Does lesson observation support professional development?

Does lesson observation support professional development?

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

Is it

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

or is it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lesson observations shine a collective light on the quality of education

Putting the spotlight on knowledge and learning

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

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

Defining quality as a process through lesson observation

Pedagogy and pupil outcomes – putting the pieces together.

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

 

 

Essential Professional Development for Teaching and Learning

Essential Professional Development for Teaching and Learning

Deepening learning, reinforcing pedagogy and building expertise

Research tells us that high quality teaching has a significant impact on ensuring all pupils have the same opportunities whatever their background and starting point. Promoting effective professional development for all staff in schools and colleges plays a vital role in improving education quality. The Learning Cultures research and curriculum teams weave the findings of reaseach across all of the CPD we offer to schools and colleges

There has never been a more critical time to ensure that there are planned opportunities for senior leaders, subject and middle leaders, teachers and Teaching Assistants to know that they are valued and invested in.  There is an imperative to provide positive learning experiences that will help all staff to make the right decisions and develop effective strategies to build strong futures for their learners and their organisation.

Here at Learning Cultures we have the expertise, the experience and the reputation to build the CPD solutions that will make a difference to the success of your organisation, your leaders, your teachers and all those who have a support role to know the part they play in achieving the best possible outcomes for learning.

CPD solutions for high quality education systems

Creating the right CPD solutions and answering deeply challenging questions?

The Education Endowment Foundation has just published a review of professional development in education which is a follow up to a guidance report publisned in 2019.  Guidance Report: Effective Professional Development (2019).  This echoes what I have said above and highlights the real need to find strategies for ensuring professional development is an essential part of planning the school vision and ambition for high quality curriculum impact and positive approaches to managing the professional development needs of staff.

Senior leaders in education need to approach the planning of CPD in the same way as they plan for high-quality education outcomes linked to curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. Continuing learning for adults is defined by similar principles to those we expect to see in the design and implementation of a well-structured curriculum. The strategy has to ensure that what is planned in terms of the curriculum will be delivered with great skill, outstanding professionalism and deep subject expertise.  Constructing systems that ensure that the curriculum builds on prior learning, allows for the sequencing of knowledge and is planned towards clearly defined outcomes will not happen unless there is careful consideration given to the skills and expertise of those who will shape the detail.

Designing a balanced CPD Programme

Where CPD is an integral part of the school or college development plan positive change takes place. Taking time to consider the training needs of all those who will be responsible for translating the curriculum intent into curriculum implementation has a powerful impact on what ultimately defines success for the school, the senior and middle leaders, their teams and teachers and their support staff.

Creating a balance that leads to sequential learning for all.

There needs to be a balance that requires a systematic review of the processes that will deliver sustained excellence and create the evidence that outcomes are of a high-quality and are clearly defined in terms of the impact the curriculum has had on all those it touches including pupils, teachers and those who lead.

For those with a strategic leadership role this should include:-

  • Having the generic knowledge to build strong teams of subject expertise
  • Building the right strategies for change, challenge and curriculum innovation
  • Creating the tools and techniques that will deliver high quality outcomes
  • Embedding a culture that celebrates ongoing professional learning
  • Defining the vision for continuing professional learning for all staff

Without the above, defining the curriculum intent or the wider school or college vision is unlikely to deliver what it set out to achieve. It is the expertise of staff, the motivation of learners both adults and pupils, the identification of gaps in skills, knowledge and understanding and opportunities to build on prior learning, develop new techniques, reflect on positive change and continue to practice and grow as professionals that are the absolute keys to success.

How do you create a learning culture?

Below are some of the guiding principles that underpin the philosophy that defines the Learning Cultures approach to training for all those in education.  They should also be in the forefront of the minds of those who lead when planning for change, defining their vision or creating a strategy for implementation.

