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Join us at our annual conference - The Art of Coaching - 29th June 2017

Learning Cultures Sparkling November Newsletter - Building a culture of collaboration, positivity well-being and the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice

sparkle fireworks

What I want to focus on in this newsletter is some of the exciting and innovative work that we have been doing with schools, colleges and Multi-Academy Trusts (MATs) over the past few months and to share with you the enthusiasm and passion I have for the kind of training and development opportunities we create here.

We are working with several MATs to develop CPD programmes that will help them to create a cohesive and consistent offer across several very different schools. Essentially, we are using our expertise in the field of coaching to help groups of schools to develop strategies using coaching techniques to share and cascade good practice, understand and articulate what constitutes good and outstanding teaching and learning and develop policies that are consistent in areas such as transition, assessment, behaviour and closing the achievement gap. We have been a part of a training event for five schools all coming together to share a collaborative CPD event and we are also hosting a CPD event for another MAT in the West Midlands.

  • Our 'Mindset Matters to Unlock Learning in the Classroom' course has been a huge success. We have had the privilege to deliver it in-house to infant, primary, special and secondary schools and to several colleges of further education. The messages are so powerful and the tools we use as part of the training are hugely valuable in helping to create a positive Mindset culture following on from the training. We have even delivered a Mindset session to a group of 80 'A' Level students at a school in the North West which was so interesting and stimulating. The Head of sixth Form wanted the students to understand 'Growth Mindset' theory and how they could use some of the concepts to help them be as resilient and positive as possible about their studies over the two years of their sixth form experience.
  • The variety of coaching programmes we offer have something for all staff in the school or college. From senior leaders to support staff, no one is left out. The impact of developing a coaching culture is tangible, measurable and highly motivational and once an individual begins to develop the skills of a coach there is no turning back, it is, quite simply, life changing. One of our coaching schools recently asked us to develop a training session for them on how to coach parents something we have not done before. It was a great success and something we will be offering in the future. We have also been working on a coaching programme for Governors.
  • We have added two new coaching events to our repertoire this year. Leading a Coaching School looks in depth at how to introduce and plan a coaching programme for the whole school or college. This event has attracted many individual leaders and several senior leadership teams working together. We have also had a significant number of delegates from around the world, furthest afield so far has been India. Aspiring to Leadership gives middle leaders an opportunity to learn a range of coaching skills that will help them to focus on learning how to lead, helping individuals in their teams to develop and grow and ensuring they have the skills to manage with confidence.
  • Another new programme we have introduced is Managing the Pupil Premium this event has been written and is delivered by Nigel Bishop an expert in ensuring the right evidence is available that the Pupil Premium fund is being used to diminish difference in learning and achievement. We recently attended a Pupil Premium conference in Birmingham, Nigel offered his expertise to attendees who wanted to make sure they were publishing the right data and facts on their school websites, it was all a great success.
  • We are also working with Lyn Matthews a retired Headteacher and consultant to offer a day looking at Lesson Study. This Japanese approach to lesson observation has been adopted by many schools across the UK and is having a very positive impact on developing a more collaborative approach to self-improvement and the analysis of learning and achievement. We have been working closely with IRIS Connect who provide schools with video equipment so that teachers can observe their own practice in the classroom to look at the positive impact of coaching techniques as a part of introducing a Lesson Study approach.

The above is just a flavour of what has been happening around the country for us. Back at our base in Shropshire we have just moved into bigger premises and taken on several more staff. We are in the process of creating a small training room so that we can offer some of our training very close to the hub of our work. We are also looking at several new innovations such as some on-line training events and new training events including Psychological Well-being, Neuro Linguistic Programming and a literacy event that looks at creativity as part of the SMSC curriculum.

It has been a busy time for us!

Glynis

Supporting multi-academy trusts (MAT) to develop cohesive, sustainable and cost effective CPD solutions

We have the knowledge and expertise as coaches to understand how to create a culture that allows senior leaders, middle managers, teachers and support staff to grow and develop in their role and deliver the wider vision of an overarching multi-academy trust (MAT)consistently across groups of very different schools.

