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Planning for the Future of Learning - Better than before


Introduction - Planning for the Future of Learning - Better than before

How will your organisation change when normality finally returns for the education profession? As I start to write this Spring term, 2021 newsletter, I ponder on this question. I know that as educators of educators we have had to completely change our way of working. Everything we offer is now online either as live webinars or training that can be bought as stand-alone packages.  We have learnt so much and have received great praise for what we offer and deliver. This is the same for every teacher, manager and leader working in education. The learning curve has been nearly as dramatic as some of the graphs we have seen recently to illustrate the spread of COVID 19. All staff have worked hard to foster a learning culture when teaching using distance learning techniques is not easy, managing and motivating teams remotely requires a whole new set of skills, ensuring the curriculum vision is still shared and realised is so difficult to achieve. But, we are doing it, learning along the way and building a repertoire of new knowledge and competences. Learners wherever they are along their education journey are also learning as a result of this global emergency we are all a part of. The canon of official knowledge may have passed some of them by but along the way they have learnt all sorts of other skills that may be hugely beneficial as part of their life-long learning journey. Resilience, the capacity to organise their own time, using new technology, finding out for themselves, sharing ideas with their peers using Facetime, Google or Microsoft, are just a few of many of the skills we must acknowledge and build on. See our list of competences.

We cannot recover the past, that time has gone. We must build on the positive and begin to plan for a future that uses what we have learnt and what our learners have gained over the past few months to create a future that is better than before.  There has never been a more pressing time to focus on the strategic future of CPD for every member of a school or college who influences the life chances of learners.  The opportunities are profound. Now is the time to plan to create constructive futures that are built on a deep belief that what has happened gives us all the chance for positive change that captures the essence of what we have all learnt about ourselves and the world we live in. We have written a new live webinar that focuses on planning for a new future for education, looking specifically what has changed and the implications of that change, our priorities to learners across all phases, the future content, design and implementation of the curriculum, pedagogical change for a blended future and finally some reflections based on research and expert comment. A thought provoking and deeply researched programme that will challenge your thinking and build positive futures.

Planning for the Future: Better than Before - how can we recover from lost opportunities and surpass previous expectations?


Planning a strategic future - continuing professional learning is an essential ingredient for all staff

Professional development is most certainly not continuing at the moment for many in the education profession. There may be some who have dipped into the myriad of free or nearly free training courses that populate the ether.  These are useful and help to pass the time but are they a part of a structured CPD strategy that will ensure all staff in a school or college are ready for the challenges ahead? Once Covid 19 has been conquered the work will begin for educators to rebuild the learning cultures that have been changed forever by school closures and by the need for many learners to self isolate or recover from the virus. Just as learners have missed lessons and the presence of the teacher as the facilitator of their learning teachers have missed CPD time and the opportunities to share ideas, discuss best practice and reflect on pedagogy and learning.

Morale is low in the profession, energy levels are rock bottom and it is perfectly understandable that CPD is not currently a priority. However, there must be a strategic overview of what the needs are for staff in schools and colleges as they continue to manage the education of the nation.

  • There is an imperative to identify how subject leaders and their teams can continue to deliver the curriculum and to work closely with senior leaders to make sure that the vision and rationale for curriculum design is still right for the school and pupils.
  • Pedagogy is different for those who have to teach remotely, blend the learning or design online learning packages. How will we build on the learning and ensure that all teaching staff can share their experiences especially where the impact has been positive.
  • What do we do about assessing the learning? How are teachers being prepared for teacher assessment leading up to SATs tests, GCSEs, A Levels and vocational qualifications?
  • How do pastoral leaders and their teams support learners who are showing signs of poor mental health, low self-esteem or poor behaviour?
  • What is happening for learners who will transition from one school to the next?
  • How will the curriculum be adapted to take into account lost learning, the continued use of blended learning approaches and changed perceptions of learning needs?

We have continued throughout this pandemic to develop new courses to help the profession and we have adapted many of our most popular and relevant programmes.  Our CPD model is designed to provide challenge, to create opportunities for those who attend to cascade their learning to others.  We are singularly unimpressed with some of the online training we have checked out. Our training is interactive, deeply researched and highly relevant. You won't be bored, you will learn and you will take away new ideas and high quality academic stimuli. Have a look at what we offer, you won't be disappointed.

