Learning on line – top tips from Glynis at Learning Cultures

Most teachers probably have little experience of distance teaching.  Their role is fundamentally to be there in the classroom to teach, facilitate learning, support and challenge.

While schools are closed how can teachers offer a presence that ensures pupils can continue to have a meaningful and valuable education?

We have been building some of our training courses for educators to be delivered through an on-line platform.  This has given us an extraordinary insight into how to create that presence remotely. I want to share some of our learning that you can use to ensure that pupils are inspired to continue to learn and progress.

Here are 10 top tips that have helped us to develop our on-line presence:-

  • Create some protocols to share with pupils prior to embarking on any kind of on-line learning strategy
  • Check the technical capability of your IT infrastructure and what pupils are using at home. If diagrams, text and pictures are difficult to see it will impact on motivation
  • Plan carefully so that there is a sequence to the learning that becomes a clearly defined map or journey for pupils to follow
  • Make sure pupils are prepared in the same way you would expect if you were still in the classroom, the right equipment, good posture, comfortable dress and readiness for learning
  • Focus on the end points and work backwards to ensure that the learning is sequenced well and be clear what you want pupils to achieve
  • Be very clear as the to the learning goals and objectives. Focus on how you can ignite interest by matching your expectations with the pupils’ interests and capabilities
  • Define a study plan that outlines what pupils are learning, how long will the session last and how the session builds on prior learning and prepares for next steps in learning
  • Use this opportunity to focus more on study skills than on content, such as specifically teaching listening skills, note taking skills; how to use enquiry techniques to support self-study or a focus on reading to learn (comprehension)
  • Create opportunities for discovery learning by posing questions to stimulate pupils to find out for themselves
  • Find activities that are fun, and learner centred. On-line is their domain trust your pupils to be solutions focused and innovative in how they use their time for learning

Our on-line learning suite of courses for leaders, managers and teachers will be available in April.  The first courses are listed below. Email us to register your interest.

 

 

Have the answers to the ‘deep dive’ questions being asked about your curriculum

Our expert curriculum team have developed a suite of highly interactive training linked to  the ‘deep dive’ questions OFSTED are asking of school leaders and managers. We have drawn on several commentaries to compile this list both from Headteachers who are currently mopping up after an inspection to eminent researchers and commentators who have surveyed the depths to offer advice on how to reach the surface successfully.

Creating the culture that will ensure there is a synchronised approach to curriculum design, high quality pedagogy, subject expertise, assessment and evaluation requires senior leaders to create a clearly defined plan that all staff can navigate by. In order to achieve this everyone needs to work together within their subject and as part of cross-curricular and cross-phase teams to confidently have the answers to  some of these questions.  

All staff need to have a definite and clear understanding as to the answers that mirror the school’s intent and ambition for the curriculum and for the pupils it serves. The right management processes need to be in place.  Subject and curriculum teams need to have the answers at their fingertips about how they deliver  a well-sequenced, conceptual and progressive curriculum. The focus must be on leaders and managers creating a longitudinal and latitudinal chart that all staff can interpret, plan with and deliver.

One theme that resonates across all the examples of questions we have seen is the need to ensure there is professional development support including high quality training  so staff can confidently deliver the curriculum.

Here at Learning Cultures we have focused on the answers to the many questions being asked of leaders, managers and subject specialists.  We have created a CPD offer that covers all the elements that need to be in place to ensure the curriculum is safely delivered. Our training offer is highly interactive, provides a range of useful re-usable resources and activities and is built on highly respected sector led research.

The questions provide a revealing spotlight into what school leaders in both primary and secondary schools need to look for themselves when assessing the successful implementation of their stated aims and goals for the curriculum. However, subject leaders and their teams need to have the  answers that reveal a kaleidoscope of creative and innovative learning that is consistent and leads to parity and progression for all learners. Essentially, this requires schools to embark on an immersive CPD journey towards dry land.

For leadership teams

For subject and curriculum leads

For all those who assess learning

Look at our courses on transition from KS1 to KS2 and transition from KS 2 to KS3 and our courses for those involved in embedding literacy and numeracy across the curriculum

 

How does coaching deliver high quality curriculum and learning outcomes?

Coaching in education is a powerful pedagogy. Creating the right culture for change is far easier to manage where coaching principles are a part of the process. Coaching is solutions focused, builds on what already works well and highlights the positive.

