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.
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 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.
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.
Lead powerful change by creating a team of skilled coaching and curriculum ambassadors or champions using Learning Cultures’ Certification Programme.
The current imperative is to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered to mirror the leadership’s clearly defined rationale and ambition. This needs a clarity of purpose across all subjects, year groups, phases and stages. Developing a coaching culture for your school or college is without doubt the most powerful way to cascade positive and consistent improvements in pedagogy, pupil outcomes and team delivery. Coaches develop a range of skills that motivate others, encourage self-reflection and that focus on the positive. It is through these qualities that coaches can support others to begin to use the professional and motivational dialogue that will create measurable and tangible results for all staff and all pupils.
Sustaining a culture of change through coaching has been the guiding principle that has led us to develop this coaching programme for schools and colleges to use. We will train a group of individuals over an academic year, ideally a group of six or nine, who will have the opportunity to be a part of three training sessions, a series of self-directed twilight sessions and a commitment to undertake 30 hours coaching with colleagues. This will lead to certification endorsed by the Association for Coaching. Those who embark on a coaching journey won’t turn back, coaches inspire ambition, encourage challenge and foster innovation.
Choose the first group of Coaching Ambassadors who want to develop as coaches and begin your journey towards ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all. Have a look at the programme in detail below.
The Certificate in Coaching Competence – A journey in coaching
We have a whole range of other coaching courses providing something for all staff. All our training is designed so that it can be disseminated to others after the event. Training is never a stand-alone experience, where it is shared it has far more impact on the individual, the learner, teams and the whole school.
Current and new curriculum research and expert commentary helps us to shape our thinking and understanding of what makes a high-quality learning experience for all pupils. Myself, Glynis Frater and the curriculum team at Learning Cultures continue to develop highly interactive and superbly challenging courses linked to curriculum theory into practice.
We have incorporated the visual strength that is found in the properties of a triangle as we focus on how best to deepen understanding of how to lead on and manage strategic change in how the curriculum is designed and delivered. There are three distinct themes with which to build a project plan that quality assures how the curriculum intent is translated into positive implementation.
- Ensuring a clarity of purpose for all staff and pupils through the use of highly structured professional learning conversations
- Lesson observation and teacher reflection through a critical focus on pedagogy and the learning that emerges from skilful classroom practice
- Assessing carefully defined pupil outcomes that build on prior learning and allow pupils to deepen their skills and knowledge over time
The new and re-designed curriculum courses we are now offering are designed to incorporate issues and best practice that is emerging from our own work and that of the education specialists we consult. We focus on how those with responsibility for curriculum design and delivery can create a cohesive whole school offer that is consistent, sequenced over time and delivers quality outcomes for all pupils across the ability spectrum.
Our training is the beginning of a journey and with this in mind we ensure that the resources we use are designed to be cascaded to others following on from the training. In this way we know that the CPD from Learning Cultures is both sustainable and cost-effective. We deliver a high quality learning experience for staff who develop the skills to take their learning back to their teams and into the classroom.
It is the coaching element that is an integral part of all our training that makes it so special and successful. One of the sides of the triangle or triad is the imperative to ensure there is a framework for professional dialogue across the school. Creating a coaching culture will ensure this is firmly embedded.
Moving on from re-defining the curriculum offer, we now focus on realising the vision or intent through innovative and highly effective strategic thinking.
Where assessment of learner outcomes is consistent and linked to planning there is profound evidence of a cohesive curriculum strategy.
Develop a coaching culture for the senior leadership team, middle and subject leaders, teaching staff, support staff and pupils and have the evidence that professional conversations and dialogue underpin strategic planning and implementation.
Ensure your middle managers are leading their teams with clarity of purpose by developing their ability to coach others. Coaching allows managers to use highly effective professional conversations to ensure that curriculum rationale and ambition is translated into positive pupil outcomes.
