How to manage a deep dive into curriculum implementation

Dive into a curriculum of discovery and wonder

Take a deep dive into subject specific curriculum implementation

A deep dive into subject specific implementation of a well-crafted curriculum must be part of the role of the senior school or college leader in partnership with subject and curriculum leaders and in collaboration with teachers and support staff.

Senior leaders will not have the relevant knowledge of every subject taught across the school and nor should they.  Instead a senior team must focus on the domain-specific knowledge relevant across all subjects and create for their subject leads and curriculum leads the right conditions to enable strong expertise to translate the aims and content of their specific programme of study into highly relevant and challenging knowledge rich subject content. Time for subject specific and cross-curricular collaboration that leads to a shared understanding of the knowledge, skills and concepts within subjects and across the subject divides will reap richness, breadth and creativity that leads to evidence that the curriculum has substance and the school is delivering high quality education.

Deep dive questions for Senior Leaders

Working together towards a shared goal

The first step in creating a profound understanding that subject and cross-curricular curriculum content is delivered linked to the stated intent is to create a set of deep dive questions that will reassure leaders that middle, phase and subject leaders are consistent in their interpretation of the curriculum intent, their own subject’s specific content, skills needed to access that knowledge and the concepts that knit the curriculum together. These might include,

  • What through the teaching of your subject content inspires pupils to want to learn and find out more?
  • How is learning differentiated to embrace the needs, experiences and aspirations of all pupils?
  • What is the evidence that the planned curriculum builds on prior learning and is sequenced towards clearly defined end points?
  • How are rich texts used to promote a growing confidence and love of reading across all subjects?
  • Where do subject concepts transcend one subject and apply to others?
  • Where are there clearly stated opportunities to develop mathematical fluency where it is essential for the acquisition of knowledge in subjects other than Maths?
  • How can the defined curriculum content create for pupils an opportunity to recognise the generic and thinking skills that will allow them to access knowledge within and across all their learning?

Learning Cultures have two outstanding courses for senior and curriculum leaders

How can subject leaders use deep dive questions to inspire their teams?

Lighting the way through team working and collaboration

The planned curriculum, the intent, must not remain on the shelf, in a folder or in the cloud. It must be the pumping heart of the school’s ambition for all pupils. It must inspire, motivate and excite teachers to deliver high quality pedagogy and create for pupils a sense of wonder and a desire to continue to learn always.

A sample of deep dive questions to ask subject leaders:-

  • How does your planned curriculum build on what has been taught previously and acknowledge pupils’ growing confidence in what they know and seek to find out?
  • How does planned and observed pedagogy promote positive learning behaviours?
  • What are the strengths within the team that will support expert teaching across the subject?
  • What is in place to ensure that all staff have or will receive subject specific relevant CPD?
  • How can the planned curriculum ensure every child whatever their starting point has access to the full curriculum?
  • What is in place that ensures consistency in assessing how well pupils are learning the curriculum and producing high quality work?

This course for subject leaders is invaluable in setting the scene for managing this complex role

A deep dive into cross-curricular collaboration

Cross- curricular illuminates connections

Creating the right conditions that allow pupils to make connections across all their learning, deepen their understanding and retain knowledge requires them see where skills, knowledge and concepts transcend subjects and apply across other parts of the curriculum.

Here are some deep dive questions for senior leaders to share with their subject leaders

  • How do subject leaders work together to create the right conditions for their teams to share their understanding of how pupils learn and how learning is retained over time in the long-term memory?
  • How do teams across the subject divides share their pedagogy and celebrate good classroom practice as part of a CPD strategy?
  • Where is the evidence that subject leaders and teachers know where concepts, skills and knowledge overlap to help their pupils to make connections across all their learning?
  • How are subject leaders and their teams working together to ensure that pupils understand the key concepts that transcend subject learning?
  • How is literacy and especially reading a key part of learning across all subjects?
  • What is the evidence that there is no missed opportunities for pupils to develop their mathematical fluency in subjects other than mathematics?

Build the confidence of curriculum teams

Cohesion requires highly effective and active professional learning communities

Cascade learning through powerful conversations

Searching questions such as the ones above will take time, a collective knowledge and a cohesive understanding of how the curriculum is designed and delivered if there are to be meaningful answers. Where subject leaders and their teams work in isolation, in silos, it is unlikely that many subject leaders and certainly few teachers would be able to answer them with confidence.

Outstanding curriculum planning and delivery is no accident. It is predicated on a culture of distributed leadership where senior, middle and subject leaders work together to build a tapestry of learning within and beyond subjects. There is a focus on professional development through highly interactive professional learning communities that challenge and probe. They exist so participants can learn from each other how pedagogy, knowledge and skills development are intrinsic in the development of a sequential, broad and balanced curriculum.

We have a complete range of coaching courses for all staff in a school or college, have a look at our Coaching in Education section on our website.

Creating a deep dive culture

Team working and collaboration inspires deep learning

Building a consensus on what is taught, how it is taught, and how learning is assessed to ascertain how well learning is assimilated requires all those with a pupil facing role to share their own practice and learn from others. This can only happen if there is a well-defined strategy that creates the right culture of collaboration and opportunities for professional learning conversations to take place. There must be a curriculum of CPD for curriculum leaders, teachers and their support teams. Time is essential but even when time is set aside much more is needed in terms of strategic commitment, including the following essential ingredients:-

  • Introduce or continue with professional learning communities that focus on powerful strategies for delivering curriculum breadth and balance, progression and deep learning
  • Introduce coaching and in particular some of the techniques related to instructional coaching that will help to guide and support all staff
  • Reflect on the purpose of lesson observation to ensure that it is an integral part of CPD where opportunities for feedback and a sharing of good and improving practice are the focus
  • Ensure that all subject leaders and their teams are clear as to how their planning and delivery reflect the aims that are fundamental to their specific National Curriculum programme of study
  • Subject meetings focus on learning and the evidence that all teachers are building on prior learning, sequencing the learning and deepening understanding over time
  • Assessment of learning is formative with regular opportunities for teachers to work together to moderate pupils’ work and share how they feedback to pupils
  • There are staged opportunities prior to a new academic year and throughout the year for cross-curricular CPD sessions where teachers can share their pedagogy, define concepts that transcend individual subject curriculum and focus on generic learning and thinking skills

Leading a coaching culture in a school or college is profound and achieves the results that other processes rarely do. We have the expertise and resources to build dynamic strategies that will lead to positive impact for pupils and staff. Have a look at some of the services we offer for leaders.



