Building pupils knowledge sequentially in both the core and wider subjects – do you have the evidence?

Taking a look at the most recent OFSTED reports where inspectors have been into schools this term makes interesting reading.  There are several entries where schools have been judged inadequate or requiring improvement who were previously outstanding or good.  The change of emphasis to a much deeper dive into the way the curriculum is planned, sequenced and assessed is clear in the improvement strategies these schools are invited to address.  I have listed here several quotes that are typical of what is deemed to be missing,

“The school’s curriculum is not sufficiently sequenced and coherent. The breadth of the National Curriculum is not covered in all subjects.”

“Leaders need to make sure that the curriculum is planned so that teachers can build pupils’ knowledge sequentially, over time, allowing them the learn more and remember more.”

“The curriculum is poorly planned and taught. Pupils do not gain enough skills and knowledge of subjects outside reading, writing and mathematics.”

“Improve the effectiveness of leadership by ensuring that learning in the wider curriculum is carefully sequenced so that pupils make good progress within topics and year on year.”

“Improvements should be made by developing the curriculum, in both the core and the wider curriculum subjects, so that it is well planned, builds on prior knowledge and understanding, meets the needs and interests of all pupils and enables them to achieve well.”

The messages could not be clearer. There is a sharp focus on curriculum sequencing, building on prior learning and planning to ensure pupils develop deep knowledge and skills across all their learning.  I could have included several other quotes about issues relating to assessment and the concern about subject knowledge and subject expertise as well as issues about how the curriculum is taught but this is a news post and not an essay.

Over the past few months we have followed the development of curriculum research, commentary on curriculum design and finally the publication of the latest OFSTED handbook for schools in a series of news posts and comments.  You can read the story so far here. We have developed some outstanding resources and tools to support leadership teams, curriculum managers and subject leaders to plan and deliver a deeply knowledge rich and skills focused curriculum.  We have focused on how to make this happen using practical approaches and well-researched strategies that are receiving high praise.  Our training is practical and solutions focused and is based on the principles of coaching. There is no better way to cascade outstanding practice and build a culture of professional dialogue that is shared across the whole school.

Have a look at our website for the many other training courses that are both relevant and will enhance the CPD potential in your school. We run superb INSET training or off-site courses.  There is something for all the staff in your school or college.

Incremental Coaching – taking small steps that deliver high quality classroom pedagogy

Q: What is the best way to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered across subjects, year groups and key stages?

A: Design a quality assurance system where the incremental components are carefully crafted and communicated so that all staff know the part they play in the successful delivery of a curriculum that is rich in knowledge and develops the skills learners need to access that knowledge.

We have a brand new training course that focuses on how to create a QA system in your school: Quality Assurance – a framework for curriculum cohesion, collaboration and impact 

Q: How can leaders and managers create the culture that ensures that good and best practice in teaching and learning is shared and opportunities for further development decided upon to incrementally build excellence?

A: Lead a coaching culture and create opportunities for leaders, managers and teachers to learn the coaching skills that will allow them to tease out their strengths, identify their gaps and focus on small steps and positive actions that will enhance their potential and allow them to continuously improve their performance. We have the sequence of courses to support your school on the journey towards a coaching culture.

Q: How can subject leaders empower their teams to create the curriculum that weaves skills and knowledge to deepen understanding and deliver a visionary, ambitious and innovative curriculum?

A:  Ensure strong subject teams use professional learning conversations and coaching skills so that there is a consensus about how to build on prior learning, sequence that learning towards clearly defined end points and decide how the knowledge and skills will be consistently assessed and moderated. Join us for a ‘deep dive’ into how to create strong subject teams that work together and also share cross curricular collaboration. Defining and Enhancing the Role of the Subject Leader – managing curriculum change that delivers sequential, seamless and deep knowledge and skills.

Then focus on assessment,

For an in-depth review of the story so far in relation to the need to focus on curriculum intent, implementation and impact and defining quality read our series of news posts from the past twelve months here. or follow the posts on our website here.

 

 

 

What are the curriculum priorities for the new term?

What are the curriculum priorities that will guarantee a rich and deep curriculum offer that sequences learning over time?  They must include,

Creating the right teams that can take forward the vision and rationale for breadth and balance of the curriculum. Teams that can work together to create a sequential curriculum that weaves concepts, knowledge and skills into a body of learning.

A balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy that creates informed choices for how the curriculum should be taught. 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.

A clearly defined strategy for highly effective CPD that is agreed linked to individual and team development needs.  If change is fundamental to re-defining the curriculum and how it is developed and delivered all staff will have their own collective and individual needs.  It is vital that this is planned and implemented to ensure that all staff are able to collectively deliver curriculum intent.

