Character Education is the subject of one of the reports to come out of the DfE this summer. It is a review of some research into Character Education in Schools. The research poses several questions linked to provision, the role of schools in teaching character, the approaches schools use and the challenges schools face.
Rising Stars provide a very good overview of the findings of the report in their document, DFE Publishes Character Education Report.
Is it necessary to have a separate curriculum pathway called Character Education?
What is education if it is not a part of shaping the individual to be honest, have integrity and a respect for others? All learning should stimulate curiosity and allow for problem solving that creates resilient and motivated learners. There are so many opportunities within the curriculum for learners to debate, focus on moral dilemma, learn self-respect and deepen their sense of fairness in order that they can contribute to society.
Subject specific learning is stuffed full of opportunities for pupils to develop their individual and unique characters. English Literature or History allows us to analyse different characters and their influence on people, time and place. Maths and Science give us an awesome look at how the world is shaped and the part we can play in enjoying it, inventing it or using it. Design, art music or drama provide us with a wealth of opportunities for creativity, expression and individuality. PE and sport develop the bodies and minds of learners and teach them how to win and lose, how to embrace competitiveness and how to be a team player. Both the primary and secondary curriculum have the breadth and depth to encompass character education.
Most of the curriculum is currently taught in chunks, where the learning is not an interwoven tapestry that develops the whole person. There are so many opportunities for pupils to develop a whole range of skills that will ensure they become independent and resilient, open to ideas and full of the possibilities that learning can bring. School, especially upper primary and secondary stages often provides pupils with the facts and information they need to pass tests and examinations. There is no other stage in their lives where they will learn in such small bite size segments that appear to be unconnected.
We don’t need an addition to the curriculum; we need to look at how we can shape the curriculum so that it builds character that will last a lifetime.
I have recently read the NFER research paper Capacity for Collaboration? Analysis of School to School Support Capacity in England Essentially, the research suggests that there is capacity for high performing schools to support those who need some help.
However, schools working in partnership must have answers to these questions if the potential to create a self-improving system is to be realised,
- What is the available evidence that examines best practice of where schools collaborate successfully?
- Who across the respective schools, both those deemed to be high performing and those in need of help, is responsible for ensuring successful collaboration happens?
- Who determines the needs of all the schools involved including the lead school?
- What can each school offer in relation to their relative strengths and experience?
- How is success defined and how is this agreed across the respective schools?
- What are the measures used to assess impact?
Collaboration, and learning from what works well through the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice is fundamental to any successful organisation. Schools and colleges by their very nature find this difficult even within the environs of one organisation. Silos exist between subject specialisms, key stages and year groups. Timetable constraints create a barrier; opportunities for meetings are limited and pupils’ demands take time and energy. With this in mind a strategy for collaboration across a partnership needs to be very clearly orchestrated.
Coaching is one of the most powerful ways of ensuring successful collaboration.
Coaching is solutions focused. A coach will:-
- tease out how those who lead determine their goals and evaluate how realistic they are
- help those involved to identify their own strengths and the qualities of others; not just those in the lead school but of all the schools involved
- question individuals to identify their needs and their learning agenda in order to ensure that the process leads to a culture of excellence and improvement across all the schools
- make everyone reflect on their priorities in relation to the part they play in the collaborative process and question how to deflect other issues that stand in the way of a successful outcome
The capacity for collaboration is there. The opportunity to embrace what is outstanding and cascade it widely is there. Coaching is a proven tool in the box. It is without doubt, the pedagogy that delivers outstanding learning and will provide the framework for positive organisational change.
If you are planning your CPD strategy or designing the appraisal system for the new academic year you will achieve phenomenal success if you build coaching into the process. Learning is just as important for teachers as it is for pupils. A good teacher never stops learning and relishes any opportunity to be challenged and stretched. Without on-going opportunities for good quality training, classroom practice becomes hackneyed and dull.
Coaching is a process, it requires individuals to learn a suite of skills in order to support others to set their own goals, be clear as to how they will achieve them; have well-defined steps along the way and evaluate their learning at the end of a given period of time. Coaching is non-judgemental and can be the conduit for transformational change.
