Defining the Substance of Education – Creating the right culture for deep learning

The substance of education, says Amanda Spielman, will be at the centre of the draft new education inspection framework which will be published for consultation in the new year.  The substance, is essentially, the curriculum and how it is taught. This is re-inforced in the speech Ms Spielman has given following the announcement of her second Annual Report as Chief Inspector.  The message is clear, whilst the data is important as a measure of outcomes, it is the breadth of curriculum content that is under the spotlight especially poignant at key stage 2 and 3.  She says,

Here as in every country, the home language and maths are the spine of children’s learning.  But they can’t be the limit. They are the gateway subjects to a broad curriculum that includes humanities, science, languages and the creative subjects too.  Children should learn about the events that shaped our nation’s history, the forces that create our natural environment, the key scientific principles that underpin the world and universe around us, the ability to appreciate and participate in art and music, and develop some practical skills in crafts and technology.

The actual Annual Report focuses on four key themes:-

  • Getting the basics right
  • The impact of a lack of capacity and its effects on standards
  • The danger that schools are expected to become a panacea for all of society’s ills
  • The importance of focus on the substance of education

The over-arching message is that the profession is doing ok but there is still room for significant improvement. The report explains what has gone before. We as education professionals must look to the future and take control of what we believe is the right ‘substance of education’.  There is an implied criticism that across the whole sector, “there is a mentality of ‘what is measured is what gets done’ and this trumps the true purpose of education and curriculum thinking – the consideration of what needs to be taught and learned for a full education – has been eroded.”  A Spielman December 2018

If what is being said is to be believed and I can see no reason to doubt it we do have an opportunity to be a part of this evolution in the role OFSTED want to play in shaping the future ‘substance of education’.

Further research about how the curriculum is designed, delivered and assessed is due to be published this week. It will explain some more about how OFSTED  intend to inspect the curriculum and the draft new education framework will be published for consultation by the profession in January.  What has been said so far and what is due to be published give us the opportunity to shape an innovative curriculum offer. It should be pupil focused, rich in content and create opportunities for pupils to develop the skills for learning that will help them access a wide range of knowledge. It will also, incidentally, give pupils the ability to know how to answer SATS questions and respond with depth to the challenges of GCSE and beyond.

In conclusion I will quote from the most recent speech from Amanda Spielman,

What we will be interested in is the coherence, the sequencing and construction, the implementation of the curriculum, how it is being taught and how well children and young people are progressing in it. So, please, don’t leap for quick fixes or superficial solutions just to please OFSTED. That would be the wrong response.  From September, we’ll be interested in where you are going and how you intend to get there, not just whether you’ve arrived there yet.

We echo with such passion the sentiment here. The next two terms need to be a time for conversations, incisive discussions about subject knowledge and how pupils can deepen their understanding; questions about how we create opportunities for pupils to make connections across their learning; time to reflect on how the content relates to pupils’ own experience, interests and prior knowledge and time to share and cascade good practice linked to pedagogy, assessment and planning.

We have the CPD strategies and resources to support you and your teams.  There is no prescription here just a profound opportunity to make a difference.

Use coaching to foster the professional dialogue and challenge needed to create a cohesive, consistent and content rich curriculum that builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage or phase of their education.

Formative Assessment – essential to assessing curriculum impact on learning and progression

Assessment should be an integral part of planning how to deliver a curriculum.  “They are inseparable” according to Amanda Spielman of OFSTED.  Research suggests that it is formative assessment that has the most impact on learning as long as teachers and support staff have the relevant skills to encourage pupils to focus on what they need to do to improve.

The EEF research into marking, A Marked Improvement? mainly focuses on summative written marking and its efficacy in aiding learning and progression. There is a tacit acknowledgement that written marking is time consuming and is a major contributor to teacher workload.  It is also clear from each of the sections of the research that formative assessment has a deep impact on learning and, therefore, should be an integral part of any kind of written marking policy.

If the curriculum is a focus for change or review then it is essential that this includes an opportunity to reflect on the efficacy of summative as well as formative assessment in enhancing pupils’ motivation, how they focus on how to improve their work following assessment and how they deepen their knowledge and understanding before moving onto the next topic.  The research suggests that for every aspect of assessment it is the involvement of the pupil in a dialogue about their work that has the most impact.