Continuing Professional Development in Education – Creating a sustainable strategy for curriculum and pedagogy

Growing your own Unique Continuing Professional Development Strategy

Continuing Professional Development in Education

Here at Learning Cultures we are noticing a significant difference in how schools and colleges are thinking about Continuing Professional Development (CPD) for the coming academic year and beyond.

We have always known that the pivotal role in a school or college is that of the middle and the subject leader. They are essential in how they work with the senior leadership team to interpret and translate the curriculum intent. It is their role to communicate the school or college vision into a carefully crafted strategy for successful delivery of a rich and deep curriculum that is taught by outstanding practitioners and leads to measurable and tangible impact for all.

Creating a sustainable strategy for curriculum and pedagogy

CPD for the journey towards excellence and improvement

Senior leaders in schools and colleges are looking to their middle leadership teams to create the road map for learning that will deliver powerful curriculum outcomes and high-quality pedagogy that is sustainable and cost effective.

The events that have disrupted part of two academic years have given all those who play a part in educating our next generation with pause for thought. It is essential that we do not dwell on the past but look to the future to develop highly innovative strategies that will foster confidence, deepen learning and build the right pedagogy to ensure learners can fill gaps where they exist and use their experiences from their time learning from home. Have a look at our 15 top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from
home schools to the classroom.

The Role of the Middle and Subject Leader is Pivotal

OFSTED’s research into curriculum design makes it very clear that the way forward is to build teams that can work together in order to plan for curriculum coherence. The only way to do this is to create a culture where senior, subject and middle leaders work together to plan the curriculum. Senior

Middle and subject leaders need to weave a coherent strategy to create a tapestry of learning

leaders must make sure that those they have appointed to manage the process have the knowledge, skills and resilience to work with their teams to ensure that the curriculum intent can be translated into meaningful outcomes for all learners.

Leaders in schools that prioritise the curriculum make it their business to ensure that the planned curriculum is implemented successfully across a wide range of subjects so that curriculum quality is high. By doing this, they ensure curriculum coherence………..

OFSTED January 2019 phased research into curriculum design

Building this coherence requires definitive structures that will lead to a consistent strategy that will work across all subjects and to embrace cross-curricular conceptual themes. Those involved need to have the skills to empower, to influence and to manage change.

Continuing professional development for curriculum coherence

There is profound evidence that we as a nation are not particularly good at articulating the nuances that create a curriculum that delivers sequential learning, builds on prior learning and is carefully planned towards clearly defined end points that lead to positive and measurable impact.

Working together through the development of professional learning communities

The Learning Cultures’ curriculum team have the expertise, the outstanding course materials and a wealth of research to support schools and colleges to ensure that their teams have the skills they need to implement a relevant and rich curriculum. Here are three examples of how we have developed bespoke programmes for individual organisations who want to strengthen their middle leadership teams to support senior leadership and build outstanding teachers and support staff.

An Academy in Nottingham focusing on continuing professional development

1) An academy in Nottingham asked us to develop a coaching programme for all the staff in the school. They already have a team of coaches and to save on the cost of the day four of the coaches joined the trainer for a separate online training session to develop their skills in facilitating two of the three groups we were planning to work with. We then worked with the CPD lead to plan a day where all the staff were together for the first session to focus on goal setting linked to the school vision and intent. We then worked in three groups, teachers, Teaching Assistants and support staff and SLT/HODs. We focused on the different roles and how each can play their part in ensuring the school is delivering what it says it wants to achieve. This was an outstanding day; we feel that all the staff are now very clear as to their way forward.

A new school in Manchester using 360 degree reviews and coaching

Professional conversations that challenge all staff to achieve beyond their potential

2) A brand new school in Manchester who will this year have its first full cohort of learners is working with us to develop a coaching model over two years. In the first year we are conducting 360 degree reviews with senior and middle leaders and then embarking on an opportunity to coach individual managers and leaders to support them in determining their goals for ensuring there is a collective goal for achieving excellence across the whole school. Following this initial phase, we plan to train the same team in how to use coaching to work closely with their teams to make sure that everyone in the school has the same vision and the skills and resources to deliver it.

360 degree review process. Creating a culture of excellence and improvement

A grammar school in London using blended learning strategies

3) The third example does show the flexibility that we have been able to build into our courses as we have all learnt the power, efficacy and cost effectiveness of online training and communication. This grammar school in London is embarking on six twilight sessions, three online and three face to face to introduce a coaching model for their senior and middle leaders. several other members of the senior and middle teams are attending some of our other coaching training to complement the group training. The aim is to develop the coaching skills of the teams to create a culture where professional learning communities can build a consensus on curriculum cohesion, the delivery of outstanding pedagogy and opportunities to evaluate learning and achievement over time.

The future of professional development has to be collaboration, learning through coaching and sharing and cascading good and outstanding practice. The genie is out of the bottle and won’t go back in. Translating intent into implementation is an essential part of creating an outstanding platform for learning. Intent is not a wish list it is a blue-print for excellence. Coaching is without a doubt the way forward in the pursuance of change and challenge and successful outcomes for all.

