Most teachers probably have little experience of distance teaching. Their role is fundamentally to be there in the classroom to teach, facilitate learning, support and challenge.
While schools are closed how can teachers offer a presence that ensures pupils can continue to have a meaningful and valuable education?
We have been building some of our training courses for educators to be delivered through an on-line platform. This has given us an extraordinary insight into how to create that presence remotely. I want to share some of our learning that you can use to ensure that pupils are inspired to continue to learn and progress.
Here are 10 top tips that have helped us to develop our on-line presence:-
- Create some protocols to share with pupils prior to embarking on any kind of on-line learning strategy
- Check the technical capability of your IT infrastructure and what pupils are using at home. If diagrams, text and pictures are difficult to see it will impact on motivation
- Plan carefully so that there is a sequence to the learning that becomes a clearly defined map or journey for pupils to follow
- Make sure pupils are prepared in the same way you would expect if you were still in the classroom, the right equipment, good posture, comfortable dress and readiness for learning
- Focus on the end points and work backwards to ensure that the learning is sequenced well and be clear what you want pupils to achieve
- Be very clear as the to the learning goals and objectives. Focus on how you can ignite interest by matching your expectations with the pupils’ interests and capabilities
- Define a study plan that outlines what pupils are learning, how long will the session last and how the session builds on prior learning and prepares for next steps in learning
- Use this opportunity to focus more on study skills than on content, such as specifically teaching listening skills, note taking skills; how to use enquiry techniques to support self-study or a focus on reading to learn (comprehension)
- Create opportunities for discovery learning by posing questions to stimulate pupils to find out for themselves
- Find activities that are fun, and learner centred. On-line is their domain trust your pupils to be solutions focused and innovative in how they use their time for learning
Our on-line learning suite of courses for leaders, managers and teachers will be available in April. The first courses are listed below. Email us to register your interest.
We have put together a set of ‘deep dive’ questions for leaders and managers. They are modelled on a wealth of education articles and from some headteachers who are currently drying out after OFSTED’s plunge into their school’s curriculum and how it is constructed and delivered. It is these questions that OFSTED are asking senior, curriculum and subject leaders before they submerge themselves in classroom practice, pedagogy and learning outcomes and then embark on conversations with teachers and pupils.
All staff need to be able to answer with confidence some of these questions. Essentially, their purpose is to ascertain to what extent there is consistent high- quality pedagogy, expert subject knowledge and a profound understanding of learning and how it happens across all subjects and within cross-curricular learning.
Creating this cohesion requires the right management processes to support subject and curriculum teams to have the answers at their fingertips about how they deliver a well-sequenced, conceptual and progressive curriculum. They need to have cohesive curriculum maps will that give all leaders and managers with a curriculum focus a blue print or roadmap to ensure that learning builds over time taking into account prior learning, gaps in learning for some and extending learning for others and assured progression for all.
The emphasis on continuing professional learning and support for all staff across the school is evident in all the examples of questions that we have drawn from. All staff need to know what it means to sequence learning, to develop pupils’ conceptual understanding, to create curriculum maps, assess for progression and assess for deep learning and understanding. We have been an integral part of curriculum development and the CPD that is an essential element of it for over twenty years. There is a logic to what is being asked for here. It is not about the inspectorate it is about your school, your staff and your pupils and ensuring the best outcomes for all. The questions are a good starting point for an immersion into curriculum design, powerful pedagogy and expert teaching and learning. Our training will give you the answers that are still lurking below the surface either forgotten or not yet understood.
For leadership teams
For subject and curriculum leads
For all those who assess learning
Look at our courses on transition from KS1 to KS2 and transition from KS 2 to KS3 and our courses for those involved in embedding literacy and numeracy across the curriculum
Coaching in education is a powerful pedagogy. Creating the right culture for change is far easier to manage where coaching principles are a part of the process. Coaching is solutions focused, builds on what already works well and highlights the positive.
The current imperative to look closely at the curriculum and how it is designed and delivered has many elements that all need expert leadership and careful management. Research from OFSTED is helping to explain some of the drivers for change but does not necessarily provide the answers to how that change might be implemented effectively across all phases, year groups and subjects. Learning how to coach can provide all staff with the skills, self-belief and self-awareness that will help them to have the confidence to innovate and give them the tools and skills to shape a new future together with their teams, their colleagues and their pupils.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”
It is clear from reports and experiences from those who have recently been visited by OFSTED that inspectors are not spending much time interviewing the head or the senior leadership team, they are heading into the classroom, talking to teachers and to pupils, reviewing how the curriculum content is determined, sequenced and assessed and looking closely at the quality of output from pupils. They want to see the expertise of leadership as a part of the learning process and how that leadership translates into a high quality, deep and rich curriculum delivered by highly trained and well-informed practitioners.
