Coaching has a profound impact on whole school improvement, teacher motivation and the cascading of learning and achievement. We want to share with all our customers and those yet to start on this marvellous journey some of the success stories from schools in the UK and internationally. We are going to write a weekly journal of what works well. We will also include links to resources and research papers we have used. This can also be a place to look for any policy changes or OFSTED messages that we may have seen before you do.
At the end of week two of the new school year we have lots to report. Here are just a few of our many successes so far.
We have been to Hayes in Middlesex working with a large secondary school supporting the Head of CPD to introduce coaching to the whole staff. This is the start of a coaching journey using some of the content of our Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning training course. Putting coaching into the school has been planned for 18 months and is now ready to take flight across the whole school.
This week a group of senior leaders from across a MAT in Hampshire came together for our Leading a Coaching School training course. It was exciting and hugely positive. Each school is now sending two or three staff to a Developing the Skills of a Coaching Ambassador training course that we are running especially for this group. We will then work closely with the CEO, the SLTs and the coaching ambassadors from across the Trust to embed a coaching culture to support CPD and excellence and improvement across all the schools in the MAT.
A primary school in the North West is looking to introduce Lesson Study into their school and wanted to combine a training experience that focused on how coaching can support this innovative approach to lesson observation. The opportunity for the senior leadership team to work together and really focus on their own skills and strengths and how as a collective force they could empower their teams to work together to share their practice and reflect on their own positive skills was so inspiring. We are going to follow their journey through the whole of this year.
On 11th September we ran our first Aspiring to Leadership event. We worked with primary school deputy and assistant heads, who were particularly keen to develop coaching as a leadership style for one to one conversations and for observation. Delegates loved the range of practical resources to use in their schools. They were also excited by the opportunity to explore and practice a range of coaching tools and techniques to support the development of a coaching culture with their teams. Paired coaching planning of next steps provided them with practical actions to implement over the next weeks and months.
We also ran a bespoke training of our Developing the Skills of a Coaching Ambassador course for staff in two linked primary schools in Cardiff. It was much enjoyed by the delegates. They found the introduction of new coaching techniques they had not tried before very useful and felt that their understanding of coaching had greater depth as a result of the days activities and discussions.
‘The session was flexible and answered many questions that we had. It made it personal to our schools requirements and how to move us forward.’
We are looking forward to working with them in the future to help review progress and to support further staff training.
An excellent start with so much more to talk about so watch this space or be a part of our next diary entry. OFSTED have published their School Inspection Update with a special edition of main messages for inspectors. We will read it and send out a list of the main points very soon.
Character Education is the subject of one of the reports to come out of the DfE this summer. It is a review of some research into Character Education in Schools. The research poses several questions linked to provision, the role of schools in teaching character, the approaches schools use and the challenges schools face.
Rising Stars provide a very good overview of the findings of the report in their document, DFE Publishes Character Education Report.
Is it necessary to have a separate curriculum pathway called Character Education?
What is education if it is not a part of shaping the individual to be honest, have integrity and a respect for others? All learning should stimulate curiosity and allow for problem solving that creates resilient and motivated learners. There are so many opportunities within the curriculum for learners to debate, focus on moral dilemma, learn self-respect and deepen their sense of fairness in order that they can contribute to society.
Subject specific learning is stuffed full of opportunities for pupils to develop their individual and unique characters. English Literature or History allows us to analyse different characters and their influence on people, time and place. Maths and Science give us an awesome look at how the world is shaped and the part we can play in enjoying it, inventing it or using it. Design, art music or drama provide us with a wealth of opportunities for creativity, expression and individuality. PE and sport develop the bodies and minds of learners and teach them how to win and lose, how to embrace competitiveness and how to be a team player. Both the primary and secondary curriculum have the breadth and depth to encompass character education.
Most of the curriculum is currently taught in chunks, where the learning is not an interwoven tapestry that develops the whole person. There are so many opportunities for pupils to develop a whole range of skills that will ensure they become independent and resilient, open to ideas and full of the possibilities that learning can bring. School, especially upper primary and secondary stages often provides pupils with the facts and information they need to pass tests and examinations. There is no other stage in their lives where they will learn in such small bite size segments that appear to be unconnected.