  • CPD is not an add on, it should be an integral part of the process of planning
  • Leaders must have the generic expertise to guide all those who deliver subject specific or skills focused learning
  • Planned CPD should align with clearly identified needs linked to positive appraisal and the identification of expertise across the curriculum
  • Participants must be able to set their own learning goals and have the time to reflect on how their learning improves their role and that of members of their sphere of influence
  • Existing mechanisms such as meetings, INSET, networks and lesson observation all provide profound opportunities for informal or formal CPD
  • Use the expertise within the school or college setting to create opportunities for learning within cross-curricular and inter-departmental sessions.
Powerful coaching questions create the challenge that leads to profound learning.

At the heart of all of the above is the principle of coaching. Creating opportunities for individuals to learn from each other, engage in professional learning conversations and build confidence in their own ability to experiment, take risks and find their own solutions provides the evidence that there is a symbiosis that will deliver the highest quality outcomes for all who educate.

 

Visit Learning Cultures’ website and and start your journey towards a CPD strategy that will improve performance, motivate staff and that will create a culture of professional learning and the sharing and good and outstanding practice. Call us on 01746 765076 or Glynis’s mobile 07974 754241. Email us at info@learningcultures.org.

 

How to manage a deep dive into curriculum implementation

Take a deep dive into subject specific curriculum implementation

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

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

Deep dive questions for Senior Leaders

Working together towards a shared goal

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

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

Learning Cultures have two outstanding courses for senior and curriculum leaders

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

Lighting the way through team working and collaboration

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

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

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

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

A deep dive into cross-curricular collaboration

Cross- curricular illuminates connections

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

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

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

Build the confidence of curriculum teams

Cohesion requires highly effective and active professional learning communities

Cascade learning through powerful conversations

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

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

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

Creating a deep dive culture

Team working and collaboration inspires deep learning

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

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

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

 

 

Leading from the Middle: Middle leadership in education

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This post focuses on our course Coaching for Middle Leaders. It is the fourth in the Learning Cultures series looking at how developing a coaching culture will provide the framework, the skills and the strategy to plan how to move forward to ensure continued high quality outcomes for all staff and learners.

Here, we look specifically at the role of the middle leader and how coaching will enhance their ability to enable their teams to deliver the plan for consolidation, change and improvement.

Leading from the Middle is a powerful coaching course for those with the pivotal role of middle leader. They work closely with the Headteacher or Principal and other senior leaders to interpret and contribute to the vision for continuous improvement and ensure curriculum cohesion and impact.

They lead their teams and translate the plans for success into workable goals and objectives that are realistic, measurable and achievable. The middle leader in education has to empower others to deliver specific quality outcomes to ensure there is a visible impact on learning and achievement.

All of this has to be managed within workable time-frames that fit into the academic year and that’s in a normal year. The middle leader now has an even more pivotal role. They must look forward to plan how to build on what has been learnt. They must reflect on how to recover lost learning for both teachers and their pupils. They will also have the responsibility for creating positive futures linked to self – esteem, motivation and confidence.

This course examines the role of coaching in middle leadership and how through the development of a range of coaching skills middle leaders can foster highly visible professional learning communities that will model best practice, empower others to explore and innovate, foster a culture of trust and inspire new ideas in pedagogy and learning.

We look at the skills of listening, influencing and the powerful use of questioning. We focus on the difference between mentoring and coaching and how to use both effectively. We ask middle leaders to look within themselves to define their own strengths and gaps in learning and how they can foster a culture where their teams work together to cohesively deliver high quality outcomes that make a difference.

We then focus on how developing and using these skills creates a culture where teams are more cohesive, they feel enabled and motivated to find their own solutions and are inspired to be a part of a collective vision that delivers outstanding learning, excellence in teaching and a commitment to consistent high quality outcomes.

Coaching in education is the most powerful way to manage change where all teams, curriculum, teaching and learning, subject, pastoral, support and administration are all a part of the collective vision that will help the organisation, school, college, academy or university to find the positive and build on successes rather than dwelling on lost learning. Positivity breeds self-esteem, is motivational and is the only way to plan for the next steps in minimising the impact of what has gone before.

