Creating the curious learner – some tips to facilitate enquiry learning

It is normally the role of the teacher to do the research, plan the content of the lesson and steer pupils towards achieving the outcomes already decided the lesson should lead to. In these very different times why not create the right conditions for pupils to become masters of their own learning journey.

Think about what it is you want your class to know and remember. Define what you would like them to produce at the end of the allotted time and resist the temptation to lead pupils towards the information or the facts.

Leave it to your pupils to build their own set of questions.  Create as a starting point some prompts. Who? What? Why? When? Where? This could apply to investigating the Romans, learning about women’s suffrage, the slave trade, the reasons for the start of the First World War, the invention of the telephone.

Encourage pupils to create their own presentations to illustrate their enquiry. This could be a piece of writing or a powerpoint, it could be a drawing or a short video.

Create a two-way process between teacher and pupils in this virtual world where the teacher encourages self-reflection.  So, following an exercise in enquiry learning that leads to pupils presenting their work the teacher asks questions to challenge the pupil to compare, contrast or explain their reasoning, define their thinking and encourage further discussion about the topic.

This approach can lead to pupils becoming more confident in their desire to learn through their own enquiry. Pupils are more likely to exhibit curiosity and can be encouraged to want to find out more.  There are many skills that pupils will gain from this approach such as organising their time for learning, learning how to ask deep and rich questions, compiling their own answers into a coherent narrative or visual representation.

We must find new ways to teach without classrooms.  Motivating pupils to want to learn is essential. Teaching pupils how to be investigators of their own learning can be hugely beneficial even for quite young pupils.  Whilst the teacher isn’t there to support pupils and manage their learning it is a gift to give them the opportunity to be driving their own learning, fostering their own instincts for being curious and helping them develop a range of enquiry skills that will hold them in good stead throughout their education and beyond.

We are nearly there with our online learning platform for leaders, managers subject leaders and teachers. We are offering all of the courses at a special price for schools of £595.00 + VAT. One course can be used by as many staff as need to take part in the training within your school or college. Make sure all staff have the CPD they need through these extra-ordinary times. Our first six courses will be available from 26th April.

Download our ten top tips for creating the right pedagogy for enquiry learning.

Learning on line – top tips from Glynis at Learning Cultures

Most teachers probably have little experience of distance teaching.  Their role is fundamentally to be there in the classroom to teach, facilitate learning, support and challenge.

While schools are closed how can teachers offer a presence that ensures pupils can continue to have a meaningful and valuable education?

We have been building some of our training courses for educators to be delivered through an on-line platform.  This has given us an extraordinary insight into how to create that presence remotely. I want to share some of our learning that you can use to ensure that pupils are inspired to continue to learn and progress.

Here are 10 top tips that have helped us to develop our on-line presence:-

  • Create some protocols to share with pupils prior to embarking on any kind of on-line learning strategy
  • Check the technical capability of your IT infrastructure and what pupils are using at home. If diagrams, text and pictures are difficult to see it will impact on motivation
  • Plan carefully so that there is a sequence to the learning that becomes a clearly defined map or journey for pupils to follow
  • Make sure pupils are prepared in the same way you would expect if you were still in the classroom, the right equipment, good posture, comfortable dress and readiness for learning
  • Focus on the end points and work backwards to ensure that the learning is sequenced well and be clear what you want pupils to achieve
  • Be very clear as the to the learning goals and objectives. Focus on how you can ignite interest by matching your expectations with the pupils’ interests and capabilities
  • Define a study plan that outlines what pupils are learning, how long will the session last and how the session builds on prior learning and prepares for next steps in learning
  • Use this opportunity to focus more on study skills than on content, such as specifically teaching listening skills, note taking skills; how to use enquiry techniques to support self-study or a focus on reading to learn (comprehension)
  • Create opportunities for discovery learning by posing questions to stimulate pupils to find out for themselves
  • Find activities that are fun, and learner centred. On-line is their domain trust your pupils to be solutions focused and innovative in how they use their time for learning

Our on-line learning suite of courses for leaders, managers and teachers will be available in April.  The first courses are listed below. Email us to register your interest.