Instructional Coaching in Schools – building professional learning communities

Instructional Coaching
Professional conversations to build positive futures

Instructional Coaching in Schools – building professional learning communities

The term instructional coaching puts a new emphasis on the value of coaching as a vital component of CPD in schools. With the introduction of the Early Career Framework and huge spotlight on the role of the subject expert in the delivery of a substantive and high quality curriculum focused professional learning is essential.

Sharing the load through positive conversations

Equally the many issues that remain unresolved for pastoral leaders and their teams require a focused approach to team-working and collaboration that will support learners who have struggled with events of the past few months.

Instructional coaching requires the coach to understand the principles of a specific subject area, conceptual learning, pedagogy or leadership. In order to transform practice, the coach must have the expertise in the arena for which he or she is supporting another.  Coaching creates a powerful narrative that is non-judgemental, motivational and inspiring. It is therefore a highly effective approach that can transform practice and build confident professionals. Instructional coaching is, essentially, more structured, more directed in terms of what the process sets out to achieve. It does however, still use the principles of coaching that remain the same and necessarily so to ensure successful outcomes that can be sustained.

The principles of coaching and instructional coaching

Finding solutions through deep and rich questioning
  • There is an imperative for all those involved in the process to establish SMARTE goals that form the basis of their coaching journey
  • Goals are set within the context of improving learning for pupils, developing staff expertise and working in harmony towards a clearly defined whole organisation vision or mission
  • The coaching process is collaborative, those who are coached set their own agenda where the coach is supportive non-directive and respectful
  • Those who are coached have a responsibility to focus on their learning journey and continuously reflect on their progress towards their clearly stated goals
  • The instructional coach has the skills to empower change, build confidence and guide their coachee to identify the specific learning needs that will support their development
  • There is no judgement or advice given so that coaches are accepted as giving support but not evaluating performance.

Instructional coaching and the Early Career Framework

Instructional coaching to create inspirational pedagogy

The Early Career Framework now statutory in all schools in England sets out a series of clearly defined indicators of the aspects of teaching that early career teachers should know and what they should learn how to do over the two years now set aside for the process.

Where ECT mentors learn how to use instructional coaching principles as part of their repertoire there is a profound opportunity for the new teacher and their mentor to engage in deep professional dialogue that will create structure and opportunities for learning, progression and reflection. The new teacher works with their mentor using carefully crafted principles that lead to a continuous process of learning, self-evaluation and growing expertise.

Creating the stairway towards excellence and improvement

The ECF provides a basis for the coach and the coachee to work together to define a set of incremental steps linked to the ECT’s own goals. The process is manageable and gives the participants opportunities to work within carefully structured evidence-based indicators, reflect on progress, understand where further support is needed and share good practice outcomes.

Subject expertise and specialism in developing high quality curriculum outcomes

A high quality education is predicated on the richness of its curriculum content. Subject experts must work collaboratively with others within their subject and across subject disciplines to ensure breadth and balance and a process of sequential learning that leads to the acquisition of deep and profound knowledge over time.

Curriculum cohesion starts with coaching

As with the Early Career Framework there is an opportunity to use instructional coaching to create the cohesion leaders with responsibility for curriculum and teaching and learning need. In order to collaborate there should be carefully structured professional learning communities that begin to define the process that will lead to high impact change and challenge. Where coaching is integral to this process transformational change happens. If subject leaders and their teams collaborate to define their strategies for implementation of a deep and rich curriculum the combined effort leads to evidence that there is a synergy that weaves subject specific learning, conceptual learning and skills competence.

Instructional Coaching for Well-being and learning

This new academic year will inevitably bring its challenges for both new and experienced teachers and certainly for those with responsibility for the pastoral care and well-being of pupils. Once again, deciding to use a coaching approach will provide pastoral leaders and their teams with the skills to foster self-esteem, share successes and create opportunities for pupils, their peers and their teachers to reflect on the positives and find ways to fill gaps in learning that strengthen the belief that the future will ensure successful outcomes for all.

best sandcastles in Britain
Building successful structures for positive learning

Instructional coaching techniques build structure that allows the coach to look closely at the needs of individuals and develop coaching strategies that support an incremental and step by step approach towards self-belief. Conventional coaching does require the coach to leave the person being coached to find their own solution with little guidance except through the skill of deep and rich questioning. Instructional coaching requires a collaboration between the coach and the person they coach. The coachee knows what they want to achieve and understands the research that underpins the theory behind their aspiration.  The role of the coach is to support their coachee to articulate the philosophy and work out a set of actions that will lead to success and to measurable impact.

Instructional coaching is about partnership working. Where two individuals work together towards a common goal transformational change can happen. The teacher or employee knows what they want to achieve and understands how their goal is underpinned by a proven philosophy or sound research. The coach knows how to make it work through their own research and deep experience in the classroom or elsewhere. The coach does not impose their beliefs or knowledge onto their coachee but carefully creates the culture where he or she makes the right choices in how to improve practice, change approaches or try something new.

Book one of our coaching courses and start your journey towards excellence and achievement for all.



Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion

Coaching is the perfect balance for successful learning

Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion

How do we create cohesion across the curriculum and build a way forward where schools re-focus in order to create successful futures? At the end of this tumultuous year and a half children have had to learn in different ways, teachers have developed innovative ways to ensure pupils thrive and a new academic year is hopefully a fresh start for all. Successful futures requires specialised and high quality CPD that involves all staff and pupils in a journey towards excellence and improvement. Find out about Learning Cultures’ powerful coaching courses and programmes.

Creating curriculum cohesion

It is essential that subject and middle leaders understand their role in delivering the overarching curriculum intent. There has always been an imperative to have well-defined structures in place that allow those with a middle leadership role to work together with their teams, with wider cross-curricular teams and with those with senior leadership responsibility to define the curriculum content and how it will be delivered. Their role is pivotal to the successful implementation of the whole school vision and the curriculum intent within it.