Essentially, it is subject and curriculum managers that must communicate the messages established as curriculum intent and inspire their teams to plan and deliver a sequential learning platform of the highest quality. The most successful approach to ensuring this happens is to create a culture of self-reliance, reflection and trust. Each individual needs to feel empowered to take risks and make relevant and positive changes. They need to have the skills to collaborate within teams and departments as well as across the curriculum, year groups and key stages.
Middle leaders are pivotal. Across the range of subjects and within a broader curriculum remit there needs to be a clearly defined plan of action that covers a wide range of potential change to current practice. Subject and curriculum design expertise are a pre-requisite of the job role. However, there are a range of other more generic skills that are also vital. Managers need to be able to lead change, inspire innovation, understand how teams are formed for success and ensure that stated goals become positive outcomes.
Leading from the middle is the key to ensuring everyone is on board and knows the part they play in achieving the school vision for continuous improvement. It is the role of the senior leader to define the vision, rationale and ambition for the school. Middle and subject leaders then disseminate to their teams how they can all work together to create well focused strategies for change or review. Therefore, they must have the right professional development that will enhance their role as effective communicators, powerful influencers and positive motivators.
Developing their coaching skills and implementing a coaching culture is, we know, a sustainable and cost-effective way of ensuring middle leaders develop and cascade a wide range or leadership skills and achieve sustainable change and cohesive teams. The skills of a coach are those that empower others to find solutions, reflect on their own strengths, focus on the positive and deliver within well-defined frameworks. Our suite of coaching and curriculum courses provide the solution that will deliver cohesion, professional learning conversations and strategies that are time efficient.
For middle and subject leaders, we have two well-researched one- day courses
For leaders who want to use coaching as part of a sustainable and cost effective CPD solution start with,
All teachers and support staff will benefit from learning how to coach,
How pupils make progress as they travel through the curriculum must be at the heart of curriculum planning. An essential part of this is to ensure we can accurately assess that progress is being made and that learning is sustained.
It is therefore essential that assessment of learning is a critical part of the substance of the curriculum design. The introduction of the National Curriculum in 2014 saw the end of a generic system of assessment linked to clearly defined levels. Learning curriculum content and deepening knowledge and understanding is now much more of a focus for defining pupils’ progress whether in the primary or secondary phase.
The emphasis is more on progress linked to the knowledge and skills pupils develop incrementally within subjects and across the curriculum. There needs to be a cohesive whole school strategy where teachers work together to ensure that the learning is sequential and developmental. Reading is a critical skill, as are all the other literacy skills embodied in the programmes of study across all subjects. Maths is taught conceptually but mastery will come when pupils can make connections and apply the concepts they learn in Maths in contexts across the curriculum.
The curriculum programmes of study are a blueprint for creating a progression model. What pupils will learn and how they will learn it needs to be clearly defined in order that teachers can assess whether progress has been made. A rich curriculum offer will recognise that subjects are interwoven, that concepts transcend subject learning, that the core and wider skills for learning are an integral part of every subject and pupils need to know where and how to apply them in and across all subjects.
This won’t happen unless time is given to shared planning across year groups, within and across curriculum subjects and at transition points. There needs to be a culture where professional learning conversations articulate the ambition for what pupils will achieve as they journey towards well-defined outcomes and achieve their potential. School leads to a final end point which is life and work but there are steps along the way and assessing learning and progress must define these carefully.
We have an outstanding range of CPD that will support leaders, managers and teachers to be at the forefront of this curriculum evolution. Our knowledge and expertise are highly praised and we have a wealth of well-researched resources that provide a platform for future learning across the whole school or college. Below is a flavour of our curriculum offer. Coaching is the best way to build a culture of professional learning, have a look at our Coaching in Education section.
For primary schools
For secondary schools
How do senior leaders ensure that the planned curriculum is implemented across all classess, year groups and at points of transition? How can we at Learning Cultures ensure that the training we offer, the solutions we propose and the resources we provide create the right tools for subject leaders and teachers to deliver a deep and rich curriculum that serves the pupil cohort and the local context?