How the learning is assessed must be woven into the curriculum plan, assessment 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 to defining the success of the curriculum and its implementation.  It is essential that the process secures high quality outcomes while retaining any strongly supportive team culture.  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.  If we build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it will highlight the strengths within the organisation, inform the need for change and provide the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

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.  We are a coaching organisation and we achieve outstanding results.  Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

We are launching a coaching certification programme and some on-line training courses which we are calling CPD in a Box this term.  Have a look at our website for more details.

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.

 

Observing Quality in the Classroom – measuring the impact of curriculum design

The quality of education is defined by OFSTED as ensuring pupils learn the content of a well sequenced curriculum across all subjects.  This re-balance (their language) requires leaders and their teams to look more closely at what is taught and how it is taught linked to their rationale and ambition for curriculum intent.

The clues to how this can be managed in school are linked to the myriad of speeches, publications and research that OFSTED have published over many months.  My post from last week, Curriculum Coherence and Coaching Conversations talks about a triangulation. This includes, lesson observation, book scrutiny and professional conversations with all stakeholders. The imperative to translate what is planned (intent) into education outcomes that deepen learning over time (implementation) and clearly define how all pupils will achieve their full potential (impact) is critical.

What we have to work with can help to create highly useful best practice models. The result of using these will deliver curriculum clarity to satisfy the inspectorate but will, more importantly, also foster a culture of highly interactive collaboration and the sharing of positive pedagogy that will have a lasting impact on morale, motivation and high quality learning.

Observation of learning is the key. This includes observing pedagogy and the learning outcomes that emerge from that. It also includes assessing the learning through what is written, how well pupils read, how pupils answer questions and what is performed, played, displayed or recorded for practical subjects including drama, PE, design technology, music and art. I have taken the observation indicators that OFSTED are using as part of their own validation and added to them a set of indicators of what observers and teachers might be looking for in terms of learning outcomes. Essentially, a far less subjective set of indicators that are linked directly to evidence of what pupils produce, learn, what they retain and their attitudes to learning.

So, when defining the quality of education, focus on the questions below so that you are clear as to what you would like to see when you observe pedagogy, practice and learning,

  • what are you expecting to see in the classroom, what do you want to see happening?
  • how does the content of this lesson fit into a sequence of lessons and other learning?
  • how is the learning assessed to ensure understanding and next steps?
  • to what extent are all pupils challenged to achieve more?
  • how involved are pupils in their own learning and how well can they articulate how they have accessed and retained knowledge over time?

We are as up to date with all this as it is possible to be. We continue to offer our suite of curriculum courses, including an in-depth and up to date focus on Re-defining the Curriculum.  One of our Leadership and Management courses looks specifically at Lesson Observation. The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – How to use powerful feedback that nurtures reflection, learning and outstanding teaching looks in-depth at the power of positive two-way observation that focuses on learning and successful outcomes for the teacher and their pupils.  At this crucial stage of change you may be looking at performance management and we have a highly acclaimed training day Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Influencing learning, empowering people and creating a culture of positive change  which will provide a focus on how to ensure every member of staff has a deep understanding of the contribution they can make to high quality education outcomes.

Make time for positive and highly praised CPD from Learning Cultures that is solutions focused, informed by sector led research and delivered by experts in education.

Book scrutiny and lesson observation – evidence for curriculum implementation that defines high quality education outcomes

How intent is translated into the delivery of high-quality educational outcomes must come from looking closely at pedagogy and how and what pupils learn. OFSTED have recently published research into ensuring they can assess this accurately. Lesson observations and ‘workbook scrutiny’ are seen as an essential part of what will provide a spotlight into the quality of curriculum implementation. They see an essential triangulation between observation, a deep review of pupils’ book work and opportunities for face to face conversations. Their research is small scale but it is thorough. ‘How valid and reliable is the use of lesson observation in supporting judgements on the quality of education?‘ and Workbook scrutiny – Ensuring validity and reliability in inspections’

The research is designed to inform the systems that will ensure accurate and valid inspection.  Some of the indicators and research questions could be useful in creating meaningful models for defining a school’s own internal standards that define the quality of education within subjects and across the wider curriculum. The imperative for quality assurance in schools is to ensure that classroom pedagogy reflects how the curriculum intent is translated into classroom practice that leads to effective and deep subject learning and skills competence.  For this there needs to be an opportunity to observe lessons across a range of learning contexts. The quality of teaching and the depth and sequencing of subject knowledge need to be reflected in the quality of work output that is included in pupils’ books, in displays and within their ability to articulate through conversations with adults and with their peers.