Teaching Remotely - Defining this learner centred pedagogy

Teaching remotely is not new in some sectors of education but for the majority of those who teach in schools it is an unfamiliar and untried approach.

Many teachers have shared their experiences and there is a great deal of good practice that can be captured from social media and other platforms as to the best ways to teach remotely. Going forward, however, there needs to be a more strategic approach so that all teachers can grow in confidence and competence in online teaching. Teachers have gained many insights, have had many successes, have learnt through trial and error how to encourage learning when learners are not in the classroom.  Unless this is captured and added to new opportunities for teachers to grow in their ability to teach in this way it will continue to be a piece-meal and unsatisfactory experience for many. The Education Endowment Foundation have produced some excellent research into good practice in remote learning from the recent closure of schools, their findings can be quantified in the following five key things to consider,

  1. Teaching quality is more important than how lessons are delivered
  2. Ensuring access to technology is key, especially for disadvantaged pupils
  3. Peer interactions can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes
  4. Supporting pupils to work independently can improve learning outcomes
  5. Different approaches to remote learning suit different types of content and pupil

 A good start but what does this mean in practice? How do we measure teaching quality? How can teachers assess the impact this approach has on their learners' ability to learn? Is access to technology enough and how do we encourage learners to make the best use of the resources available to them? How can we encourage online peer interaction and how can we assess the quality of the learning that is the result of shared learning? What can teachers do to support learners to develop a range of independent learning skills? How can teachers communicate effectively the outcomes that they want from independent enquiry? Lastly, what are the different approaches to remote learning and how can we make sure that teachers have a range of skills in their repertoire to meet the needs of all their learners?

We have used the research and developed several powerful training courses for teaching professionals to use. We draw on our skills as coaches, teachers and leaders of learning. We are using the same pedagogies but in a different way. Be ready for the challenges going forward and ensure that all your pupil facing staff have the expertise to be outstanding practitioners whether they are teaching in a classroom or remotely.

  • Blended Learning - Mixing the virtual with the actual: A pedagogy for the future
  • Teaching with Zoom - Developing 21st century teaching and learning skills using a powerful online video- conferencing platform
  • Planning for the Future: Better than Before - how can we recover from lost opportunities and surpass previous expectations?

Time to plan for transition - safely crossing the bridge from key stage to key stage

Time is slipping away as the academic year moves into its second semester and at the time of writing, schools are once again closed for many learners.  It is essential that adequate thought is given to the planning for transition from key stage 1 to 2 and key stage 2 to 3.  Many school leaders have told us of the difficulties there were last year in making sure there was a smooth transition for learners who had not had the opportunity to prepare for their move from one school to another. There are so many issues that need to be considered in order to make sure that transition is a positive experience.

Our two training courses that focus on this essential part of the school strategic planning process 'Moving on - transition from Key Stage 1 to 2' and 'Crossing the Transition Bridge - from primary to secondary school' have both been revised to take into account the issues that the current school closures may have for those pupils who will be moving schools at the end of this summer term. There will be no SATs this year and this means there needs to be a new approach to assessment and moderation of where pupils are, their gaps in learning and their needs moving forward. Many schools have had to adapt their curriculum offer, reduce time spent on the foundation subjects and focus on the core skills and science. Pupils have missed a lot but maybe also gained a lot. How can schools successfully build on prior learning to ensure that what has been gained is captured and what has been lost does not disadvantage future learning. The well-being of all pupils is an essential consideration and how can schools make sure that moving to a new environment does not impact on their mental health or their ability to progress with their learning.

Transition takes its toll on learning and there is a known dip in performance for pupils as they move from key stage 1 to 2 or 2 to 3. Take time to reflect on how to ensure that a dip in performance is reversed and all pupils thrive as they move on in their educational journey. Join us for one of these online live webinars. You will go away with a wealth of resources, new ideas and an opportunity to work with an expert in the field of transition.

  • Moving on - transition from Key Stage 1 to 2
  • Crossing the Transition Bridge - from primary to secondary school

Coaching - Why is this powerful skill more important than ever?