 

 

CPD in a Box – An on-line training and development opportunity to continue to learn during the Corona Virus crisis

Whether schools remain open or are closed there is always an imperative to ensure that teachers and learners can continue to learn and be challenged in preparation for the return to normality. If you wish to avoid travel and close contact or find yourself having to stay at home for a length of time, we are in the process of completing our ‘CPD in a Box’ range of on-line training courses that will be available in April.

These courses provide the same level of detail and content as those we run in hotels and conference centres or in schools. The box will contain access to an on-line Moodle platform and a host of materials including:-

  • video content where a trainer will be in the room with you
  • card activities to stimulate discussion and provide opportunities to plan and define strategy
  • down-loadable proforma planning sheets to promote goal setting and provide a structure to decisions to be made as a result of the training
  • access to a range of articles and research papers that back up the content of the training
  • a bibliography of further reading
  • a multiple-choice quiz at the end of each section to check knowledge and understanding

The first six of these detailed training programmes are:-

There is a lot more information on our website about these courses.  One box will cost £595.00 + VAT and can be used by any number of staff within the host school. Each course is broken down into five units. Each unit can be delivered over time or all five units will equate to a full day of training as if your staff member were to join us at one of our off-site venues or be a part of a training course we run in school during an INSET.

Give us a call on 01746 765076 or email us if you would like to discuss this in more detail.  Visit our website by going to the CPD in a Box page and start or continue your CPD journey with Learning Cultures.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Create a culture of positive curriculum and pedagogical change through coaching

How do leaders and managers foster an ethos where influential professional learning conversations lead to positive and highly visible change?  The answer is to create a coaching culture where each individual knows the part he or she can play in achieving the vision, intent and rationale for curriculum innovation and pedagogical improvement.

“Coaching is empowering people by facilitating self-directed learning, personal growth and improved performance”

Coaching is about building trust where staff can use their imagination, channel their energies and share ideas.  The coaching conversation provides an opportunity for two or more individuals to work together to find solutions and build strategies that lead to positive change. Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive so that all staff are able feel empowered in taking the initiative and the responsibility for achieving their own clearly articulated goals and targets.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

When individuals learn how to coach, they change their approach to professional interaction with others and begin to have much more control over the outcomes and impact of the strategies that are planned and implemented. This is so powerful in education. Individual staff are emboldened to want to find the solution and not to dwell on the problem.

“Telling or asking a closed question saves people from having to think. Asking open questions causes them to think for themselves”

The power lies in the learning. Learning how to listen actively and incisively. Learning how to ask open and deeply rich questions linked to what is being said or inferred. Learning how to be patient and sometimes silent in the quest for collective ownership and the successful solving and resolving of issues and problems. Learning how to challenge but be objective and fair. Learning how to focus on the positives and find strengths in self and others.

“If I give you my advice and it fails, you will blame me. I have traded my advice for your responsibility and that is seldom a good deal”

Developing a coaching approach builds a learning culture where collaboration ultimately leads to the sharing and cascading of ideas, of good practice and of innovation and achievement. All staff are able to communicate through motivational dialogue the part they play in achieving the stated vision. They articulate and celebrate their successes and don’t dwell on when things go wrong but focus on how they can learn from the situation and move forward.  Every school or college has a wealth of potential to achieve great things. Untap the talent that is within every individual that has chosen to belong to an education community by giving them a chance to learn how to be a coach.

The coaching courses Learning Cultures offer are designed as a CPD journey. For leaders to plan a strategy, for middle leaders to implement a coaching culture, for teachers who can learn together and use coaching as a powerful pedagogy in the classroom; for Teaching Assistants and support staff who can learn how to nurture and challenge using coaching; for Cover Supervisors to help them have the presence to be more confident when the teacher is not present.