Here are some of the messages:

  • Focus feedback on the student and how they can improve and not the work they have produced
  • Make sure that pupils have the opportunity to re-visit previous learning where it dovetails into the next stage
  • Create the culture where learning is an expectation not an aspiration
  • Use highly skilled probing questions that ensure pupils are stretched and challenged to focus on how they can improve on their own work and find their own solutions
  • Create opportunities for pupils to work independently alone, in one-to-one situations and in groups to focus on how they can assess their own work
  • Deepen knowledge before introducing new topics or concepts
  • Present new information in small steps that are easily absorbed and that will not overwhelm
  • Distinguish between a mistake and an error
  • Be aware of misconception and try to find out why these occur for some pupils or for groups of pupils
  • Forget the grade, focus on how to allow pupils to focus on the skills they need to learn and improve

The conclusion here is that dialogue is essential to creating the right conditions for assessment that leads to learning.  Marking has its place but without a verbal interaction the impact of summative assessment is negligible. Developing the right skills to ensure formative assessment achieves successful outcomes requires a deepening of understanding of the power of deep and rich questioning techniques, the ability to listen and allow time for the pupil to draw their own conclusion and reflect on their own learning and giving pupils ownership of their own learning power.

Below we offer solutions focused CPD that looks at how the ensure that teachers and support staff have the skills and strategies to ensure formative assessment achieves positive learning outcomes and creates confident and independent learners.

 

 

What is a full and rounded education? Do schools have the answer for OFSTED?

In her speech to the NCAS (National Children and Adults Services) last week, Amanda Spielman asked the question,

“How are schools making sure that children get a full and rounded education?”

She said that OFSTED exists to shine a light where children and young people are not getting a good deal in their education or care.  With the proposed changes to the emphasis on inspection from next September it is essential for all those with responsibility for children and young people to shine their own spotlight on how the curriculum is designed and how effective the pedagogy is in ensuring all pupils deepen their knowledge and build their skills for learning.  We need to ask our own questions and focus on the answers that will ensure what we teach and how we teach has an impact on learning for all pupils.

Use our L.E.A.R.N. proforma to start the conversation in teams, from your SLT to teachers and their support staff.

  • Leave in – What is currently working well and does not need changing?
  • Explore possibilities- How can we build on our current strengths?
  • Amend and adapt – What works well but may need adapting or amending?
  • Replace- What do we need to change and how?
  • New innovations- What will be completely new and different?

Focus on the questions below as a starting point.  The coaching message firmly stated in the LEARN strategy outlined above is; start with what currently works well and build from there.

  • What are the mechanisms for collaborative planning of curriculum content across subjects, phases, year groups and key stages?
  • How do teachers ensure they are building on prior learning from year to year and key stage to key stage?
  • Where is the emphasis placed between the acquisition of knowledge and the development of the skills that pupils need in order to learn?
  • What is in place to ensure that assessment is consistent, accurate and provides opportunities for pupils to continuously improve the quality of their learning?
  • What strategies are in place to ensure that literacy and numeracy skills are applied in context across all learning thus ensuring pupils become unconsciously competent in their use of these skills?
  • To what extent are pupils involved in their own learning journey and are given opportunities to reflect on how they can improve their work and deepen their knowledge?

Everyone across the school or a partnership of schools needs to be working together to build a cohesive and collaborative curriculum that is pupil centred and delivers deep and rich learning content.  Where this happens the data that describes successful final outcomes will emerge without the need for pernicious intervention in year 6 or in year 11.  Highly focused CPD is key to creating this outcome.  We have designed a suite of training linked to the main and most pressing issues that will support schools to re-define their curriculum and how it is delivered.

There are many more relevant programmes and courses. Go to our website to find out more.

 

 

Triad planning for curriculum cohesion – Professional conversations that lead to transformational change

Build curriculum cohesion using this triad approach to planning and ensure curriculum cohesion delivers transformational change.

For leaders it is essential to have a clear vision for what the curriculum will achieve in ensuring all pupils achieve their full potential and have access to deep and rich content. Middle leaders including phase leaders, heads of departments, heads of teaching and learning and heads of inclusion all need to focus on; how the curriculum is taught;  how connections are made for the learner; what pedagogical approaches will ensure a knowledge rich and skills focused outcome for all pupils, and how assessment informs the next steps for learning.

