Defining the Substance of Education – Creating the right culture for deep learning

The substance of education, says Amanda Spielman, will be at the centre of the draft new education inspection framework which will be published for consultation in the new year.  The substance, is essentially, the curriculum and how it is taught. This is re-inforced in the speech Ms Spielman has given following the announcement of her second Annual Report as Chief Inspector.  The message is clear, whilst the data is important as a measure of outcomes, it is the breadth of curriculum content that is under the spotlight especially poignant at key stage 2 and 3.  She says,

Here as in every country, the home language and maths are the spine of children’s learning.  But they can’t be the limit. They are the gateway subjects to a broad curriculum that includes humanities, science, languages and the creative subjects too.  Children should learn about the events that shaped our nation’s history, the forces that create our natural environment, the key scientific principles that underpin the world and universe around us, the ability to appreciate and participate in art and music, and develop some practical skills in crafts and technology.

The actual Annual Report focuses on four key themes:-

  • Getting the basics right
  • The impact of a lack of capacity and its effects on standards
  • The danger that schools are expected to become a panacea for all of society’s ills
  • The importance of focus on the substance of education

The over-arching message is that the profession is doing ok but there is still room for significant improvement. The report explains what has gone before. We as education professionals must look to the future and take control of what we believe is the right ‘substance of education’.  There is an implied criticism that across the whole sector, “there is a mentality of ‘what is measured is what gets done’ and this trumps the true purpose of education and curriculum thinking – the consideration of what needs to be taught and learned for a full education – has been eroded.”  A Spielman December 2018

If what is being said is to be believed and I can see no reason to doubt it we do have an opportunity to be a part of this evolution in the role OFSTED want to play in shaping the future ‘substance of education’.

Further research about how the curriculum is designed, delivered and assessed is due to be published this week. It will explain some more about how OFSTED  intend to inspect the curriculum and the draft new education framework will be published for consultation by the profession in January.  What has been said so far and what is due to be published give us the opportunity to shape an innovative curriculum offer. It should be pupil focused, rich in content and create opportunities for pupils to develop the skills for learning that will help them access a wide range of knowledge. It will also, incidentally, give pupils the ability to know how to answer SATS questions and respond with depth to the challenges of GCSE and beyond.

In conclusion I will quote from the most recent speech from Amanda Spielman,

What we will be interested in is the coherence, the sequencing and construction, the implementation of the curriculum, how it is being taught and how well children and young people are progressing in it. So, please, don’t leap for quick fixes or superficial solutions just to please OFSTED. That would be the wrong response.  From September, we’ll be interested in where you are going and how you intend to get there, not just whether you’ve arrived there yet.

We echo with such passion the sentiment here. The next two terms need to be a time for conversations, incisive discussions about subject knowledge and how pupils can deepen their understanding; questions about how we create opportunities for pupils to make connections across their learning; time to reflect on how the content relates to pupils’ own experience, interests and prior knowledge and time to share and cascade good practice linked to pedagogy, assessment and planning.

We have the CPD strategies and resources to support you and your teams.  There is no prescription here just a profound opportunity to make a difference.

Use coaching to foster the professional dialogue and challenge needed to create a cohesive, consistent and content rich curriculum that builds on prior learning and prepares pupils for the next stage or phase of their education.

Coaching and Curriculum Cohesion – Create a culture where excellence is cascaded across the whole school

To create a culture where excellence and high-quality learning is cascaded across the whole school is best achieved through coaching.  Using coaching to ensure there is curriculum cohesion across all phases and stages will ensure all staff exceed and surpass expectations. Coaching encourages the use of positive and deep questioning that will enhance professional learning and challenge pupils. Coaching inspires innovation, helps individuals to embrace change and creates opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice.

Amanda Spielman’s latest communication, her letter to the public accounts committee’s request for information confirms her intention to pursue a new category for the forthcoming changes to the OFSTED Inspection Framework ‘Quality of Education’ which will include curriculum intent, depth and breadth alongside the quality of teaching, the quality of pupils’ work and the resulting outcomes. The diagram below is my interpretation of the main components that need to be in place in order that schools know how their vision is translated into powerful learning over time.

Creating a culture that ensures all of the components above are carefully planned and implemented requires highly effective communication. Leading a Coaching School. Talented teams need to work together to manage change, create new approaches and build on what they currently do well.  Coaching from the Middle – How to influence change, build outstanding teams and lead innovation.

All teachers need to have a range of pedagogies and strategies for learning and assessment that will support pupils to build on their prior learning, deepen that learning and be ready to embrace challenge through the acquisition of knowledge and the use of associated skills. Coaching Towards Outstanding Teaching and Learning.  Pupils need to be an integral part of this and learner voice can be highly effective as part of an overall strategy. Coaching in the Classroom with Pupils.  Using coaching as the CPD vehicle to achieving the above is highly effective.