However, this year is different. Each individual pupil and each individual teacher has their own experiences to draw on, their own successes to remember and their own undoubted frustrations to work through. It has been a learning curve, where technology has played a larger part in our lives than we could ever have imagined.

Weaving a tapestry of knowledge and skills

Autonomy in how pedagogy was planned, how curriculum content was delivered and how learners were assessed was an essential part of the whole school experience during recent school closures.

The genie is out of the bottle. Resuming a regime that is top down or focuses on performance management and imposed lesson observations will be hard to manage. There is a real imperative to give teachers the space to work together with their colleagues to interpret the vision and intent and create a rich tapestry of curriculum content, pedagogy and assessment that delivers high quality outcomes for all learners.

Learning as a continuum – building on the positive

Catch up is not the answer in itself. There must be a focus on deepening understanding, engaging with subject and cross-curricular themes and building depth and breadth in pedagogy and learning. This will undoubtedly help learners to capture lost learning as part of an ongoing strategy designed by teachers and delivered by teachers who have built strong communities of practice.  The best way to achieve this is to ensure there are opportunities to engage in professional learning conversations that define and share best practice in how learners access learning that is retained, expressed and reflected on.

Coaching as the catalyst for change

Curriculum Collaboration and Cohesion

Coaching is all about finding solutions, never turning a crisis into a drama and celebrating the positive. There are many reasons why developing a coaching culture at this time will be a catalyst for sustainable change. Coaching relies on creating the  opportunities for professional learning conversations discussed in the last paragraph and that move individuals to think differently about their practice. Coaching is all about positive feedback; coaching is also about creating the right culture where individuals are trusted to take risks, coaching provides the vehicle for individuals to find their own solutions and to know that making a mistake is seen as a route to deeper learning and should not be dwelt on.

Coaching has a positive impact on motivation, for all staff and for pupils as it is non-judgemental, is never prescriptive and allows each individual leader, manager and teacher to grow professionally and personally in a way that impacts on whole school improvement and that is difficult to achieve otherwise.

Planning a Coaching Culture

Creating a cohesive curriculum – emerging from the past

Here at Learning Cultures we know the value of coaching as a catalyst for positive change. We have a team of experts that can lead coaching CPD for leaders, managers, curriculum and subject specialists, teachers and support staff. We understand the pastoral process and have some highly innovative tools for ensuring coaching is part of ensuring the well-being of all staff and pupils and creates harmony that leads to an environment where poor behaviour is rare and understood.

Coaching and the Pastoral Role in a School or College Setting – coaching builds confidence, fosters well-being and improves behaviour

We have a range of diverse solutions that will support schools and colleges across the spectrum of learning institutions and we know from many of our success stories that we make a huge difference to the life chances of pupils and to the career chances of all staff in education. We also understand the value of ensuring the curriculum is seen as the fulcrum for delivering a high quality education for all.

Below are more of the courses we offer. We can also deliver any of these as INSET, training sessions or twilights in school for groups of the whole cohorts of staff.

Curriculum cohesion is about pulling the strands together

Moving towards a cohesive curriculum

Without a clear plan for how to ensure curriculum cohesion is an essential element of the strategic future for any school there will be scant evidence that senior leaders and their teams are fully aware of how well the curriculum is being implemented linked to how successful learning was over the past eighteen months. Coaching conversations create a uniform voice that can answer the deep dive questions about their own and their teams contribution to individual, group and whole school success.

Start or resume your coaching journey here by talking to one of our experts about our highly successful coaching strategies. Contact us here


Instructional Coaching CPD and the Early Career Framework

Creating continuity in pedagogy and learning

The Early Career Framework

The Early Career Framework (ECF) provides an exceptional opportunity to review your strategy for CPD for those who will mentor Early Career Teachers (ECT). This two-year programme outlines the essential elements that those new to the profession need to have competence in and further develop in order to grow and deepen their skills towards becoming and remaining outstanding professionals.

Realising potential and emerging as true professionals

The ECF is designed to complement the Teachers’ Standards and is clearly set out in eight sections. These are:

  • Setting high expectations and communicating a belief in the academic potential of all pupils
  • Knowing how pupils learn through a focus on working memory, building on prior knowledge and knowing how to ensure learners retain what they are learning
  • Demonstrate good subject and curriculum knowledge
  • Plan and teach well-structured lessons
  • Adapt teaching methodologies to a deep understanding different pupils’ needs
  • Make accurate and productive use of assessment
  • Manage behaviour effectively
  • Fulfil wider professional responsibilities

Meeting the standards is necessary to become a fully qualified teacher. The role of the mentor or coach in creating the opportunities for ECTs to grow in their role, feel confident to take risks and find solutions when things go wrong is essential. Their role is equally important in helping their mentees to develop a profound understanding of what constitutes high quality pedagogy and deep learning. All of this does not happen by accident.

The Role of the ECT Mentor

The role of the ECT mentor is a critical one and requires that they have the expertise and knowledge in order that they can support and guide their mentees towards excellence and improvement. The task is quite daunting, the standards exacting and the challenge complex. A new academic year following the tumultuous previous 18 months will not make things any easier. Mentors need structured CPD and ongoing opportunities for professional conversations with their peers and other professionals to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge and competence to develop others.

Feedforward through inspirational coaching conversations

Their role is pivotal and complements other CPD activity for the more experienced teacher. The need for the development of professional learning communities that embrace ECT mentors and all other pupil facing leaders and managers who have a responsibility for CPD is essential if the celebration of good and outstanding practice is shared widely providing for the ECT mentor a rich vein of outstanding pedagogy and deep learning across the whole school or college.

An online webinar – Coaching the Early Career Teacher – Going beyond mentoring to foster outstanding pedagogy

Instructional Coaching CPD for ECT Mentors

Building a culture of excellence

There needs to be a highly structured framework within which the ECT mentor can build positive relationships with their mentees. They need a range of skills that will allow them to motivate and inspire, create learning opportunities and foster reflection in order that new teachers have the confidence to be creative, innovative and dynamic in their interactions with pupils.

