Category: Leadership

Grangemouth HS Developing Practitioner Enquiry for Professional Learning

Image result for photo of grangemouth high school

Yvonne McBlain attended the most recent meeting of secondary professional learning co-ordinators to hear how Falkirk secondary schools are using an enquiring approach to their self-evaluation and development of teaching and learning. Yvonne provided an update on the success and impact of the practitioner enquiry element of Falkirk Children’s Services’ probationer induction programme. Co-ordinators from each school then shared how they are exploring the extent to which this approach can impact on learning. Ash Wood, depute head at Grangemouth HS wrote up the following account of what this looks like in his school.

We have purchased resources to supply a “practitioner enquiry” section for teachers in our library.  We also offer limited financial support to enable teachers to buy resources to support their enquiry.  When they have completed their findings these resources are added to the library.  We have created a one side of A4 template for teachers to complete to share their findings with their colleagues.  Mrs Laura Gallagher (Teacher of Chemistry) has developed an interactive “toolkit” for teachers to use to help them understand, prepare for and complete a practitioner enquiry.  She has also conducted a pilot of the tool with her faculty colleagues and received very positive feedback both about the toolkit and the benefits of the practitioner enquiry process.  Laura has also shared and demonstrated her toolkit to CPD Co-ordinators in the authority.

Dr Alex Fraser (Teacher of Biology) will present his practitioner enquiry on pupil voice to our Extended Leadership Team later this session to promote the benefits of practitioner enquiry and demonstrate its relevance.  His findings will support PTs who have pupil voice as part of the Faculty Improvement Plans.

Laura will promote her toolkit, and practitioner enquiry in general at our staff meeting in February.  Leanne Welsh and Amy Nichol, two of our NQTs from last session who are now with us permanently, will also share their practitioner enquiries from last session to illustrate the process and how it has benefited their practice.

We are currently considering using our core School Improvement Groups as a way of taking practitioner enquiry forward, while conscious that the voluntary nature of the exercise is key to teacher “buy-in”.

 

Falkirk Staff Online Spaces for Sharing Resources and Collaboration

Malcolm Wilson, ICT Curriculum Development Officer within the Curriculum Support team of Service and School Improvement, Falkirk Council Education Services, has been supporting many central staff and staff within educational establishments across Falkirk Council to set up shared online spaces for making available resources to colleagues working in Falkirk Council, and to provide them with tools to collaborate.

These online spaces provide a means to share resources within the education community of all Falkirk Council establishments and can be accessed from here: http://tinyurl.com/pvmjx92

Each site provides at least one document store, and in many cases multiple document stores for making accessible resources in different formats, as well as picture galleries for sharing examples of practice, a discussion area for asking questions or sharing ideas, a news area for updates, and a weblinks area for quick access to related material elsewhere online.

Some of these sites are for sharing centrally sourced resources, some are for providing the means for staff in establishments to share with others, some provide a means to share with specific colleagues in different establishments, some provide structured professional development combining reading material, presentations and video, space for reflective comments with colleagues undertaking the same professional development and making use of video-conferencing spaces, and some provide a common space for clusters of schools to plan together and to pool resources for activities across multiple establishments.

These shared online spaces include Active Learning, Active Literacy, Art Teachers Network Falkirk, Bilingual and Traveller Pupil Support Service, Denny Cluster (including for Mathematics and for Outdoor Learning Network), Education Communications, Education Matters, Employee Review and Development, Curriculum for Excellence Experiences and Outcomes Expanded for all curricular areas and for all levels, Falkirk Confucius Classroom Hub, Falkirk Headteachers, Good Practice Network, Graeme Cluster Good Practice Network (including cluster transition event planning), ICT in Learning and Teaching, Instrumental Music Service for Falkirk Council, Interdisciplinary Learning in Falkirk Council, Numeracy and Mathematics, Physical Education, Primary Language Learning 1+2 Resource Bank, Specific Learning Differences, Storyline, Teaching for Deep Learning, and the To Lead or Not to Lead programme, amongst other online spaces specifically for staff working in Falkirk Council.

Staff within Falkirk Council Education Services can access the above spaces by clicking on this link.

Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning Facilitators

On 9th October members of the initial cohort of facilitators for the Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning programme had their first network meeting for  session 2014/15. The main agenda item for this meeting was a general catch up on how each facilitator was using the programme to facilitate professional learning for colleagues.