This course is part of our suite of coaching courses. It will give middle leaders a wealth of materials and resources to use with their teams. It is the starting point for middle leaders to learn a range of coaching techniques and it gives all those who attend with the framework for taking coaching forward as part of the vision for a successful future.

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Leading a Coaching School or College: Coaching is the key to exceptional leadership

Listen to this newspost as a podcast.

 

Bringing staff and pupils back into school will bring its challenges and require exceptional leadership skills. Learning CulturesLeading a Coaching School or College live webinar is the place to start for senior leaders to focus on how they can create a collaborative culture that delivers outstanding learning, powerful pedagogy and a shared commitment to the highest quality education for all.

Making coaching an essential part of the strategy for the future is the best decision a school or college leader will make.  Coaching equips the leader with the skills to empower others, to influence change and to unlock potential.  The coaching leader will create a culture of reflection where he or she engenders trust and a belief that everyone can achieve what is crafted in the vision, rationale or ambition for all staff and learners.   Where a leader believes that everyone has the capacity to continuously improve there is a motivation to uphold high standards of performance and for each member of staff to accept challenge and find their own solutions to issues and problems that arise.

To build new futures, leaders will need to re-evaluate the ambition for continuous improvement, curriculum rationale and the best way to ensure that learners make the transition from home schooling to the classroom and continue to thrive. Focusing on using strategies linked to coaching will ensure that the imperative for change is the collective responsibility of all staff. Incorporating learner voice into the mix can only strengthen the outcomes.

For this to happen, the senior leadership team need to make the commitment to build a coaching culture and allow others to share in the responsibility to make sure that all staff and pupils can recapture their enthusiasm and motivation to learn and enhance their self-esteem.  Where the process of change is driven by collaborative professional learning communities who share a common goal, the team can build on what they know works well, identify barriers that might need to be overcome and carefully refine the options they can choose to ensure success.

Essentially, coaching leadership must be highly visible so that there is a constancy of purpose that is built on a culture of trust and respect. Opportunities to foster collaboration must be inherent in all aspects of team and individual planning. There needs to be a commitment to ensuring the highest quality implementation leads to desirable and positive impact.  Coaching must be about learning through a process of continuous improvement where there is a willingness to share success, where individuals know their strengths and their gaps in professional learning and where they accept failure as part of the process and reflect on how mistakes lead to learning.

Leading a Coaching School is a training course that will provide senior leadership teams with the skills they need to begin their journey towards creating a coaching culture. However, this course goes much further than that, challenging those in attendance to focus on how they can implement a strategy that leads to transformational change.  We challenge senior leaders to focus on their sense of urgency and how this drives the vision for excellence and continuous improvement. We ask that leaders know how to delegate, how to empower and influence others to take increased responsibility for how they set and achieve their own goals and targets that flow from the whole organisation improvement plans.

We include a range of tools and techniques that provide those who attend with all they need to continue to learn how to coach and how to use coaching to create a culture where professional learning conversations provide the basis for a collaborative culture built on reflection, the celebration of good practice and the collective desire to deliver a constancy of purpose that insists on the highest quality of curriculum, pedagogy and learning.

Our team at Learning Cultures have all been leaders in education. We know how lonely it can be. The role of the senior leadership team is to be the Captain of the ship, to steer the vessel and the people within it to safe and secure futures.  Where everyone pulls together using coaching as the driver, the leader is reassured that all staff are working as one to weather storms, deal with difficult people, manage behaviour or address poor performance.  Delegation means that the leader or leaders return to being the strategists whilst middle, team or subject leaders deliver and anchor deep learning opportunities for teachers and pupils across the whole organisation.

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Strategic CPD Solutions for Schools – innovative examples of good practice

Strategic CPD solutions for schools

Strategy is probably a long way down the list of priorities for all those leading in education unless it is linked to the issues that crowd every day.  However, an increasing number of leaders are taking the longer view and beginning to focus on the needs of their teams, their teachers and their pupils when relative normality returns. I wanted to share some of the innovative CPD that we have delivered in the past nine months, remotely of course, to individual participants, middle, pastoral and subject leaders and large and small INSETs that have involved everyone. Below are ten areas where we have made a significant difference to how schools are preparing for a positive future.