We don’t need an addition to the curriculum; we need to look at how we can shape the curriculum so that it builds character that will last a lifetime.
The business of a school is learning. If we put learning at the heart of every goal we set and through professional coaching conversations we focus on how our pupils learn, how we learn and how our colleagues learn we will build a culture that celebrates what works well, identify what needs to change and be able to reflect on the impact our teaching has on how well pupils deepen their knowledge and progress.
Identifying the pedagogies that we use in the classroom is important. The craft of teaching is a gift. However, if we don’t look carefully to how successfully it links to learning we cannot expect to find ways to continually improve.
Ponder on these questions
- How does your teaching link with what learners are interested in?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to learn concepts that will support them to deepen their knowledge?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to make connections with what they have learnt elsewhere?
- How does your teaching promote the use of higher level thinking skills that deepens their learning?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to share their ideas and work well in groups?
- How meaningful is what you are teaching to your learners’ own experiences and existing knowledge?
- How can you be sure that your teaching is building on prior learning?
- How do you create opportunities for pupils to talk about their learning and be able to say how they are learning as well as what they are learning?
- How do you make sure that pupils understand what is said to them and comprehend what they read?
Make sure that with every plan and every decision made, whatever it is about, there is a link to learning. There is some serious research that suggests it makes an outstanding difference!
SATs are over, yippee! Judging by the many twitter posts, schools across the country are celebrating with outdoor activities, parties and cup-cakes. We want to celebrate as well. With this in mind we have two fabulous summer training events that are designed to support well-being. They provide powerful opportunities for creative learning.
Fairytwists is all about immersive story-telling and provides the teacher with six short stories that actively promote resilience, challenge stereotypes and celebrate diversity. Find out more.
Grow Learning Through Gardening is a practical look at using horticulture as part of delivering the National Curriculum. Working with plants and flower is known to help with stress and gives anyone who is involved a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction. Colour, shape, touch and scent give depth to understanding. There are many ways to find imaginative ways to bring alive the subject matter of much of the national curriculum using gardening as a theme. Find out more
The other course that is capturing primary teachers imagination is our Mastery and Deeper Learning across the Primary Curriculum. Embedding literacy and numeracy skills as an integral part of all learning will help pupils to make connections and put concept into context without too much prompting. This approach creates the unconsciously competent learner which is exactly what they need to be to pass their SATs. Find out more
Make sure lesson observation plays a key role in your CPD strategy.
Lesson observation is an important part of quality assurance in schools. Observing lessons provides line managers with a good understanding of how their teams are performing and is a benchmark for assessing teaching and learning across the school. The lesson is often observed by one person and the feedback is between the teacher and the observer. There is little opportunity for the sharing and cascading of good or outstanding practice and limited scope for teachers who need support when their lesson is deemed unsatisfactory.
There is another way. A school has a wealth of good and outstanding practice happening every day, very few lessons are observed and those that are seen are rarely shared. Imagine a lesson observation process where the teacher chooses when to be observed and who they would like to observe; not to judge and grade but to share their practice, their approaches to pedagogy and generally to reflect together on their understanding of learning that leads to high levels of progression.
The opportunities to use lesson observation as an integral part of your CPD strategy involves everyone. It is cost effective because it is happening in school by practitioners for practitioners. We have two highly influential and innovative training courses to help you ensure that outstanding teaching and learning is not your best kept secret.
The Art of Lesson Observation – is for line managers and senior leaders who have a responsibility for observation of their teams. Read more about the content of the day by clicking here.
Lesson Study – Enhancing learning through professional collaboration and enquiry is for teachers to work together to observe their own teaching practice. Read more about the content of the day by clicking here.
The Westminster Forum hosted an event last week to focus on Next steps for reforming primary education: effective teaching practices, assessment and accountability. One of the most interesting aspects of the morning was the opportunity to hear Dame Reena Keeble who was commissioned by the Teaching Schools Council to lead on an investigation into what constitutes effective primary teaching practice. Read more