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. 



Curriculum Futures – Building a learning culture for now and for tomorrow

There is an imperative to make sure every learner who returns to school or college this week knows that they bring with them a whole host of positives from their experience of home schooling, a loss of freedoms and lost opportunities to be a part of their community and the wider world.  No one can capture lost learning or bring back missed experience, so the best way forward is to celebrate what has been learnt and give huge credit for all our pupils’ resilience, stoicism and optimism.

Everyone from the learner to the teacher, to the leader and to the parent can reflect on what has gone before and be duly proud that we are turning a corner but also that learning has taken place. Our pupils have managed their own space, their own time, learnt how to use new technology, listen more attentively and be less dependant on the teacher. Have a look at our ‘Top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from home schooling to the classroom’, collected together from several influential pieces of research.  Evidence is powerful that learning will continue and where there is catching up to do the essential ingredients are fostering self-esteem and self-belief.

Learning Cultures weaves a coaching philosophy into the design of all our training courses and programmes. One of the most important messages to instil in any individual who wants to be a part of building a coaching strategy is to always look for the positive, never dwell on the past and believe sincerely that there is no such thing as failure just time to learn and grow every day. If this is your starting point you will see a way forward that will be inspirational and create for all those who are part of school life a belief that the rest of this academic year and the next is an opportunity to innovate and be creative in how to build on prior achievement and develop expert learners whatever their starting point.

Our team have revelled in the opportunity to learn new skills. Our live webinars have proved to be overwhelmingly popular and the feedback has been outstanding.  It is a new medium for CPD and we are unlikely to see it disappear from our training repertoire. We have also created a suite of asynchronous courses that allow schools and colleges to use the five sections in each course either to conduct their own INSET or to deliver training over several sessions. They are flexible and have an unprecedented amount of materials, presentations and resources that can be used again and again. We have also created a suite of shorter ‘In a Nutshell’ courses for individuals and teams to use when they are looking for bite-size CPD opportunities.

We have hosted online whole organisation INSET and have designed bespoke courses for leaders, managers, teams and others within a school or college.  The future is most definitely blended, it is doubtful we will return to the expensive and time consuming off-site courses that involve travel, cover and sometimes an overnight stay for all our CPD needs. There is potential for a lot more learning and a lot more interaction with an online platform that still delivers high quality training and deeply pertinent messages for the new world we have watched emerge over the past year or so.

We have created a wealth of relevant and interactive training titles, here are a few that are a must go to as we emerge from a year like no other. Here at Learning Cultures, we are delighted to share our expertise, deep research and innovation to bring answers to your questions and solutions to your problems. For CPD there is no better start, here are a few of the titles we think will be essential over the next few weeks.

There is loads more. Have a look at our website and start your journey towards a positive future.

The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – creating a culture where lesson observation is a collaborative part of continual professional learning

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In this news post I want to focus on the outstanding opportunities that exist in ensuring lesson observation is a key part of professional learning and development for all those with a pupil facing role. Where individuals see lesson observation as an important part of their own professional development it is transformational. The key however is to make it a two-way process. It should not be an imposition where senior and middle leaders decide who should be observed and when.

Our course “The Art of Positive Lesson Observation – creating a culture where lesson observation is a collaborative part of continuing professional learning” focuses on how using coaching techniques can have a significant impact on how the observer feeds back to the observed and those being observed accept and use the feedback as part of their own learning and continued development as a good or outstanding teacher.

Where lesson observation is a part of performance management it becomes an imposition and is often an unwelcome intrusion into the teacher’s classroom. Where a coaching culture emerges, the teacher is an integral part of the observation process, welcomes the opportunity to reflect and can accept the positive and constructive feedback that is shared.

The best way forward is to make it explicit that lesson observation is part of professional learning for all those concerned. Every member of the teaching staff needs to be involved, all should have the opportunity to observe others and engage in professional learning conversations about the quality of the lesson, what worked well and what the teacher might do differently next time.

