Membership of eednet is playing a major role in Highlands College's goal to become recognized as a centre of excellence for practical and vocational education. In support of this aim, the senior management team of the College has introduced a year long cross-college project - 'How to Teach Vocational Education', based around the CRL publication. All college staff with a role in teaching or supporting student learning have been encouraged to review their practice and become 'learners of their own teaching' by undertaking a small scale action research project in their classrooms, laboratories, or workshops. The project was formally launched at Highlands in September 2013 with over 100 staff attending, which included nearly all the full time lecturers. In a follow up meeting in October over 60 staff attended an AR2 style workshop to discuss their action plans with the CRL team. Some of the expansive habits of mind that staff want their students to develop include resourcefulness, self-confidence and real world problem solving and they are using approaches such as peer learning, flipped classroom and self-assessment to achieve this.
School or college membership of eednet is increasingly valued as a way of fostering an institution-wide approach to educational innovation, as senior leaders see the benefits of encouraging staff collaboration for change, not only within but also across curriculum areas.
"Our aim is to embed the explicit development of creative learning Habits of Mind across the curriculum to support the depth and
quality fo learning for our students. This blog is one way in which we will record the progress of this thinking and the development of particular approaches to learning."
Poulner Infant School
Poulner Infant School has been developing it’s learning to learn strategies over the last three years. The staff have been inspired by INSET with Guy Claxton and attended courses on ‘Building Learning Power’. As a direct result the school has created the unique Poulner Learning Heroes. They have been designed to encourage pupils to develop skills for life. The learning heroes are interactive characters that demonstrate the learning habits of independence (Incy Independent), co-operation (Team Bee), problem solving (Solver Snail) and reflection (Better Beetle). They are shared with the children through puppets, stories, real-life situations and celebrated weekly.
The learning heroes are part of the fabric of the school and are fundamental to the schools vision, which states ‘ Great Learning is at the heart of who we are, what we do and what we strive to achieve’
Poulner Infant School has recently joined the Expansive Education Network to develop teacher’s professional learning and research skills. The teachers have developed individual small-scale enquiries, enabling them to explore issues, which will have a positive impact on the learners in their class.
Some of the projects are based around the following questions;
• If children are challenged to try a new activity will it improve their ability to seek, enjoy and persevere at new experiences?
• If teachers model the key vocabulary and language of initiating play and sharing will the children be able to use these skills during child initiated play?
• If children are given a self-evaluation tool to assess their writing will they be more able to identify their strengths and weaknesses as a writer and set their own targets for development?
• If children are taught a strategy to ‘look away’ during thinking time will it help improve the quality and quantity of responses to questions?
Many of the projects are works in progress and the impact is being monitored with a variety of tools such as questionnaires, attitude surveys, observation forms and work samples. The research will be written up and shared within and beyond the school community.
The school recognises that everyone is a learner.
Harrison Primary School is a large 3-form entry school in the heart of Fareham, Hampshire. Their mission statement is 'Life long learners - open minds’, they strive to develop independent, creative thinking children with a passion for learning.
They were recently awarded Teaching School status which has encouraged them to put research and development at the heart of their work. As part of this Teaching School work, they are working with Winchester University to facilitate their current PGCE and BAQTS students in their research and, at present, have students working on projects such as summer reading habits from Y5 to Y6 and on developing strategies to support struggling readers from Y6 to Y7.
They currently have three staff undertaking masters level work and have carried out research on projects such as 'Becoming a school based master writer', ‘The value of P4C in the primary classroom’ and SENCO accreditation. Harrison Primary School have also redesigned the way they use staff meetings in order to encourage teachers to engage in research and all year teams have looked into some aspects of spelling, relevant to their cohort, that they wish to improve. They are currently researching different aspects of mental Maths and will be feeding back to colleagues in a speed dating style.
A number of Hampshire Teaching Schools, including Harrison Primary School, are in the initial stages of developing a research and development project to develop a shared language and processes to secure outstanding teaching and learning. In doing so, there will be a specific focus on transition between KS2 and KS3.
Harrison Primary School currently see the Expansive Education Network as a way to develop their research skills alongside allowing four staff to explore issues that they have a personal interest in. As such, they hope that it will have a positive impact on individual professionals as well as longer term impact on pupil outcomes. The projects they are currently working on are:
1. If children practice the spelling of words correctly within sentences, (instead of only in isolation within spelling tests), will it improve their spelling in their general work?