We are all facing unprecedented change and disruption in our lives and this is likely to continue for some time to come. The teaching profession has had to deal with many new experiences and challenges and as a result increasing numbers of school and college leaders are making contact with us to talk about how they can use coaching to support staff to manage their roles within the classroom, with their teams and with learners both in school and at home. There a many positive outcomes that are emerging from the current crisis and all staff in education are continually learning how to change and manage their commitment to learners.

Coaching is about creating opportunities for individuals to share their practice, to focus on their priorities and to achieve their goals. It is about finding the positive, not being judgemental and never dwelling on failure.  All staff in education need to have the opportunity to reflect on their achievements over the past few months, look to the future and take forward their learning as part of their professional development. Creating a coaching culture provides for a school or college the framework for ensuring there are opportunities for professional dialogue, one to one coaching conversations and the realisation of clearly articulated goals for learning.  Deciding to use coaching is a powerful conduit for creating a highly motivated and self-assured staff that will look for the positive and build a future that ensures continuous improvement and a shared commitment to deliver excellence across the whole organisation.

Coaching is an essential tool in the process of renewal, in the quest for positive change and as a means of capturing outstanding practice and cascading it.  Taking the strategic decision to embed a coaching culture into the school improvement plan is the first step towards ensuring outstanding futures for all. We have a range of courses that support senior leaders, middle, subject and pastoral leaders, teachers and Teaching Assistants. We have a 12 month certification programme for coaches and we have a one to one coaching service for schools and college to dip into. 

Have a look at all our coaching courses here. Plan your journey, it is highly motivating and energising.

CPD for those who mentor NQTs - Mentoring and coaching skills to create the teacher of the future

What a year to start teaching, equally, what a year to have the role of mentoring those new to teaching.  Those who choose the teaching profession should be given all the support and guidance they need. It is very worrying that so many leave the profession early and that is when everything is normal. NQT mentors must have a clearly structured plan of how they can provide scaffolded help so that their mentees feel valued, have the confidence to be innovative and have the developing skills to become excellent teachers who facilitate high quality learning. How can this happen in a world turned upside-down by school closures and learner absences from school? NQTs need to have structure, they need to have opportunities to practice their pedagogy and they need to have opportunities to reflect on their practice, accept that sometimes things don't work and know that they are progressing towards becoming great teachers.

You will not be surprised to hear that we know that the best framework for ensuring NQTs survive, thrive and grow is to provide all mentors with the coaching skills to use professional dialogue to encourage NQTs to take risks with their teaching, find their own solutions, accept that failure leads to learning and be resilient in the face of the many challenges that a new teacher will encounter. The mentor must have the pedagogical expertise to cascade to their mentees and they must have the skills to draw out of the mentee the willingness to accept challenge, move out of their comfort zone and create deep and rich curriculum learning opportunities as well as finding ways to ensure learners develop a range of skills that will allow them to progress and achieve their full potential. Our Coaching the NQT - Going beyond mentoring will give mentors with a profound understanding of how coaching is different from mentoring and how over time NQTs will benefit from being coached towards structured pedagogical expertise, self-belief and the desire to continuously improve as teachers.  We have re-designed this course to include some ideas and best practice examples of how mentors have supported their mentees over the past year. Highly experienced teachers have found it tough, so for those new to the profession, expert support that nurtures talent, never criticises and fosters challenge and reflection are important coaching attributes that will bear fruit. Our course below is specifically aimed at supporting NQT mentors to develop the coaching and mentoring skills that will provide inspiring and motivational support for their mentees.

Coaching the NQT - going beyond mentoring

Teaching citizenship - using the events of the last year to deepen meaning and understanding

There is a wealth of rich material out there that can help to teach citizenship in key stages 1,2,3 and 4. So much has happened over the past twelve months in relation to our roles as citizens such as the role of the state and government and the influence of individual politicians and their responsibility to keep us safe, informed and accountable. The role of the police, the freedoms we have lost, the impact on business and on our own well-being are all vivid examples of how much this pandemic has affected us and impacted on our citizenship.  There are other news stories that also provide vivid examples of what affects us as citizens of the United Kingdom, our departure from Europe and the high drama of the past four years since the referendum. The politics in the United States of America and how voting systems can threaten the very fabric of democracy.