Instructional coaching can be a highly effective way to build that framework from deeply rooted and very strong foundations that will lead to highly influential and positive change. This strategy is not just a tool for those who are new to teaching but it is a very good place to start. We know here at Learning Cultures that coaching is infectious, fosters positive change and leads to deeper learning, much improved pedagogy and as a consequence much more engaged learners who do not have the inclination for anything but a desire to learn.

An online webinar – Coaching the Early Career Teacher – Going beyond mentoring to foster outstanding pedagogy

What are the key principles of Instructional Coaching?

Coaching towards deep reflection and incremental steps that lead to learning
  • Instructional coaching is designed to move teachers and schools from professional development to professional learning
  • Structured as an interconnected combination of process, pedagogy, practice and content that together support continuous professional learning
  • Designed to meet the individual needs of teachers and to reflect their ‘voice’ through one-to-one and small-group support received from the mentor or coach
  • Born out of a culture of trust and respect that is non-judgemental allowing the mentee to find their own solutions
  • Based on quality standards linked to what is deemed high quality educational outcomes from a range of perspectives
  • Based on evidence-based good and best practice across the school in both curricular and cross-curricular contexts

Online webinar – An Introduction to Coaching for Educators – Learning the First Principles of Coaching

The Future of Professional Development and CPD

Our expert coaching team at Learning Cultures have successfully embedded coaching across many organisations within the education sector. They know the benefits of instructional coaching and how it is a powerful strategy for supporting the development of new and recently qualified teachers as well as being a model for continuing professional development for all staff including leaders, managers, more experienced teachers, Teaching Assistants and support staff.

Cascading outstanding learning through coaching

For many leaders in education the last year has been a time of great change where many teachers have had to work in isolation using technology and ploughing their own furrow of learning experiences for their pupils. The genie is out of the bottle in terms of how they have had to work autonomously and reflect themselves on the quality of their teaching.  This leads to an inevitable need to look at the future of performance management and changing the emphasis to a much greater focus on professional development. We know this is the right way forward and coaching, maybe particularly instructional coaching is the framework that will deliver highly effective change and challenge. Have a look at our CPD offer here.



What is the Substance of Education?

Shining a light on the substance of education through the lens of its component parts

What is the Substance of Education?

Substance conjures up something of a high quality, solid and tangible, strong and dependable. The substance of education, according to a recent speech by Amanda Spielman of OFSTED is essentially the curriculum and how well it is designed and delivered to ensure that all learners can achieve their full potential.

Amanda Spielman in her speech last week at the Festival of Education reinforced her much longer speech in 2017 at the same event by using the phrase ‘substance of education’. She says,

“ should be about broadening minds, enriching communities and advancing civilisation; about leaving the world a better place than we found it”.

She continues to be very clear that the curriculum is the key and creates the substance of education that ensures deep and rich opportunities to create a good education for all in orderly classrooms; developing wider interests through sports, music and other curricular activities; building friendships and delivering good pastoral care. She also acknowledged that a good school contributes much to the well-being of children but she says very clearly that well-being is not an activity, it is an outcome.

“It is so important that schools do what they do best and don’t get knocked off course by the pressure for them to solve every social ill.”

Substance in relation to curriculum design and delivery is, therefore, more than the sum of its parts. The planned curriculum must clearly show how subject knowledge is taught, define the skills learners need to access that knowledge and demonstrate how that learning is retained in the long-term memory over time.  She, like me has no truck with the phrase ‘catching up’. Good teaching and opportunities to enrich the fabric of education will make sure pupils will recover.

What is the evidence that the curriculum has substance?

Systems Redesign
When everyone is working together the structure is strong and stable

Delivering high quality outcomes for all learners within any setting or cohort is at the heart of the Education Inspection Framework (EIF) in England and defines the substance of education. The design of the curriculum must, therefore, embrace a number of key essentials:-

  • A deep understanding of how knowledge is sequenced within the National Curriculum from early years to the end of key stage 3 and beyond
  • Clarity as to how learners build on their prior knowledge and understanding
  • Opportunities for learners to make connections across all their learning so that they can make sense of the world they live in
  • An identification of the skills learners develop as they progress through the curriculum and assessment of how well they can apply skills in different contexts
  • A focus on ensuring that assessment is seen as a key component of the planned and delivered curriculum
  • A tacit awareness of how learning is taking place through the skilful use of a range of pedagogies, learner outcomes and learner voice

Join us at one of our highly acclaimed webinars that dive deeply into what we mean by the substance of education.

How Can Coaching be the Answer to those Deep Dive Questions?

Create depth and clarity for the deep dive questioning

The most important element of the substance of education is the essential need to make sure that all staff across the whole school, from the smallest primary school to a large academy or secondary school know the part they play in delivering the planned curriculum. The more staff work together to plan and build the curriculum offer so that it flows, deepens knowledge and ensures learners progress towards those carefully crafted end points the more likely that offer will have depth and breadth and demonstrate cohesion and a shared vision.

The only way to achieve this is through coaching and the creation of Professional Learning Communities (PLCs)  where coaching conversations are an opportunity to build a culture of trust, the sharing and cascading of good practice, a consistent approach to achieving the stated curriculum intent and having at their fingertips a profound understanding of how the curriculum is having an impact on learning, progression and achievement for all.

Coaching is the most profound way to sustain a culture of excellence and improvement where coaching conversations help individuals to clarify their goals, reflect on their successes and what is working well and understand the barriers that need to be overcome. The curriculum is fluid. In order to create a consistent, whole school dialogue where everyone is on message can only be achieved using a framework for change and we know here at Learning Cultures that the best way is through coaching. We have coaching courses for everyone with a pupil facing role. Start now and know the answers to those deep dive questions.

