How can teachers capture the unplanned learning of the past six months?

How do we learn?  The past six months have given everyone who educates time to ponder this conundrum. Robert Bjork asks a different question in his forward to David Didau’s book What if everything you knew about education was wrong?

He asks, ‘How do we think we learn?’ He says that where we see learning as what is produced as an outcome it is actually measuring performance and is not necessarily learning that will be retained over time.  Learning is not a one-dimensional process and it is not something that just happens when the learner is in school; it is a life long process built through a myriad of experiences and opportunities for acquiring knowledge and having the skills to apply and access that knowledge. The experiences of the past six months and those that will emerge moving forward from here will shape all our lives and it may be a very long time before we truly realise what we have learnt along the way.

It is essential that teachers at any stage across the education spectrum recognise that their learners have had a variety of experiences and certainly older children will have found out quite a lot more about themselves, how they have made use of time, learnt to work independently, kept in contact with friends, learnt new domestic or other skills, talked to their parents more, learnt to live more harmoniously with their siblings or grandparents, learnt survival tactics when faced with adversity. Acknowledging that learning can take many different forms needs to be a part of the recovery process and part of building a new normal that does not dismiss that past six months but uses the experience as integral to the learning process for both teachers and their pupils. We have created a 15 top tips guide for ensuring learners can make the transition from home schools learning to the classroom.

Download the PDF here. We have used a variety of pieces of research to put together these top tips some of which will be included in the resources section of our new newsletter.

We have a new online course delivered as a live webinar that looks closely at how schools and colleges can develop a blended learning approach that may be very necessary as we continue to learn how to teach in new socially distanced classrooms where some learners may well have to continue to learn virtually, at home or in other settings within a school or college. See below.

Blended Learning: Mixing the virtual with the actual – a pedagogy for the future

Have a look here at our suite of live interactive webinars that we are running either in the morning between 10am and 12.30pm or as twilight sessions from 3.45pm to 5.45pm.  You can also see the suite of courses that schools and colleges can buy as a package to deliver CPD to staff as an INSET or as single sessions over time.

Our Twilight Series of Live Webinars – Coaching and Learning

August has been a revelation. So many teachers and leaders in education have taken advantage of our suite of coaching training webinars.  The quality of delivery, the in-depth content of the materials, presentations and resources are the same and the online approach seems to have made no difference at all to the learning and to the opportunities for those who have attended to take back that learning to their colleagues to share and cascade.

“I have loved everything about this course. It was informative, interactive and challenging all at the same time.”

We are adding a suite of twilight webinars to our growing repertoire of online learning courses. The first of these is an introduction to coaching. The content and the opportunities to learn how to use coaching will be hugely beneficial to all staff and will support the development of a culture of reflection, build resilience and allow for opportunities for professional learning conversations that foster positivity and innovation in a world turned upside down. We are continuing to discount the cost of our online courses to £195.00 + VAT a 30% reduction.

“Excellent day, I have so much to think about. Each of the two sessions has exceeded my expectations and given me the inspiration for the next stage on my school’s coaching journey

Coaching has the power to change practice and to define a culture where all staff are part of a collective desire for continuous improvement for, leaders, managers, teachers support staff and pupils.

Twilight training courses include:-

“I have loads to take back and use, how to set up coaching training for other staff, how to embed coaching in the school and learning how to be more reflective myself.”

We also have a suite of courses housed on a Moodle platform where schools can run their own INSET or training sessions. Everything is there, video presentations, resources, research, activities and other materials. There is even a multiple-choice quiz at the end to check your learning. These are currently discounted by 30% to £695.00 + VAT. Have a look out the titles here.

We will continue to offer the very successful online live webinar courses we have been running since the school closures in March.  These are scheduled for two half day sessions with one week apart from 10.00 until 12.30.  The week between the sessions has proved invaluable in providing time for reflection, the sharing of knowledge and consolidating the learning. You can see what is available here.

Our offsite offer is still available on our website but we have decided to postpone any training in hotels or other similar venues until next term.

Continuing Professional Development – How can it be sustained?

Learning Cultures are a world first in bringing a suite of unique training opportunities for the education profession using several online platforms that will support short course training, certification and whole school INSET. See the full range here. Our latest short course below looks at how to stimulate learning in the new blended classroom. We can run this as a whole school INSET or you can join us remotely for this 2 part course.