CPD is an essential component in creating a culture where staff accept positive change and work together to achieve the stated vision for excellence and improvement. What emerges from this particular cycle of change is exciting and should create a curriculum that is fit for purpose for the school, its pupils and the local and wider community within which it draws its cohort. However, the CPD and associated training must be relevant, sustainable and have an impact on learning and achievement for all.  Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive, provides individuals with the opportunity to find their own solutions and learn how professional dialogue leads to successful outcomes for the school, teams and individual staff and pupils. It is the sharing and cascading of the learning both as part of an actual coaching training programme and how that is then cascaded to others to enhance its efficacy that makes the coaching training we offer so powerful.

Have a look at our Coaching in Education section on our website that has something for all staff.  Join us at one of our curriculum courses to look in great depth at how to ensure readiness for the changes:

or ask us about our INSET packages where we can help you to plan your CPD and curriculum strategies for intent, implementation and impact.

Create a CPD strategy that will sustain outstanding learning for the next academic year and beyond

Create a CPD strategy and a coaching culture that will sustain outstanding learning and teaching for the next academic year and beyond.

If you read a few OFSTED reports for those schools that have been judged outstanding you will see that they have something in common.  Learning is at the heart of their vision.  Every strategy and decision is made on the basis that it will ensure learning is a continuous process not just for the pupils but for the staff as well.

Leaders, managers, teachers and support staff all play their part in developing a common thread that focuses on their own potential and how each member of staff can learn from their practice and the practice of others.  The wealth of talent that is within the school is shared in the pursuance of a culture of positive continuous professional development and learning.

Creating this culture requires forethought, commitment and detailed planning so that everyone is involved and has a part to play in the pursuance of a learning community. This is the perfect time to plan your CPD strategy for the next academic year to ensure that it will be sustainable, relevant and totally in line with achieving the outcomes stated in the school improvement plan.

The senior leadership team need to have the inherent belief that every member of the school can and will continuously improve their performance.  There is no such thing as failure, a mistake is a jewel that leads to learning and creates an atmosphere of trust that fosters innovation, creativity and challenge.

Middle leaders are the pivotal force in creating a platform for learning that empowers their teams to work together in the pursuit of excellence and improvement across the whole school, in departments, for phases and within key stages.

Teachers and support teams share and cascade their practice through the development of learning communities and the use of professional conversations that will empower them to be reflective in their quest for progression, achievement and attainment for all their pupils.  Pupils are resilient and motivated, they embrace challenge, they are aware of how they are learning through listening, deeper thinking and the development of their memory skills and they know they are part of an organisation that puts their learning needs first.

The Learning Cultures’ suite of coaching training has been designed to create the right CPD to allow this culture to unfold.  Where individuals develop the skills that will influence positive change including allowing them to articulate and pursue their own learning goals, deepen their knowledge and skills, acknowledge their own strengths and share their successes with others the positive results are profound.  The evidence of impact is obvious both qualitatively and in the data sets that confirm the change and the improvements.

 

Create a CPD strategy that is individualised, sustained, intensive, focused and cost-effective

The right professional development will ensure that all teachers continuously develop so that they feel able to challenge, innovate and always deliver good and outstanding lessons.  This is the basic premise of an article about coaching in the TES of Friday 20th April.  Written by a Rhode Island US Professor, Matthew Kraft, he says,

“if you want better teachers, schools need to embrace the power of coaching”.

CPD is an essential part of school life.

The phrase professional development has replaced performance management in the current incarnation of the OFSTED handbook. This suggests that OFSTED want to see that there is a clear link between ongoing teacher improvement and the professional development that teachers have access to.   Measuring teacher performance is an output, professional development is an input. Without highly effective training, collaboration and the sharing and disseminating of good practice improvements in performance are unlikely to be sustained.

The article goes on to say that, “teacher coaching models are one of the most promising alternatives to traditional CPD. ”

Why introduce coaching CPD in a school or college context?

Coaching is challenging and focuses on continuous learning.  The reason why coaching is proven to be a highly successful medium for delivering CPD in a school is that coaching starts with what is working well. The school recognises the talent and expertise that already exists and uses whole school CPD to cascade good and outstanding practice widely.  There is an inherent belief that all teachers are able to improve and grow in their role.  There is a culture where there is no such thing as failure, only the opportunity to learn from mistakes through the use of highly effective professional coaching conversations.

What are the first steps towards developing a coaching CPD model in your organisation?

The first step is to be clear about what coaching actually means.  How is it different from mentoring, teaching, instruction or counselling?  Learning how to coach is a powerful leadership skill.  A leader can take control whilst focusing on how others can be the drivers for the vision, where one can delegate and be confident that successful and well-trained and well-informed teams can deliver.