Integral to the planning process is the need to continually quality assure the impact the teaching of the curriculum content is having on how pupils are building on their learning, deepening their knowledge and strengthening their competence in the use of a range of inter-related skills for learning. This requires all teachers, support staff and pupils to be a part of a whole school consistent and cohesive formative assessment strategy that accurately assesses progress, informs the need for intervention and ensures pupils are challenged towards higher achievement.

All staff involved in planning or implementing the curriculum need to have a clear view of the part they play in ensuring the curriculum delivers positive, deep and rich learning experiences for their pupils. Where this happens there is real evidence that pupils are receiving a curriculum for learning based on their needs and their potential. The key to success is to create opportunities for on-going professional conversations about learning and the curriculum, sharing good practice and reflecting on what works well and what could be improved.

Have a look at the Coaching in Education section of Learning Cultures’ website and ensure you and your staff have the coaching skills that will influence positive change.

Join us at one our Re-defining the curriculum courses.  They have been highly praised and continue to be in high demand,

This is not about OFSTED or inspection in general it is about what is best for pupils, teachers and the whole school.  Creating the right dialogue for change is transformational!

Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion – Create a culture where excellence is cascaded across the whole school

To create a culture where excellence and high-quality learning is cascaded across the whole school is best achieved through coaching.  Using coaching to ensure there is curriculum cohesion across all phases and stages will ensure all staff exceed and surpass expectations. Coaching encourages the use of positive and deep questioning that will enhance professional learning and challenge pupils. Coaching inspires innovation, helps individuals to embrace change and creates opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice.

Amanda Spielman’s latest communication, her letter to the public accounts committee’s request for information confirms her intention to pursue a new category for the forthcoming changes to the OFSTED Inspection Framework ‘Quality of Education’ which will include curriculum intent, depth and breadth alongside the quality of teaching, the quality of pupils’ work and the resulting outcomes. The diagram below is my interpretation of the main components that need to be in place in order that schools know how their vision is translated into powerful learning over time.

Creating a culture that ensures all of the components above are carefully planned and implemented requires highly effective communication. Leading a Coaching School. Talented teams need to work together to manage change, create new approaches and build on what they currently do well.  Coaching from the Middle – How to influence change, build outstanding teams and lead innovation.

All teachers need to have a range of pedagogies and strategies for learning and assessment that will support pupils to build on their prior learning, deepen that learning and be ready to embrace challenge through the acquisition of knowledge and the use of associated skills. Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning.  Pupils need to be an integral part of this and learner voice can be highly effective as part of an overall strategy. Coaching in the Classroom with Pupils.  Using coaching as the CPD vehicle to achieving the above is highly effective.

CPD is an essential component in creating a culture where staff accept positive change and work together to achieve the stated vision for excellence and improvement. What emerges from this particular cycle of change is exciting and should create a curriculum that is fit for purpose for the school, its pupils and the local and wider community within which it draws its cohort. However, the CPD and associated training must be relevant, sustainable and have an impact on learning and achievement for all.  Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive, provides individuals with the opportunity to find their own solutions and learn how professional dialogue leads to successful outcomes for the school, teams and individual staff and pupils. It is the sharing and cascading of the learning both as part of an actual coaching training programme and how that is then cascaded to others to enhance its efficacy that makes the coaching training we offer so powerful.

Have a look at our Coaching in Education section on our website that has something for all staff.  Join us at one of our curriculum courses to look in great depth at how to ensure readiness for the changes:

or ask us about our INSET packages where we can help you to plan your CPD and curriculum strategies for intent, implementation and impact.

Curriculum Innovation – Seize the initiative and inspire outstanding learning and teaching

Outstanding pedagogy, inspiring curriculum content and a commitment to ensuring every learner achieves their full potential is what every leader in education wants to see happen on their watch.  So, let’s seize the initiative through carefully looking at what Amanda Spielman is saying and change the emphasis away from planning for results to planning for curriculum breadth and balance and creating a continuum of learning that deepens knowledge, builds skills and fosters creativity. The data, the positive results and the highly energised school staff and pupils will follow.