The current imperative to look closely at the curriculum and how it is designed and delivered has many elements that all need expert leadership and careful management.  Research from OFSTED is helping to explain some of the drivers for change but does not necessarily provide the answers to how that change might be implemented effectively across all phases, year groups and subjects.  Learning how to coach can provide all staff with the skills, self-belief and self-awareness that will help them to have the confidence to innovate and give them the tools and skills to shape a new future together with their teams, their colleagues and their pupils.

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them”

It is clear from reports and experiences from those who have recently been visited by OFSTED that inspectors are not spending much time interviewing the head or the senior leadership team, they are heading into the classroom, talking to teachers and to pupils, reviewing how the curriculum content is determined, sequenced and assessed and looking closely at the quality of output from pupils. They want to see the expertise of leadership as a part of the learning process and how that leadership translates into a high quality, deep and rich curriculum delivered by highly trained and well-informed practitioners.

Where coaching is the driver for change there are superb opportunities for professional dialogue where individuals can share their planning, look for cross-curricular opportunities and collaborate about pedagogy, progression and learning.  Where teachers learn how to coach, they also have a repertoire of skills including deep and rich questioning strategies, influencing techniques and active listening skills that will reap outstanding opportunities for progression and deeper learning in the classroom.

Create a learning culture through coaching and be safe in the knowledge that there is outstanding learning emerging from a deep and rich curriculum and through a shared dialogue and commitment to continuous improvement. We have designed a coaching culture with a series of coaching courses for all staff working in education.

New content for our curriculum CPD linked to current research and expert commentary

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.

  1. Ensuring a clarity of purpose for all staff and pupils through the use of highly structured professional learning conversations
  2. Lesson observation and teacher reflection through a critical focus on pedagogy and the learning that emerges from skilful classroom practice
  3. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How is progress assured as part of a well designed and sequenced curriculum?

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

 

What are the curriculum priorities for the new term?

What are the curriculum priorities that will guarantee a rich and deep curriculum offer that sequences learning over time?  They must include,

Creating the right teams that can take forward the vision and rationale for breadth and balance of the curriculum. Teams that can work together to create a sequential curriculum that weaves concepts, knowledge and skills into a body of learning.

A balance of innovation and conventional pedagogy that creates informed choices for how the curriculum should be taught. Developing a culture of professional learning that means staff within teams and departments, across year groups and at transition points all talk to each other and learn from each other.

A clearly defined strategy for highly effective CPD that is agreed linked to individual and team development needs.  If change is fundamental to re-defining the curriculum and how it is developed and delivered all staff will have their own collective and individual needs.  It is vital that this is planned and implemented to ensure that all staff are able to collectively deliver curriculum intent.

How the learning is assessed must be woven into the curriculum plan, assessment is fundamental if we are to measure the impact of the curriculum being taught on learning and progression.  There needs to be a balance between formative and summative assessment and opportunities for those with pupil facing roles to plan their assessment approaches together to ensure consistency, consensus and cohesion. There also needs to be agreement across all teams, departments and year groups as to how and when to intervene when pupils fall behind.

Building a system of positive quality assurance is key to defining the success of the curriculum and its implementation.  It is essential that the process secures high quality outcomes while retaining any strongly supportive team culture.  The process should be qualitative and not quantitative. Data is the result of a lot of other processes that are measured over time.  Lesson observation, learning walks, measuring pupil outputs, student voice, parents’ views are all part of measuring quality. It is, however, essential that all are used to celebrate a learning culture and are not seen as a measure of what is going wrong.  If we build a highly effective quality assurance strategy it will highlight the strengths within the organisation, inform the need for change and provide the steer for next steps in the process of continuous improvement.

Wherever you are on the curriculum journey we have a superb range of training and development courses that have been specifically designed to bring clarity and deeper meaning.  We are a coaching organisation and we achieve outstanding results.  Our courses are set out on our website in three sections,

We are launching a coaching certification programme and some on-line training courses which we are calling CPD in a Box this term.  Have a look at our website for more details.

Make sure all your staff have a CPD offer that is sustainable and provides profound learning that can be cascaded to others and has an impact on the organisation, the team and the individual.

 

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.

Re-define your Curriculum Emphasis – Focus on learning and deepening understanding

The current emphasis on how the curriculum is planned and delivered should be a welcome opportunity for all senior leaders in schools to focus on ensuring their curriculum is all about learning and deepening understanding across a range of different topics, themes or subjects.  Amanda Spielman OFSTED’s Chief Inspector  started the debate, her concern, that the curriculum is narrowed to accommodate the need to teach to the test in Years 2 and 6 and in year 11 if not 10 as well is, in some cases, well founded.

