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Evaluation article: Know your strengths Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016 Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016 Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser? Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools? Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence Evaluation article: Getting personal  with CPD Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process Evaluation article: Parent View — an update Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Evaluation article: Know your strengths

Can you make inspection an enriching learning process that is actually good for your school? Heather Clements of Best Practice Network offers some advice. 

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectation

In this article, Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectation in their schools. 

Achieving an ‘Outstanding’ Grade: Focused on Excellence

Tony Powell outlines a step-by-step approach to support schools in achieving the accolade of ‘outstanding’ as defined by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: HR and the successful school: A case study

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling College, gives a personal viewpoint of the benefits of bringing in the experts.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Evaluation article: Attainment and progress: The Rochford Review

Tony Powell reports on the findings of the final Rochford Review.

Evaluation article: How to create a leadership team that drives school improvement

A high-performing leadership team is at the centre of any school improvement mission. But how do you go about creating an excellent SLT? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network asks…

Evaluation article: Prioritising the budget for school improvement

Adrian Kneeshaw of Carlton Bolling school gives advice on how to focus school spending on improvement planning.

Evaluation article: Transforming a failing school

Matt Bromley offers some advice on turning around an underperforming school in a short space of time while laying down the foundations for sustainable improvement.

Evaluation article: Evaluating alternative and specially resourced provision

Tony Powell explains how inspectors gather evidence and make judgements on the quality of alternative and specially resourced provision.

Evaluation article: Taking a school-wide approach to mental health and wellbeing

With concerns about mental health rising, what can schools do to help their pupils? Suzanne O’Connell outlines the advice available from the National Children’s Bureau and how it might be…

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - January 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Managing uncertainty

If you are struggling with a sense of uncertainty, be reassured: you are not alone. 2016 has been a year of upheaval, with the promise of big changes on the…

Evaluation article: Pupil voice as an evaluation technique

Tony Powell provides guidance on how to use discussion with pupils as a tool for self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: The latest developments in education - September 2016

Suzanne O’Connell provides a look at what’s currently being discussed, debated and determined in the world of education.

Evaluation article: Deconstructing Ofsted: Reflection after inspection

Tony Powell looks at how to use the feedback from your inspection in school improvement planning.

Evaluation article: MAT expansion: Don’t let school improvement become a casualty

How can an expanding multi-academy trust ensure that school improvement doesn’t become a casualty of change? Colin McLean of Best Practice Network looks at the issue and offers some guidance.

Evaluation article: Ten rules for outstanding leaders

Adrian Kneeshaw looks at how leadership is important to the success of the school, and how to lead effectively.

Evaluation article: The governing body as a critical friend

In his second article on the headteacher and governor relationship, Tony Powell defines what is meant by a ‘critical friend’.

Evaluation article: Developing an ethos of high expectations

Steve Burnage shares some practical strategies to enable school leaders to develop an ethos of high expectations in their schools.

Evaluation article: The exam post-mortem

Matt Bromley considers how schools can learn from exam performance data and build this into school improvement.

Evaluation article: Safeguarding: Everyone’s responsibility

With new safeguarding guidance released, it’s time to check your arrangements and update your staff.

Evaluation article: How do inspectors make the judgement about overall effectiveness? The Ofsted model

This article outlines the Ofsted methodology for determining whether a school is ‘outstanding’, ‘good’, ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.

Evaluation article: Effective leadership builds effective teams

Steve Burnage offers advice on motivating staff, getting the best from them and building effective teams.

Evaluation article: Baseline assessment and SEND

Suzanne O’Connell looks at a report on baseline assessment in primary schools and it’s affect on identifying children with SEND.

Evaluation article: Making performance management count in school improvement

What do you need to do to make performance management a watertight process that makes a real contribution to school improvement? Keith Wright has some suggestions.

Evaluation article: Joining or setting up a multi-academy trust

Tony Stephens, of the Co-operative Academies Trust, looks at what is the best type of multi-academy trust for a school to join or establish.

Evaluation article: Case study from Carlton Bolling College: Ensuring high-quality governance

Adrian Kneeshaw, Headteacher of Carlton Bolling, gives a personal take on renewing a failing governing body having designed and built one from scratch.