The opportunities to bring citizenship as a subject alive during these strange times should not be missed. We have developed a course for those who are involved in the delivery of this subject that brings to life some of the important topics that might help learners to understand the circumstances that are currently impacting their lives and how what is happening now will shape their futures in many ways.  The opportunities for debate, for genuine creative and factual writing, to delve into the origins of decisions made and the implications they have on all our lives provide some exciting content in a subject that transcends many others and provides many opportunities for deep and very relevant learning.

Ask us about this training opportunity for your staff through our Contact us page.

Recapturing the curriculum vision - a focus on how to ensure sequential and progressive learning is still happening

The curriculum is the blue print by which we plan learning either in the classroom or remotely. We were all working closely with the focus on intent, implementation and impact at the beginning of last year. The emphasis was on ensuring that the planned curriculum built on prior learning, sequenced the learning so that learners were progressing and could move towards achieving clearly defined outcomes. This has been difficult to maintain due to the many issues that have arisen since March 2020. Most teachers have worked hard to ensure that learners continue to learn, develop new skills and deepen their understanding but assessing how much learners are taking in, retaining and building on is often difficult to achieve. It would be counter-productive to try to recapture lost learning. It is probably more productive to focus on what has been learnt not just in relation to the curriculum but also in relation to how well learners have coped with change and risen to the challenge of very different ways of learning.

From recent research from here in the UK and internationally the best way forward is for subject leaders and their teams to focus on how to create a curriculum offer that mirrors the aims and purpose of study documented in each of the National Curriculum Programmes of Study and determine how to create a whole school or college strategy that will engage and ignite learners to want to continue to learn and over time capture missed content.

Each subject, phase or team leader needs to work closely with colleagues from across the curriculum to look for conceptual links that make understanding easier for the learner and where he or she can make connections in order to deepen understanding. All those involved in the teaching of a specific foundation subject should make sure they look closely at the Programmes of Study for English and Maths to draw out the skills that are pertinent to learning in other subjects and that will reinforce and enhance subject learning and core learning. For example, the English Programmes of Study requires learners to read from a variety of texts including non-fiction. The Maths Programmes of Study require learners to use and apply number skills in a variety of contexts. The sequencing of learning is very clearly defined in the English, Maths and Science programmes of study and this clear progression could so easily be overlayed to ensure a sequence of learning is an integral part of learning across all subjects.

The curriculum is more than just content. It is a rich tapestry that leads the learner towards acquiring a range of skills for learning. Having the ability to recall content is just the beginning of the learning journey. Creating opportunities for learners to show evidence that they can explain how, analyse why or evaluate consequences demonstrates that the teaching of the curriculum is having an impact on the learner and how they are progressing towards positive outcomes. Planning how to create the professional dialogue that allows staff to work together to weave this cloth of gold is essential and working strategically now will reap untold benefits for all learners across the learning spectrum. Join us for our live webinars that provide those with responsibility for developing the curriculum with a deep learning experience and a wealth of excellent resources.

Or buy our off-the-shelf stand alone package Defining and Enhancing the Role of the Subject Leader - a 'deep dive' into subject specific implementation and deliver a five section package when your CPD timetable allows.

A review of OFSTED's research into remote learning

OFSTED's very recent publication 'What is Working Well in Remote Education' focuses on some evidence based priorities. It starts by providing a list if definitions of the different types of remote learning and also outlining some common myths that abound about remote learning. The document then goes on to list these seven pointers to counter the myths:-