For ‘book scrutiny’ four indicators were selected as those that would be observable in workbooks, the focus will be on how subject matter is taught and learned to allow for efficient and meaningful acquisition of new knowledge and whether and how pupils consolidate knowledge so that it remains in the long term memory. The indicators are,

  • Building on previous learning
  • Depth and breadth of coverage
  • Pupils’ progress
  • Practice

The research into the reliability and validity of lesson observation is documented in a slightly larger piece of work. In this document there are a list of 18 lesson observation indicators that inspectors will use as a guide to ascertaining how accurate their judgements are at assessing the quality of education through lesson observation. We have included the indicators in a separate PDF which you can download here.

It is not possible for individual schools to carry out their own research on the scale that OFSTED and other researchers they cite have undertaken. It is eminently possible to use the findings from research to inform internal action planning. There are opportunities to model the research criteria as part of a structure that clearly defines the intention for high quality curriculum design and delivery. From this schools can then focus on identifying the strengths within their school, recognise the gaps and subsequently fulfil the professional development needs that arise. This will create the right culture to build a platform of continuous improvement, positive collaboration and professional learning conversations that will cascade good and outstanding practice.  Creating a triangulation for quality assurance that ensures the rationale and ambition for the curriculum is implemented to achieve a high level of success for all learners. This triangulation is essentially,

  • lesson observation that celebrates positive pedagogy that ensures curriculum implementation linked to the school intent, rationale and ambition
  • looking at learning outcomes within books and as part of displays and other media
  • creating opportunities for a curriculum dialogue to exist for leaders, managers, teachers TAs and pupils

We are continually updating our curriculum suite of courses  to create for schools a series of solutions focused and resource rich experiences linked to well-respected research and our own considerable expertise.

 

 

Bringing Learning Cultures’ coaching training to a school in Shanghai

Hello from China. I am here in Shanghai to deliver a suite of coaching training for a group of schools.  It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work with some lovely people from an eclectic mix of countries and nationalities. They have all shown such a commitment to the concept of coaching and how it can be transformative as a pedagogy in the classroom, a dynamic and highly effective approach to CPD and a powerful skill for those who manage teams and lead their organisation towards positive change.

It was with some trepidation that I undertook this assignment, wondering as I travelled here how coaching would be viewed in a country such as China.  My first thoughts were that the didactic approach to both school management and teaching and learning would prevail.  What I have seen is exactly the opposite, a wealth of talent, a positive attitude to change management and a desire to create a learning culture across the schools.

Many of the issues facing the staff here are exactly the same as we have in England.  The pressure for results that leads to a tendency to teach rather than to facilitate learning;  a lack of time for genuine collaboration within subjects and across the curriculum and few opportunities for the sharing and celebration of good and outstanding practice in teaching and learning.  The coaching principles that help to address such issues were seen as a positive way forward in the pursuance of consistent high quality education for all pupils and the development of a highly structured training strategy for staff.

I delivered three of our coaching programmes. Leading a Coaching School to the leadership team, Coaching from the Middle for Heads of School, Department leads and other team leaders and Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning for those teachers who wanted to lead on developing the coaching approach within the school.

The enthusiasm from the participants and the contributions they made to the activities and discussions we had were enjoyable and hugely informative.  Those of you reading this who have benefited from our coaching training will know what I mean when I say that the experience of learning how to coach is highly motivating and brings a new dimension to how to approach defining pedagogy as part of a collaborative dialogue for continuing professional development and in the classroom to reinforce independence and creativity in learning.

I am looking forward to my return to England where the Learning Cultures’ coaching momentum continues to grow for schools across our country.  I am also pleased by the growing number of schools internationally that are asking us to plan programmes, here in China and in Spain, India, UAE, Australia, Denmark and Czechoslovakia to name a few more.  We are making a difference with our unique training offer.  It is the start of a journey and once you realise how powerful coaching can be you will not turn back.

From Glynis, here in Shanghai.

Creating a culture that fosters professional dialogue and delivers a seamless curriculum

How do leaders in schools create the right culture that fosters constructive professional dialogue? Amanda Spielman from OFSTED puts the importance of professional dialogue at the heart of her last two major speeches, one to ASCL and the other to the Muslim Teachers’ Association.

“The Quality of Education judgement is central to putting the curriculum, the substance of education, back at the heart of professional dialogue in schools and colleges. It’s been great to hear that these conversations are emerging, even before the first inspections under this new framework.”