The political charge surrounding OFSTED’s foray into how the curriculum should be delivered is already in full swing.  Many commentators are having their say, some negative, some positive, most sceptical.  It is, in my opinion, the most welcome and pragmatic reflection on what needs to change in order for schools to win back the autonomy to use the talent they have to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of all their pupils.

Amanda Spielman talks about bringing back the ‘substance of education’.  I am sure all leaders of education including myself would agree that it never went away except in the fact that in order to keep our jobs and our sanity we have had to shape strategy towards data driven outcomes linked to SATs and GCSE results.  Free us from accountability regimes linked simply to one quality control measure at the end of primary and secondary schooling and the substance or whatever we would prefer to call it would blossom and grow like the pupils who receive that education.

This is an opportunity for all school leaders and their teams to review their curriculum and ask the questions:-

  • What are our intentions in relation to learning outcomes for all pupils?
  • How do we plan to ensure that all learners can build skills and access knowledge across all their learning?
  • How well do we build on prior learning to deepen knowledge and understanding?
  • How collaboratively do we build a cohesive and seamless curriculum that weaves the skills through the development of core and foundation or subject learning?
  • How can we measure impact and have the evidence of successful outcomes that are qualitative as well as quantitative?
  • How will we ensure all staff have the skills, knowledge and resources to build on what they already do well, embrace change and have the confidence to innovate?

The above is linked to what is deemed outstanding practice from national and international research.  It also echoes the current messages from OFSTED. What is being said so far makes sense.  Start the conversation and reflect on current and future curriculum intent, implementation and impact linked to the questions above and positive change will ensue regardless of what OFSTED or policy makers say.

Our training programmes focus on how you can achieve a cohesive, collaborative, skills focused and knowledge rich curriculum offer that will lead to successful outcomes for all learners. The two courses below are a starting point for all senior and middle leaders with responsibility for curriculum design.

Then put coaching at the heart of your CPD strategy and develop a culture of collaboration and structured learning conversations and watch positive change create outstanding futures. Have a look at our Coaching in Education courses.

Curriculum Conversations and Professional Dialogue to Shape a Learning Culture

Curriculum conversations and the power of coaching

We need to start to have curriculum conversations especially about the three questions that emerge from the latest announcement on changes to the OFSTED handbook for next September relating to the curriculum.  Amanda Spielman’s speech to Schools North East summit

  • What is it that schools want for their pupils? (Intent)
  • How well does teaching and assessment fulfil this intent? (Implementation)
  • What is the impact on results and the wider outcomes that children achieve? (Impact)

These questions are explored in our Re-defining the Curriculum courses.

The fundamental changes link closely to how well leaders, managers and teachers can articulate their intent in relation to the content of the curriculum and how it is sequenced. There is a clear emphasis on ensuring leaders and their managers are able to show through collaboration and professional dialogue that there is consistency of curriculum delivery across all year groups, subjects and key stages.  The flow of learning is seen as important and all those involved in delivering the curriculum need to understand fully the debate about skills and knowledge and how this impacts on the way the curriculum is taught and assessed to ensure breadth and deeper learning over time.

The shift in emphasis is clearly drawn.  The focus for those involved in planning for curriculum change is in ensuring there is an unambiguous vision. The vision must be translated into a consistent and cohesive plan for delivery that focuses on excellent teaching, learning and assessment. Success can then be measured through a well-crafted quality assurance process.   Cohesion, consistency, the use of structured professional learning conversations and opportunities for cross-curricular and cross-phase interaction are important components.   The essential ingredient that will create the right conditions to make this happen is coaching.  Essentially, coaching encourages high quality professional dialogue, the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice and encourages collaboration, positive conversations and a willingness to embrace change.  Have a look at our comprehensive suite of coaching courses and plan your coaching journey linked to curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Amanda Spielman: OFSTED speech to Schools North East summit.

“I’ve used the word ‘conversation’ a number of times in this speech.  The nature and impact of the conversations in an inspection are fundamental. As we shape the new framework, with your help, we really are thinking about how each inspection can be the most productive exchange between a school and its inspection team: how we can make it about substance, more than about numbers.”