The answers to both questions above are linked to a clear imperative to build into the school culture real and meaningful opportunities for collaboration and the professional dialogue that leads to challenging conversations and high quality learning outcomes for teachers and pupils. This will include,
- Make the curriculum rationale and ambition visible and visual across the whole school
- Include all stakeholders in the celebration of a strong and stimulating curriculum offer
- Making sure that the curriculum is central to every meetings that takes place
- Take time to build an understanding that the programmes of study for English and Maths are the bedrock of planning all other curriculum subjects
- Create opportunities for cross-curricular planning where there is a shared understanding of how to sequence the learning across topics, across year groups and at times of transition
- Ensure that assessment outcomes are an integral part of planning the curriculum
- Planning should focus on the importance of developing pupils core and wider skills as part of ensuring that information becomes knowledge and remains within the long term memory
Our suite of curriculum courses are designed to offer solutions, they provide practical resources that can be shared and cascaded widely. We are aware through the work that we do that changing the paradigm of curriculum delivery is difficult. In order to ensure consistency across all learning that leads to high quality outcomes and a visible impact on the life chances for all pupils a co-operative and shared approach is essential.
Focus on your priorities from these key words and make sure you and your staff have the tools and resources to find the answers that build high quality learning.
Primary Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Intent ***Secondary Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Intent***Sequencing of the curriculum***Transition from KS1 to 2***Transition from KS2 to 3***Concepts in subject design***Primary Formative Assessment***Secondary Formative Assessment***Lesson observation***Quality Assurance***Coaching for Outstanding Teaching & Learning
Taking a look at the most recent OFSTED reports where inspectors have been into schools this term makes interesting reading. There are several entries where schools have been judged inadequate or requiring improvement who were previously outstanding or good. The change of emphasis to a much deeper dive into the way the curriculum is planned, sequenced and assessed is clear in the improvement strategies these schools are invited to address. I have listed here several quotes that are typical of what is deemed to be missing,
“The school’s curriculum is not sufficiently sequenced and coherent. The breadth of the National Curriculum is not covered in all subjects.”
“Leaders need to make sure that the curriculum is planned so that teachers can build pupils’ knowledge sequentially, over time, allowing them the learn more and remember more.”
“The curriculum is poorly planned and taught. Pupils do not gain enough skills and knowledge of subjects outside reading, writing and mathematics.”
“Improve the effectiveness of leadership by ensuring that learning in the wider curriculum is carefully sequenced so that pupils make good progress within topics and year on year.”
“Improvements should be made by developing the curriculum, in both the core and the wider curriculum subjects, so that it is well planned, builds on prior knowledge and understanding, meets the needs and interests of all pupils and enables them to achieve well.”
The messages could not be clearer. There is a sharp focus on curriculum sequencing, building on prior learning and planning to ensure pupils develop deep knowledge and skills across all their learning. I could have included several other quotes about issues relating to assessment and the concern about subject knowledge and subject expertise as well as issues about how the curriculum is taught but this is a news post and not an essay.
Over the past few months we have followed the development of curriculum research, commentary on curriculum design and finally the publication of the latest OFSTED handbook for schools in a series of news posts and comments. You can read the story so far here. We have developed some outstanding resources and tools to support leadership teams, curriculum managers and subject leaders to plan and deliver a deeply knowledge rich and skills focused curriculum. We have focused on how to make this happen using practical approaches and well-researched strategies that are receiving high praise. Our training is practical and solutions focused and is based on the principles of coaching. There is no better way to cascade outstanding practice and build a culture of professional dialogue that is shared across the whole school.
Have a look at our website for the many other training courses that are both relevant and will enhance the CPD potential in your school. We run superb INSET training or off-site courses. There is something for all the staff in your school or college.