A coach will never project their own views, direct another or suggest they know best. A coach will facilitate a conversation that requires the other person to soul search, learn from their mistakes, find their own solutions and ultimately make their own decisions about how to create successful outcomes from their stated goals and objectives.
Here at Learning Cultures we have created the most comprehensive coaching programme you could ever wish for. We have not left anyone out. From leaders, managers and Governors to teachers, Cover Supervisors and support staff we have developed training courses and modules that will ultimately deliver a whole school or college coaching culture. We have even included the pupils as potential candidates for coaching in our repertoire.
Training is of little or no value if it is delivered as a stand-alone activity where it is not linked to school improvement, learning goals and individual aspirations. It will have no impact unless the learning is disseminated to others and cascaded successfully. Coaching provides the mechanism for ensuring that there is on-going reflection and professional dialogue linked to learning and the celebration of good and outstanding practice. Plan your CPD using coaching at its heart and you will create outstanding individuals who are highly motivated, understand their own self-worth and who embrace change and challenge.
Or for the latest resources, activities and best practice examples join us for our fourth annual coaching conference. The Power of Coaching at the wonderful Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire on 29th June. You might also like to attend our Leading a Coaching School event at the same venue on Friday 30th June. A veritable extravaganza of coaching training.
The business of a school is learning. If we put learning at the heart of every goal we set and through professional coaching conversations we focus on how our pupils learn, how we learn and how our colleagues learn we will build a culture that celebrates what works well, identify what needs to change and be able to reflect on the impact our teaching has on how well pupils deepen their knowledge and progress.
Identifying the pedagogies that we use in the classroom is important. The craft of teaching is a gift. However, if we don’t look carefully to how successfully it links to learning we cannot expect to find ways to continually improve.
Ponder on these questions
- How does your teaching link with what learners are interested in?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to learn concepts that will support them to deepen their knowledge?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to make connections with what they have learnt elsewhere?
- How does your teaching promote the use of higher level thinking skills that deepens their learning?
- How does your teaching allow pupils to share their ideas and work well in groups?
- How meaningful is what you are teaching to your learners’ own experiences and existing knowledge?
- How can you be sure that your teaching is building on prior learning?
- How do you create opportunities for pupils to talk about their learning and be able to say how they are learning as well as what they are learning?
- How do you make sure that pupils understand what is said to them and comprehend what they read?
Make sure that with every plan and every decision made, whatever it is about, there is a link to learning. There is some serious research that suggests it makes an outstanding difference!
SATs are over, yippee! Judging by the many twitter posts, schools across the country are celebrating with outdoor activities, parties and cup-cakes. We want to celebrate as well. With this in mind we have two fabulous summer training events that are designed to support well-being. They provide powerful opportunities for creative learning.
Fairytwists is all about immersive story-telling and provides the teacher with six short stories that actively promote resilience, challenge stereotypes and celebrate diversity. Find out more.
Grow Learning Through Gardening is a practical look at using horticulture as part of delivering the National Curriculum. Working with plants and flower is known to help with stress and gives anyone who is involved a feeling of wellbeing and satisfaction. Colour, shape, touch and scent give depth to understanding. There are many ways to find imaginative ways to bring alive the subject matter of much of the national curriculum using gardening as a theme. Find out more
The other course that is capturing primary teachers imagination is our Mastery and Deeper Learning across the Primary Curriculum. Embedding literacy and numeracy skills as an integral part of all learning will help pupils to make connections and put concept into context without too much prompting. This approach creates the unconsciously competent learner which is exactly what they need to be to pass their SATs. Find out more
Make sure lesson observation plays a key role in your CPD strategy.
Lesson observation is an important part of quality assurance in schools. Observing lessons provides line managers with a good understanding of how their teams are performing and is a benchmark for assessing teaching and learning across the school. The lesson is often observed by one person and the feedback is between the teacher and the observer. There is little opportunity for the sharing and cascading of good or outstanding practice and limited scope for teachers who need support when their lesson is deemed unsatisfactory.