The whole Falkirk Teaching for Deep Learning programme is available in Glow (click to visit) and is being used in a variety of ways by teachers and schools across the authority to impact on teaching and learning. Here is a brief outline of what the facilitators are doing now that their initial training is complete.

  • As a result of using session 6 Using Higher Order Taxonomies as part of Teaching for Deep Learning (click to view power point) Iain Farrington and colleagues at Antonine PS have developed this (click to view) High Order Skills poster for their classrooms. Staff will use the chart to help them explicitly plan HOS for one curriculum area per term. Their eventual aim is for pupils to be able to identify the higher order skills they are developing and applying. Iain’s TLC is a voluntary one which he and colleagues choose to attend.
  • Sharon Welsby at Stenhousemuir PS also facilitated session 6 for colleagues and will deliver session 7 Planning Higher Order Skills into Teaching for Deep Learning (click to view) next. Teachers at Stenhousemuir are trialling and sharing how they are building HOS into their practice and are also aiming to build pupil awareness and understanding of which skills they are using when.
  • Charlaine Simpson is very interested in session 3 – Effective Questioning as part of Teaching for Deep Learning. A new Learning and Teaching policy for Grangemouth HS has been launched which gives opportunities to integrate many elements of the TfDL programme.
  • Kim Davidson and colleagues at Bo’ness Public PS particularly enjoyed session 6 in early October and have used all of their sessions so far to engage in really valuable professional dialogue. Kim is skillfully adapting the session materials to tailor them for her TLC and feedback from her colleagues is very positive.
  • Susan Macleod at Bankier PS also had very positive feedback from colleagues following her facilitation of sessions last year. She and colleagues want to take more time over fewer sessions from the programme this year in order to delve deeper into specific areas of classroom practice. Their chosen sessions are built into their SBNC and linked to the school improvement plan.
  • Fiona Caygill facilitated 2 sessions in Bowhouse/Victoria PS last year and will also be using session 6 this year to support development of classroom practice around HOS.
  • Pamela Webster intends to work with her colleague Rosemary McGaw to offer voluntary TLC sessions (1 per term over this session) using the programme. They will consult colleagues in Larbert Village PS about which sessions from the programme would be the most valuable.

Yvonne McBlain is the curriculum support officer with accountability for the ongoing development of the programme. She will add further posts sharing detail and evidence of impact of the programme, and the next facilitator network meeting will take place on 5th February 2015.

Monitoring for Improvement in Active Methodologies

 

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Support Officer of the Service and School Improvement Team, delivered a session to 25 Principal Teachers as part of their network programme. The course asked participants to consider how the use of active learning methodologies raises attainment across the curriculum.

Colleagues began the session using a placemat activity to examine questions, challenges, successes and barriers to monitoring active methodologies.

Sharon then provided an overview of the active literacy programme from Nursery to S1 which included: spelling and phonics, reading and writing. The principal teachers were provided with a range of materials to support effective monitoring in this area. They then watched a range of good practice videos highlighting active literacy strategies and methodologies in action in Falkirk schools.

Sharon then provided an overview of effective teaching strategies within cooperative learning and what to look out for in a ‘cooperative learning’ environment. Again, colleagues were able to watch a short series of videos highlighting the five basic elements of a cooperative learning lesson. Discussions were stimulated around the use of effective questioning and use of Assessment for Learning techniques.

The session concluded with participants stating next steps to further development effective monitoring in active methodologies.

For further information, please contact Sharon Wallace – sharon.wallace@falkirk.gov.uk

Feedback was positive with colleagues expressing thanks for the opportunity to see the whole programme across all stages.

The new Standards for Full Registration

Hazel Cunningham, Primary Probationer Supporter, Service and School Improvement Team is currently undertaking a To Lead or Not to Lead project on effective transition between the old and new Standards for Full Registration. 

The aims of the project are:

*  to raise awareness across Falkirk teaching staff of the main changes in the new Standards for Full Registration

* to support colleagues in analysing the differences between the old and new Standards for Full Registration in order for them to adapt their practice

* to provide an overview for managers of the main changes to enable more effective Quality Assurance and focused CPD

The focus so far has been gathering evidence of what people already know about the changes in the new Standards and looking at the best way to provide information to a wide audience of people.  Twilight sessions have been run on ‘Working with the Revised Standards’ (August 2013) and input given at the PT Network meeting (Sept 2013), Curriculum Support Team meeting (Nov 2013), Early Careers Network (Jan 2014) and DHT Network (Jan 2014).  Feedback from courses provided so far has been positive –  “a very worthwhile course in developing my knowledge and understanding of the GTCS Standards.  I feel I have gained knowledge which I can pass onto my colleagues through ERD and CAT sessions” (PT Network Meeting).