  1. Transition from Key Stage 2 to 3 – We are training several groups of transition leads from across alliances of schools using our Crossing the Transition Bridge – from primary to secondary school to look at how to ensure partnerships and seamless learning for all year 6 pupils this year as they cross the transition bridge.
  2. Rethinking Appraisal using Coaching has been the strategic focus for one school. They have bought our asynchronous, ready to use course Rethinking Appraisal and Performance Management that focuses on how to use coaching to ensure appraisal clearly focuses on how the individual can play their part in achieving the school vision. They have also completed several of our coaching courses to ensure that the school vision and appraisal this year belong to all staff
  3. Leading a Coaching School or College – Many schools and colleges are using our synchronous, face to face live webinar to start now to look at how coaching will be the answer to reflective and positive futures. This course has the answers that will help senior leaders to support all staff now and in the months to come as we return to whatever normal will look like. Coaching creates opportunities for individuals to find their own solutions, remain positive and self-aware and build resilience in times of adversity.
  4. Leading from the Middle – Many school leaders are using the content of this course to give their middle leaders the coaching skills to ensure that their teams are collaborative and can deliver the strategic plans that need to be carefully crafted now and for the future. This course is a powerful coaching course that develops the coaching skills of those who have a pivotal middle leadership role and who are responsible for the performance of their teams in delivering high quality teaching and learning through a deep and rich curriculum offer
  5. Coaching to Create a Culture of Positive Mental Health – Several primary, secondary and special schools and A MAT are using our course that focuses on how developing a range of coaching skills can support those with a role in promoting well-being and positive mental health for staff and pupils.
  6. Quality Assuring how the Curriculum Design Delivers Impact, Seamless Learning and ProgressionIndividual senior leaders from several schools have attended this course and are using our materials, resources and guidance to develop quality assurance practices that will ensure there is evidence that the curriculum intent delivers high quality learning, outstanding pedagogy and evidence of a positive impact on whole school improvement. We are currently supporting the development of policy documentation and timeline structures to support schools to develop professional quality assurance processes
  7. Key Stage 3 – A Vital Piece in the Curriculum Jigsaw has been a very popular course and resonates with the need to make sure that learning is seamless, planning builds on prior learning and clearly defined end points provide a blue-print for progression
  8. The embedding of literacy and numeracy across all subjects are key elements of a high-quality curriculum offer. Our two courses ‘Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator’ and ‘Enhancing the Role of the Numeracy Coordinator’ have not diminished in popularity since our decision to move all our courses online. We have the answers to some pressing questions and we provide an outstanding array of best practice examples
  9. Our Coaching Certificate Programme is an opportunity to train to become a certified coach over three terms with expert guidance from our coaching team. We are running this course for several schools, sixth form colleges and FE colleges. We are also now offering it to individuals from different organisations. We are receiving amazing revues for the content and process which leads to a Level 3 Certificate in Coaching from the Association for Coaching.

We have achieved so much in these times of deep adversity and many schools, colleges and other organisations have benefited from our talented and innovative team and our outstanding training packages. Now is the time to start to think strategically, we have the expertise to help you to make a difference to the future of learning and education.  glynis@learningcultures.org 0r 01746 765076 / 07974 754241

Now is the time to build a culture of positivity and reflection

Now is the time to build a culture of positivity and reflection

 

Happy new year to all the wonderful school leaders, middle leaders, teachers and support staff who have supported their learners, each other and the wider community through the last few very turbulent months.  Every educator has had to think differently about how they teach, how they communicate with their teams and how they make sure that learning continues to take place.  We are in awe of your resilience and commitment. You are on the frontline and everyone, everywhere should recognise this.

Here at Learning Cultures, we want to build our own culture of positivity and reflection

So we have have adapted and changed our working practices so that we can continue to deliver the CPD and coaching support that many in the profession rely on.  It was devastating back in March of last year to hear that schools were closing. We genuinely thought that we would not be able to continue to trade.