What happens next is critical.  Leaders and managers need to have a profound understanding of where excellent practice exists and how it can be shared and cascaded as part of a sustainable CPD strategy.  Staff across the school, in whatever phase of education, need to be aware of their own strengths, gaps in their learning and how they can fill them through collaboration with their peers and through focused CPD that is carefully planned and linked to the individual, team and organisational goals.

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college

Creating a coaching culture in a school or college takes time to embed.  However, from the very beginning there are benefits and high quality learning opportunities where staff, whether they are leaders, managers, teachers or their support teams begin to develop a range of coaching skills that are without doubt those that link closely to the pedagogy that delivers outstanding learning and teaching.

As part of the journey towards creating a coaching culture all staff will learn and develop a range of skills associated with coaching.  The most important of these are how to use deep and rich questioning techniques and how to listen actively in order to be able to influence change and support others to self-reflect and find their own solutions.   These skills are inhererent in good classroom practice, essential as part of highly effective meetings and in the development of strategies that need to be communicated in order that they become successful outcomes.

Learning Cultures are leading providers of coaching CPD for schools and colleges

The coaching training that Learning Cultures deliver is built on many years of research and practical examples of what works in schools and college across the UK and beyond.  We can offer a suite of courses for individuals or groups of staff to attend on one or more of our off-site courses.  Alternatively, we offer a variety of in-school training, INSET and consultancy.  We are, without doubt, the leading provider of coaching training for the education profession.  Delegates learn new skills, are stretched and challenged and leave full of enthusiasm and real practical ideas of how to take their learning forward. Below is a list of the courses we recommend to start your coaching journey.

 

Delegate, Disseminate, Deliver – develop a coaching culture that cascades outstanding learning and teaching

Focus on the three Ds, and create a coaching culture in your school

Leaders delegate – The role of the leader is to create the vision and communicate and empower others to action change.

Managers disseminate – The role of the manager is to interpret the vision, build highly effective teams and create the steps and time frames that will ensure successful outcomes achieve the desired impact and bring about positive change.

Teams deliver – The team is made up of the people who can work towards achieving the vision. Individual members make up a team and these could be leaders, managers and other members of staff all co-opted for their skills, strengths and commitment to see the vision turn into a reality.

The catalyst that will allow the leader to articulate and successfully communicate the vision is best realised when he or she is able to use powerful coaching skills effectively; such as learning a range of influencing skills that raise the self-esteem and self-belief of those empowered to disseminate how the vision will be delivered. Coaching is ultimately about creating the culture where leaders trust their managers to find the right solutions, understand the barriers that might get in the way and carefully use the resources and manpower they have available to successfully build highly effective teams.  Learn more at our Leading a Coaching School training day.

Where the skills integral to coaching are used well, managers focus on the positive, have clearly defined pathways to successful implementation and are able to manage their time and be confident of the quality of input from each member of their team.

Coaching allows for focused professional conversations where the use of open, deep and rich questioning techniques create the right opportunities to hold individuals to account and empower them to find their own impetus that will deliver the right answers and ultimate success.  Learn more by attending our Coaching from the Middle – How to influence others and aspire to leadership.

Where individuals work together as part of a team the principles employed in developing a coaching culture will help them to work together more effectively.  Positive coaching conversations help to raise awareness of where there may be issues of concern, create time for the fostering of new ideas and the sharing and understanding of potential risk. Coaching allows for the articulation of what works well and how best practice can be shared and cascaded to strengthen the process towards a successful outcome. Your teams will deepen and widen their knowledge of coaching skills by attending our training course, Developing the Skills of a Coaching Ambassador.

Coaching is about learning how to be the best you can be by realising your potential, and facing up to the issues that stop the achievement of goals. Coaching is about the effective realisation of the positive use of time, deepening self – efficacy and realising that effort and positive risk-taking will be rewarded as long as learning is an ultimate part of the outcome.  Have a look at our suite of coaching courses and create a culture that delivers outstanding and sustainable learning communities.

Be Outstanding this New Year – Six resolutions for your school and staff

In December I wrote five news items linked to policy, the latest research and what is in the spotlight for OFSTED and a sixth that focuses on coaching and what we know helps to create and sustain outstanding learning and teaching.

Curriculum is in the spotlight and the focus on mastery or deep and rich learning continues to occupy the minds of policy makers and OFSTED.  Closing the achievement gap especially for ‘disadvantaged’ learners is the subject of a new Government paper. Formative assessment is fundamental to positive outcomes for pupils across all sectors and creating a consistent whole school strategy that delivers positive learning is paramount. Transition is a key issue and remains a concern for many as pupils continue to dip in performance especially as they move from primary to secondary school.  Key Stage 3 is still seen by OFSTED as ‘wasted’ and needs to be a focus for review.

