Creating the curious learner – some tips to facilitate enquiry learning

It is normally the role of the teacher to do the research, plan the content of the lesson and steer pupils towards achieving the outcomes already decided the lesson should lead to. In these very different times why not create the right conditions for pupils to become masters of their own learning journey.

Think about what it is you want your class to know and remember. Define what you would like them to produce at the end of the allotted time and resist the temptation to lead pupils towards the information or the facts.

Leave it to your pupils to build their own set of questions.  Create as a starting point some prompts. Who? What? Why? When? Where? This could apply to investigating the Romans, learning about women’s suffrage, the slave trade, the reasons for the start of the First World War, the invention of the telephone.

Encourage pupils to create their own presentations to illustrate their enquiry. This could be a piece of writing or a powerpoint, it could be a drawing or a short video.

Create a two-way process between teacher and pupils in this virtual world where the teacher encourages self-reflection.  So, following an exercise in enquiry learning that leads to pupils presenting their work the teacher asks questions to challenge the pupil to compare, contrast or explain their reasoning, define their thinking and encourage further discussion about the topic.

This approach can lead to pupils becoming more confident in their desire to learn through their own enquiry. Pupils are more likely to exhibit curiosity and can be encouraged to want to find out more.  There are many skills that pupils will gain from this approach such as organising their time for learning, learning how to ask deep and rich questions, compiling their own answers into a coherent narrative or visual representation.

We must find new ways to teach without classrooms.  Motivating pupils to want to learn is essential. Teaching pupils how to be investigators of their own learning can be hugely beneficial even for quite young pupils.  Whilst the teacher isn’t there to support pupils and manage their learning it is a gift to give them the opportunity to be driving their own learning, fostering their own instincts for being curious and helping them develop a range of enquiry skills that will hold them in good stead throughout their education and beyond.

We are nearly there with our online learning platform for leaders, managers subject leaders and teachers. We are offering all of the courses at a special price for schools of £595.00 + VAT. One course can be used by as many staff as need to take part in the training within your school or college. Make sure all staff have the CPD they need through these extra-ordinary times. Our first six courses will be available from 26th April.

Download our ten top tips for creating the right pedagogy for enquiry learning.

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

 

A Journey in Coaching: our certification programme is a powerful driver for curriculum and whole-school change

 

Lead powerful change by creating a team of skilled coaching and curriculum ambassadors or champions using Learning Cultures’ Certification Programme.

The current imperative is to ensure that the curriculum is consistently delivered to mirror the leadership’s clearly defined rationale and ambition. This needs a clarity of purpose across all subjects, year groups, phases and stages. Developing a coaching culture for your school or college is without doubt the most powerful way to cascade positive and consistent improvements in pedagogy, pupil outcomes and team delivery. Coaches develop a range of skills that motivate others, encourage self-reflection and that focus on the positive. It is through these qualities that coaches can support others to begin to use the professional and motivational dialogue that will create measurable and tangible results for all staff and all pupils.

Sustaining a culture of change through coaching has been the guiding principle that has led us to develop this coaching programme for schools and colleges to use.  We will train a group of individuals over an academic year, ideally a group of six or nine, who will have the opportunity to be a part of three training sessions, a series of self-directed twilight sessions and a commitment to undertake 30 hours coaching with colleagues. This will lead to certification endorsed by the Association for Coaching.  Those who embark on a coaching journey won’t turn back, coaches inspire ambition, encourage challenge and foster innovation.

Choose the first group of Coaching Ambassadors who want to develop as coaches and begin your journey towards ensuring a high-quality learning experience for all. Have a look at the programme in detail below.

The Certificate in Coaching Competence – A journey in coaching

We have a whole range of other coaching courses providing something for all staff. All our training is designed so that it can be disseminated to others after the event.  Training is never a stand-alone experience, where it is shared it has far more impact on the individual, the learner, teams and the whole school.

 

Leading from the Middle – using coaching to enhance the skills of subject and curriculum managers

Ensure your middle managers are leading their teams with clarity of purpose by developing their ability to coach others. Coaching allows managers to use highly effective professional conversations to ensure that curriculum rationale and ambition is translated into positive pupil outcomes.

Essentially, it is subject and curriculum managers that must communicate the messages established as curriculum intent and inspire their teams to plan and deliver a sequential learning platform of the highest quality. The most successful approach to ensuring this happens is to create a culture of self-reliance, reflection and trust.  Each individual needs to feel empowered to take risks and make relevant and positive changes. They need to have the skills to collaborate within teams and departments as well as across the curriculum, year groups and key stages.

