Changing perceptions of learning: Recognising the learner voice

What is learning and how do we change our perceptions when learners are working away from the classroom? 

Remote learning means that learners are in control of their own space and are responsible for how they manage their time in terms of learning.  Focusing on how learners learn in the absence of the teacher and the processes involved is essential if we are going to continue to deliver quality outcomes for all.

A continued emphasis on content is impossible to deliver. The protocols that exist in the classroom do not apply in the same way and if we continue to put the teacher in charge we may well be missing profound opportunities to provide for the learner a new set of skills that will allow them to find their own route to the content and give them a whole suite of essential life skills.

Evidence suggests that taking account of learner voice has a profound impact on motivation, concentration and the desire to succeed. Creating for the learner a sense that they own their learning and can understand how they learn has a significant impact on outcomes. The list below is taken from an article I wrote in 2011 about curriculum decision making and the importance of learner voice and emphasises what the learner says they want:-

  • More emphasis on skills, and on personal and social development
  • More practical work linked to a skill or vocation
  • A more obvious link with the curriculum and real life
  • More connections made across different areas of the curriculum
  • A balance between academic subjects and those that are more creative, practical, or vocational
  • More choice, especially at Key Stage 4
  • A variety of approaches to teaching and learning
  • More emphasis given to how they can progress to achieve the next level
  • More opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning

This wish list still stands today and resonates even more when we look at some of the points that are pertinent to the need to create a blended learning approach.

Let us concentrate on one of the points above and link it to shifting the paradigm from content to experiential and conceptual learning.

‘A more obvious link with the curriculum and real life’

A focus on what learners are experiencing through enforced isolation such as looking at a lack of contact with peers, fear of loss, an imposition on their freedoms, having to be resilient, to reflect on their own ability to learn, enquire and draw conclusions are all a part of wider learning curve.

Applying some of these to concepts that overlay subject specific curriculum content may provide a rich and deep vein for delivering the curriculum and creating breadth and balance that recognises the importance of the learner. Freedom is a concept that learners will understand and can relate to a history topic focusing on slavery, emancipation of women or conscription during war time. Disease is a concept that in science might allow a narrative about previous vaccines for smallpox or polio.  How about baking bread, growing seeds, making models out of waste cartons, all of which allow for conceptual learning linked to specific subjects. I could go on and on with the connections that exist and that relate to the learner’s own experience.

We expand on these essential messages in our ‘In a nutshell’ course, Planning a learning curriculum that will translate between home schooling and the classroom and our live webinar about blended learning Blended Learning – Mixing the virtual with the actual: A pedagogy for the future

Have a look at all of our online CPD and other services by going to our website.

Online courses from Learning Cultures -Virtually speaking with feeling, style and presence

Virtually speaking with feeling, style and presence

Learning how to coach has given every single member of the Learning Cultures’ team the positivity and creativity to find solutions to this unique situation we all find ourselves in.  We can’t, and probably won’t be able to for some time to come, travel and gather in hotels and other venues for training, meetings, or coaching sessions.  So what we have decided to do is to bring our considerable expertise and wealth of highly praised materials and resources to an online platform.

Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is essential to all those in the education profession.  We advocate that the sharing of good and outstanding practice as part of a process of continuous improvement should be an important aspect of school life. Even that most simple and cost-effective way of learning from each other is not happening for many professionals who are now working from home for much of the time. We have six courses available as part of the first of our CPD on-line sequence which include something for leaders and middle managers, for subject leaders and for teachers.

These courses are broken down into five sections and will mirror our approach to in-house and off-site courses.  They have been designed, recorded and produced by an ex Channel 4 film maker and a producer who has a wealth of technical and creative experience designing high profile on-line courses for some of our largest companies. For all of those who have attended our training courses we offer the same wealth of expert content that is built on high profile and current research.