Where coaching is the driver for change there are superb opportunities for professional dialogue where individuals can share their planning, look for cross-curricular opportunities and collaborate about pedagogy, progression and learning. Where teachers learn how to coach, they also have a repertoire of skills including deep and rich questioning strategies, influencing techniques and active listening skills that will reap outstanding opportunities for progression and deeper learning in the classroom.
Create a learning culture through coaching and be safe in the knowledge that there is outstanding learning emerging from a deep and rich curriculum and through a shared dialogue and commitment to continuous improvement. We have designed a coaching culture with a series of coaching courses for all staff working in education.
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.
Lead powerful change by creating a team of skilled coaching and curriculum ambassadors or champions using Learning Cultures’ Certification Programme.
The current imperative is to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered to mirror the leadership’s clearly defined rationale and ambition. This needs a clarity of purpose across all subjects, year groups, phases and stages. Developing a coaching culture for your school or college is without doubt the most powerful way to cascade positive and consistent improvements in pedagogy, pupil outcomes and team delivery. Coaches develop a range of skills that motivate others, encourage self-reflection and that focus on the positive. It is through these qualities that coaches can support others to begin to use the professional and motivational dialogue that will create measurable and tangible results for all staff and all pupils.
Sustaining a culture of change through coaching has been the guiding principle that has led us to develop this coaching programme for schools and colleges to use. We will train a group of individuals over an academic year, ideally a group of six or nine, who will have the opportunity to be a part of three training sessions, a series of self-directed twilight sessions and a commitment to undertake 30 hours coaching with colleagues. This will lead to certification endorsed by the Association for Coaching. Those who embark on a coaching journey won’t turn back, coaches inspire ambition, encourage challenge and foster innovation.
Choose the first group of Coaching Ambassadors who want to develop as coaches and begin your journey towards ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all. Have a look at the programme in detail below.
The Certificate in Coaching Competence – A journey in coaching
We have a whole range of other coaching courses providing something for all staff. All our training is designed so that it can be disseminated to others after the event. Training is never a stand-alone experience, where it is shared it has far more impact on the individual, the learner, teams and the whole school.
Current and new curriculum research and expert commentary helps us to shape our thinking and understanding of what makes a high-quality learning experience for all pupils. Myself, Glynis Frater and the curriculum team at Learning Cultures continue to develop highly interactive and superbly challenging courses linked to curriculum theory into practice.
We have incorporated the visual strength that is found in the properties of a triangle as we focus on how best to deepen understanding of how to lead on and manage strategic change in how the curriculum is designed and delivered. There are three distinct themes with which to build a project plan that quality assures how the curriculum intent is translated into positive implementation.
- Ensuring a clarity of purpose for all staff and pupils through the use of highly structured professional learning conversations
- Lesson observation and teacher reflection through a critical focus on pedagogy and the learning that emerges from skilful classroom practice
- Assessing carefully defined pupil outcomes that build on prior learning and allow pupils to deepen their skills and knowledge over time
The new and re-designed curriculum courses we are now offering are designed to incorporate issues and best practice that is emerging from our own work and that of the education specialists we consult. We focus on how those with responsibility for curriculum design and delivery can create a cohesive whole school offer that is consistent, sequenced over time and delivers quality outcomes for all pupils across the ability spectrum.
Our training is the beginning of a journey and with this in mind we ensure that the resources we use are designed to be cascaded to others following on from the training. In this way we know that the CPD from Learning Cultures is both sustainable and cost-effective. We deliver a high quality learning experience for staff who develop the skills to take their learning back to their teams and into the classroom.
It is the coaching element that is an integral part of all our training that makes it so special and successful. One of the sides of the triangle or triad is the imperative to ensure there is a framework for professional dialogue across the school. Creating a coaching culture will ensure this is firmly embedded.
Moving on from re-defining the curriculum offer, we now focus on realising the vision or intent through innovative and highly effective strategic thinking.
Where assessment of learner outcomes is consistent and linked to planning there is profound evidence of a cohesive curriculum strategy.
Develop a coaching culture for the senior leadership team, middle and subject leaders, teaching staff, support staff and pupils and have the evidence that professional conversations and dialogue underpin strategic planning and implementation.
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
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.
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 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.