 

PTs analyse the new Standards

 

By the end of the project Hazel aims to have a package which can be used by schools to support delivery of CAT sessions on the New Standards eg. presentation or poster.

To influence the outcome of this project, post your responses to the following questions:

* How much do you already know about the New Standards ?

* What other support or information would benefit you in your present role ?

* How might this information best be conveyed to Falkirk’s teachers ?

For any further information on the project please contact Hazel Cunningham at hazel.cunningham@falkirk.gov.uk

Coffee, croissant, controversy Planning Meetings

Yvonne McBlain and Karen Thomson of Falkirk curriculum support team facilitated two lively sessions recently with principal teachers, depute and head teachers. The initial session explored how our establishments were including each element of the NAR planning flow chart in their planning processes. Discussion focused on the numbers of layers of planning being used, and how this was contributing to the improvement of teaching and learning. Participants requested a second session to enable them to bring along and share their planning layers and documentation.

So, on 10th December Julie McKenna shared how Airth Primary are using a digital tool to manage their planning. Staff use this system to create discrete and interdisciplinary units of work in the form of planning wheels with skills and other information noted. They are able to track both the depth and coverage of experiences and outcomes and the progression of skills. At Airth PS, all staff collaborate to create the annual long term plan, and their planning wheels form the rest of their planning structure, with any other detail being recorded in the weekly plans. Julie and her staff now intend to develop how they integrate their  assessment and recording into their planning. 

 Jill Stocks and Andrew Watson from Bonnybridge Primary shared how they use the Learning Unlimited tool “Realistic Record Keeping and Powerful Planning”. Bonnybridge PS staff work from the experiences and outcomes to create annual master plans for literacy, numeracy, and non core learning. Further detailed planning takes place in weekly plans, meaning that the school has two layers of planning. You can click here to see a collection of the master plans for second level. Staff are also using maths pathways to support their planning of progression in specific numeracy skills – click here to view. Jill and Andrew now intend to develop their tracking of coverage and depth of learning within the E & Os. They value the way this planning tool has enabled a significant shift away from a resource-led approach to planning, increased focus on the principles of curriculum design, and a reduction of paperwork for planning. Early years senior managers also shared their development of floor books as their main planning layer  in nursery settings. They value the way floor book planning makes visible the relevance, personalisation and choice and progression of learning for pre and ante-pre school children. It was noted that not all practitioners are comfortable yet with not having additional layers of planning and documentation.

The rest of the meeting consisted of really valuable discussion of how to effectively integrate assessment, manage tracking and monitoring, and how to enhance awareness of when each of the four contexts for learning is being addressed. Click here to see the power point presentation for this second meeting.

A Saturday Morning spent thinking about Employee Review and Development!

Last Saturday morning Anne Pearson, Curriculum Support Manager, headed down to the Falkirk Football Stadium  to team up with Colin Finlay who was hosting the event in his new role as Falkirk EIS Learning Representative. Over 80 teachers from Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Stirling and North Lanarkshire came along and whilst  football was not on the agenda, we engaged in continuous professional development all about Professional Update  and  Employee Review and Development (ERD) supported by delicious bacon rolls and lots of hot drinks. Ken Muir,the Chief Executive of the General Teaching Council Scotland and Larry Flannagan the EIS General Secretary shared their thinking on the importance of high quality CPD, how this links with Professional Update and is a key factor in school improvement. To quote McKinsey, “The quality of an educational system  cannot outperform the quality of its teachers. The only way to improve outcomes is to improve learning and teaching.”     These national and international perspectives have informed the  rationale for Falkirk Education Service’s ERD systems and processes. Anne Pearson focussed on 4 key elements of effective ERD and shared exemplar Work Profiles, explaining how these were developed and link  to the revised national standards that went live in August this year. The morning ended with a Question and Answer session, the panel being made up of Ken Muir, Larry Flannagan, Anne Pearson and the local EIS Secretary Margaret Smith. The presence of such a large group of committed teachers on a weekend illustrates there is a high level of interest in Professional Update and review and development. Good teachers wanting to know how to be even better! Education Services look forward to continuing our partnership with our professional associations.