To create a less judgemental approach to lesson observation it is important that all teaching staff understand and can talk about the teaching strategies that underpins their classroom practice. In this course we give the participants an opportunity to explore pedagogy and what constitutes independent, active and participative learning that ensures all learners are fully involved in their learning. Giving teachers an opportunity to talk about teaching and learning as part of lesson observation gives them the opportunity to celebrate what they do well, share what achieves impact and take away the ideas and best practice from other practitioners.

There is an imperative to give teachers and their line managers an opportunity to share their experiences of the past few months. Observing lessons has taken place but in very different ways. Now is the time as we welcome learners back to the classroom to use CPD time to consider new ways that might emerge where teachers develop different and more blended learning strategies. Creating a coaching culture where teachers can experiment, take risks and build a repertoire of new pedagogies will enrich the learning for both the teacher and their pupils.

The message we are conveying as part of this training course is that there should be a high degree of trust between the observed and the observer. In a coaching culture the observer is not there to judge but to feedback in a positive way that creates for the teacher an opportunity to learn and grow in their role.

The course provides those who take part with opportunities throughout to practice coaching skills and deepen their understanding of how to feedback positively to encourage reflection and foster a motivation to want to make changes and to learn.

Where coaching is an integral part of the process of observing learning there is a willingness for individuals to share, grow and innovate.  Where coaching is embedded as part of the feedback process the school or college culture changes and everyone is a part of the desire for continuous improvement and the quest for high quality learning for all.

This course The Art of Lesson Observation”   is one of our asynchronous Moodle packages that those with responsibility for lesson observation, professional development and performance management can use to suit their CPD timetable or planning time. It is divided into five sections that are designed to cover a full INSET day. They can be broken down and delivered over time and revisited as often as is needed. The whole course sits on a Moodle platform where all the resources are easily accessed. There is even a multiple-choice quiz, bibliography and extra resources at the end of each section.  It also comes in a box with a memory stick that houses all the resources, sets of cards, a user manual and because we can’t offer you lunch, a box of chocolates. We can also run this course for leaders and managers from an organisation either remotely or face to face when allowed.

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Re-thinking Appraisal – creating the right culture for continuing professional development to flourish

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This newsletter profiles our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations  It looks at the process of appraisal and the undoubted advantages of using coaching as a means of ensuring the vision, the school improvement plan and the road map that defines the way forward from here can be all be realised.

We must not forget the implications for staff development as well as for pupils’ progress and achievement as the academic year rolls on and we begin to look to future plans for learning and development. We are certainly aware here at Learning Cultures that training and CPD has not been high on the agenda for school leaders and line managers during the last year, which is understandable in the circumstances.

There will be an imperative to include continuing professional development for all staff in any strategic planning that takes place over the coming months. There is much talk about what learners have lost but this can be just as telling for those who teach, manage learning or design the curriculum. In all of the professions CPD is a vital component of maintaining standards and high-quality outcomes and education is no exception.

Achieving carefully crafted goals and objectives may not have been possible for all those at the frontline of trying to educate and keep a school safe and running smoothly. Therefore, appraisals may need careful thought as we move towards the new academic year and begin to look at the whole school or college vision and organisation, team and individual improvement plans.

We have a coaching solution to the need to rethink appraisal. We can support all those who need to reflect on how future plans will redress the impact of the last year and refocus how an appraisal process will help to reset the compass in order to steer learning towards positive futures.

The answer is to make sure that all staff are involved in the process and all have a say as to their own goals and aspirations for the future.  It is essential that leaders in education encourage their staff to reflect on what they have learnt over the past year. It has been tough and for many exhausting and overwhelming, but we have all had to adapt and change our ways of working and we have all gained new skills in the process.

Going backwards is unlikely to be the way forward. We cannot capture what has been lost but we can build self-esteem and celebrate the achievements bound up in survival, change and positive action that has been taken to minimise disruption that has been the default for many. This is where coaching comes in.  Making sure line managers create the right culture that ensures appraisals are a two – way process with the individuals they manage is essential. This must acknowledge the individual’s strengths and skills and give them the opportunity to share their own solutions to achieving positive outcomes and measurable impact for all learners and all staff.