We are working with several schools to build their own bespoke  INSET days that are delivered remotely. We are working with multiple school trusts and alliances to develop training programmes for the coming year.  We also have a range of courses that individuals can dip into for face to face training and interaction or that schools can buy to deliver over time or for a full day for the whole school.

Continuing Professional Development (CPD) helps schools and colleges maximise potential to ensure there are high levels of achievement for all.  The clue to success is in the first word, continuing. Learning Cultures are helping leaders to create a blue print for how to build a collaborative and cohesive strategy that is continuous and that leads to learning for leaders, managers, teachers and pupils.

Maximising performance through professional learning is essential as all those in education develop new approaches to teaching and to measuring learning both in the classroom and remotely.  Learning Cultures believe that coaching can help to capture the rich vein of experience that working in very different environments has provided us with.  Coaching helps individuals wherever they are to reflect on what has worked well and find mechanisms to share their good practice. Coaching also helps individuals to be precise about what else they need to focus on and learn about in order to capitalise on how this new way of working can bring opportunities to be interactive and collaborative.

The relationship between learner and teacher, leader and manager and pastoral or subject leader and teacher has changed and may continue to be altered as new ways of working remain an inevitability for some time to come.  The Learning Cultures’ suite of CPD is holistic and relevant and will provide the catalyst to manage change successfully. The remoteness we are all experiencing should not mean that we cannot capture the learning that has taken place and build new models of pedagogy, communication and the sharing and cascading of good practice.

We are working with the profession to ensure that the C in CPD transforms practice and stimulates learning. Have a look at our short courses here. Have a look at the courses now available on our Moodle platform. Talk to us about how we can plan your CPD blueprint for the future.


Blended Learning – Mixing the virtual with the actual: the pedagogy of the future

The latest in our repertoire of online training is a course specifically designed to look at how we can use the experiences of the last few months to build our self-esteem, use the expertise we have gained and share how we can move to a positive strategy for blended learning.

From in-depth research and consultation, the following agenda promises to be exciting:-

Blended Learning – Mixing the virtual with the actual: a pedagogy of the future

  • Investigating and sharing teaching and learning strategies that will support independent and distance learning
  • Putting the spotlight on behaviours and the protocols that deliver successful outcomes for both learners and teachers
  • Exploring how to build in challenge that deepens learning and stretches potential
  • Overcoming the issues of engagement for those learners who have limited access to technology, a lack of parental encouragement of who are disengaged from the process
  • Assessing learning through motivational dialogue, positive outcomes and deep reflection
  • Sharing practice and learning strategies through the development of a coaching approach to group dynamics

There has never been a better time to review the way we teach, reflect on how learners can adapt to new ways of learning and build a new approach to the 21st century classroom.

We also have a series of online courses now available.

Our Zoom suite of courses are virtual face to face sessions for individuals to attend. They offer 4 hours of training split over two sessions with time for reflection in between.  There is a personal presenter and a wealth of resources and materials sent physically and electronically. Find out more.

Our Moodle suite of courses are packages that schools can buy to use as whole school or college INSET, training sessions or twilights. They include video presentations, materials, resources and activities as well as links to research, a bibliography and a quiz. Find out more.


Solving the puzzle of how to run an online INSET and CPD

Normality isn’t happening any time soon in the world of education.  Change is a constant for all of us who are part of this great profession but I don’t think any of us could have predicted the kinds of changes we have all had to make.

CPD and in particular INSET does not have to be one of the casualties of this unfolding drama.  In fact, our experience over the past few months gives us hope that there is a new dawn of powerful opportunities for professional development that will be just as rewarding and certainly as interactive as before.

Coaching is at the heart of the Learning Cultures philosophy and this has given us the resilience to focus on positive solutions to making sure that schools and colleges can still access our fantastic repertoire of courses and programmes. We have developed three solutions focused approaches.

Firstly, we have developed a Moodle platform and we now have six courses available for schools to buy to use as part of an INSET day or to deliver over a series of sessions or twilights. Excellently orchestrated videos created by an ex Channel 4 producer and hosted by one of our expert trainers provide the presentations and there is a wealth of materials, resources and research to tap into for all those involved in the training. We will be developing more of these over the summer.