The key is to ensure that the senior leadership teams from each of the schools are conveying the same messages and understand themselves the overarching vision that the MAT is looking to achieve. The goals and aspirations for each school may be very different and rightly so, but how does the all-encompassing MAT vision incorporate these? Maybe even more importantly how can the team leading the MAT make the best use of the economies of scale to create a CPD offer that will support individuals to grow in their roles, identify their strengths and understand how they can change in order to meet the demands of a changing curriculum, assessment regime and the very real issue of progression and accountability?

The vision has to be tangible, achievable and the outcomes measurable and easily translated into successful outcomes that have an impact that everyone can clearly see. If the leaders of the MAT want to see all their schools improve they have to ensure that they communicate to all staff what they can contribute and give them the tools and resources in order to develop successfully so that they can feel they are an integral part of it.

The key is to plan a CPD strategy that delivers cohesion and ensures that there is a learning culture that transcends difference across schools and builds total consensus as to what constitutes outstanding learning and teaching, There is, in our opinion which is backed up by some very strong sector led research, only one way that really works.

  • Clearly identify and communicate the vision for the MAT and ask the Senior Leadership Team for each school to dovetail their vision into the wider vision
  • Identify and focus on what each school within the MAT does well. What are they good at?
  • Develop a CPD strategy linked closely to achievement of the vision. Each practical session has clearly stated outcomes and impact measures that are directly related to a specific aspect of the MAT’s and school’s individual goals
  • Focus through using coaching techniques on strengths and the positive and through this recognise the learning agenda for each of the groups participating. If the individual clearly identifies what their own goal is for improving themselves in relation to the school/MAT vision there is a far greater likelihood that they will be successful
  • Ensure that each training session is carefully designed so that those attending can take back their learning and share and cascade it with others
  • Create opportunities for regular coaching sessions to take place between the recipients of the training so that individuals can articulate the progress they are making, share what is working well and continue to learn together
  • Continuously review the vision and the progress being made and ensure that further training is moving every member of staff across the MAT schools towards their own, their schools and the MATs stated vision

If you would like to find out about our offer contact us by clicking here or telephone 01746 765076.

Fairy Twists - Immersive pupil led story telling that helps to deliver literacy and SMSC

Jayne North one of our very talented team of trainers has written something very special for primary age pupils and their teachers. Fairy Twists is an immersive pupil led story telling resource that supports the delivery of the Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural (SMSC) curriculum and will provide pupils with an opportunity to use their literacy skills through group work and creative writing. Fairy Twists are modern day short stories based on traditional fairy stories.

There are six short stories that actively promote resilience, challenge stereotypes and celebrate diversity. They also link in closely with many of the issues that are high on the agenda in schools such as bullying, healthy eating and staying fit, positive self image and well being.

"Our pupils are still talking about the FairyTwists workshop, they relished the opportunity to have a go at performing and storytelling and the puppets provided a fun way to do this" United Academy

The titles are listed below:-

  • Jack and the 'Mean talk
  • Snow White and her seven step sisters
  • Cinderella and the glass ceiling
  • The three little pupils and Mr Wolf
  • Goldilocks and the three dares
  • Handsome and Gruesome

We are hosting a one day workshop at venues around the country to look at how to tailor these resources to meet the needs of your pupils and your school. Click here to find out more. The feedback we have had from some of the sessions that Jayne and her team have run around the country suggest that these are a must do for all schools, they tick so many boxes, a highly imaginative way to develop communication and grammar skills, they provide pupils with the opportunity to feel safe in discussing issues that might be bothering them and they provide a fun medium for developing the SMSC curriculum.

Click here to book a place.

Transition - Developing the right transition strategies to enable pupils to achieve their full potential as they move from key stage to key stage especially Key Stage 1 to 2 and Key Stage 2 to 3

How effective is your transition policy? What is in place to ensure that there is adequate communication between teachers who teach in Year 2 and Year 3 and between Year 6 and Year 7? There is a clear imperative to ensure that each year the content of the curriculum across all subjects is designed to build on prior learning and achievement so that pupils are able to deepen their knowledge and understanding and progress significantly. All too often collaboration across points of transition is reduced to the pastoral process and the forwarding of data. There is little evidence of an effective dialogue about what pupils have been taught and the kinds of pedagogical approaches that have been used to ensure sound learning has taken place. There is a well-researched dip in performance of learners as they transfer from Key Stage 2 to 3 of anything up to 39% and a similar albeit less dramatic dip between Key Stage 1 and 2. Just imagine if this could be turned around so that pupils thrived and showed progress of even 10% over the same period of time.