Coaching is about setting goals and focusing on how these can be achieved smartly. Creating an appraisal process that focuses on accountability for each individual to be responsible for achieving what they say they want to achieve is far more motivating than when goals and objectives are imposed by others. Each individual needs to know the part he or she plays in achieving the school or college vision. Their focus is then on what positive actions can be taken to achieve success, measure impact and focus on priorities for change and improvement.

Our training course Re-thinking Appraisal and Performance Management- Creating a coaching culture that leads to influential change through positive learning conversations will give those with responsibility for managing appraisal with a wealth of materials, resources and activities to re-think the process. We also contain within the course the opportunity for those attending to learn some coaching skills that will help them to support their teams to define their goals and objectives, know and articulate their strengths and learning agenda, conduct appraisal interviews and create opportunities for ongoing professional learning conversations to take place during the interval between formal appraisals.

This course is an asynchronous package that those with responsibility for planning and conducting appraisal can use to suit their CPD timetable or planning time. It is divided into five sections that are designed to cover a full INSET day. They can be broken down and delivered over time and revisited as often as is needed. The whole course sits on a Moodle platform where all the resources are easily accessed. There is even a multiple choice quiz, bibliography and extra resources at the end of each section.  It also comes in a box with a memory stick that houses all the resources, sets of cards, a user manual and because we can’t offer you lunch, a box of chocolates. We can also run this course for leaders and managers from an organisation either remotely or face to face when allowed.

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Coaching: the key to outstanding teaching and learning

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In this newspost I want to explore coaching as a powerful pedagogy. Where teachers learn to coach, they quickly see the parallels with the strategies they use to deliver exceptional teaching and learning. We have a highly regarded course for all teachers it is called ‘Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning’.

Picture walking into a classroom where all the pupils are engaged, focused and absorbed in what they are doing. The teacher is there to facilitate the learning, not necessarily simply to deliver the content. There is a buzz of learning and a confidence for all that taking a risk or making a mistake is absolutely fine as long as it leads to some kind of deeper understanding. The teacher’s role is to encourage, challenge and foster a love of learning that will remain forever.

The teacher uses the classroom to foster independent learning, group interaction and the blending of skills and knowledge. He or she creates opportunities for learners to make sense of their growing understanding and what they need to do next to progress.  There is a trust that is implicit in the relationship between the teacher and his or her class. The quality of learning is dependent on that teacher’s inspiration and expertise and the learner has the confidence to use the resources, rise to the challenges of the tasks being presented and is motivated towards achieving above and beyond their potential.

Where teachers develop a range of coaching skills and learn how to use them as part of their teaching repertoire, they are more adept at creating a classroom culture that puts the onus on learning rather than teaching and creates for the pupils a tacit understanding that they are responsible for their own learning and are accountable for what they achieve.

The skills teachers will develop as part of learning how to coach are the ability to use deep and rich questioning to put the onus on the learner to find their own solutions, be ready to take risks with their learning and accept challenge as part of their experience in the classroom.  The second skill is learning how to become an active listener. Listening raises awareness of what others think. It allows the listener to build a picture of how much a learner understands, their attitudes to learning and the barriers that might hinder learning.

It is also important that teachers have the opportunity to reflect on their pedagogy and how the way they teach impacts on learning, enjoyment, progression and achievement. Here at Learning Cultures for this course we have created a set of pedagogy cards that give teachers an opportunity to talk about their teaching approaches and what works well for them. We ask them to share their best practice examples and we encourage those who are listening to use the incisive questioning techniques they have been learning about to find out more, to challenge perceptions and to define how the approach leads to learning.

We also challenge teachers to focus on their strengths, how can they articulate what they are good at and how they influence others to achieve their full potential.  There is often a reluctance for us all to talk about ourselves and certainly to say what we are doing well. To be a good coach it is essential to know yourself, how you influence others and what it is about you that others will trust with their dreams and aspirations. We use this as a powerful opportunity to focus on how to plan a learning agenda linked to strengths and gaps in skills and knowledge that will help all to move towards an ideal professional future.