Secondly, we are also hosting Zoom training sessions for individuals who have specific CPD objectives or needs and these are delivered through face to face interaction with groups of delegates over two sessions of two hours with a week in between for reflection and shared learning.

Thirdly, we have now worked with several organisations to develop virtual INSET days where our input provides the impetus for interaction, team working and opportunities to share and cascade good practice.  Astounding results are emerging. This approach is flexible, personal and cost effective for schools to manage.

There has never been a greater need for CPD for all staff in a school or college. What we can offer is a way forward to ensure a seamless learning platform delivers outstanding professional development.

Learning how to coach online – Powerful, proactive and personal

Cascading a coaching culture across a school or college creates opportunities for highly focused professional interaction that can empower individuals to accept change and allow them to take risks and find solutions. This has never been more important as we continue to try to find ways to teach and engage with learners both virtually and in very different classrooms.  Coaching brings together individuals who can share their successes, encourage reflection and foster resilience when the going gets tough.

Here at Learning Cultures that is certainly what we have had to do.  Offsite courses where people travel and spend time in groups in hotels and other conference spaces has not been on the agenda.  Survival for us has required innovation and a willingness to embrace change.  The answer has been surprisingly simple and has proved hugely successful. Coaching, we thought might prove tricky to deliver online. How wrong we were.

The Zoom coaching courses that we have run through May and June have been a huge success and provide an intimate and structured dimension to one to one and group interaction.  The impact of our training is just as powerful as it has always been and the opportunities for the development of more frequent coaching conversations with the trainer and with other participants means practising coaching skills is readily available, time friendly and outstandingly good value for all. We have broken down the full day we usually host into two sessions of two and a half hours each with a week in between for practice and reflection. It works so well, it is less tiring, more rewarding and more intense in terms of depth of learning.

There is still a place for face to face coaching interaction and learning but it isn’t happening any time soon and coaching is urgently needed as a means of empowering and motivating staff and learners to continue to be a part of a learning culture. The current coaching courses we have available online through July and August are:-

Have a look on our website at all the other courses we are offering through our Zoom platform. All our Zoom courses are for individuals to work through and currently cost £150.00 + VAT inclusive of both sessions which is a price that is too good to miss out on.

We also have a suite of courses that are now available on a Moodle platform for schools to buy as CPD packages that can be delivered as a whole school INSET, a series of training sessions or twilight sessions across an academic year. Discounted by 30% to £695.00 + VAT they are exceptional value.


CPD for a Virtual Future – Learning Cultures has built an online learning platform

The Learning Cultures training and coaching teams have their heads in a cloud of learning as we have now developed our first suite of online courses for leaders, managers, teachers and support staff. The first six of these are:-

Each course is broken down into five separate sections.  Each section has videos of the presenter talking and whiteboard animation videos that both do the work of a presenter in the room.  Alongside this there are opportunities for those involved in the learning experience to undertake activities and read research linked to the presentations and materials contained on a Moodle platform.

There is a powerpoint presentation that is sequential and provides a series of graphics and instructions for all of the videos and activities. The materials including card activities, proforma and other documents to read are included as part of the platform.  We have also put them on a USB stick included in a box of CPD that you will receive as part of your purchase.

At the end of each section all of the relevant materials are listed and linked.  There is also a multiple-choice quiz relevant to the learning in each section. We do urge you to complete this as it is there so that you can test your learning and it is also a bit of fun.

These courses mirror a full day of training that we would provide in a hotel or conference centre or as an INSET.  Therefore, the whole of one course could provide a full day of training for staff development.  Alternatively, the course can be delivered section by section over several weeks.  There is a wealth of materials, exercises and activities that will provide deep learning for all those involved in the training. There is also considerable research material and a bibliography of our highly recommended and most well-thumbed books.

We are also offering some online ZOOM sessions for individuals who need CPD and support now.  Have a look at our suite of courses on the website, we can tailor content to suit your needs. We can provide a personal training course for one or a team of several members of staff.  Each session of about two hours will cost £99.00 + VAT. We will provide the same outstanding quality training, handouts and references as we do when we deliver our offsite training.