We have been working with schools across both England and Wales over several years to support them develop highly effective strategies for ensuring there is seamless learning across the transition bridge both for those pupils moving from Key Stage 1 to 2 and those moving from Key Stage 2 to 3. From the research we have undertaken we have designed a questionnaire to support Heads of Year, Transition Managers or middle and senior managers who have responsibility for this vitally important part of ensuring high levels of progression and positive outcomes for pupils. If you find that you are unable to give a positive answer to several of the questions you will definitely benefit from attending one of our transition training events. These events are among our most popular and delegates go away with a wealth of resources and activities that they can use back in school to strengthen their approach to transition. There is also the report from OFSTED, Key Stage 3: The Wasted Years? which looks in some detail at some of the shortcomings of transition from Key Stage 2 to 3. Much of what is said here is just as pertinent for those involved in other points of transition such as infant to junior or Key Stage 4 to 5. Building a bridge that ensures there is no break in the learning is so very important.

Managing Pupil Premium - Creating successful outcomes and having the evidence of impact for stakeholders

Managing the Pupil Premium

Nigel Bishop has taken his very popular training opportunity around the country for us over the past half term. The feedback has been nothing less than stunning.

" This was an excellent day, the quality of the discussion the content and the knowledge of the trainer made it more than helpful"

"The practical nature of this training and the real opportunity to analyse with an expert the kinds of strategies that provide the best evidence that the pupil premium fund is narrowing the gap for some of the pupils is invaluable".

We learnt at a conference Nigel and I attended recently that ‘closing the ‘gap’ is no longer the term being used, instead we now need to talk about ‘diminishing the difference’. Neither of us knew quite what to make of this but we think it suggests that closing the gap might be less achievable and diminishing the difference is more realistic. Nigel spent a lot of time with several of the delegates having a look at their websites to analyse the quality of the data and statements about how this fund is being used and the impact it is having. Nigel also gave out an audit form to delegates that visited our stand. Click here to download a copy, everyone at the conference who had not seen it before seemed to think it would be very useful.

Dates are on our website for this event for the rest of the autumn term and for the spring term. We will also be running this event in the summer term and those dates will be on our website shortly.

Click on the title to read more and book a place - Creating successful outcomes and having the evidence of impact for stakeholders

Aspiring to Leadership - Leadership and Coaching Training for Middle Leaders

The middle leadership team in any organisation is critical to its success. In education the current recruitment shortage and the need to build highly effective systems that will create quality teaching and learning and successful outcomes for all pupils requires us to ensure that there is well trained and motivational team in the middle. Equally there is an imperative to ensure that there is evidence of succession planning that guarantees that the school or group of schools can sustain their improvements. We have drawn on a range of models and best practice examples to bring together a middle leadership programme that will build capacity and will support the middle leadership team in their current role. This one day event is meant as a starting point from which middle leaders from settings from early years, primary, secondary of post 16 can begin to develop a range of coaching skills that they can use with their teams to deepen their leadership and management expertise and learn some of the models and techniques linked to coaching that will give them a range of powerful tools to create a culture of self-reflection and the sharing and cascading of good and outstanding practice. This event will stand alone or can be used as the beginning of a journey towards accreditation or provide a springboard for further training opportunities from Learning Cultures in-house or on-line. There is great potential to use this event as a springboard for individual schools or for groups of schools who are part of a MAT to reflect on their current practice, build on what works well and develop strategies that will lead to a culture of collaboration and excellence and improvement, strengthen the expertise of the middle leadership team and ensure clear succession pathways are well sign posted.

Aspiring to Leadership - Leadership and Coaching Training for Middle Leaders - click on the title to read more or to book a place. We offer discounts where more than one member of the middle leadership of the whole team would to like to attend. We can also offer this event in-house as a full day two half days or as a series of twilights.