Middle leaders are pivotal. Across the range of subjects and within a broader curriculum remit there needs to be a clearly defined plan of action that covers a wide range of potential change to current practice.  Subject and curriculum design expertise are a pre-requisite of the job role. However, there are a range of other more generic skills that are also vital. Managers need to be able to lead change, inspire innovation, understand how teams are formed for success and ensure that stated goals become positive outcomes.

Leading from the middle is the key to ensuring everyone is on board and knows the part they play in achieving the school vision for continuous improvement. It is the role of the senior leader to define the vision, rationale and ambition for the school. Middle and subject leaders then disseminate to their teams how they can all work together to create well focused strategies for change or review.  Therefore, they must have the right professional development that will enhance their role as effective communicators, powerful influencers and positive motivators.

Developing their coaching skills and implementing a coaching culture is, we know, a sustainable and cost-effective way of ensuring middle leaders develop and cascade a wide range or leadership skills and achieve sustainable change and cohesive teams.  The skills of a coach are those that empower others to find solutions, reflect on their own strengths, focus on the positive and deliver within well-defined frameworks. Our suite of coaching and curriculum courses provide the solution that will deliver cohesion, professional learning conversations and strategies that are time efficient.

For middle and subject leaders, we have two well-researched one- day courses

For leaders who want to use coaching as part of a sustainable and cost effective CPD solution start with,

All teachers and support staff will benefit from learning how to coach,

 

 

How 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

 

Essential CPD to weave a learning culture through curriculum design and delivery

Work with the experts and ensure that all your staff including senior leaders, middle managers, subject specialists, teachers and support staff are all equipped and ready to deliver a seamless and sequential curriculum. Create a curriculum offer that is designed to embrace knowledge, focus on skills and identify cross-curricular and subject specific concepts that will allow pupils to see connections and deepen their learning over time.

If you haven’t already and many have, start with our Re-thinking the curriculum suite, we have places available throughout the summer and autumn terms.

Collaboration and positive professional dialogue are key to creating the right culture to ensure all staff build on what they do well and what needs to change. Creating a coaching culture is by far the best way to ensure all staff are working together using professional dialogue to share good practice, develop highly effective strategies for learning and achieve the school vision.  For leaders and managers developing the coaching skills that will empower others to deliver the vision, rationale and ambition for curriculum change is profound. Join us at one of our coaching events highlighted below.

For pastoral leaders who will have a pivotal role in assessing the impact of curriculum change on the well-being and learning potential of their pupils and for the SENCO where parity is high on the agenda as is a curriculum that meets the needs of pupils with special needs we have these tailor made training opportunities.

For Teachers and support staff coaching can have a significant impact on how well pupils can access the curriculum, deepen their learning, ensure that they become unconsciously competent in their use of skills and can access knowledge that will enter their long term memory as part of a process of deep learning over time. We have superb training opportunities with original and highly praised content.

Pivotal to ensuring that the vision, rationale and ambition is translated into positive outcomes for learners is ensuring that all staff know the part they play in the school’s journey towards creating successful outcomes. It is essential that professional development for all staff fosters confidence and provides opportunities for the sharing and cascading of good practice and the cascading of innovative learning opportunities. Ensuring the appraisal process and subsequent quality assurance processes will be a secure confirmation that the curriculum intent is translated into positive implementation and profound impact for all learners. Ensure performance management is linked to a professional development agenda using our training below.

Curriculum concepts, knowledge for sequential learning and the core and softer skills are at the heart of ensuring the curriculum weaves deep understanding and creates opportunities to build on prior learning and informs future learning.  Ensure all staff can see how the skills are essential to accessing knowledge and deepening learning over time.

All our courses are designed using the most up-to-date sector led research.  We have created a CPD offer that means all the materials and resources are available for you to use following on from the training so that they can be used to cascade yours and your colleagues learning to others.  Build a learning culture that delivers seamless learning with a curriculum packed with concepts, skills and knowledge using prestigious and expert training programmes.

 

 

 

 

Curriculum matters-the story so far

I am Glynis Frater, the founder of Learning Cultures, a leading provider of coaching and other professional development services for the education profession.  I have followed the developments that have unfolded as Amanda Spielman has slammed the lack of attention many schools have given to ensuring pupils have access to a broad and balanced, deep and rich curriculum.  She is right, of course, but she isn’t a head of a school battling with the only accountability measures that currently count at the end of key stage 1, 2 and key stage 4.