In order to create that school culture where all staff have the opportunity to engage in professional dialogue there needs to be a profound understanding of the difference between professional dialogue and a conversation.

Professional dialogue is one of the phrases that is completely embedded in all of our coaching programmes.  The essence of learning how to coach for those in education is in the development of a range of coaching attributes including highly effective listening skills, the ability to ask incisive, deep and rich questions and to have the confidence and the capacity to influence others to change.  Creating a CPD strategy that embraces coaching fosters professional dialogue and moves individuals away from simply using unstructured conversations.  It can have a profound impact on ensuring all staff are empowered to deliver a consistent, whole school approach to how the curriculum intent, ambition and rationale is translated into innovative planning, highly effective pedagogy and a shared understanding of the sequencing of content over time.

“OFSTED have the concept of dialogue at its core to establish, what  pupils are being taught? How well are they being taught? and, How is what they are being taught setting them up for the next stage in their education?”

The curriculum rationale and ambition that reveals its intent and how this is consistently implemented in every classroom and in many cross curricular contexts is at the heart of what OFSTED want to focus on as part of assessing ‘the substance of education’. Creating opportunities to deepen the skills of leaders, managers, teachers and support staff in how they use professional dialogue as opposed to simply having conversations will help to create the essential, consistent and seamless curriculum offer that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge, enhances pupils’ skills over time and ensures assessment finds the gaps in understanding and informs future learning.

“The point of observation by inspectors is to see whether the school’s aims and intentions are being translated effectively into practice, ‘does it all come together as it should’.”

If, as Amanda Spielman talks about in her speeches, leaders, managers and teachers are to be an integral part of professional dialogue about the curriculum and how the intent is translated into highly effective delivery that has a demonstrable impact on learning over time; then all staff need to have the right skill set to be an equal participant in that constructive dialogue.  They will need to listen to what is being asked of them, be able to respond with incisive questions that are designed to draw out deeper meaning and have the vocabulary and deep pedagogical and subject expertise that will demonstrate their professional understanding of how the school is successfully delivering powerful learning for all pupils.

Have a look at Learning Cultures’ coaching courses, we have a training opportunity for all staff, for leaders, middle managers, subject specialists, teachers, support staff and SENCOs.

Join us at one of our highly praised curriculum courses, they have been so successful and we continue to update them as more information emerges from DfE and OFSTED.

Subject expertise and subject leadership are pivotal to the proposed changes and we have a new course researched and designed by our expert curriculum team.

Enhancing the Role of the Subject Leader – managing curriculum change that delivers sequential, seamless and deep knowledge and skills

 

Concepts in Curriculum Design – Creating the culture that delivers seamless learning

The architects of positive curriculum design must start with defining the concepts that will build a coherent and deep offer that delivers seamless learning and progression.  This is essential if the curriculum is to deliver the highest quality education for all pupils across the ability spectrum.

OFSTED’s new handbook and associated research reinforce the need for a clear and coherent rationale for curriculum design.  Creating a cohesive, inclusive and rich curriculum offer remains the key challenge for all headteachers and their senior leadership teams across all schools from early years, in primary and secondary schools and in post 16 education.

There are two parts to this and both require a focus on certain clearly defined concepts.  The curriculum intent, ambition and rationale is defined by an overarching set of concepts that include breadth and depth, relevance, continuity, progression and attitudes to learning.  Subject leaders have a pivotal role in ensuring the curriculum is implemented so that what is delivered reflects the vision, the intent and the ambition. The concepts that subject leaders need to focus on in relation to strategic planning for their departments, faculties or teams might include coherence, differentiation, continuity, knowledge, skills and understanding.

There is a third set of concepts that then need consideration as the planned curriculum is delivered to ensure high levels of learning and progression. These are linked to both subject content and to generic learning outcomes that are essential to learning in the classroom, across the curriculum and beyond.  Subject concepts might include, sources, predictions, measurement, beliefs, methods, settlements, environment, to name but a few.  Have a look at a list we have compiled, it is a work in progress. If subject teachers simply focus on the knowledge within their subject and do not see the connections both in relation to skills and generic learning concepts, opportunities for depth and breadth, continuity and coherence may be lost.

The key to leading this process and to orchestrating strategic practices that are consistent across all teams, subject specialisms and cross curricular partnerships is to ensure high levels of collaboration and professional learning conversations that bring together expertise from the senior leadership team, within subject specialisms and across the subject divides.

It is essential to turn the concepts into contexts that create clearly defined and workable solutions that all staff can contribute to achieving.  This will happen if continuing professional development (CPD) is carefully planned and linked to quality curriculum implementation which is seen as the essential and overarching vision.