Psychological Well Being - Promoting emotional health, mindfulness and wellbeing to optimise learning and achievement

Children's emotional health and wellbeing is a critical factor in how well they learn and what might constitute barriers to their ability to learn. It is critically important that all those involved in the learning process understand how through the employment of simple strategies we can improve emotional health and well-being, challenge limiting beliefs, effectively support motivation and engagement and boost achievement and success in learning. We have developed this new event in response to a growing concern about the mental health and wellbeing of many of our young people and children. We incorporate both theory and practice, exploring the theory behind psychological well-being, especially the work of Carol Ryff and providing the opportunity to identify and practice some of the preferred techniques and strategies that promote deep learning, self efficacy and self-esteem in our classrooms using a range of psychological well being approaches.

"THE SCHOOL’S THOUGHTFUL AND WIDE-RANGING PROMOTION OF PUPILS’ SPIRITUAL, MORAL, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT AND THEIR PHYSICAL WELL-BEING ENABLES PUPILS TO THRIVE". OFSTED AUGUST 2016 HANDBOOK

We also identify how through promoting psychological well being we can improve learners independence and resilience in order to accelerate learning and improvement. The day will give delegates the opportunity to learn a range of techniques and practice these in order that they can use them with other members of their team back in school or college. We will also look at where psychological well-being links to the Ofsted inspection framework and school/college improvement priorities.

Psychological well-being - Promoting emotional health, mindfulness and wellbeing to optimise learning and achievement - Click on the title to find out more about this event and book a place

Careers Education - A solutions focused event that provides a wealth of advice, information and guidance on how to create a comprehensive and well structured Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) programme

Woeful, inadequate and a disgrace are some of the words that are describing the current provision for Careers Education and its associated Information, Advice and Guidance (IAG) focus. It is it would seem not a priority in many schools although there is a statutory requirement to deliver it as part of the wider curriculum. It is, of course, an essential part of ensuring pupils in the secondary phase have right IAG to choose what to study in order that they are creating a progressive pathway for their future. OFSTED are also quite explicit as to the need for schools and colleges to provide appropriate and impartial careers and IAG.

"LEARNERS RECEIVE HIGH QUALITY IMPARTIAL CAREERS GUIDANCE THAT PREPARES THEM FOR THEIR CHOSEN NEXT STEPS AND ENABLES THEM TO MAKE WELL-INFORMED DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR FUTURE PLANS". OFSTED AUGUST 2016

Jayne North and her team who work with her as part of Career North have put together a superb training day and a cost effective set of resource that will provide those who attend the training with everything they need to plan and deliver a Careers and IAG curriculum from Year 7 to Year 11 and to Year 13 where there is a sixth form or where learners go to college for their next steps. The associated resource is a comprehensive set of lesson plans and other resources that leaves the teacher with little to do except teach and facilitate in the classroom. The focus is on the learner establishing their own pathway, sharing their carefully considered goals and ambitions for the future and reflecting on their own learning journey by focusing on their strengths and their learning gaps and how they can successful achieve what they have stated they want to achieve.

Make sure you have the evidence for OFSTED and that you are meeting your statutory obligation to all learners starting out on their life's journey and that the advice is independent.

Click on the title - Delivering Careers Education and Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG)

The Skills Agenda - Why are we having the same discussions over and over again?

I was going to try to avoid the political debate about the structure of schooling, the merits of the new curriculum, Brexit and the skills agenda but it is far too tempting, I am not going to enter the debate about out grammar schools, suffice it to say that there is no evidence to support the assertion that the return of selection has any impact on raising the bar, on the contrary it suggests the opposite. However I can comment with authority on the issues relating to skills. I have been involved in the debate about the skills agenda for well over a decade now. I was an integral and influential member of the Key Skills Support programme, especially in Wales in the early years of the new millennium and also the Functional Skills programme later, I was one of the lead team to shape the Diploma Support Programme, a groundbreaking approach to vocational learning that had far greater similarity to a baccalaureate qualification than the E-Bac and that was sunk without trace along with the bonfire of all things that were policy during the lifetime of the DCSF. I have shaped the skills offer that we have crafted over the past seven years here at Learning Cultures and I continue to be passionate about the value of vocational learning as part of a curriculum that has 'breadth and balance and is fit for purpose for all pupils'.