Quotes are attributable to John Whitmore and Bresser and Wilson. All our courses are built on extensive sector led research.  We have created an approach that ensures those who attend can take all the resources back to their colleagues to share and cascade their learning.

Cultural Capital as part of subject specific learning

The latest news from OFSTED continues to deepen our own understanding of what schools and colleges should have in place in relation to curriculum design and delivery.  It is with this knowledge that the Learning Cultures’ Curriculum team can support senior leaders and their teams to determine with clarity and purpose their curriculum intent and design. We can also advise on the quality assurance processes that will give senior teams and subject leaders the confidence  that their curriculum vision, rationale and ambition for pupils is translated into high quality learning outcomes.

Amanda Spielman spoke at the Headteachers’ Symposium on Creativity and Education about arts subjects in schools, cultural capital and initial teacher education this January 2020. Naturally, she focused on music and the arts for some of her speech and made it abundantly clear that these elements are essential to a broad and balanced curriculum and OFSTED will tease out what schools are contributing to music and the other arts subjects. She goes on to say, however, that:

“Creativity and creative thinking in any subject requires deep subject knowledge and understanding as well as the development of skills that enable the application of this knowledge and understanding.”

There is no doubt about her message here, which is, that all subject specific learning should have creativity and deep learning at its core.  All learners need to be able to make connections, build on prior learning and weave skills and knowledge in order that they deepen their understanding, grow in confidence and have the ability to apply and make sense of their learning across many different contexts.

Subject leaders, school leaders and teachers all need to look closely at the pedagogy that facilitates learning and at the outcomes they want to see as a result of their pedagogical endeavours.  There needs to be evidence that learning is re-enforced and re-visited, that literacy and numeracy skills are the bedrock of all subject learning and that pupils are challenged beyond just recall.  There needs to be a tacit understanding of how teachers encourage pupils to demonstrate that they can use higher levels of response and highly challenging questioning in order to have the evidence that pupils are progressing and growing in the pursuit of mastery over time.

The final message that I want to highlight from this speech is the use of the term ‘cultural capital’.  Her definition of this recent OFSTED phrase is this,

“It really matters that children learn and enjoy things they won’t necessarily experience at home or with their peers.”

She suggests that the Quality of Education judgement in the OFSTED handbook is trying to capture this element and she says that it is to cultural capital that we should focus when considering the extent to which the school provides a broad and rich curriculum and how that curriculum is taught.

“our quality of education judgement is trying to capture this [cultural capital] dimension of your work.”

There is clearly an imperative to ensure that the curriculum intent points to the need for all subject teaching and cross-curriculum thematic learning to take pupils beyond the narrow and into new realms of deeper understanding and broader experience. Defining this in terms of planning the curriculum content and ensuring that subject specialists have the expertise and confidence to be creative and innovate is essential. Hold onto your sanity and join us at one of our curriculum courses and we can provide a wealth of resources and materials to create the right culture for this to happen. The link will take you to the course details on our website. Or visit the Curriculum Courses section.

 

 

Curriculum Challenges – CPD in preparation for a subject specific ‘deep dive’

My overarching message is for all schools to realise the value of strategic thinking that ensures that it is the curriculum and how it is delivered that creates outstanding teaching and learning. There is an imperative for all schools to pull together the strands that weave a seamless and sequenced curriculum. The principles are the same for every phase of education, once those principles are defined the content can be woven to ensure progression and deep learning lead to successful outcomes for all learners.

The phrase ‘deep dive’ is well used by advisors, OFSTED inspectors and inevitably by trainers like ourselves. What do they actually mean and what do they actually achieve? Read my news-post Preparing for Subject Specific Deep Dive Conversations and Observations and our latest newsletter, where we have looked in some detail at the implications of these activities. We have taken the research and developed a suite of highly successful and practical courses and opportunities for INSET. They have been extremely well-received.

