to throw away the paradigm of constant ‘catch up’ for those who are left behind. It is, as ever, those who are disadvantaged, have less parental or other support and who generally believe themselves to be failures that will be highlighted as those that need to ‘catch up’.

A solutions focused way forward

Instead of ‘catch up’ I would like to offer a solutions focused way forward. There is funding, there is a summer ahead of us and there are opportunities to take a strategic leap into thinking differently about next steps in learning. We cannot look backwards and capture what is lost. We can, however, use the next few months to focus on learning, the how of learning and not the what of learning and create a readiness for learning that we can build on for years to come. If we tediously try to shoehorn in the so-called lost knowledge we are very likely to lose the already disillusioned and deflate those who have succeeded during the last year. It is not their fault. ‘Catch up’ sounds like we are punishing the learner and their teachers.

Instead, let us have a think about some of the obvious issues we have time now to rethink so that we create a future that is most definitely better than before.  Below are a few of the glaring areas that have needed mending for a long time. How about a fresh look at new approaches and a bit of strategic thinking?

A fresh look at new approaches and a bit of strategic thinking

  1. Transition from primary to secondary school – there is a well-researched average dip in attainment of up to 40% from the end of year 6 to the end of year 7. There isn’t much data yet about the consequences for ‘lost learning’ over the past year but I doubt it will be any higher than this. Turning that dip into an upwards curve is an essential element of our highly rated course ‘Crossing the Transition Bridge’ – Seamless learning from primary to secondary school’. We have gathered some great ideas and powerful solutions. A less dramatic but still worrying dip occurs between key stage 1 and 2, we have the answers here too, Creating a transition strategy that builds a continuum of learning from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 and beyond
  2. Creating a tapestry curriculum – where pupils can make connections across their learning they remember, deepen their understanding and begin to develop higher order thinking skills. Learners need to see the explicit connection between the skills they are learning in English and Maths and how they are applied in every facet of the curriculum and beyond. Have a look at our two courses that create for those with responsibility for embedding these skills with a wealth of innovative and well-researched strategies that work. Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator – planning a strategy to ensure literacy is woven through the curriculum and Enhancing the Role of the Numeracy Coordinator – looking at where Maths is integral to learning across the curriculum
  3. Metacognition is about learning how to learn and how to think deeply about learning. Where these skills are added to the tapestry a picture emerges that the learner can understand and the learning is strengthened. This requires planning and the opportunities for professional conversations about learning in subject specific contexts and in cross curricular forums. We have just redesigned our two outstanding curriculum courses, Curriculum Futures for the Primary School- Defining the vision and delivering impact and Curriculum Futures for the Secondary School- Defining the vision and delivering impact they both provide outstanding resources, activities and presentations all built on our commitment to research led CPD.
  4. Formative assessment as an essential pedagogy for learning – There is such an imperative to ensure that all teachers have the skills to challenge positively, feedback constructively and allow the learner to understand what he or she can do to make progress, deepen their understanding and learn more. There may be gaps to fill or extra work to do to raise morale or concentrate on relearning some skills; where the teacher or teaching assistant can encourage, promote self-esteem and ignite a passion those gaps will soon become strengths. Spending time now ensuring all staff have the questioning, influencing and listening skills to empower learning and foster progression will reap huge rewards. We have superb off the shelf asynchronous training opportunities for schools to use with their staff. The future is formative and not summative, certainly for now, Formative Assessment – Creating the pedagogy of challenge, progression and deeper learning in the primary school and Formative Assessment – Creating the pedagogy of challenge, progression and deeper learning in the secondary school
  5.  Creating professional learning communities to share, collaborate and innovate – The expertise in a school is amazing but how often do we have the time or the structure to share that professionalism and knowledge more widely? Planning a strategy that ensures positive futures for every learner, every leader, every teacher and every school is essential. We know at Learning Cultures that the most successful way forward is to create a coaching culture that promotes high quality learning conversations and creates opportunities for the sharing and cascading of best practice, learner successes and teacher innovation. Where professional conversations lead the way, change happens. Start your coaching journey with the professionals at Learning Cultures.