What are the Next Steps to Ensuring Successful Curriculum Impact?

Planning next steps leads you closer to your goal

There is a lot to think about at the moment in relation to planning how to recover from an unimaginable turn of events that has rocked the world. Dwelling on what has gone before will not help and will certainly prolong the misery. Better to look to the future and make very clear strategies that will deliver seamless and sequential learning and create evidence of impact where all learners achieve and exceed their potential.

Creating innovative futures that will help learners to find ways to capture the learning they have missed in ways that are exciting and inspiring is a far better way to plan the next steps in curriculum design and delivery. Amanda Spielman says,

“….for most children, most catching up will happen in their usual classroom with their usual teachers.”

“The magic of teaching  – imparting knowledge, developing skills and building confidence – will mostly happen where it always happened. We should not let the pressure to fill learning gaps bend what schools and colleges do out of shape.”

“Broadening minds, enriching communities and advancing civilisation is still exactly what’s needed from our schools.”

Creating a culture that leads to the above will happen with powerful and challenging CPD delivered using a coaching approach that will lead to sustainable, highly innovative and collaborative ways that breathe life into the substance of education or a deep and rich curriculum offer, whichever phrases you prefer.


CPD for a Deep Dive into High Quality Education

CPD for a Deep Dive into High Quality Education Outcomes for all


Have a look at Glynis’s White Paper that focuses on the absolute imperative to focus on a suite of deep dive strategies that will deliver high quality educational outcomes for all.

INSET  – Cost effective and sustainable whole organisation solutions

All our training courses are designed to provide a wealth of materials, resources and activities that challenge all staff to manage change, focus on excellence and know the part they play in achieving the school or college vision. Our training is built from a deep understanding of the education sector and we draw on both national and international research.

CPD for a deep dive into leadership in education

Effective leadership in education leads to outstanding results. Build your strategy with our expert team of school and college principals, highly trained and successful coaches and curriculum experts. Develop or deepen your coaching skills so that you can empower others to achieve and excel. Create a culture where every member of staff works in synergy to deliver outstanding learning for all.

CPD and a deep dive into our coaching and curriculum training courses

Choose from online training, face to face training in hotels and other venues or ready to use off – the – shelf packages that give you all the materials, videos and resources for a deep dive into CPD at a time to suit your CPD timetable. Discover how uplifting it is to use coaching skills to inspire others to innovate, share ideas and build highly effective professional learning communities.

Why choose CPD that builds a coaching culture

The imperative is to build positive futures that will ensure that all learners can learn from the past and take the skills they have learnt over the past year and a half to enhance their approach to the next steps in their education. Using coaching as the catalyst ensures that all staff and pupils focus on their successes and not their failures. Coaching is all about empowerment, creating the right conditions where change is seen as a way forward and not an imposition.

Learning how to coach gives leaders the opportunity to allow others to find their own solutions, take risks with their own learning and development and innovate where they know they are trusted and respected. Learning about listening gives teachers and their line leads the power to facilitate a learning environment. Coaching gives leaders, managers and teachers the skills to question so that individuals are challenged to find their own solutions and feel confident that they have the skills and the strengths to make a difference.

Coaching is the solution to building a high quality education where consistent good and outstanding practice leads to excellence and improvement across the whole organisation.

Building Tomorrow’s Classrooms Today

How do you measure high quality curriculum outcomes?

High Quality Curriculum Outcomes

High quality curriculum outcomes require a collaboration of expertise from across all subject areas. OFSTED are continuing to use their three Is Intent, Implementation and Impact as they evaluate the introduction of their Education Inspection Framework (2019) and plan how they will inspect the quality of education from September 2021 onwards.

OFSTED will maintain their focus on their ‘deep dive’ strategy that involves ensuring they embrace the whole school or college in the process. They are looking for consistency, that all staff across the organisation understand the rationale behind curriculum choices and know the part they play in delivering high quality outcomes that are ambitious and create parity for all.

Senior leadership are instrumental in making sure that there is a symbiosis between what is intended and what is delivered. It is the senior leadership team that must create the means by which subject leadership and expertise, the weaving of skills and knowledge and the sharing of excellence in pedagogy and practice build a vision for excellence and continuous improvement.  If you are a senior leader join us for one or both of the courses below:

Who should be involved in measuring high quality curriculum outcomes?

Teams are the building blocks to creating high quality curriculum outcomes

High quality curriculum outcomes can only be achieved if there is a powerful whole school or college synthesis where everyone involved in achieving the vision for continuous improvement knows the part they play. Translating curriculum intent into meaningful and cohesive implementation requires the skilful empowerment of teams who have the expertise, knowledge and resources to deliver a high-quality education for all learners whatever their starting point.

A ‘deep dive’ into how well this is achieved is best undertaken as part of an ongoing focus on how well curriculum intent is translated into subject specific and cross curricular delivery managed by expert subject leaders. There must be clear evidence that pupils are building on prior learning, that the learning is planned towards a series of clearly defined end points and is sequenced so that progression is assured. All of this needs to also have a very structured and consistent assessment strategy that is planned as an integral part of how the curriculum will be taught and what teachers are looking for in terms of success criteria and learner outcomes. Outstanding CPD will provide the solutions, have a look at these two highly praised Learning Cultures courses below.

How do you create a balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy?

High quality curriculum outcomes are achieved through the delivery of outstanding pedagogy that is a balance between innovation and a deep understanding of the teaching strategies and classroom practices that give all learners a clear pathway to success. All those with a learner facing role need to work together to share good practice and learn from each other in deciding on how the curriculum should be taught.

High quality curriculum outcomes rely on outstanding pedagogy and deep learning

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 is an essential element in creating the clarity, collaboration and cohesion necessary for success.