The first six of our courses listed above are delivered by Glynis Frater who is an expert coach with a wealth of experience of training leaders, managers and teachers for over 15 years. These courses have been carefully reviewed and we are so pleased with the extremely positive evaluations we have received.

“Outstanding, so much material that is easy to follow and extremely informative.  There is enough in one course to use for several online opportunities for all our staff.”

Headteacher from a Hospital School in the South West

You will have training courses that you can use to deliver a whole school INSET or for specific teams within your school or college. If you buy one course up to 10 individuals will have log in details so several members of a team can work together to plan how to use the materials, share their learning and use the resources to support their own professional development and provide opportunities for professional dialogue across the whole school, within teams and departments and for individual members of staff.

We have chosen the above six titles as a starting point. There is something for leaders and managers, (Appraisal and Lesson Observation) for subject and team leaders (the role of the subject leader) and something for all teaching staff (Formative Assessment and The Learning Room).  The current price of £695.00 + VAT is discounted by 30% for the duration of this quarantine period.  Book now and ensure that all your staff continue to have the highly professional CPD that they deserve.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Cascading quality in teaching and learning – collaboration that delivers a sequential curriculum

The dawning of this new year and new decade promises a future where change is inevitable.  Although education policy has not been high on the political agenda over the past three years, we can expect new blood will bring new ideas. OFSTED have not been part of the impasse and have, on the contrary, been very proactive in their quest for change in relation to how the National Curriculum is planned, delivered and assessed. Although there are difficulties with time, expertise and the sheer audacity that questions the old accountabilities and measurements of success the approach that OFSTED have taken does focus on teaching and learning as the keys to creating a curriculum that equips pupils with the knowledge and skills for their future. This is unlikely to change, certainly not in the short term.

The current OFSTED handbook is a Pandora’s box where leaders need to be fully aware of the enormity of the changes and the implications for their leadership and management teams and for their teachers and support staff.  The emphasis on a curriculum that delivers sequential learning over time has profound advantages for teachers and their pupils.  The need for much more collaborative and solutions focused planning time, opportunities for reflection and the sharing of resources and good practice are an essential pre-requisite to success. Where these exist all staff feel empowered and motivated to work together towards a clearly defined blue print that delivers high quality outputs and positive impact.

OFSTED talk about a triangulation that incorporate:-

  • a review of the pedagogy that delivers high quality learning driven by a  well-constructed deep and rich curriculum
  • a scrutiny of pupil outcomes from the work they produce as well as their ability to articulate their understanding of how they learn the curriculum and how they make connections across their learning
  • evidence that time is created for professional learning conversations that are the backbone of a highly innovative and pro-active programme of continuing professional development

CPD has to be a prominent driver for all schools. Creating the evidence that there is a consistent whole school, trust or alliance focus on collaboration, high quality delivery and positive and measurable impact are critical. The Learning Cultures’ philosophy is to provide training that can be cascaded widely ensuring it is cost effective and sustainable over time.  Below we have listed some of our curriculum courses. We also specialise in coaching and our suite of coaching courses will create the culture to deliver powerful change. We have experts, we use the most up to date research and we have developed powerful interactive resources that continue to deliver a long time after the training itself is complete.  We also have developed a suite of training that delves into all aspects of curriculum change and the quest for high quality learning.

Curriculum intent, implementation and impact

A focus on formative assessment as an integral part of curriculum planning

Quality assurance – a system for education

Preparing for the ‘deep dive’ into subject specific learning

Transition a vital key to sequential learning

Literacy and numeracy – weaving a tapestry of skills across the curriculum

We can help you to cascade best practice and deliver high quality learning. Don’t waste time and resources on less effective training. Build a CPD strategy that defines high quality through the development of skilful and highly motivated coaches and educators for the 21st century.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leading from the Middle – using coaching to enhance the skills of subject and curriculum managers

Ensure your middle managers are leading their teams with clarity of purpose by developing their ability to coach others. Coaching allows managers to use highly effective professional conversations to ensure that curriculum rationale and ambition is translated into positive pupil outcomes.