The answers you hope for depend on the questions you ask

What are the questions that achieve the best outcomes from your learners? Do you have at your fingertips questions that will inspire enquiry, problem solving and challenge? Are you stimulating for your pupils the desire to learn, find out more and deepen knowledge and understanding?

“the disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enables the learner to examine ideas and be able to determine the validity of those ideas” Socrates

The Learning Cultures’ team are experts in coaching.  This gives us an edge in the techniques required to be innovative in how to ask the right questions.  We know that incisive and focused questioning is one of the most fundamental skills a coach must develop. It is also the most powerful pedagogy in the classroom. This exceptional time in our lives and the lives of all our learners provides us with the time to reflect on how to skilfully use questioning as a stimulus for learning.

Asking open questions that start with who, when, where, what, how or why require the recipient of the question to answer fully.  Asking a learner ‘where did you find the information to inform your answer?’ ‘What do you know already about the Romans?’ cannot be answered with a yes or no answer and lead the learner to explain their reasoning or recall what they already have learnt.  We have included here some resources that you can use to reflect on how you use questioning and how you can use specific types of questioning to challenge deeper thinking, create opportunities for reflection and motivate learners to take risks and find their own solutions.

We have included a proforma that explains the main questioning types and when to use them. We have put together a few slides from a presentation we use to deepen knowledge about questioning and how to cleverly use questioning techniques as part of learning how to coach. We have also added in a list of ‘Socratic questions’ and example answers. We have also included a table that provides some examples of progressive questioning for higher levels of response linked to Bloom’s taxonomy.

Happy questioning to all of you out there learning how to teach remotely. I wonder how much will change for all of us as we remain in this virtual world for a little while longer.

We are going virtual with some of our training courses. CPD for educators while we are not in school is just as important as ensuring the right approach to teaching our pupils. Have a look below at our first suite of online CPD for educators,




Comprehension – a vital key to unlocking deeper learning in a virtual world

How well do your pupils understand the work they are given in this time of virtual learning?  In a classroom the teacher fills the gaps explains the unfamiliar and corrects misconceptions.  How can we ensure this happens at home?

Comprehension is essential if pupils are to deepen their learning and unlock their potential to make sense of how the world works.  Blooms in its original form and the more recent revised form (as above) both recognise the importance of comprehension or understanding quite early on in their respective hierarchical pyramids. We cannot begin to analyse, justify, compare and contrast or evaluate until we have the skills with which to make sense of the facts. In any classroom we would expect to see some or all of the list below.

  • Discussion
  • Collaboration
  • Investigation
  • The acquisition of knowledge
  • Practice and reinforcement
  • What the learner produces to obtain feedback

For all of the above there is an essential component part which is being able to understand the information they have at their disposal. Learning how to de-code the written word or other information will lead to pupils being able to share, have a discussion or do some independent enquiry of their own. There is an opportunity here to focus on how to help your pupils to shape their own learning. Pupils should reflect and ask questions to test their own understanding of the content of the work being given to them or the reading they are asked to undertake.  Learning how to deeply understand text or indeed other materials such as graphs, charts, photographs and diagrams will reinforce what they already know and provide the platform to then build new learning.

A friend and colleague of mine developed a tool for her PGCE students to use as part of their teaching of English.  We have adapted the 5Ps of comprehension for English into 5Ps for other subjects and for non-fiction texts, worksheets or indeed graphs, photographs and diagrams.  Create for your pupils studying from home an opportunity to use a tool that will help them to articulate what they do understand and to focus on where they are unsure. It will give all pupils the confidence to reflect on the importance of understanding what they are given to support their developing knowledge.

The five Ps of comprehension   – Download the questions in this PDF that will provide pupils with an opportunity to reflect on how well they understand what they are reading or researching. The 5Ps are listed below.

  • Points of View – What is the text telling you and do you agree?
  • Patterns and connections – How has reading this added to what you already know?
  • Puzzles – What is puzzling you?
  • Possibilities? – Now you know this what else can you learn to add to your understanding?
  • Prediction – What might happen if…?

We are producing a suite of on-line training courses for leaders, managers and teachers in schools and colleges. These will be available after the Easter holiday at the end of April.  Keep up your CPD. Continue to follow our weekly posts with advice for how to support pupils learning from home.

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.