Evaluation article: Using pupil voice to support school evaluation

David Birch explains how capturing the views of students can sharpen school self-evaluation and have a positive impact on your school improvement strategies.

Evaluation article: What are the signs of a good school improvement service adviser?

Frank Norris offers advice on how to choose the most appropriate school improvement partner to work with your school.

Evaluation article: Headteachers’ appraisal

David Birch outlines best practice in the management of the headteacher appraisal process and offers advice for headteachers on how to make the most of appraisal in their own professional development.

Evaluation article: Making CPD work harder

Professional development is a crucial factor in school improvement and improving pupil outcomes, but it could work harder, says Keith Wright.

Evaluation article: Using the Framework for governance

Tony Powell looks at how the Framework for governance can be used to clarify the strategic direction of your school.

Evaluation article: Interpreting the inspection dashboard

There is a new inspection dashboard to go with Ofsted's new Common inspection framework. Tony Powell explains how it can be used.

Evaluation article: The government's Prevent guidance

Suzanne O'Connell considers the guidance available regarding Prevent and school leaders' responsibilities.

Evaluation article: Improving provision for the most able

Ofsted reports are making it clear. The DfE wants to see secondary schools challenging their most able students. In this article, Suzanne O’Connell summarises the criticisms and recommendations from ‘The…

Evaluation article: Personal development, behaviour and welfare

Tony Powell looks at the new key area ‘personal development, behaviour and welfare’ under the new Ofsted inspection framework.

Evaluation article: Is there a mental health crisis in our schools?

The mental health of children and young people is at the top of the agenda at the moment. Increased anxiety, self-harm and eating disorders are bringing some schools to crisis…

Evaluation article: Evaluating the effectiveness of assessment

Tony Powell interprets government guidance on assessment to help schools support self-evaluation.

Evaluation article: Raising boys’ achievement

John Viner looks at research into boys’ underachievement and reviews some successful strategies.

Evaluation article: National standards of excellence for headteachers

Tony Powell looks at the revised national standards for headteachers and how they should be used by schools.

Evaluation article: Governors and the inspection interview

Tony Powell discusses how to prepare governors in advance for an inspection interview.

Evaluation article: Monitoring and coaching through lesson observation

John Viner explores ways to develop a culture of continual improvement in teaching through lesson observation.

Evaluation article: CPD: Less measurement and more development

How can schools translate CPD into genuine improvement for staff? Keith Wright asked leaders to share their views, and discovered an emerging consensus about which approaches work best.

Evaluation article: Challenging 
the most able

Tony Powell looks at how to identify the most able pupils, and the key factors that enable the brightest pupils to achieve.

Evaluation article: Using the teachers’ standards as a framework for CPD and accountability

Tony Powell looks at how the teachers’ standards can be used to evaluate performance and support improvement.

Evaluation article: Managing behaviour outside the classroom

Since January 2014 there has been increased emphasis on the behaviour of pupils. In this article, Jim Donnelly offers advice on managing behaviour around the school.

Evaluation article: Managing pupils’ behaviour in lessons

David Birch offers advice on effective classroom management and argues that effective practice relies on a combination of the consistent application of agreed policy and the development of awareness and…

Evaluation article: Keeping Children Safe Statutory Guidance

This is statutory guidance, which means that schools and colleges (including academies and free schools) must have regard to it. It contains what schools should do and what they must…

Evaluation article: Four steps to school improvement

School improvement is a complex recipe that takes time to perfect. Keith Wright looks at some of the key barriers to school improvement and suggests strategies and systems to overcome…

Evaluation article: Finding a way through the jungle: The essence of leadership

Louise Wingrove gives practical advice on how to become a leader your team will want to follow.

Evaluation article: How to audit your whole-school literacy provision

Given that whole-school literacy is central to raising standards of achievement in schools and that it is a key focus for Ofsted, David Birch outlines some of the actions schools…

Evaluation article: Professional development: the growing case for evidence

Teachers are good at gathering evidence of pupil progress, but many find it difficult to do the same with regard to their own professional development.  Keith Wright looks at the…

Evaluation article: Getting personal with CPD

Less than a fifth of teachers in England’s schools think their continuing profession development (CPD) is any good, according to a recent survey. One of the keys to unlocking the…

Evaluation article: Making performance appraisal an objective and helpful process

Performance appraisal is crucial to school improvement, but many schools are still without a rigorous and transparent way of carrying it out, says Keith Wright. Here, he analyses the challenges…

Evaluation article: Parent View — an update

Jenny Townsend looks at the importance of Parent View in achieving an outstanding rating in inspection, and how comments from parents are used by Ofsted.