Alongside this criticism is an acknowledgement that OFSTED may, in the past, have focused too much on the data and not enough on how that data is arrived at.  I have a long-held belief that focusing on passing tests and examinations at the expense of deepening learning over time is counter-productive.  Creating opportunities for pupils to access deep and rich text, apply numeracy skills to help to consolidate understanding of a problem or how to write to explain bias, cause and effect or express an opinion help to deepen their competence, strengthen their understanding and give them the resilience they need to see questions in a test or examination from different perspectives and give them a much better chance of coming up with the right level of response.

John West-Burnham in a research paper suggests that shallow learning is all about memorisation and leads to compliance and dependence and contributes very little in the pursuit of deep learning.  Read the whole paper here.Planning the curriculum should focus on what outcomes we want for pupils in terms of their knowledge and the skills that they need in order to access and apply that knowledge in a range of cross-curricular, thematic and subject contexts. Each school is different and that is why there is an imperative to focus on intent in relation to curriculum design that defines the right approach for individual school contexts.  Implementing that stated curriculum must focus on high quality pedagogy, teaching  that delivers inspirational learning and uses assessment strategies that lead to high levels of progression.  A positive impact is where all pupils have deepened their knowledge, are developing the core skills that will help them continue to make connections across all their learning and are mastering the wider cognitive skills that will ensure successful outcomes when they are tested or examined.

A good starting point is to have a detailed pro-forma scheme of work that everyone uses as part of planning in all departments, across all year groups and where appropriate for topic or sequential learning.  The headings should be built to ensure a consistency of purpose that mirrors the vision for deep knowledge and the development of the skills that will allow that vision to be realised.  These could include:-

  • What is the sequence of learning?
  • What do pupils know already to build on their knowledge and understanding?
  • What are the literacy skills that are intrinsic to the learning that are to be developed/further developed?
  • What are the numeracy skills that are intrinsic to the learning that can be developed/further developed?
  • What other learning skills will support the learning linked to deepening knowledge, fostering progression and demonstrating mastery?
  • What are the expected outcomes from this topic/series of lessons/theme?

The skills must be those that are naturally occurring as a part of learning. They do not need to be shoe-horned into the learning.  Also, pupils need to be a part of the process, continually re-enforcing their role in how they deepen their own learning, articulating what they need to do to make progress and improve their own work.

Whatever you do, don’t start from scratch.  In our last news-post we provided a tool called L.E.A.R.N. It starts with what will you leave in.  Always focus on what you do well before thinking about what needs to be changed.

Join us at one of our highly successful training days looking at how to re-define your curriculum, not for OFSTED but to reflect on how to make sure your curriculum is all about learning, highly effective pedagogy and the best outcomes for all pupils.

Read our news post that focuses on the skills/knowledge agenda

Focus on formative assessment to ensure the curriculum and how it is assessed is seen as a seamless process.

OFSTED, the Curriculum and moving towards a change of emphasis

OFSTED have this week released a commentary on the second phase of their research into curriculum design, implementation and impact. Amanda Spielman is clear in her assertion that the real substance of education is the curriculum and how it is structured so that all pupils can access it, learn through it and make progress linked to how it is delivered and assessed.
There will be, the report states, a new approach to inspection that moves away from simply focusing on outcomes linked to end of key stage data and more towards looking at what complements that data.

This, it suggests, includes evidence of:

  • a clearly defined and fit for purpose curriculum design that is linked to the school vision and purpose
  • positive leadership that includes devolved leadership to subject specialists and teachers
  • collaborative and whole school involvement
  • pedagogy that deepens subject knowledge and challenges the pupil’s ability to make connections across different subject disciplines
  • how pupils demonstrate competence in their use of skills that help them to access curriculum knowledge
  • a carefully sequenced content that builds depth and breadth of understanding over time

The research found that the sample schools used one of three approaches to planning their curriculum.

  • Knowledge – led approach -skills come from knowledge, “skills are the bi-product of knowledge”. Through the deepening of knowledge comes the ability to use associated skills. The characteristics of this approach are fewer topics that are taught in greater depth
  • Knowledge – engaged approach – “knowledge underpins the application of skills” This approach focuses on how the skills and the knowledge are integral, the pupil learns skills alongside knowledge acquisition. This involves planning which skills the pupil will use to access knowledge. Within this approach there is a greater emphasis on cross-curricular teaching, ensuring an understanding of how knowledge applies in a context
  • Skills – led approach – Skills have the higher priority in the planning process, knowledge is seen as a series of disconnected facts unless the pupil has the skills to place them in their context

There is no suggestion that one approach is better than another and schools remain free to make their own decisions as to the best model in their specific local setting. However, it is the reasons behind the choices made that will need to be clear and focused on holistic, deeper and sequential learning and not simply on how to achieve the best outcomes for the schools at times of testing or examination outcome.