The essential final element in learning how to coach is to have the opportunity to practice coaching with others over time. This is profoundly linked to having very clearly defined goals for how this future will be achieved. Articulating one’s goal and then determining the road map for how it will be achieved is a crucial first step.  It is also important to recognise what currently works well but also to know the barriers that might impede success.

Where individuals can set out their own goals and how they will achieve them and then share this with others there are opportunities for coaching conversations to take place that have a twofold impact. Firstly, the goal setter consolidates their understanding of what they want to achieve and secondly, the listener is able to practice their questioning, influencing and listening skills.

Coaching and teaching have a synergy that cannot be easily ignored by anyone who has spent time learning how to coach.  We will all need new approaches and positive answers to welcome back learners who have been away from school. Coaching provides so many answers to ensuring both teachers and pupils have the confidence, self-esteem and self-belief to move forward from here and continue to make exceptional progress. Follow the link to the course discussed below.

Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning

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Leading from the Middle: Influence change, build outstanding teams and foster innovation

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This post focuses on our course Coaching for Middle Leaders. It is the fourth in the Learning Cultures series looking at how developing a coaching culture will provide the framework, the skills and the strategy to plan how to move forward to ensure continued high quality outcomes for all staff and learners.

Here, we look specifically at the role of the middle leader and how coaching will enhance their ability to enable their teams to deliver the plan for consolidation, change and improvement.

Leading from the Middle is a powerful coaching course for those with the pivotal role of middle leader. They work closely with the Headteacher or Principal and other senior leaders to interpret and contribute to the vision for continuous improvement and ensure curriculum cohesion and impact.

They lead their teams and translate the plans for success into workable goals and objectives that are realistic, measurable and achievable. The middle leader has to empower others to deliver specific quality outcomes to ensure there is a visible impact on learning and achievement.

All of this has to be managed within workable time-frames that fit into the academic year and that’s in a normal year. The middle leader now has an even more pivotal role. They must look forward to plan how to build on what has been learnt. They must reflect on how to recover lost learning for both teachers and their pupils. They will also have the responsibility for creating positive futures linked to self – esteem, motivation and confidence.

This course examines the role of coaching in middle leadership and how through the development of a range of coaching skills middle leaders can foster highly visible professional learning communities that will model best practice, empower others to explore and innovate, foster a culture of trust and inspire new ideas in pedagogy and learning.

We look at the skills of listening, influencing and the powerful use of questioning. We focus on the difference between mentoring and coaching and how to use both effectively. We ask middle leaders to look within themselves to define their own strengths and gaps in learning and how they can foster a culture where their teams work together to cohesively deliver high quality outcomes that make a difference.

We then focus on how developing and using these skills creates a culture where teams are more cohesive, they feel enabled and motivated to find their own solutions and are inspired to be a part of a collective vision that delivers outstanding learning, excellence in teaching and a commitment to consistent high quality outcomes.

Coaching is the most powerful way to manage change where all teams, curriculum, teaching and learning, subject, pastoral, support and administration are all a part of the collective vision that will help the organisation, school, college, academy or university to find the positive and build on successes rather than dwelling on lost learning. Positivity breeds self-esteem, is motivational and is the only way to plan for the next steps in minimising the impact of what has gone before.

This course is part of our suite of coaching courses. It will give middle leaders a wealth of materials and resources to use with their teams. It is the starting point for middle leaders to learn a range of coaching techniques and it gives all those who attend with the framework for taking coaching forward as part of the vision for a successful future.

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Why Coaching is your Absolute Strategy for an Outstanding Future

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Creating a coaching culture is probably the most important strategic decision a school or college leadership team can take.  Coaching strengthens the potential of the organisation to have the evidence that the quality of education remains good or outstanding and all staff have the skills and potential to make a difference. Below are some of the reasons why Glynis at Learning Cultures advocates coaching so strongly especially now. Then find out what you can do to implement a strategy where coaching is at the heart of your pursuit for ensuring continued excellence in learning.