Let’s take what she says at face value, change needs to take time (this is an evolution not a revolution). There is a need to focus on communication, collaboration and professional learning conversations, (OFSTED want to listen and communicate with school leaders, middle leaders and teachers), the subject specialist, subject leader, subject expert is at the heart of ensuring changes to how we deliver the curriculum can make a difference, (content, concept, knowledge and the skills that help pupils access them are the key to building this deep and rich curriculum offer) so subject teams must work together effectively to create sequential learning that ensures all pupils, whatever their ability, achieve their full potential.

The team at Learning Cultures has been working hard, deepening our own knowledge of the research, creating innovative resources and creating solutions focused training materials. The work we do here and the messages within our training echo many of the indicators that OFSTED have based their new handbook on.  We have not changed any of our programmes, courses or support packages to accommodate the new handbook and the messages from OFSTED because many of our messages and the skills and knowledge we bring already mirror the philosophies and indicators that are simply good practice and embody the characteristics of a good or outstanding school

Read the news-posts that I have written, week by week I have followed the unfolding change in emphasis for how schools should be judged. They are all on our webisite, Since Christmas, these have included,

Have a look at our curriculum courses that challenge you to re-think your curriculum strategy, delivery models and clearly stated impact. Then focus on our coaching programmes and decide to make the decision to use coaching to create the culture that will ensure high quality professional dialogue drives positive change where all staff know how the curriculum intent delivers a learning strategy for all the pupils they teach, provides them with the time and resources to create that innovative, creative and deep content that will build on learning over time and design the blueprint for all pupils to have the skills they need for the next stages of their education. Add in our teaching and learning courses that are designed to foster outstanding pedagogy, raise the bar on assessment and focus on how to ensure knowledge and skills weave a positive curriculum offer.

Creating a culture that fosters professional dialogue and delivers a seamless curriculum

How do leaders in schools create the right culture that fosters constructive professional dialogue? Amanda Spielman from OFSTED puts the importance of professional dialogue at the heart of her last two major speeches, one to ASCL and the other to the Muslim Teachers’ Association.

“The Quality of Education judgement is central to putting the curriculum, the substance of education, back at the heart of professional dialogue in schools and colleges. It’s been great to hear that these conversations are emerging, even before the first inspections under this new framework.”

In order to create that school culture where all staff have the opportunity to engage in professional dialogue there needs to be a profound understanding of the difference between professional dialogue and a conversation.

Professional dialogue is one of the phrases that is completely embedded in all of our coaching programmes.  The essence of learning how to coach for those in education is in the development of a range of coaching attributes including highly effective listening skills, the ability to ask incisive, deep and rich questions and to have the confidence and the capacity to influence others to change.  Creating a CPD strategy that embraces coaching fosters professional dialogue and moves individuals away from simply using unstructured conversations.  It can have a profound impact on ensuring all staff are empowered to deliver a consistent, whole school approach to how the curriculum intent, ambition and rationale is translated into innovative planning, highly effective pedagogy and a shared understanding of the sequencing of content over time.

“OFSTED have the concept of dialogue at its core to establish, what  pupils are being taught? How well are they being taught? and, How is what they are being taught setting them up for the next stage in their education?”

The curriculum rationale and ambition that reveals its intent and how this is consistently implemented in every classroom and in many cross curricular contexts is at the heart of what OFSTED want to focus on as part of assessing ‘the substance of education’. Creating opportunities to deepen the skills of leaders, managers, teachers and support staff in how they use professional dialogue as opposed to simply having conversations will help to create the essential, consistent and seamless curriculum offer that builds on prior learning, deepens knowledge, enhances pupils’ skills over time and ensures assessment finds the gaps in understanding and informs future learning.

“The point of observation by inspectors is to see whether the school’s aims and intentions are being translated effectively into practice, ‘does it all come together as it should’.”

If, as Amanda Spielman talks about in her speeches, leaders, managers and teachers are to be an integral part of professional dialogue about the curriculum and how the intent is translated into highly effective delivery that has a demonstrable impact on learning over time; then all staff need to have the right skill set to be an equal participant in that constructive dialogue.  They will need to listen to what is being asked of them, be able to respond with incisive questions that are designed to draw out deeper meaning and have the vocabulary and deep pedagogical and subject expertise that will demonstrate their professional understanding of how the school is successfully delivering powerful learning for all pupils.

Have a look at Learning Cultures’ coaching courses, we have a training opportunity for all staff, for leaders, middle managers, subject specialists, teachers, support staff and SENCOs.

Join us at one of our highly praised curriculum courses, they have been so successful and we continue to update them as more information emerges from DfE and OFSTED.