  1. Remote education is a way of delivering the curriculum - suggests that delivering the curriculum is the absolute aim of education. Remote education may be digital but, it can also use physical resources such as textbooks
  2. Keep it simple - not too many graphics that don't add to the content. It is hard for pupils to concentrate so divide content into smaller chunks
  3. When adapting the curriculum focus on the basics - stick to making sure key building blocks are in place, focus on important knowledge and concepts, develop existing knowledge and skills
  4. Feedback, retrieval practice and assessment - Learning isn't fundamentally different when done remotely, feedback and assessment are still as important in the classroom
  5. The medium matters (a bit) - Quality of teaching is far more important that how lessons are delivered. However, evidence suggests pupils spend longer accessing a remote lesson when they are using a laptop other than a phone or a tablet. Also, where we host content is important i.e. U-tube does have a lot of advertising
  6. Live lessons aren't always the best - Live lessons do have a lot of advantages. However, there can be some difficulties with interaction and flexibility. Giving feedback can be less effective with live lessons and recorded lessons can allow for time to include interactive feedback
  7. Engagement matters, but it is only the start - It is harder to engage and motivate pupils remotely than when in the classroom. It is helpful to communicate and work with parents. Engagement increases when pupils feel part of the school or college community.  Teachers must make sure pupils have learned the content they are being taught through assessment

This is a summary of the report but does provide the main points. You can read the full text here 'What is Working Well in Remote Education'.

Working with Parents / Learning with Parents - Creating partnerships to enhance home learning

The relationship between the learner and the teacher is very clearly defined in the classroom. It is the teacher's domain and it is he or she who orchestrates the learning and how it is taught. This is far from the case when the learner is working remotely, usually at home.  The main influence is likely to be a parent or an older sibling. This influence will vary greatly depending on the type of family, the commitments of the parents and the level to which they were educated themselves. Where education has been a positive part of their lives parents are likely to be supportive and provide help and guidance for their offspring. For those parents who have negative memories of school and who maybe did not do well or did not have good experiences they may find the whole experience of having to supervise home learning very uncomfortable.  There is one thing nearly every parent has in common and that is that they want the best for their child.  We have designed a course to look at the issues and how through very clear strategies for effective communication the relationship with parents and carers at home can be more positive and lead to successful outcomes for learners.

This live webinar is broken down into five sections that will delivered over two half day sessions of two hours each with one week in between. The content includes

  • Recognising and breaking down the barriers and highlighting some of the perceptions and misconceptions that might impede positive communication.
  • A focus on how schools can communicate effectively with parents to provide guidance on how they can best support their children with their work
  • A review of the practical tips and solutions that can be conveyed to parents to encourage learning using technology, physical resources and both asynchronous and synchronous learning
  • Identifying parent's own learning needs and finding ways of encouraging a partnership of learning that creates the strength of a triad with the three participants being the child, the teacher and the parent
  • Moving forward with strategic planning tools and some coaching techniques that can help to win hearts and minds and build lasting relationships

Whatever happens next there will be a need to rethink many things. Our relationship as teachers with parents is usually at parent's evenings, when there is a problem or at a charity event fete, assembly or school play. Their role has changed and if we can build positive relationships especially with the hard to reach the opportunities for enhancing learning are profound.

Working with Parents / Learning with Parents - Creating partnerships to enhance home learning


Some areas of research that might be of interest

New books about coaching with a flavour of mentoring

  • International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching Emerald Publishing
  • The Sage Handbook of Coaching and Mentoring Sage Publishing
  • Better Conversations by Jim Knight
  • Instructional Coaching - a partnership approach to improving instruction by Jim Knight Published by Corwen

Doug Lemov's very recent publication looking at virtual learning

Teaching in the online classroom Doug Lemov Published by Josse Bass

As predicted in my last newsletter at the end of last term, I am still reading 'The Mirror and the Light' by Hilary Mantel. Nearly finished it now and of course the ending will not be a surprise. It is excellent and so well researched.


  • January 2021 and schools are once again closed to all except the children of key workers and their teachers. 
  • Testing is being undertaken in schools for those who are there
  • The Department of Education has said that strengthened minimum standards of remote learning should be in place. Schools will be expected to account for the quality of education.
  • OFSTED will play an important role in holding schools to account for the quality of education
  • There will be no exams this summer and at the time of writing (10/01/2021) we await decisions on next steps on issues such as teacher assessment and the possibility of some opportunities for a small number of examinations
  • Gavin Williamson says schools are much better prepared to deliver online learning. He also said that there is a roll out of over a million new devices being delivered to school pupils in the coming days and weeks.