The need to create a framework for how leaders can set a new course towards a smooth return to normality in education should now be high on the strategic agenda. There is an imperative to build on the learning from the past year, manage how to fill the gaps in learning and create opportunities for everyone, leader, manager, teacher, learner and support staff to feel motivated and ready for the challenges ahead.

The first imperative in creating a coaching culture is a commitment from the Principal or Headteacher and their senior teams to learn how coaching skills empower, influence and inspire others to be the masters of their own change agenda and to know the part they play in achieving the school or college vision. The return to school for all does require a collective will to ensure learners and staff can rise to the challenges, reflect on the skills and learning that have been achieved over the past few months and find innovative ways to make sure lost learning is captured in a different way.

Messages can be lost in translation especially when they are given out as instructions. Making the decision to create opportunities for professional learning communities to come into being provides a solution. Where the vision is a shared communication and is the subject of deep learning conversations that involve every team member in the decision-making process the messages are strengthened and have a resonance that fosters the will to succeed, raises morale and builds a desire for positive change to take place.

Those leading from the middle are pivotal. They must have bold enabling skills that will help to interpret the priorities for continuous improvement and create the right culture so that teachers, the pastoral team and the support teams set their own SMART goals and objectives linked to the role they play. Where coaching exists in a school or college as the catalyst for change the smooth transition to normality will be a much easier journey because all staff are working together, share their strengths and positive gains and build a collective belief in their ability to be a part of a new learning culture.

Self and peer reflection are known to have an impact on school improvement. Encouraging a coaching culture to emerge allows this to happen and will be a powerful driver for success for so many who have had to work in isolation with little peer or colleague contact allowed for so long.

Learning Cultures are a leading provider of coaching training for the education profession. We have developed a suite of highly acclaimed coaching training programmes for all those who work in education. We have a training experience for senior leaders that helps them to develop their own coaching skills and focuses on how to set out the steps that will lead to a coaching culture for everyone.

Training for middle leaders builds their coaching skills so that they are able to influence change, manage teams and create a culture of collaboration, cohesion and reflection.  Coaching can also support the process of positive and effective lesson observation that leads to a commitment to share, change or improve. Coaching can ensure a more collaborative approach to appraisal where feedback is a two-way process that leads to profound change.

Where teachers develop a range of coaching skills, they are learning how to create an environment where learners are self-directed, collaborative, independent in their approach and become creative thinkers. Teachers are using coaching as a pedagogy and that has a profound impact on learning. Coaching also provides opportunities for teachers to share their practice, celebrate their successes and work with their peers so that they build on their repertoire of teaching strategies.  Coaching can also work for teaching assistants and support staff where positive coaching conversations can have an impact on the shared commitment for the teacher and teaching assistant and where support staff work directly with the learner.

Coaching has a massive part to play in the pastoral process, impacting on behaviour, well-being, challenge and attitudes to learning.

So, putting all this together provides the ingredients for a coaching culture to emerge.  Building a CPD strategy around coaching creates a sustainable and cost-effective answer to how to ensure a successful future. Anything else is piecemeal, lacks cohesion and is difficult to measure in terms of impact. Now is the time to make the decision to use coaching as your absolute strategy for an outstanding future for all staff and all learners. Learning Cultures have all you need and more.

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Quality Assurance: an education perspective

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Quality Assurance: an education perspective

There has never been a more important time to focus on the overused and misunderstood word ‘quality’, especially when it is coupled with the word assurance. Quality Assurance means achieving what you set out to achieve, where the outcomes are those that meet the needs of all stakeholders and where mishaps or failures along the way are not dwelt upon and have been carefully analysed and refocused so that they become successes. Quality assurance is different from quality control and it is this difference that needs to be clearly defined in education.  Let me give you an example,

In Britain in the 1970s we had a car industry

We tended to wait until the end of the production line to check whether the car met the standards required. If something was wrong, it was difficult to see where the mistake had been made and the system of remote supervisors who were not involved in the car making process didn’t help. This was quality control. At the same time in Japan, they were adopting a system called ‘Kaizan’, a system of quality assurance. Team leaders and their teams had a responsibility for checking each part as it was added along the production line, their involvement was recorded. This meant that at the end of the line if there was a problem it could be traced back to where the part was added. This meant that everyone had a responsibility for the quality of the final product.