Essentially, it is subject and curriculum managers that must communicate the messages established as curriculum intent and inspire their teams to plan and deliver a sequential learning platform of the highest quality. The most successful approach to ensuring this happens is to create a culture of self-reliance, reflection and trust.  Each individual needs to feel empowered to take risks and make relevant and positive changes. They need to have the skills to collaborate within teams and departments as well as across the curriculum, year groups and key stages.

Middle leaders are pivotal. Across the range of subjects and within a broader curriculum remit there needs to be a clearly defined plan of action that covers a wide range of potential change to current practice.  Subject and curriculum design expertise are a pre-requisite of the job role. However, there are a range of other more generic skills that are also vital. Managers need to be able to lead change, inspire innovation, understand how teams are formed for success and ensure that stated goals become positive outcomes.

Leading from the middle is the key to ensuring everyone is on board and knows the part they play in achieving the school vision for continuous improvement. It is the role of the senior leader to define the vision, rationale and ambition for the school. Middle and subject leaders then disseminate to their teams how they can all work together to create well focused strategies for change or review.  Therefore, they must have the right professional development that will enhance their role as effective communicators, powerful influencers and positive motivators.

Developing their coaching skills and implementing a coaching culture is, we know, a sustainable and cost-effective way of ensuring middle leaders develop and cascade a wide range or leadership skills and achieve sustainable change and cohesive teams.  The skills of a coach are those that empower others to find solutions, reflect on their own strengths, focus on the positive and deliver within well-defined frameworks. Our suite of coaching and curriculum courses provide the solution that will deliver cohesion, professional learning conversations and strategies that are time efficient.

For middle and subject leaders, we have two well-researched one- day courses

For leaders who want to use coaching as part of a sustainable and cost effective CPD solution start with,

All teachers and support staff will benefit from learning how to coach,

 

 

How is progress assured as part of a well designed and sequenced curriculum?

How pupils make progress as they travel through the curriculum must be at the heart of curriculum planning.  An essential part of this is to ensure we can accurately assess that progress is being made and that learning is sustained.

It is therefore essential that assessment of learning is a critical part of the substance of the curriculum design.  The introduction of the National Curriculum in 2014 saw the end of a generic system of assessment linked to clearly defined levels. Learning curriculum content and deepening knowledge and understanding is now much more of a focus for defining pupils’ progress whether in the primary or secondary phase.

The emphasis is more on progress linked to the knowledge and skills pupils develop incrementally within subjects and across the curriculum.  There needs to be a cohesive whole school strategy where teachers work together to ensure that the learning is sequential and developmental. Reading is a critical skill, as are all the other literacy skills embodied in the programmes of study across all subjects.  Maths is taught conceptually but mastery will come when pupils can make connections and apply the concepts they learn in Maths in contexts across the curriculum.

The curriculum programmes of study are a blueprint for creating a progression model. What pupils will learn and how they will learn it needs to be clearly defined in order that teachers can assess whether progress has been made. A rich curriculum offer will recognise that subjects are interwoven, that concepts transcend subject learning, that the core and wider skills for learning are an integral part of every subject and pupils need to know where and how to apply them in and across all subjects.

This won’t happen unless time is given to shared planning across year groups, within and across curriculum subjects and at transition points. There needs to be a culture where professional learning conversations articulate the ambition for what pupils will achieve as they journey towards well-defined outcomes and achieve their potential. School leads to a final end point which is life and work but there are steps along the way and assessing learning and progress must define these carefully.

We have an outstanding range of CPD that will support leaders, managers and teachers to be at the forefront of this curriculum evolution.  Our knowledge and expertise are highly praised and we have a wealth of well-researched resources that provide a platform for future learning across the whole school or college.  Below is a flavour of our curriculum offer. Coaching is the best way to build a culture of professional learning, have a look at our Coaching in Education section.

For primary schools

For secondary schools

 

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.