This work being carried out in Y3 will hopefully ensure children will apply their spelling knowledge more effectively into their day-to-day work
2. In a Year 2 class research is focusing on how pairing low ability readers that have shown little interest in books with able buddies with a love of reading, will encourage them to want to become self-motivated readers and raise self esteem. Identified pupils have been interviewed about their reading habits and how they viewed themselves as readers. They have been paired with able buddies who were given training about their role, and opportunities for children to read together have been timetabled.
3. Research in Y6 is based on developing the enquiry process of P4C lessons within a ‘dilemma context’ so that they become more reflective, empathetic learners. The question generated is: If I develop the enquiry process of P4C, will it enable the children to become more empathetic learners and gain a better understanding of the world and its affairs, as well as their own place in it?
4. In Y1 where independent learning is key, the question being researched is: Does having a resilience buddy when partaking in activities requiring resilience have an impact on resilience during independent learning?
All of these projects are in their initial stages. Methodology will include questionnaires, pupil interviews, work samples and anecdotal evidence. Findings will be analysed and fed into our year group assessment for learning updates which are produced termly. They aim to share findings with all staff through informal feedback during staff meetings although they will also be encouraging staff to take the next step to write up their findings in order to qualify for masters level credits.
Harrison Primary School Website
Rochester Grammar School
Rochester Grammar School is a selective girls’ grammar school in Medway – an area with its fair share of socio-economic issues. In 2009 it gained Thinking School accreditation in December 2009, and has recently gained Advanced Accreditation. How did it do it?
In 2005-6 the school had achieved fantastic A level and GCSE results, but leaders still felt students were not challenged enough. The Deputy Head Teacher Ges Hartley implemented cross-curricular 'rich tasks' to inspire creativity and innovation, such as bringing together maths, music, ICT, drama and media through Fibonacci. These projects helped students transfer their skills across subjects and apply past knowledge. After this task was proven so successful, new 'rich tasks' were developed - the school was looking at learning in a new light. Kestrel Education, an Expansive Education Network Pioneer, and the University of Exeter helped the school develop itself as a Thinking School through tools to make it more thought-full.
In 2007 the school implemented Thinking Maps across the entire curriculum at all key stages. Staff and students initially resisted change, but by observing students and their work it was clear the maps were helping. In 2008-9 staff introduced Art Costa's 'Habits of Mind' to Years 7-11 through weekly reflective sessions. Students were asked to share their views on the workshops through an online forum, which is an effective tool to ensure change happens smoothly. Even the most cynical students got involved.
Perhaps the most successful initiative undertaken by Rochester Grammar School is 'Thunking Online'. A 'thunk' is a question which makes your brain hurt and requires you to think from multiple perspectives (such as 'Is a broken down car parked?'). Students and staff really took to the idea and now actively debate online and offline, making them great thinkers.
Rochester students are now becoming well-rounded. The school's main focus for the future is to embed itself as a Regional Centre for Kestrel Education and continue its outreach work with local primary schools. They would like to review the current tools they use, such as the Habits of Mind, and introduce new ones, especially through the use of ICT in thinking. Read the complete interview, 'The Rochester Grammar School: How we became a Thinking School - an overview'.
Sandringham Primary School
Sandringham Primary School have recently joined the Expansive Education Network, to support the reserach projects they have started through work with 'Building Learning Power'. They have a strong focus on learning, and the language of learning at school and want to value all of the different ways of being clever, and to unpick what makes a successful learner so that all children achieve their full potential.
Sandringham Primary School is a large 4-form entry school in Forest Gate, East London, teaching children from nursery to year 6. Sandringham has a diverse school community with a very high proportion of children who speak English as a second language and a high turnover of children.
They are having a big push on high quality learning dialogue, wanting children to be involved in the process of their learning and to be able to discuss it confidently. At Sandringham they do not just want children who ‘know a lot’ but also want to focus on teaching a broad range of life skills that will be relevant and useful in the future. This is reflected in the school vision statement:
‘At Sandringham Primary School all our children will be given the opportunity and experiences to nurture their talent,realise their potential and achieve success in academic and personal development. We will value each other, our families and the wider community.’
They have spent a long time designing the curriculum so that it is relevant, inspirational and exciting for our children, and reflects the school community. Teaching uses a topic based approach, where every year group has a topic themed role play area and children present their work in topic books, using creative and innovative approaches to show what they have learnt.
Staff are encouraged to engage with ‘Building Learning Power’ without rolling it out as an enforced school policy. So they have begun to drop in small pebbles and watch the ripple effect, making small changes to existing good practise, in order to move on from good to great.