We have designed our coaching and curriculum training to support schools move seamlessly to a solutions focused strategy, start with our Curriculum Re-defining series,

Build a coaching culture that will support highly effective collaboration for leaders, middle leaders and subject specialists,

Develop the coaching skills and pedagogy that will deliver a cohesive and positive curriculum and ensure teachers can share and cascade their practice widely,

Have a look at other coaching courses, courses linked to teaching and learning and those that support curriculum planning and implementation. Start your journey towards a seamless curriculum with Learning Cultures.

 

 

 

Lead a Coaching School for Curriculum Change- Create quality outcomes that deliver outstanding learning and teaching

Lead a Coaching School – Create the quality outcomes that deliver outstanding learning and teaching

I have used the theme quality as the subject for the latest newsletter from Learning Cultures  ‘How Do We Define Quality in Education – linked to curriculum planning, pedagogical input and learning outcomes?  Quality in this context requires a strategy for ensuring every member of staff across a school, or in fact any organisation, is fully conversant with the part they play in creating outcomes that are positive and deliver results. The current focus on developing a sequenced and well-balanced curriculum needs to be managed using clearly defined quality processes. However, implementing the principles and ensuring consistency across all subjects, year groups, departments and phases or key stages requires a model such as coaching that determines the structures within which quality outcomes are unconsciously achieved.

Creating a coaching culture will provide the dynamic and highly effective strategies required to create a collaborative and sequenced curriculum.  Coaching provides leaders with the skills to empower others to change and grow.  Coaching creates for middle and subject leaders, the ability to motivate others to deliver high quality teaching, differentiated learning and consistent stretch and challenge. Coaching provides the medium by which teachers can share outstanding teaching and learning, reflect on their own ability to inspire their pupils and ensure a deep  knowledge rich curriculum can be the right of all pupils through the development of the skills they need to make sense of their learning.

The emphasis is firmly on the need for greater collaboration and opportunities for professional learning conversations. We need a cohesive narrative that creates the culture where there are clear mechanisms for the sharing of schemes of work, programmes of study, subject content, subject and cross-curricular concepts, assessment outcomes and classroom pedagogy that leads to seamless learning from early years to post 16 and beyond.  The opportunity to build a system that is efficient, informed and well-sequenced will ensure that teachers and their pupils know exactly what has been taught and to what depth, can confidently build the next steps for the learner and build in support or stretch and challenge where it is necessary.

For the school leader coaching is a structure and powerful driver for change or re-definition.  The principles of coaching motivate and engage all staff in the quest for highly effective outcomes and give them the skills to be an important part of planning for the future. We would highly recommend that school leaders and their senior teams learn from our highly respected coaching event ‘Leading a Coaching School – empowering positive change that cascades continuous improvement’. Once you embark upon a coaching journey you rarely turn back.

Have a look at our Coaching in Education section for all our coaching courses.  They have been designed using many years of research and expertise, policies and handbooks may come and go but the principles of coaching continue to create the most powerful leadership strategies that lead to outstanding learning and teaching.

Planning CPD for the curriculum journey

What are the implications for school leaders now that the draft OFSTED handbook to be used from September 2019 has been published?

Creating a strategy for highly effective, cost effective and sustainable CPD is an essential component. All staff must know the part they play in contributing to the vision. They need to assess and refine their current provision and look at ambitious and new content and approaches that will provide profound evidence that what is planned and implemented has breadth and depth and is sequenced so that new knowledge and skills build on what has been taught before and move the learning towards well defined end points.

OFSTED recognise the need for training and development as one of their 25 indicators published as part of their research into the quality of education through curriculum intent, implementation and impact.

Leaders ensure that ongoing professional development/training is available for staff to ensure that curriculum requirements can be met.

We already have a CPD offer that matches what is being asked for here.  The research and suggested indicators for delivering a high-quality seamless curriculum for learning has been a part of our thinking over many years. We don’t have to change very much at all in reaching out to schools we work with across England with an offer that mirrors exactly the CPD that will make a significant difference to how schools manage change in this context.  Build a CPD plan with us. Use coaching to cascade learning, shape content and share ideas.  We help you define a pathway for ensuring professional dialogue delivers a profound high-quality education for all.

Clearly there is need to focus on what is different, what needs to change and how leaders, managers, teaching and support staff will contribute to creating the evidence that the quality of education linked to how the curriculum is planned and delivered creates opportunities for outstanding learning deeper, understanding and progression over time.

Remember, take advantage of our second delegate rate if you book different members of staff onto several of our courses.  We can also deliver all our training as INSET for your school are your partner schools where this applies.