However, as coaches with a can do positive attitude, we decided to change our business model and put all of our courses and services online.  For those who have attended any of our training will, I know, endorse the fact that the result has been outstanding.  There are so many positives that have come out of our new model for CPD that we feel sure we will continue to offer online courses long after this pandemic is behind us. We have stand-alone 5 section courses for you to buy and use when you can. We have live webinars that cover courses looking at the curriculum, at coaching and supporting well-being. We have recently launched a suite of nutshell courses, one-hour bite-size training opportunities that an individual can dip into when they are able.

As I write this, the uncertainty continues, primary schools are doing their best to continue to open in the face of a deepening crisis and secondary schools are working hard to develop Covid testing stations alongside planning to welcome back their learners in a couple of weeks. I cannot help but feel that CPD and training for staff is not at the top of the list of priorities.

However, national and international research and the training and support that we have been delivering over the past year suggests that continuing to value staff through providing them with opportunities to continue to develop as professionals is a vital component of maintaining high-quality learning, wellness and a feeling of being valued.

Learning how to coach builds resilience, fosters professional learning communities and promotes positivity. Leading a coaching school will reap exceptional benefits for all staff in these difficult times. Continuing to develop a well-sequenced curriculum is essential and our curriculum courses provide the resources and learning tools to ensure consistency, outstanding teaching and learning and a shared commitment to realise the vision for continuous improvement.

As the title of this news post says there has never been a more important time to create a culture of positivity and reflection. Investing in your staff with relevant and high quality CPD that is accessible, affordable and receives excellent testimonials will reap untold rewards that cascade widely across the whole organisation.

Thank you to you all, from Glynis and all at Learning Cultures.

 

 

CPD and coaching for Schools

Listening, questioning, sharing, collaborating, co-constructing, talking, reflecting, creating, empowering, influencing

A few of the words that describe the power of coaching as the most desirable way to build a CPD strategy for your school or college.  Back to school does not mean been back to normal and many leaders in education are facing challenges that are unprecedented. Finding the solutions to continuing to provide a high quality of education and ensure all staff have the knowledge, skills, energy and motivation to deliver it is essential for learning for pupils and personnel across the organisation. Coaching is that solution.

The Learning Cultures’ coaching team know from many years’ experience that the most cost effective, innovative and solutions-focused way forward is to set about using the principles of coaching as a starting point for planning CPD for the next year and beyond. For most this will mean using virtual platforms and online tools.

The Education Endowment Foundation have come to the same conclusion, their recent Rapid Evidence Assessment of the efficacy of remote professional development concludes,

Remote coaching, mentoring and expert support can be effective alone or as part of broader professional development programmes (PD)

  • Coaching and mentoring can improve skills and knowledge of professionals when delivered remotely and may reduce feelings of isolation in professionals
  • Remote or blended coaching, mentoring and expert support can be used to complement broader remote or blended PD programmes
  • Collaboration between colleagues may also improve PD outcomes through enabling reflective practice and collective problem-solving

The power of coaching transforms learning and teaching, builds dynamic teams and creates positive and incisive leaders. We have had a part to play in ensuring coaching is at the heart of CPD across many schools and colleges here in the UK and internationally.  We have now spent the last six months finalising our online programmes using an ex Channel 4 producer and an award-winning designer to work with us to ensure our highly-praised and well-researched content is also accessible, interesting and relevant.

We have been astounded by the outcomes from the live coaching webinars that we have delivered throughout the summer and the success of the Moodle courses that we have developed for schools and colleges to buy and use anytime within their CPD calendar. The quality and flexibility of this approach means a whole new world of CPD and coaching possibilities to suit all those who educate across all sectors.

 

Have the answers to OFSTED’s ‘deep dive’ questions

 

Have the answers to OFSTED’s deep dive questions

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.

 

Preparing for subject specific ‘deep dive’ conversations and observations

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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