Something similar can be applied to schools and colleges

if we rely too heavily on summative data at the end of key stage 1,2 and 4 and 5. The principles of a Kaizan or traceability system that underpin this concept in business can be applied to the building of a collaborative and positive school or college structure that ensures the curriculum vision translates into outstanding pedagogy, profound learning opportunities and has an impact on continuous improvement for all.

Quality Assurance is a process

that ensures what is to be delivered or produced achieves a clearly defined set of outcomes. The emphasis is on ‘self-review’ rather than checking by a third party or inspector.  Quality assurance is a well-used term in business and well-documented systems exist that give staff the tools and techniques to monitor their own quality output. Total Quality Management or (TQM) is a term many businesses have now adopted and implies that quality assurance is an integral part of all systems and is, therefore, an essential element of every individual’s performance.

Applying quality assurance  principles to a school or college setting

requires a deliberate focus on defining what constitutes a quality culture for any education setting. There are many benefits to adopting a process driven quality system for education, such as,

  • The imperative to define a set of incremental steps that lead to a collaborative and highly effective system that can be implemented across all teams, departments or phases within a school, a college or across a trust or alliance
  • The need to clearly set out the vision, the rationale and the ambition as to what is expected in terms of curriculum implementation and how it can be achieved so that it can be communicated and interpreted by all
  • Individual leaders and managers are empowered to work with their teams to determine the priorities that will lead to successful outcomes over time
  • All those involved can plot their progress and the progress of others, celebrate success and define where action is needed to make changes to achieve success
  • The process provides a visual picture of where there are issues and problems that need to be addressed along the way and create for those involved clear evidence that actions need to be taken or a change in strategy adopted to steer the process towards completion

Quality Assurance and Learning Cultures

Here at Learning Cultures we have investigated the concept of quality in relation to what OFSTED here in England are looking for, by looking at the international and European perspective and to how business fosters a collaborative approach to ensure the highest possible quality outcomes.

Translated into what is necessary to implement a process of quality assurance for your setting there are a number of steps that need to be in place, these include matching curriculum intent, vision and rationale to implementation and impact consistently and  coherently across the whole organisation and then focusing on how the curriculum is sequenced, how key concepts, knowledge and skills are embedded across all learning: creating a unified approach to assessment linked to formative assessment that fosters progression as well as summative assessment to gather data.  For this to happen the final step must be planned CPD to ensure all staff have the relevant skills and expertise.

Quality Assurance CPD for schools

We have designed a course for senior and middle leaders who are charged with developing a Quality Assurance strategy for their school or college.

We have used our own and others research in the quest for our own high-quality product. We look in detail at the current imperatives linked to the design of a deep and rich curriculum and how that is successfully implemented to ensure impact that leads to high quality learning outcomes for all. We have built the design around 7 quality indicators that define the quality processes that lead to outstanding educational outcomes. These include:-

  1. effective leadership
  2. identifying the needs of all learners
  3. engaging and empowering all staff
  4. a focus on pedagogy and learning
  5. consistency in assessment across all learning
  6. data handling
  7. the involvement of a range of wider stakeholders including learners, parents, Governors and the wider community

A deep focus on seven indicators of quality assurance

We have designed a detailed and in-depth focus on these 7 indicators in the form of a RAG report that allows quality teams to determine what is currently working well, what is work in progress and what needs to change.

This course ‘Quality Assuring Curriculum Implementation for Impact – how the curriculum delivers outstanding pedagogy, seamless learning and progression’, is run as a two part online synchronous training opportunity where leadership teams, Quality Managers and subject leaders can use the resources and materials to build their own system of continuous quality improvement. We include tools to support developing timelines, priority schedules and resources that foster opportunities for professional learning conversations that lead to a collaborative desire to create a culture of continuous improvement.

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