Following a visit from Guy Claxton they began by doing some small scale research projects in school. A group of class teachers and management staff who had read ‘Building Learning Power’ and ‘New kinds of smart’ formed a focus group and each chose an area they were interested in exploring. The group then met to discuss their progress and findings. The projects this group worked on were as follows;
1) A lunchtime project where older children teach phonics to younger children, with the aim of making the older children more aware of the learning process, more reciprocal and reflective so that it has a positive effect on their own learning.
2) An afterschool ‘Maths Learning Power Club’, where Year 2 pupils are encouraged to think about their brains and view intelligence as expandable, as well as learning how to be resilient and resourceful by participating in a range of mathematical activities and challenges.
3) Research based on the work of Professor Robin Alexander’s TowardsDialogic Teaching and Professor Teresa Cremin’s Comprehension through Conversation. Taking place during everyday teaching, this research seeks to explore what happens when the teacher repositions themselves as a learner and harnesses the power of talk to stimulate and extend pupils’ thinking and advance their learning and understanding.
4) Trialling different types of self assessment including using 'Learning Zones' where children reflect on whether they are working in the ‘comfy’ ‘challenge’ or ‘scary’ zone, relating to how stretched they are by the work they are doing. This allows the children to understand that through being in the 'comfy' zone they may get all the answers correct but it is not extending their understanding. All children must aim to be in the challenge zone, where they have to consider their steps of learning carefully in order to solve a problem or achieve the L.I
5) An approach to positive behaviour management where Year 2 children are given the responsibility to solve their own issues through forum style group discussions and thinking of themselves as a class family.
Many of these projects are still works in progress. Some of them have been done as informal trials in class, using anecdotal evidence whilst others have been analysed and written up more formally. Both approaches have proved equally beneficial. Download a write up of the phonics club research.
The Fallibroome Academy
The Fallibroome Academy is a Specialist Performing Arts College, Leading Edge, Teaching School and National Support School of 1500 students, with a distinguished Sixth Form of 345 ‘future leaders’. It has a national reputation for innovation in teaching and learning, which their leadership team attribute to an established programme of research for evaluating new teaching and learning initiatives.
The teaching and learning focus is evident throughout the school from the high-level strategy, to staff development, and into the classroom.
At the classroom level, Fallibroome students benefit from understanding the learning process. The idea that the learning process should be ‘visible’ to students, and that they can contribute actively to it, is a fundamental belief of the Expansive Education Network, and one that Fallibroome strive to embed and grow. Action Research forms an important part of this development, enabling teachers to explore how ‘cooperative learning’ and ‘assessment for learning’ strategies, for example, are impacting upon the learning-mindedness of pupils.
At the professional development level, members of staff are able to explore elements of the learning process through inquiry into their own practice. They are given space to reflect at each stage of the pedagogic cycle: as they plan, teach, and evaluate. Learning about how to conduct action research enables them to try out new approaches and challenge their own teaching practice,
At the strategic level, rich feedback from in-class action research and evaluation projects conducted by teachers has been of real benefit. The academy’s leadership team recognise the importance of facilitating staff to conduct tightly structured research projects that focus on the classroom. Professional learning programmes at Fallibroome provide sustained opportunities for dialogue and critical reflection. In the process, staff have become more critical in their use of a number of data sources, and more able to interpret what they are seeing in order to implement fruitful change in the classroom.
In part a result of Fallibroome’s strong focus on teacher-led research, their most recent Ofsted inspection was judged as ‘outstanding’. They are sharing knowledge and best practice by helping to develop a ‘kit bag’ of tools that other schools can use to embed research and development, as part of the National College Teaching School project. Evaluation of new initiatives is a substantial aspect of Fallibroome’s research agenda, and findings are shared vial local, national, and international partnerships. This is supported by membership of Future Lab, Campaign for Learning and the SSAT’s System Redesign group.
To link to teachers’ evaluative research papers, click here
Bay House School
Bay House School’s pupils have devised their own language to describe their learning capacities. Their pupils recognise the importance of learning to be a life-long learner, and recognise the importance of our learners being able to .
Activity is based on the work of the University of Winchester's Guy Claxton and his "Building Learning Power" model. It changes perceptions about the nature of ability and takes a genuinely innovative approach to sharing good practice.
The School has created @bayhousehome - the 'deeper learning' resource site for parents and carers of pupils at Bay House Secondary School. This website, the podcasts and associated Twitter and Facebook pages are provided to help parents in supporting their child's learning.
They also produce a journal to encourage reflection on learning in the Bay House School context, and develop the sharing of practical ideas to use in the classroom. Also available is Bay House Learning Communities publication which provides interesting overview of the Professional Learning that staff have undertaken since introducing a Professional Learning Communities (PLC) model.
The school have out together a video:
Professional Learning Communities Final.pdf 2.53Mb ViewDownload