‘Powerful professional learning helps children succeed and teachers thrive’ is the first message on the front page of the Teacher Development Trust website. Yet when we look at other countries that are seen as successful at education, commentators often focus on issues such as their culture (Finland or Estonia), teaching methods (‘Chinese Maths’ in Shanghai) or use of external tutoring (Japan or South Korea).
Each year I find myself seeking new PD opportunities that will help me grow as an educator and leader. More importantly, I am seeking new ideas to share with our upper school team here at Bullis School in Maryland. I have been fairly successful in this quest, although I always come away from the conferences with the same question. Why is the push for innovation and active learning always delivered in a ‘sit and get’ 45-90 minute session?
“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady. I hope you find some way to break the rules, and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”
– Nora Ephron, 1996, commencement speech at Wellesley College.
There has been a wealth of studies examining what shapes the perfect leader. One of the traits of authentic leadership is the consideration of soft as well as hard data, but are decisions based on non-quantitative data possible in the current funding climate? Since Sound Training was established in 2011, we have worked with hundreds of schools with the same goal - to raise literacy levels and achievement across the curriculum. The school leaders and teachers we work with may have lots in common, but one thing that stands out is innovative leadership.
Successful school leaders are those who find ways to reach and exceed the continuously rising expectations of teaching and learning improvement. However, providing students with the very best learning experiences requires an investment in teachers. As educationalists ourselves at Veema, we know the challenges this presents. Budgets, inspections, choice of approach and the requirement to measure impact, all constrain and shape what we do.
As professionals within the educational sector we all strive to improve our game. It is not uncommon to find our teaching staff, as well as administrative and support staff, venturing into roles within pastoral care. They may take up these incredibly important roles alongside their primary role in a climate where pastoral support has become an ever-increasing growth area. In my youth, this role would have been tackled by the school nurse, but now many schools have full-time teams managing the demands of modern day schooling.
The White Rose Maths Hub announced on 29th April that it has licensed three Teaching School Alliances to deliver its popular Bar Modelling twilight training. This new alliance will meet the growing appetite for the Hub’s training, which helps teachers to deliver Maths education more effectively.
Withington Girls School in Manchester have addressed ambitions of improving their pupils’ written work by undertaking a bespoke inset day. The session, based around the theme of Supporting the Needs of Advanced Learners of EAL, was run by Beaumont Training & Consultancy Ltd and concentrated on how inferences constitute a problem for EAL (English as an additional language) pupils. It also addressed the question of whether or not the school’s teachers should think that it is only the EAL pupils who struggle with texts in this way.
I was at a community organisation meeting when I heard a statistic that stopped me dead in my tracks. One in three children in the UK is affected by dementia. This statement made me realise for the first time, the hidden impact of an illness we usually associate with old people. For me it meant a third of the students at my school, Alder Grange in Rawtenstall, would be touched by dementia.