Improving schools is an election winner, next to the economy and NHS it is one of the most talked about political issues. Every successive government wants to improve the provision of education, and why not? Having a well educated workforce improves the economy, increases live expectancy and just makes everyone happier.
So how do we improve schools? Really what we should be asking is how do we improve teaching. We know that in school variation in terms of teacher quality is far greater than the variation between schools. We also know that teaching is the single most important factor that effects achievement that we can control for. Therefore the time schools use to help each other should be aligned to helping the teachers in those schools improve.
TKAT’s advanced pedagogy network does just that. It is a network which gives the time to senior leaders to collaborate on how to improve teaching.
Below are just a couple of examples of how school to school collaboration can benefit all.
Teaching and Learning Bulletins
For some time Debden Park High School had the ideas of a newsletter, or bulletin which was just about Teaching. However, a combination of time capacity and motivation along with what it might actually looked like had prevented the idea coming to fruition. But some outreach by Debden to King Harold Academy gave the impetus that was needed. Paul Greendale the Assistant Head in charge of teaching and learning took the idea and made it a reality:
From this Debden Park High had the format and impetus (dare I say competition) to create their own:
This was then shared at the first Advanced Pedagogy Network where The Bewbush Academy were inspired to make their own:
The purpose of the Bulletins is to support whole staff CPD. It is a chance to give the “message” again. It allows those who lead learning to go into a bit more depth than might have been possible in a training session, and/or to just reinforce. It is a chance to celebrate great practice that has been seen, and to highlight forthcoming training/ focus etc. The recommended read section along with links to twitter and blogs contributes to a culture of teacher learning. It is simple and easy to do once set up, and through the network you can “magpie” ideas from each other.
The Trade Cards
The Trade Cards which are 100 cards of teaching strategies based around; meta-cognition, AFL, Peer tuition and co-operative learning were first created by Debden Park High school as a way of supporting teachers in developing their practice. For more on Trade cards see: DEBDEN MINDS : Trade Cards; more than just a pile of good ideas.
The rationale was that they are quick techniques that can be used there and then, in addition teachers have to “Trade them with other teachers so this increases the dialogue in school about teaching. They can be used in numerous ways with staff; handed out in briefings, put on teachers desks, given to teams, in staff training they can be used to plan lessons and also to create discussion; what is your top ten etc.
These Trade Cards were given to King Harold as part of collaboration, as with any good idea they were then developed further. King Harold started to create their own; each member of staff was asked to give one of their favourite “go to” strategy this was then turned into a Trade Card:
An great adaptation of the Trade Cards has come from Thomas Bennett Community College who have adapted the Trade Cards so they are skewed towards their pedagogical model “Talk4Writing”: (Note the change of logo)
Thomas Bennett have gone either further in their quest to “drip feed” teachers with ideas by having the Trade Cards printed on staffs coffee cups! (As designed by Matt Ford, pictured) It won’t be long before Debden and King Harold use this superb idea. In fact Debden are looking into printing the Trade cards onto disposable cups.
The Trade cards have also been substantially adapted by The Mill who have turned them into “Top Trumps”.
The power of collaboration is clear. When teacher and leaders are given the time and contacts to peer review, critique and collaborate great things happen.