“I am firmly of the view that a focus on substance……will move inspection more towards being a conversation about what actually happens in schools.  Those who are bold and ambitious and run their schools with integrity will be rewarded….”

There is to be no prescribed curriculum model, no preferred approaches. The emphasis is on how individual leaders and their teams can justify their strategy and how it is delivered and can demonstrate clearly the impact their approach is having on their particular and unique pupil cohort.

Our Rethinking the Curriculum courses are essential for leaders and managers. We offer well – researched resources, in-depth information and expert advice linked to a coaching model.

How seamless is your curriculum?

OFSTED are currently reviewing how the curriculum is designed and delivered in all phases of education.

In a recent presentation Sean Harford of OFSTED made a plea that schools should be ‘bold and courageous’ with their curriculum.  There are many clues from different commentators and especially from Amanda Spielman as to what is wanted here.  Essentially the curriculum should have depth and breadth, build on prior learning and challenge pupils to master the essential principles embodied in the learning of the core skills especially, reading, writing, communication and Mathematics as well as digital and scientific literacy.  Pupils should be able to make connections and become unconsciously competent in their use of these skills in the pursuance of deeper knowledge and understanding that expand their horizons.

There are, according to Sean Harford of OFSTED, three parts to a framework that make up the essential planning of a cohesive and successful curriculum, these are:

  • Intent – What will be included in the curriculum framework and what knowledge and understanding will be gained by pupils at each stage?
  • Implementation – How will the curriculum be translated over time into a structure and narrative within the institutional context
  • Impact and achievement – Evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations

‘Depth and breadth’ are words liberally used in much of the documentation and transcripts from speeches.  Sean Harford admits that there is some ambiguity as to how different schools interpret these words.  For me, the essence of this is to create a seamless curriculum where pupils build on prior learning from lesson to lesson, subject to subject and from year to year.  The curriculum design is a tapestry of learning and the planning of the curriculum needs to draw on all those who will deliver it to understand how their input is an integral part of a whole school drive for deep and meaningful progression for all pupils.

There will be a new OFSTED handbook and framework from September 2019 and if the current literature is correct there will be a greater emphasis on how schools plan, implement and evaluate their curriculum.  If this is so, now is the time to start to focus on ensuring there is a dialogue that involves everyone at school involved in teaching and learning to focus on how the curriculum is woven together to ensure pupils are continually developing their knowledge and skills and deepening their understanding over time.

To create the right culture for cohesion and collaboration the curriculum needs to be at the heart of the planning process.  The vision for school success must be linked to the design, delivery and impact of a curriculum that develops pupils to know more and remember more over time.  An assessment policy needs to be seen to support the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum and be pupil centred.  Pedagogy needs to be explored and defined in terms of how it allows pupils to deepen their understanding, refine metacognition and create the unconsciously competent learner who deftly uses skills in a wide variety of contexts within school and beyond.

Following in-depth research our curriculum experts have some ‘bold and brave’ solutions and a wealth of resources to support schools in both the primary and secondary phases of education to focus on their curriculum, what to keep, what to change and how to create the evidence that your curriculum delivers high quality learning over time.

Create a CPD strategy that will sustain outstanding learning for the next academic year and beyond

Create a CPD strategy and a coaching culture that will sustain outstanding learning and teaching for the next academic year and beyond.

If you read a few OFSTED reports for those schools that have been judged outstanding you will see that they have something in common.  Learning is at the heart of their vision.  Every strategy and decision is made on the basis that it will ensure learning is a continuous process not just for the pupils but for the staff as well.

Leaders, managers, teachers and support staff all play their part in developing a common thread that focuses on their own potential and how each member of staff can learn from their practice and the practice of others.  The wealth of talent that is within the school is shared in the pursuance of a culture of positive continuous professional development and learning.

Creating this culture requires forethought, commitment and detailed planning so that everyone is involved and has a part to play in the pursuance of a learning community. This is the perfect time to plan your CPD strategy for the next academic year to ensure that it will be sustainable, relevant and totally in line with achieving the outcomes stated in the school improvement plan.

The senior leadership team need to have the inherent belief that every member of the school can and will continuously improve their performance.  There is no such thing as failure, a mistake is a jewel that leads to learning and creates an atmosphere of trust that fosters innovation, creativity and challenge.

