The Learning Renaissance

Optimising School Culture for Improved Student Learning Outcomes

Much of my work in recent years has been in supporting schools to change the focus and direction of their culture and efforts so that they improve the learning outcomes for children in an effective, replicable and sustainable way.

Issues regarding how well the school culture is geared to achievement are often most keenly observed at times of intense change. I was lucky enough to have been seconded to a new Academy which was adopting the Opening Minds curriculum model and as such, had to re-orient the work of individuals and teams to a new learning paradigm.

Adopting new learning technologies in particular challenges schools when it comes to culture change and what follows is a vignette of how schools tend to respond the challenge of change. It is vital to consider that how the change is envisaged will determine the way the school responds and how is plans the scope and stick-ability of the changes.

Challenging pedagogical practice – new learning technologies

Capacity building and team building are issues thrown into sharp relief when schools have to develop new practice and respond to new initiatives which cut across departmental structures and require a whole school response to teaching and learning development. This is particularly apposite when considering how schools respond to the deployment of new learning technologies and the expectations they have in terms of a return on capital investment in learning outcomes.

Outlined below is my taxonomy of the implementation of a new learning technology, for example Interactive Whiteboards, into the pedagogical practice of the school. How the school defines the scope of the new initiative will define the range and effectiveness of their development response.

For the purpose of this exercise we may characterise the way the school addresses a new learning initiative as a Type 1, 2 or 3 learning organisation.

Managing a whole school learning initiative: Integrating ICT into pedagogy,for example implementing the use of Interactive Whiteboards across the school
Type 1 Organisation Type 2 Organisation Type 3 Organisation
How Head and/or managers conceptualise the problem Training Professional Development Culture Shift
Desired outcomes of SLT from initiative Class based use of the IWB  by teachersChange is Teacher inspired


Shared understanding of how IWBs can engage learners in more inspired lessonsChange is Curriculum inspired and departmentally led Step change in both learner engagement and academic outcomes from systematic use of ICTChange is Pedagogically inspired and whole school based
Preferred solutions External expertise Internal Expertise Internal capacity building to a minimum competence level
Starting point for change INSET activity with no previous assessment activity or follow up, Training needs analysis based on staff self-assessment of competence Current State Analysis  of  use of ICT by self-assessment questionnaire against statements of a competence model. Training needs met by support against a competence specification that is generic and focusses on learner gains.
Basis of Development Programme delivery “One size fits all” “Choose from the limited menu options” “Work towards required level of competence”
Programme delivery   Single training event with expert (who maybe technically, rather than pedagogically trained) giving run through of key technical  elements of new technology / software Series of training events led by in house experts – often focussed on key departments. Content tends to be subject specific rather than whole school focussed. A minimum pedagogical competence model developed in which all staff must reach an acceptable level within a given timescale. Content generic with teachers able to make learning resources specific to their subject purposes
Programme delivery mechanism One off presentation and supporting materials. Further online materials for support. Training events and online materials, supported by one to one mentoring. Further online materials for support. Teachers work towards eliminating competence deficits identified in Training needs analysis. Group and individual training and mentoring is cross curricular based. Online materials are all produced from training events and form a school generated library of resources, available to all and organised by pedagogical approach.
Test for effectiveness of process None – other than attendance at training event. Departmental check Teacher competence tested through Performance Management system both in terms of use of technology in the classroom and the generation of materials shared in the online development library
IP and Learning Continuity Expertise resides with individuals Expertise resides with individuals in departments Expertise is collegiately owned across the whole school, Specific expectation that all will formally contribute to improvement in pedagogical practice.
Perceived basis of how training will relate to changing pedagogical style Magical osmosis! Three line whip administered by departmental heads, with threat of inspection revealing shortcomings as the professional incentive. Quality assured support for developing competence in use in classroom, backed up by support library of generic resources.

About educationalist04

I'm convinced we can, as a species, do much better than this if we set our minds to being much more positive and productive towards our fellow humans. The solution is learning - creating independent and autonomous learners who can problem solve, innovate and create a better more equitable and sustainable world. My books, Future Proof Your School and Re-Examining Success together with this blog, explore how better learning outcomes for all can be achieved.

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