Make your New Year’s resolution to use coaching to create a culture that celebrates, shares and cascades good and outstanding practice and where learning is at the heart of everything.  The philosophy and practices involved in the development of coaching skills for all staff is proven to be the best way to manage change successfully.  Read the blog posts that are linked directly to the issues that have been aired over December and then focus on how creating a coaching culture in your school or group of schools will be a positive catalyst for continuous excellence and improvement.

Read the news posts on our website or dip into them altogether here,

Wishing you a very happy New Year from all of us at Learning Cultures.

Lead your School Towards an Outstanding Coaching Culture

Coaching has the power to transform your school.  If you are using coaching techniques as a leader or manager then you will know what I mean. Coaching is non-judgemental and non-directive. A coach empowers others to find their own solution. Creating a coaching culture means that senior and middle leaders believe that everyone within the organisation can continuously improve their performance.  The sharing and cascading of what works well is fundamental to the learning process.  If things go wrong individuals are encouraged to reflect; criticism is replaced with open discussion that leads to self-belief, self-improvement and peer to peer learning.

Creating a coaching culture takes time and commitment.  The benefits and impact coaching has on individuals, teams and the whole school ensure there is a positive return on the use of resources. The focus is on high quality continuing professional development that allows for innovation, collaboration and positive professional dialogue.  Learning Cultures have developed a suite of coaching training that will deliver a whole school strategy that will impact on school improvement and drive individual and team success.

Increasingly, schools, colleges or partnerships are working with us to plan a coaching programme that encompasses every member of staff from the senior leadership team to support staff.  A focused strategy that allows for a coaching culture to emerge is woven into the school improvement plan. Over time every individual member of staff within the school is able to embrace the coaching philosophy and knows the part he or she plays in achieving the vision for continuous improvement.

Each plan is different and is determined by the priorities identified at the beginning of a cycle.  However, there is a pattern and a rhythm to all successful coaching programmes and they often consist of a combination of the following programmes as a starting point.

Have a look at our wider menu of coaching courses that complement and enhance the ones above. We can also write a bespoke programme for your school, college or partnership.

Why coaching is a pedagogy that delivers and cascades outstanding learning and teaching and is the most powerful catalyst for change.

Why coaching is a pedagogy that delivers and cascades outstanding learning and teaching and is the most powerful catalyst for change.

Learning Cultures are a leading provider of coaching training to the education profession.  We know through the successful interventions we have been a part of that coaching has the most significant impact on school improvement.  Where a coaching culture is an integral part of a strategy for continuing professional development (CPD) in an individual school or across a group of schools the opportunity to share and cascade the learning becomes an integral part of the process. Individual recipients of the training can disseminate and consolidate their deeper knowledge to others which strengthens their own learning and cascades it to a wider audience.  In this way the training is sustainable, cost effective and there is far more opportunity to measure impact and quantify how the learning is helping to meet the vision and goals of the individual school or those in a partnership, alliance or trust.

Coaching can help to offset the uncertainty that seems to have befallen the profession over the past few months. Although funding is often seen as one of the issues at the top of most people’s agenda, our observation is that it is the recruitment and retention of good quality teachers, managers and leaders that is the biggest obstacle to ensuring a school can continuously improve.  Where there is little in the funding pot this situation is exacerbated.

CPD is not an option. We are a profession and as such CPD is a right and is essential in ensuring we can continue to have the skills, attributes, knowledge and understanding to aspire to be or to continue to be outstanding.  Those involved in education need to be a part of the learning process, where they are continually learning themselves. If this is not the case they will become stale, disillusioned and demotivated at best or leave to pursue other avenues at worst.

Embracing the principles of coaching is the answer.  It is the only way to ensure that the small CPD budget can be used effectively.  Whether a school is working alone or as part of an alliance or partnership the leaders need to have solutions to some of the issues surrounding consistency, communication and collaboration.  Creating the right conditions for disseminating the school improvement plan so that every member of staff is able to say for themselves with clarity the part they play in moving the school towards successful outcomes requires a coaching approach.

Coaching allows for ownership of one’s own solutions. It is motivational and empowers even the most intransigent to see how they can contribute to a change agenda.  A coaching culture begins to allow individuals to focus on what they are good at, rather than what is not going well and creates a culture of positivity which is infectious and has an impact on everyone from the senior leadership team all the way to the pupils in the classroom.

Give me a call 01746 765076 or send me an email via this link or as in my signature below.  I have linked a copy of a planning tool we have recently used with a number of schools within a Multi-academy trust in the south of England.  This is one way, there are many others. Coaching is the beginning of a journey, once you start this approach is a passport to success.

Collaboration is the key to outstanding learning and teaching

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.

Plan a sustainable, cost-effective and cohesive CPD strategy for the new academic year

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 conferenceThe 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.