I was unsure at first whether 'Brexit' would have a direct effect on Learning Cultures and draw the conclusion that the impact will be minimal, education continues to be used as a political pawn whether we stay in Europe or not. However, creating a first class economy and ensuring we have a workforce as skilled as those we are drawing from outside the UK to fill the gaps is absolutely critical and will surely have a real influence on our ability to trade on the world stage in a more dominant way. 14 - 19 provision was an integral part of the Department of Children Schools and Families (DCSF) policy through the 2000s (naughties) and the focus on a cohesive curriculum for this group of learners made a lot of sense at the time. It is, it would seem, re-emerging as a term and as a stage that needs to be a focus of policy. The vocational learning pathway for many pupils in this age range is essential and needs to be given the status it was given prior to the incarnation of the E-Bacc. If we want to survive after Brexit we need a skilled and confident workforce that are resilient, flexible and creative. Where the E-Bacc is not the right pathway lets create another route that ensures successful outcomes for all learners as they progress into FE, HE, work and adult life. The development of pupils literacy and numeracy skills so that they are unconsciously competent in the use of these skills in the context of all learning in all subjects and across the wider PSHE or SMCS curriculum is key to creating independent learners who can solve problems, innovate, learn from their mistakes and take responsibility for their own learning and development. They are integral to all subject learning and play a vital role in ensuring high levels of success at GCSE and A Level. Making the development of these skills a priority from early years to adult life will give us the world class status we need following Brexit, isn't it time we all as educators realised their importance in creating a school system that once for and all closes the achievement gap.

Our outstanding suite of training linked to skills and developing the unconsciously skills competent learner continues to be extremely well received with high levels of delegate satisfaction. We share with you our deep understanding and experience of what works well and provide very practical solutions to how to ensure that every learner can have the skills they need to be a part of a successful United Kingdom.

Weaving a 21st Century Curriculum Offer - Building a continuum of learning from Year 7 to Year 11

Join us at this overarching event that reviews in detail the secondary curriculum and brings those who attend up to date with the wide ranging curriculum and accountability reforms that impact on schools planning and delivery. We provide time to reflect on how to use the changes to enhance learning and achievement at times of transition and during Key Stage 3, 4 and 5. This event is being constantly updated to take account of current policy advice and best practice examples of how to assess without levels. We focus on ensuring you have the right evidence to meet the criteria in the most recent OFSTED handbook for schools and we help you design a strategy that ensures learners achieve the expected levels of progress defined by the results they bring with them from Year 6.

Can you answer these questions with confidence?

  • Do your school practices and processes take account of the new accountability regime and the demands they will place on changes to assessment, delivering high levels of progression and the impact on learning and achievement?
  • Are all staff fully competent to take on the challenges of the new curriculum and the changes to content and delivery so that the curriculum for Key Stage 3, 4 and beyond has sufficient rigour, breadth and balance to ensure pupils build on prior learning from Year 6 and have the skills, especially literacy, numeracy and ICT skills that will help them to become confident and competent and allow them to progress?
  • Does your curriculum offer take account of the new accountabilities at Key Stage 4 and 5 and does it provide robust and transparent opportunities for all learners to progress to achieve their true potential?
  • Are all teachers and other staff aware of their responsibility to embed literacy and numeracy as an integral part of learning where the learning skills are woven seamlessly to foster high levels of engagement and achievement?
  • Is there seamless understanding in all subjects that the results pupils arrive with at the beginning of Year 7 are those that will be used to judge their progress in Year 11?

Join us to make sure you are fully up to date and have the resources and information to ensure there is a consistent whole school approach to embedding a new approach to curriculum planning and assessment.

Click on the title here to find out more and book a place - Weaving a 21st Century Curriculum Offer - Building a continuum of learning from Year 7 to Year 11

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Building a CPD strategy that delivers whole school sustainable improvement for all staff?