OFSTED’s research published in the summer of 2019 reinforced the need for a collective approach to curriculum delivery and the assessment of quality. They focus on a triangulation of best practice that includes,

Our course: Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning provides all those with a pupil facing role with the opportunity to learn how coaching creates a culture where the sharing and cascading of good practice is essential CPD. The course dives deeply into the elements of outstanding pedagogy that lead to high quality curriculum outcomes.

Also, have a look at out two short nutshell courses, off the shelf ready to use packages that provide answers and some resources to use with your teams.

Assessment an integral part of planning for high quality curriculum outcomes

Assessment is an integral part of creating high quality curriculum outcomes

How the learning is assessed must be woven into the curriculum planassessment 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

Shaping the dynamics of high quality curriculum outcomes

Quality Assurance is an essential process in business and has a powerful role to play in education.  Creating a quality assurance system is the blueprint for developing a supportive team culture where individuals work together to achieve consistent and positive outcomes for all.  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.  Where schools and colleges build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it highlights the strengths within the organisation, informs the need for change and provides the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

CPD the most important ingredient in ensuring high quality curriculum outcomes

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 to creating high quality curriculum outcomes.  We are a coaching organisation with exceptional knowledge of curriculum, pedagogy, leadership and strategy. Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

Learning Cultures for CPD that builds high quality curriculum outcomes

We are continuing to deliver our coaching certification programme. Have a look at our superb range of off the shelf ready to use packages all designed to provide a whole days INSET, twilights or other training sessions. For a shorter CPD opportunities we also have a suite of nutshell courses which provide bitesize CPD.

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.


How do you quality assure the curriculum?

How do you quality assure the curriculum?

OFSTED: inspecting the quality of education in 2021

How do you quality assure the curriculum in a school or college? Quality is defined by how well learners have deepened their understanding, are building on prior learning and have the skills to access increasingly complex informaton and who therefore are able to retain knowledge and use skills with increasing competence.

How do we capture quality in education?Quality remains high on the agenda as revisions to the OFSTED handbook (April 2021) are published.

“High quality education is built around the connectedness of curriculum, teaching, assessment and standards within the ‘quality of education’ judgement.” OFSTED EIF).”

The inspection methodology for the ‘Quality of Education’ judgement is therefore structured to ensure that inspectors are able to gather evidence of how a school’s activities to deliver a high-quality education for its pupils connect and work together to achieve the highest possible standards. The message remains the same, data as the principle means of accountability is not enough. Measuring quality must look at the excellence of teaching, the depth and breadth of curriculum, the ability of pupils to know how their learning intertwines and connects as well as a focus on the work that pupils produce.

Excellence in senior and subject leadership is pivotal the quest for high-quality education

Responsibility for ownership of the curriculum should be given to all leaders; strategic responsibility to senior leaders and ownership of innovative implementation to subject leaders. The role of both the senior and subject leader in developing systems for highly effective quality assurance remain an essential ingredient that will produce the evidence that the curriculum is delivering excellence in learning and teaching.

Putting quality pieces together for excellence in learning

In primary schools the foundation subjects must continue to have a high degree of prominence. Subjects should be taught by experts, learning should be sequenced and knowledge and skills carefully built over time. In secondary schools key stage 3 must be seen as a time where pupils build on learning from their primary school and develop the skills and knowledge that will prepare them for future learning and deeper thinking.

Building on the experiences of the last year needs to be carefully woven into the shaping of new pedagogies so that all learners feel empowered to build and make significant progress towards successful futures. We cannot capture lost learning but with high quality systems redesign that encompass the positives from the past and embrace change enthusiastically we will make a difference.

Quality Assuring the Curriculum through the Interconnection of Evidence

Interconnecting for quality and excellence

Curriculum implementation requires a balance between the systems that exist to ensure seamless learning where there is a focus on ensuring high quality pedagogy and evidence of how the work produced and the atmosphere and management of the classroom ensure deep engagement for all pupils. There are four distinct components that will help in the pursuit of ensuring there is consistency and a shared belief in the pursuit of continuous improvement that delivers a high-quality education, these are:-

  • the curriculum and how it is planned and implemented
  • high quality pedagogy
  • the depth and breadth of pupils’ work
  • how well pupils are engaged with their learning

Managing Quality Assurance in the School System

Quality Assurance is a potent phrase, well used in business and industry. In order to make the most of what is a powerful tool for successful whole school decision making and planning the processes need to be translated into a school or education context.

The pursuit of excellence across the curriculum and beyond

Reliance on external forces such as OFSTED are not enough. Quality Assurance principles are built on all encompassing factors that embrace all staff, pupils and other stakeholders in designing systems that lead to focused collaboration, the pursuit of excellence and opportunities for all those involved to own their part in creating evidence that they are having an impact on the life chances of every pupil at whatever stage in their education.

The Seven Principles that Underpin Highly Successful Quality Assurance in the School System

Here at Learning Cultures we have focused on seven principles that underpin highly successful quality assurance that are tried and tested in all sorts of organisations and should be an integral part of a Quality Assurance process in schools and colleges. These are:-

  • A clearly defined policy for quality assurance as part of the structure of strategic management
  • A mechanism for defining and communicating the vision for the organisation including how the curriculum intent is integral to the vision and ambition for the organisation
  • Following the steps that lead to high quality futures

    Processes for the design and approval of the curriculum in terms of content, sequencing over time and intended learning outcomes

  • Clearly defined standards for classroom pedagogy, behaviour and the management of and assessment of learning
  • The management of information and data to ensure that analysis and use of data informs progress, intervention and challenge
  • A strategy for assessing staff development needs linked to achieving the school vision and the needs of individuals and teams within the organisation
  • A mechanism for sharing success within and outside the organisation

Quality assurance is all about effective communication.

Quality assurance is about high-quality assessment of a series of well-designed indicators that give all those involved with a framework that they can use to identify their potential, build on their strengths and focus on change and how to manage new innovation successfully.  Professional dialogue, collaborative team-working and a shared commitment to organisational excellence will deliver sustainable educational outcomes and the related data to be proud of.