Middle leaders are the pivotal force in creating a platform for learning that empowers their teams to work together in the pursuit of excellence and improvement across the whole school, in departments, for phases and within key stages.

Teachers and support teams share and cascade their practice through the development of learning communities and the use of professional conversations that will empower them to be reflective in their quest for progression, achievement and attainment for all their pupils.  Pupils are resilient and motivated, they embrace challenge, they are aware of how they are learning through listening, deeper thinking and the development of their memory skills and they know they are part of an organisation that puts their learning needs first.

The Learning Cultures’ suite of coaching training has been designed to create the right CPD to allow this culture to unfold.  Where individuals develop the skills that will influence positive change including allowing them to articulate and pursue their own learning goals, deepen their knowledge and skills, acknowledge their own strengths and share their successes with others the positive results are profound.  The evidence of impact is obvious both qualitatively and in the data sets that confirm the change and the improvements.

 

Create a CPD strategy that is individualised, sustained, intensive, focused and cost-effective

The right professional development will ensure that all teachers continuously develop so that they feel able to challenge, innovate and always deliver good and outstanding lessons.  This is the basic premise of an article about coaching in the TES of Friday 20th April.  Written by a Rhode Island US Professor, Matthew Kraft, he says,

“if you want better teachers, schools need to embrace the power of coaching”.

CPD is an essential part of school life.

The phrase professional development has replaced performance management in the current incarnation of the OFSTED handbook. This suggests that OFSTED want to see that there is a clear link between ongoing teacher improvement and the professional development that teachers have access to.   Measuring teacher performance is an output, professional development is an input. Without highly effective training, collaboration and the sharing and disseminating of good practice improvements in performance are unlikely to be sustained.

The article goes on to say that, “teacher coaching models are one of the most promising alternatives to traditional CPD. ”

Why introduce coaching CPD in a school or college context?

Coaching is challenging and focuses on continuous learning.  The reason why coaching is proven to be a highly successful medium for delivering CPD in a school is that coaching starts with what is working well. The school recognises the talent and expertise that already exists and uses whole school CPD to cascade good and outstanding practice widely.  There is an inherent belief that all teachers are able to improve and grow in their role.  There is a culture where there is no such thing as failure, only the opportunity to learn from mistakes through the use of highly effective professional coaching conversations.

What are the first steps towards developing a coaching CPD model in your organisation?

The first step is to be clear about what coaching actually means.  How is it different from mentoring, teaching, instruction or counselling?  Learning how to coach is a powerful leadership skill.  A leader can take control whilst focusing on how others can be the drivers for the vision, where one can delegate and be confident that successful and well-trained and well-informed teams can deliver.

What happens next is critical.  Leaders and managers need to have a profound understanding of where excellent practice exists and how it can be shared and cascaded as part of a sustainable CPD strategy.  Staff across the school, in whatever phase of education, need to be aware of their own strengths, gaps in their learning and how they can fill them through collaboration with their peers and through focused CPD that is carefully planned and linked to the individual, team and organisational goals.

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college takes time to embed.  However, from the very beginning there are benefits and high quality learning opportunities where staff, whether they are leaders, managers, teachers or their support teams begin to develop a range of coaching skills that are without doubt those that link closely to the pedagogy that delivers outstanding learning and teaching.

As part of the journey towards creating a coaching culture all staff will learn and develop a range of skills associated with coaching.  The most important of these are how to use deep and rich questioning techniques and how to listen actively in order to be able to influence change and support others to self-reflect and find their own solutions.   These skills are inhererent in good classroom practice, essential as part of highly effective meetings and in the development of strategies that need to be communicated in order that they become successful outcomes.

Learning Cultures are leading providers of coaching CPD for schools and colleges

The coaching training that Learning Cultures deliver is built on many years of research and practical examples of what works in schools and college across the UK and beyond.  We can offer a suite of courses for individuals or groups of staff to attend on one or more of our off-site courses.  Alternatively, we offer a variety of in-school training, INSET and consultancy.  We are, without doubt, the leading provider of coaching training for the education profession.  Delegates learn new skills, are stretched and challenged and leave full of enthusiasm and real practical ideas of how to take their learning forward. Below is a list of the courses we recommend to start your coaching journey.