There is another way. A school has a wealth of good and outstanding practice happening every day, very few lessons are observed and those that are seen are rarely shared. Imagine a lesson observation process where the teacher chooses when to be observed and who they would like to observe; not to judge and grade but to share their practice, their approaches to pedagogy and generally to reflect together on their understanding of learning that leads to high levels of progression.
The opportunities to use lesson observation as an integral part of your CPD strategy involves everyone. It is cost effective because it is happening in school by practitioners for practitioners. We have two highly influential and innovative training courses to help you ensure that outstanding teaching and learning is not your best kept secret.
The Art of Lesson Observation – is for line managers and senior leaders who have a responsibility for observation of their teams. Read more about the content of the day by clicking here.
Lesson Study – Enhancing learning through professional collaboration and enquiry is for teachers to work together to observe their own teaching practice. Read more about the content of the day by clicking here.
Coaching delivers cost effective and sustainable CPD
CPD is an essential ingredient in creating an outstanding school. The current budgetary constraints are putting a strain on school leaders. CPD in some schools can be something that suffers. “Limiting the professional development of staff in a school could do “terrible damage” in the long run” according to David Weston of the Teacher Development Trust in the TES for Friday 3rd March.
Developing a coaching culture is one of the most effective ways of making sure a small budget can have a significant impact on school improvement. CPD needs to be carefully structured. It must be linked to the school vision and improvement plan. Developing a coaching model will provide the impetus for high quality professional dialogue. Coaching allows for a shared understanding of what the school is trying to achieve and how each individual can play their part.
The Learning Cultures’ coaching offer focuses on building a coaching culture in school. Click here to view all our coaching training courses. It is proven to have a significant impact on learning and achievement. The training we deliver is built on well-respected research and is designed so that the learning can be taken back into school and cascaded to others. In this way it is uniquely cost effective and meets the Standard for teachers’ professional development announced by the Department of Education in the summer of 2016.
The coaching courses we offer encompass the needs of all staff from leaders and managers, to teachers and support staff. Click here to have a look at what we offer. Our fourth annual coaching conference is being held at Woburn Abbey on Thursday 29th June. To book your place and find out more click here. For those who want to build on their learning from the conference we are running our Leading a Coaching School training course the day after the conference on Friday 30th June so that senior leadership teams can begin to plan their strategy.
Go to the case studies page on our website where the Featherstone High School study has recently been updated. Emma Harvey at Featherstone continues to steer the school’s coaching model. This is now an integral part of the CPD programme for the school. Consequently, coaching plays a significant part in the school’s continuing outstanding success. We are gathering evidence from many of the schools we work with of the power of coaching to manage change, build highly effective teams and deliver outstanding teaching and learning
Telephone us on 01746 765076 Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org ask for Glynis or Alison.
It is all change this term for Learning Cultures, we have a new website and new offices with a training suite so that we can offer training and development opportunities for small groups in the beautiful 15th century market town of Bridgnorth in the even more stunning county of Shropshire.
We are growing and our success is built on the quality of the training we offer and the expertise of our trainers, researchers and educational professionals. CPD is not an option for schools, it is an essential part of creating outstanding lessons, powerful leadership and innovative strategies for ensuring all learners are motivated to achieve their full potential.
The Westminster Forum hosted an event last week to focus on Next steps for reforming primary education: effective teaching practices, assessment and accountability. One of the most interesting aspects of the morning was the opportunity to hear Dame Reena Keeble who was commissioned by the Teaching Schools Council to lead on an investigation into what constitutes effective primary teaching practice. Read more
Effective transition from Year 6 to Year 7 – It’s all about continuity, sharing and challenging.
Creating a continuum of learning that builds on prior knowledge and skills, creates independent and enthusiastic learners and ensures every child can progress and achieve their full potential is what anyone who is in the education profession would agree with. So why is it that we still have a well-researched and continuing dip in performance of anything up to 39% for pupils at the end of year 7. Read more