Learning from the past, positive futures through quality systems

As we move out of an unprecedented period of uncertainty, a loss of cohesion,  team collaboration and direct contact with colleagues and pupils we need to strengthen our commitment to a shared future. Quality assurance as a deliberate strategy that will support strategic change and recovery creates a highly effective framework that once embraced will undoubtedly lead to data that reflects a high level of leadership skill and harmony across the whole organisation.

CPD that delivers Outstanding Quality Assurance

Learning Cultures have worked closely with leading quality assurance experts to bring you our highly acclaimed course that will provide a framework for all those who will be accountable for the quality of education, have a look below:-

Quality Assurance Strategies for Outstanding Curriculum Implementation and Impact

Have a look at other associated Learning Cultures’ Curriculum training. Assessment is a key element in having the evidence of high quality pedagogy and learning. Have a look at out two asynchronous training packages that you can buy off the shelf, Formative Assessment in the primary school, Formative Assessment in the secondary phase. Have a look at our course that focuses on seamless transition from KS1 to 2, find out how to make sure key stage 3 creates worthwhile opportunities for deep learning.  We can support you on your primary curriculum journey and your secondary curriculum journey and we can support subject specialists to re-define their approach to curriculum planning.

Mind the Gap – Step up not catch up

Step up not catch up

Step up not catch up has to be the mantra for the future. ‘Catch up’ sounds simple until you unpick the complex layers of learning that are the essential life blood of educating a child. What are schools and other education settings catching up on? Some pupils have continued to learn, some have developed profound and useful life skills as part of organising their own learning and some undoubtedly will have missed the point, lost sight of the facts or misunderstood the task.

Now is the time to throw away the paradigm of constant ‘catch up’ for those who are left behind. It is, as ever, those who are disadvantaged, have less parental or other support and who generally believe themselves to be failures that will be highlighted as those that need to ‘catch up’.

A solutions focused way forward

Instead of ‘catch up’ I would like to offer a solutions focused way forward. There is funding, there is a summer ahead of us and there are opportunities to take a strategic leap into thinking differently about next steps in learning. We cannot look backwards and capture what is lost. We can, however, use the next few months to focus on learning, the how of learning and not the what of learning and create a readiness for learning that we can build on for years to come. If we tediously try to shoehorn in the so-called lost knowledge we are very likely to lose the already disillusioned and deflate those who have succeeded during the last year. It is not their fault. ‘Catch up’ sounds like we are punishing the learner and their teachers.

Instead, let us have a think about some of the obvious issues we have time now to rethink so that we create a future that is most definitely better than before.  Below are a few of the glaring areas that have needed mending for a long time. How about a fresh look at new approaches and a bit of strategic thinking?

A fresh look at new approaches and a bit of strategic thinking

  1. Transition from primary to secondary school – there is a well-researched average dip in attainment of up to 40% from the end of year 6 to the end of year 7. There isn’t much data yet about the consequences for ‘lost learning’ over the past year but I doubt it will be any higher than this. Turning that dip into an upwards curve is an essential element of our highly rated course ‘Crossing the Transition Bridge’ – Seamless learning from primary to secondary school’. We have gathered some great ideas and powerful solutions. A less dramatic but still worrying dip occurs between key stage 1 and 2, we have the answers here too, Creating a transition strategy that builds a continuum of learning from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 and beyond
  2. Creating a tapestry curriculum – where pupils can make connections across their learning they remember, deepen their understanding and begin to develop higher order thinking skills. Learners need to see the explicit connection between the skills they are learning in English and Maths and how they are applied in every facet of the curriculum and beyond. Have a look at our two courses that create for those with responsibility for embedding these skills with a wealth of innovative and well-researched strategies that work. Enhancing the Role of the Literacy Coordinator – planning a strategy to ensure literacy is woven through the curriculum and Enhancing the Role of the Numeracy Coordinator – looking at where Maths is integral to learning across the curriculum
  3. Metacognition is about learning how to learn and how to think deeply about learning. Where these skills are added to the tapestry a picture emerges that the learner can understand and the learning is strengthened. This requires planning and the opportunities for professional conversations about learning in subject specific contexts and in cross curricular forums. We have just redesigned our two outstanding curriculum courses, Curriculum Futures for the Primary School- Defining the vision and delivering impact and Curriculum Futures for the Secondary School- Defining the vision and delivering impact they both provide outstanding resources, activities and presentations all built on our commitment to research led CPD.
  4. Formative assessment as an essential pedagogy for learning – There is such an imperative to ensure that all teachers have the skills to challenge positively, feedback constructively and allow the learner to understand what he or she can do to make progress, deepen their understanding and learn more. There may be gaps to fill or extra work to do to raise morale or concentrate on relearning some skills; where the teacher or teaching assistant can encourage, promote self-esteem and ignite a passion those gaps will soon become strengths. Spending time now ensuring all staff have the questioning, influencing and listening skills to empower learning and foster progression will reap huge rewards. We have superb off the shelf asynchronous training opportunities for schools to use with their staff. The future is formative and not summative, certainly for now, Formative Assessment – Creating the pedagogy of challenge, progression and deeper learning in the primary school and Formative Assessment – Creating the pedagogy of challenge, progression and deeper learning in the secondary school
  5.  Creating professional learning communities to share, collaborate and innovate – The expertise in a school is amazing but how often do we have the time or the structure to share that professionalism and knowledge more widely? Planning a strategy that ensures positive futures for every learner, every leader, every teacher and every school is essential. We know at Learning Cultures that the most successful way forward is to create a coaching culture that promotes high quality learning conversations and creates opportunities for the sharing and cascading of best practice, learner successes and teacher innovation. Where professional conversations lead the way, change happens. Start your coaching journey with the professionals at Learning Cultures.