What are your priorities for creating positive futures for learning that will limit any damage caused by the events of the past year? I am sure that there are so many it is difficult to decide where to start to ensure future planning creates the right culture for success. Following ‘a deep dive’ into the current research and commentary from many sources I outline here some of the challenges that may require systems redesign where current systems and protocols may require significant change to deliver innovative futures for learning. The key is to choose the right focus for your situation, define the vision and ambition and know what success will look like.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent; it is the one most adaptable to change.”
Creating a Coalition of Team Leaders
The role of the leader is to inspire all staff to achieve the defined vision linked to curriculum intent, to know and be able to communicate that vision and create an inspirational canvas that shines a light on what success will look like. In order to define the priorities for innovative futures for learning the leader needs to have a carefully chosen and trusted coalition, a senior team of talented individuals to take forward any decisions made. They must work together to empower others to be instrumental in making change happen. Transformation comes when individuals work together successfully to deliver mutually agreed goals that focus on positive change, exciting innovation, and who will foster powerful learning conversations.
Re-defining the Curriculum Content
We can’t capture what has been lost, if we try, we will alienate the learner and the teacher. We must move forward from here looking at what has been achieved and build on prior learning from the last year to stimulate and invigorate a belief that where learning goes next will fill any gaps and create for the learner a curiosity to build their own breadth of understanding, sharpen their skills and encourage deeper enquiry.
The curriculum is a tapestry that weaves the core skills, the wider metacognitive skills, knowledge and concepts that transcend subject divides to provide the rich and complex threads for deep and profound learning. Finding a way to build a sequential and seamless curriculum from primary school, into secondary school and beyond should be the focus of all those who want to foster successful learning. Systems redesign here is challenging and requires a paradigm shift in current approaches to curriculum implementation which involves collaboration and a shared vision across all year groups and partner schools across the transition divide.
Pedagogy as a Key Driver for Success
There is no substitute for outstanding pedagogy. The art and science of teaching is at the heart of what inspires learning. Expert subject knowledge, a deep understanding of how learners learn and an ability to create for the learner a deep desire to want to find out more, deepen their knowledge and build unconscious competence in their use of a range of skills describes the exceptional teacher.
Creating a CPD strategy as part of systems redesign should focus on the sharing and cascading of good practice. Planning professional development must create opportunities for teachers to reflect on their own successes and allow teachers to take risks, be innovative and look beyond the subject divide. Teaching in the 21st century and especially now as new approaches and new skills have changed the dynamics all of this must be close to the top of the priority list for innovative futures for learning.
Capture Learning at Points of Transition
Systems redesign for transition is likely to be a strategy that will provide evidence of impact more quickly than any other. There is a profound and well-researched dip in performance of anything up to 40% from the end of a transition period to the end of the following year, this is most profound when pupils move from primary to secondary school.
Why? There are so many reasons all easily dealt with when there is a commitment to a shared partnership across the transition bridge whether this is key stage 1 to 2, 2 to 3 or when learners move from key stage 3 to 4 or from year 11 into a post 16 environment. High levels of communication, a shared vision for a sequential and seamless curriculum, a focus on the needs of the learner, an understanding of what has been taught, what has been learnt and what skills are integral to the learning phase all play their part in negating any dip in learning.
Creating a Coaching Culture for Learning
Coaching creates a culture where the focus on specific systems redesign will make the most difference. Coaching empowers, defines the right channels for effective communication and allows individuals to find their own solutions. Now is the time to plan a strategy that will deliver your vision for the future of learning in your school, college MAT or Trust. Embracing coaching as the conduit for change to take place is elevating, motivating and uplifting.
We take the principles of coaching and use deeply respected research to create a pathway for all staff to work together, celebrate their strengths, learn from each other and cascade their successes widely thus building a culture of positivity and a willingness to embrace change. CPD is an essential element of professional life for all those who educate. Using coaching as a key driver for ensuring all are working together to achieve a common goal will reap a harvest of outstanding learning and teaching. Reach for the future, don’t dwell on the past.