We have always advocated that training must be closely aligned with the school vision and to positive learning outcomes for both pupils and staff alike. The imperative to ensure that individual training events are never stand alone but are the beginning of a journey that involves the sharing and cascading of the learning to others is integral to every event or INSET that we run. We also provide resources and activities that can form the basis of further training, professional conversations and learning opportunities for others back in school. Staff need to be a part of the vision, understand the part they play in achieving it and feel valued and trusted to learn and build their expertise throughout their career. They also need to be able to articulate their own goals, their strengths and gaps in learning and have a clear pathway towards their own continuing professional development that will help them to contribute to the school or college vision. The recently published Standard for teachers' professional development guidance should be read in conjunction with the Teachers' Standards and sets out five principles,

  1. Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes
  2. Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
  3. Professional development should include collaboration and expert challenge
  4. Professional development programmes should be sustained over time
  5. Professional development must be prioritised by school leadership

We ensure that we provide training and development that closely aligns with these standards. We have always advocated that training must be closely aligned with the school vision and to positive learning outcomes for both pupils and staff alike. The imperative to ensure that individual training events are never stand alone but are the beginning of a journey that involves the sharing and cascading of the learning to others is integral to every event or INSET that we run. We also provide resources and activities that can form the basis of further training, professional conversations and learning opportunities for others back in school. Staff need to be a part of the vision, understand the part they play in achieving it and feel valued and trusted to learn and build their expertise throughout their career. They also need to be able to articulate their own goals, their strengths and gaps in learning and have a clear pathway towards their own continuing professional development that will help them to contribute to the school or college vision.

Coaching provides a profound opportunity to develop a CPD offer that will ripple across the school; building a learning community that thrives on the opportunity to share and cascade good practice, learn from others and feel confident to take risks and innovate in the classroom. The Standard for Professional Development document states that:-

"Effective teaching cannot exist in isolation, it requires a pervasive culture of scholarship with a shared commitment for teachers to support one another to develop so that pupils benefit from the highest quality teaching."

Developing a culture that promotes this collaborative approach and having the evidence that there are ongoing opportunities for professional conversations, informal lesson observations and time for reflection are much more easily accomplished when those involved learn how to coach. See below all our coaching training opportunities or scroll down to read how we have developed our suite of coaching programmes to provide something for all staff from the senior leadership team to those who are in a support role within the school.

Ask us about a CPD audit to help you plan a coaching culture in your school

Resources

  • Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov has been recommended to me by a neighbour who is a teacher, she is an outstanding teacher so her recommendation is something I take seriously and look forward to reading
  • Coaching in Professional Contexts Christian Van Nieuwerburgh is another useful collection of coaching contributions put together by Christian. There is a chapter on Coaching in Schools but there are several other contexts that will be useful for school leaders and managers to have a look at, it all helps to deepen and broaden experience and knowledge
  • Life Coaching for Kids - A Practical Manual to Coach Children and Young People to Success, Well-being and Fulfillment, is particularly topical as we have a brand new event looking at well-being and pupils in schools
  • The Art of Coaching - A handbook of tips and tools, I may have mentioned this book in a previous newsletter but it is so useful I thought I would include it again
  • I quite liked these top ten teaching essentials, click here to find out more
  • Impetus, the Private Equity Foundation which focuses on supporting disadvantaged young people, called for a new way of measuring the PM’s ‘just managing ‘ group when it comes to education putting forward four options as a starting point. Click here to download their pamphle

Below is the list of documents we included and referred to in our previous newsletter, we had many comments about the value of having all these together in one place. We thought it might be useful to include them again.

I am so busy I am still reading Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres, lovely book and I am learning a lot about Greek, Turkish and Middle East politics from the early part of the 20th Century which resonates with some of the issues of today in those regions. I won't be reading Girl on the Train, I went to see the film, I now know who did it and I don't think the plot would hold my interest in the written version.

Policy

  • The Government announces new funding formula for apprentice schemes. Click here for the details from the Department of Education
  • The Government is consulting on proposals to create more 'good school' places. Click here to have your say
  • The Education for All Bill has now been dropped!
  • A major review of primary assessment has been called for, further announcements are to follow
  • Figures are released to show that 39.6% of state school pupils were entered for the E-Bacc and of those 24.5% achieved the required standard
  • A Multi-academy health check is due to be rolled out in January 2017
  • Michael Wilshaw of OFSTED has written an article that identifies the main characteristics that make a MAT successful. Click here to read a copy
  • The National Numeracy Charity has announced the launch of a new mobile phone Maths App Maths game
  • 500 new free schools have been given the go ahead to be opened by 2020 and 56 opened this autumn. One of the ones opening its doors this time is a Performing Arts college whose patron is Sir Paul McCartney