Subject expertise and subject leadership are pivotal to the proposed changes and we have a new course researched and designed by our expert curriculum team.

Enhancing the Role of the Subject Leader – managing curriculum change that delivers sequential, seamless and deep knowledge and skills

 

Coaching: creates a culture of collaboration that fosters outstanding learning and teaching

Key elements of a coaching culture

Coaching is all about positive dialogue that drives change.  A school is a place where experts in pedagogy, assessment, learning and thinking all contribute to the successful outcomes the school sets out to achieve. Coaching brings that expertise together to ensure that it is shared and disseminated to ensure outstanding continuous improvement for all staff.

The current imperative to focus on a sequenced curriculum that builds on prior learning and ensures deep understanding and readiness for the next stage requires high levels of collaboration.

  • Leaders and their senior teams need to work together to define the intent and rationale. They need to be ambitious in their vision to ensure that all pupils receive a deep and rich learning experience
  • Middle leaders need to have the skills to disseminate the vision, communicate the rationale and empower individuals in their teams to be innovative in how they plan for change
  • Subject leaders and specialists need to focus on how to weave the skills and knowledge that build a sequential tapestry of learning that will motivate and inspire pupils
  • Teachers from across the subject spectrum must have the confidence and self-belief to plan and deliver high quality pedagogy that drives a learning culture. Creating opportunities for teachers to focus on the pedagogy that creates independent, active and participative learners can be achieved through developing for them a range of coaching skills, a pedagogy for learning

Coaching has the power to change perceptions of self, to create opportunities for innovation, to build a culture that puts learning at the heart of the school’s vision and to ensure a consistency of purpose that involves everyone.

Trying to implement change without an effective model is difficult. Try a coaching approach and success is nearer than you think. The sequenced courses below will provide the perfect starting point for a journey that you won’t turn back from. Our full coaching programme provides further training opportunities that are all linked to creating an outstanding learning culture. Have a look here.

You may also like to attend one of our highly praised and well-reserached courses that focus on reflecting on and re-defining the curriculum to ensure the breadth and depth that OFSTED have placed such an emphasis on.

Lead a Coaching School for Curriculum Change- Create quality outcomes that deliver outstanding learning and teaching

Lead a Coaching School – Create the quality outcomes that deliver outstanding learning and teaching

I have used the theme quality as the subject for the latest newsletter from Learning Cultures  ‘How Do We Define Quality in Education – linked to curriculum planning, pedagogical input and learning outcomes?  Quality in this context requires a strategy for ensuring every member of staff across a school, or in fact any organisation, is fully conversant with the part they play in creating outcomes that are positive and deliver results. The current focus on developing a sequenced and well-balanced curriculum needs to be managed using clearly defined quality processes. However, implementing the principles and ensuring consistency across all subjects, year groups, departments and phases or key stages requires a model such as coaching that determines the structures within which quality outcomes are unconsciously achieved.

Creating a coaching culture will provide the dynamic and highly effective strategies required to create a collaborative and sequenced curriculum.  Coaching provides leaders with the skills to empower others to change and grow.  Coaching creates for middle and subject leaders, the ability to motivate others to deliver high quality teaching, differentiated learning and consistent stretch and challenge. Coaching provides the medium by which teachers can share outstanding teaching and learning, reflect on their own ability to inspire their pupils and ensure a deep  knowledge rich curriculum can be the right of all pupils through the development of the skills they need to make sense of their learning.

The emphasis is firmly on the need for greater collaboration and opportunities for professional learning conversations. We need a cohesive narrative that creates the culture where there are clear mechanisms for the sharing of schemes of work, programmes of study, subject content, subject and cross-curricular concepts, assessment outcomes and classroom pedagogy that leads to seamless learning from early years to post 16 and beyond.  The opportunity to build a system that is efficient, informed and well-sequenced will ensure that teachers and their pupils know exactly what has been taught and to what depth, can confidently build the next steps for the learner and build in support or stretch and challenge where it is necessary.

For the school leader coaching is a structure and powerful driver for change or re-definition.  The principles of coaching motivate and engage all staff in the quest for highly effective outcomes and give them the skills to be an important part of planning for the future. We would highly recommend that school leaders and their senior teams learn from our highly respected coaching event ‘Leading a Coaching School – empowering positive change that cascades continuous improvement’. Once you embark upon a coaching journey you rarely turn back.

Have a look at our Coaching in Education section for all our coaching courses.  They have been designed using many years of research and expertise, policies and handbooks may come and go but the principles of coaching continue to create the most powerful leadership strategies that lead to outstanding learning and teaching.