Curriculum design, the report concludes, is a reflective process involving leaders, subject specialists and teachers. It suggests that there needs to be much more evidence of progression models that show how pupils will build their subject knowledge and their ability to use associated skills adeptly and competently. It is also clearly stated that curriculum and assessment are inseparable and welcome evidence that leaders in the sample schools believe that skilful formative and summative assessment strategies are integral to deep learning and are useful in identifying gaps in learning.

In conclusion:

  • No one design fits all, the National Curriculum is the benchmark, but the choice of design is up to the school and linked to the school’s context and the expertise of those involved
  •  The curriculum should be linked to the school vision and purpose. It should be the yardstick for what leaders want their pupils to know and be able to do by the end of their school life
  • The curriculum design should be clearly defined, the content should be carefully sequenced, have thoughtfully designed assessment practice and include an appropriate model of progression
  • The curriculum should have substance, depth and breadth and be more than preparation for tests and examinations
  • There should be a rich web of knowledge where skills weave opportunities for a continuum of learning that deepens understanding and allows for progression

The Learning Cultures Expert Curriculum team have developed two outstanding training opportunities that will give school and curriculum leaders an opportunity to reflect on what currently works well and how to ensure that new strategies and innovations create a curriculum design for now and the future that enriches learning and deepens knowledge and understanding. We weave our deep knowledge of curriculum design with our expertise in coaching to explore how to create a whole school, collaborative curriculum and assessment model that inspires and nurtures learning and achievement.

Re-defining the Primary Curriculum – Content, cohesion and purpose
Re-defining the Secondary Curriculum – Defining purpose, designing content and delivering impact

How seamless is your curriculum?

OFSTED are currently reviewing how the curriculum is designed and delivered in all phases of education.

In a recent presentation Sean Harford of OFSTED made a plea that schools should be ‘bold and courageous’ with their curriculum.  There are many clues from different commentators and especially from Amanda Spielman as to what is wanted here.  Essentially the curriculum should have depth and breadth, build on prior learning and challenge pupils to master the essential principles embodied in the learning of the core skills especially, reading, writing, communication and Mathematics as well as digital and scientific literacy.  Pupils should be able to make connections and become unconsciously competent in their use of these skills in the pursuance of deeper knowledge and understanding that expand their horizons.

There are, according to Sean Harford of OFSTED, three parts to a framework that make up the essential planning of a cohesive and successful curriculum, these are:

  • Intent – What will be included in the curriculum framework and what knowledge and understanding will be gained by pupils at each stage?
  • Implementation – How will the curriculum be translated over time into a structure and narrative within the institutional context
  • Impact and achievement – Evaluating what knowledge and understanding pupils have gained against expectations

‘Depth and breadth’ are words liberally used in much of the documentation and transcripts from speeches.  Sean Harford admits that there is some ambiguity as to how different schools interpret these words.  For me, the essence of this is to create a seamless curriculum where pupils build on prior learning from lesson to lesson, subject to subject and from year to year.  The curriculum design is a tapestry of learning and the planning of the curriculum needs to draw on all those who will deliver it to understand how their input is an integral part of a whole school drive for deep and meaningful progression for all pupils.

There will be a new OFSTED handbook and framework from September 2019 and if the current literature is correct there will be a greater emphasis on how schools plan, implement and evaluate their curriculum.  If this is so, now is the time to start to focus on ensuring there is a dialogue that involves everyone at school involved in teaching and learning to focus on how the curriculum is woven together to ensure pupils are continually developing their knowledge and skills and deepening their understanding over time.

To create the right culture for cohesion and collaboration the curriculum needs to be at the heart of the planning process.  The vision for school success must be linked to the design, delivery and impact of a curriculum that develops pupils to know more and remember more over time.  An assessment policy needs to be seen to support the pupils’ journeys through the curriculum and be pupil centred.  Pedagogy needs to be explored and defined in terms of how it allows pupils to deepen their understanding, refine metacognition and create the unconsciously competent learner who deftly uses skills in a wide variety of contexts within school and beyond.

Following in-depth research our curriculum experts have some ‘bold and brave’ solutions and a wealth of resources to support schools in both the primary and secondary phases of education to focus on their curriculum, what to keep, what to change and how to create the evidence that your curriculum delivers high quality learning over time.