Building on Confidence in Technology
Who hasn’t learnt new skills over the past twelve months? Who hasn’t found out more about themselves and what they really want? We have all had to embrace technology and we have all had to learn differently as a result. This is true for all learners across the age spectrum, for teachers, leaders and maybe most of all for parents.
Leaving out the power of the learning through technology as part of your systems redesign would be a travesty. The future of learning must embrace the way technology has been an integral part of how the curriculum has been delivered and how learners have captured their understanding, revealed gaps in their learning and demonstrated competence in a range of new skills. We have updated our original Blended Learning course and it is now called Planning for a Learning Future: Better than before. Creating a blended learning future creates exciting opportunities for deeper, richer learning experiences across the age and the ability spectrum.
Capturing the Learner Voice
The learner, wherever they are along their journey in education has had a lot to deal with, not least a media intrusion that constantly suggests that they ‘will be the lost ‘generation’ and they have experienced ‘a catastrophic loss of learning’. On the contrary they have a great deal to celebrate and be proud of. Part of planning for systems redesign where leaders work out how to innovate for future learning must be to involve the learner in the process.
It is by talking to learners, finding out how they feel, what they need to offset any loss of learning and highlighting the many skills they have gained that we will help them to move forward towards successful outcomes and positive futures.
Learners have had to work independently, be autonomous in how they have managed their time and planned their learning. The genie is out of the bottle, we need to build from here and not impose structures that existed before that will no longer feel right for learning. The possibilities are endless for ensuring that learners can take more control for their own learning and build new futures. Have a look at our 15 top tips for ensuring learners can make the transition from home schools learning to learning in the classroom.
Read this article written by our Director Glynis Frater about the importance of staff and learner voice in taking account of curriculum choices . Written some time ago but the themes resonate now more than ever.
Assessment and Curriculum Futures
Assessment must be a key driver when designing and implementing a curriculum that will ensure all learners achieve their full potential. Planning backwards may be key to this. What is the curriculum designed to achieve? How will the learning be assessed? What will be assessed, skills, knowledge, flair, deeper thinking? Where departments and teams are working together to define a common purpose for how learning is to be assessed there is a synergy and a collective approach to designing curriculum strategies that will challenge, nurture talent, ensure parity and foster a culture of curiosity that leads to independence and deeper thinking.
This year assessment in both primary and secondary schools has been turned upside down. Teachers have the responsibility for making sure that they can find enough time to teach the content, create an environment where learners can feel confident that they are learning and have sufficient evidence that the knowledge they are acquiring will be enough across the specific range of subjects they are studying. Read the current guidance from OFQUAL.
This is a paradigm shift for many teachers and is an interesting ideological diversion for many political thinkers. The cushion of the exam or test takes the responsibility for assessment out of the hands of the teacher and the centre they belong to. In this brave new world, it is essential that all teachers have the right evidence to submit. They must have a deep understanding of the pedagogy of assessment for learning through the use of deep and rich questioning where challenging feedback is essential in the pursuit of accuracy, transparency and fairness. They must also feel convinced that they can make their own professional judgements across a range of evidence sources.
We have added to our courses Formative Assessment in the Primary School and Formative Assessment in the Secondary School to provide those teachers who are not familiar with teacher assessment in this way to learn some of the tools and techniques that will help them to be accurate and confident in their own adjudications so that they can be assured that they are doing the best for their pupils.
Strategic and Innovative CPD Solutions
Innovative futures for learning will lie in a focus on systems redesign and the associated CPD that will be essential. All staff need to feel they are an integral part of the learning journey that will ultimately lead to successful outcomes where minimum learning is lost and teachers and learners alike feel confident and empowered to look forward and not backward.
Have a look at Learning Cultures latest online brochure for all our latest courses and programmes for school and college leaders, subject and middle leaders, teachers and support staff. Visit our website for all the latest information about our services, courses and superb asynchronous packages. Let us help you to create a coaching culture that will ensure all staff work together, share their successes and build a truly collaborative and outstanding future. Work with our curriculum experts to redraw your curriculum vision, share the rationale and ambition and build the highest quality learning journey for every learner. Know what success will look like and have evidence at your fingertips that your systems redesign will impact on the life chances of everyone in your school or college.