We want to stress in our capacity as advisors and coaches to the education profession that this isn’t about OFSTED or any other inspectorate. It is an opportunity to review your curriculum, focus on the rationale for what is to be included and have a clear perspective on what pupils already know and will learn in order that they thrive in the future.  It is essential that we see change as a powerful opportunity to empower all staff to focus on how they influence learning.  The key focus has to be on highly- effective and well-structured CPD for everyone who has a part to play in planning and delivering the curriculum.

There are three parts to ensuring that leaders, managers, teachers and support staff all have the training to ensure they can create depth, breadth and a continuum of learning linked to their own detailed and profoundly well thought through curriculum vision and rationale and these are,

We have training for senior leaders that sets out the strategy for change and provides a wealth of practical tools to use with senior teams.

We have an outstanding course for subject leaders, Heads of Department or curriculum managers that will prepare all those who attend with the tools and knowledge to ensure any spotlight will reveal the implementation of high quality curriculum outputs.

We have courses that focus on primary and secondary assessment and that look closely at how to develop a culture where quality assurance is every member of staff’s responsibility.

Reviews following on from our training rate the quality of the materials and the resources we provide as outstanding.  We publish reviews alongside the relevant courses on our website.  Work with us, we are the experts and we can help you to create a culture of positive change.

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

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

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

OFSTED talk about a triangulation that incorporate:-

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

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

Curriculum intent, implementation and impact

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

Quality assurance – a system for education

Preparing for the ‘deep dive’ into subject specific learning

Transition a vital key to sequential learning

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

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

 

 

Time is our most precious commodity-tips on how to use this finite resource efficiently

Time is finite. We all have the same amount of time. It is what we do with that time that makes a difference to our well-being and our success at work. How often in your place of work is time cited as the reason, the problem or the issue? We need to turn this paradigm around and focus on how to make the best use of the time available to us in order that what we set out to do we can actually achieve.

Developing a coaching culture within your school or college can have a significant impact on how leaders, managers, teachers and support staff use time wisely and well.

Coaching starts with goal setting and focuses on how to ensure there is the will and the skill to achieve that goal. The goal needs to be effective, clear and structured and linked to a wider vision for improving learning.  A goal must be SMART, specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and be defined in terms of the time it will take.  A goal needs to focus on what can be achieved in the future based on what success will look like. Probing deeply to ensure that the goal is the right priority for the individual goal setter requires a coach who can ask incisive and rich questions that will foster reflection, self-awareness and self-belief.

In order to use time effectively to achieve that clearly defined goal the individual must have a commitment to ensuring success. He or she needs to be aware of the risks and barriers that might impede their progress and use up valuable time.  It is their responsibility to empower others to work towards a common outcome and celebrate the steps along the way. The owner of the goal must keep sight of progress being made, emphasise what has been achieved and what is still to be completed and remain focused on achieving the carefully agreed steps along the way. It is essential to remain fully on task. The temptation to take on other priorities or follow a path less troublesome will eat up time and ensure that nothing is achieved.

Creating the right coaching culture can save valuable time, build your teams so that they can manage time efficiently and inspire each other to work together towards carefully structured outcomes that have an impact on improvement, learning and achievement. Follow this process and time will become less of an issue or an excuse.

  • Encourage the setting of carefully structured and SMART goals linked to the school or college vision for improving learning
  • Become adept at asking deep and probing questions that raise awareness and ensure that the responsibility lies with the goal setter
  • Develop the coaching skills of all those involved in achieving goals for improvement and encourage a culture of positivity and accountability
  • Ensure all staff reflect on how they are using their time to prioritise what they have set out to achieve
  • Use questioning to foster self-reflection where individuals go off task or begin to focus on issues that are not a part of their stated goal for success
  • Encourage individuals to set their own time limits for when they will achieve their goal
  • Celebrate small successes along the way and communicate the impact that is the result of achieving the end goal
  • Create opportunities for individuals to reflect on their own ability to achieve the task in hand and how they can continuously improve their performance

We have the most prestigious suite of coaching courses  for all staff in a school or college.

Coaching creates the right culture for reflection, awareness and responsibility and is a powerful driver that gives all staff the confidence in their own ability to make a difference.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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