Evaluation article: Raising pupil achievement through parental engagement: a practical approach

Jenny Townsend explores how parental engagement can contribute to school improvement and in particular the role this can play in raising pupil achievement levels.

Evaluation article: Effective parental engagement

Ofsted’s Parent View means that parents have a direct influence on the decision to inspect. Jenny Townsend examines why this matters to schools.

Evaluation article: Leading the way to outstanding learner progress

Published: Monday, 08 May 2017

Steve Burnage discusses engaging with good practice in the leadership of teaching and learning.

Summary

  • The leadership of teaching and learning is central to any school, college or academy leader’s role.
  • Good leaders will promote and participate in teacher learning and development in order to gain the very best from their teachers.
  • Through planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum school leaders can support learners on their journey towards outstanding learning outcomes.

Introduction

This article explores how school leaders create a learning community to improve learning for all. If effective schools are those where a range of outcomes for children and young people are provided for, and where pupils make better progress than predicted on the basis of where they started, then the quality of the teachers and the learning they provide are central to success. The steps taken to attract, appoint, develop, support and retain good teachers are vital responsibilities for school leaders. Leadership is not just a second order effect influencing through others – it is integral to the learning of the whole school community.

So what do we know about the leadership of teaching and learning? Much can be learned from inspection reports and education research.

What can we learn from inspections reports?

According to Ofsted, in effective schools, effective leaders set the tone in terms of how learning is understood, they actively develop all their staff in ways which improve teaching and learning and they ensure that the organisation is designed and operated in ways that focus on learning and teaching.

Ofsted has no doubt where the observed strengths and weaknesses in teaching and learning lie (please see the table below).

Characteristics of teaching

Enthusiastic, knowledgeable and focused clearly on developing pupils/understanding of important skills. Ineffective teaching methods, low expectations, weaknesses in planning, poor use of assessment.
Constructive relationships between pupils and staff. Tasks and resources fail to meet the needs of pupils of different abilities.
Pupils encouraged to become indenpendent in their learning. Ofted pedestrian or pays too little attention to what pupils need to do to improve.
Assessment used well to monitor pupils' progress - enabling pupils to understand how well they are doing and teachers to plan challenging activities. Opportunities to use and apply mathematics too restricted to short everyday problems rather than more extended work.
Challenges and engages pupils. Setting tasks for pupil that are not sufficiently demanding limits opportunities to extend kowledge and understanding and apply what has been learnt.
Makes regular use of assessment to match activities to their needs and abilities. These missed opportunities result in loss of interest, slow progress and deteriorating behaviour.
  Uninspiring teaching is often too dependent on published materials which are not well matched to pupils' needs.

 

In schools where there was deemed outstanding leadership of learning and teaching, inspectors found:

  • A strong culture of self-evaluation and parents were clear about the high aspirations for pupils.
  • Traditional values for behaviour alongside innovative curriculum programmes; young people were equipped with excellent interpersonal skills and good qualifications.

Strong leadership was seen as crucial to learners’ success in ensuring:

  • Clear roles among the senior leadership team.
  • Shared leadership focus on teaching and learning.
  • A high profile to effective support for students with learning difficulties.

Middle leaders were also seen as playing a central leadership role in learning and teaching. They:

  • Took responsibility for monitoring teaching and standards in their departments.
  • Advanced skills teachers (ASTs) promoted outstanding practice both in the school and beyond.
  • There was a shared commitment to CPD.

What can we learn from research?

Research also suggests that the way leaders work to bring out the best in others i.e. motivating staff, will directly improve outcomes for pupils when used alongside:

  • Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development.
  • Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum.

Promoting and participating in teacher learning and development

This involved more than just providing opportunities for staff development. The leader participates with his or her staff as the leader, learner or both. Such learning can be formal (staff meetings and professional development) or informal (discussions about specific teaching problems). The impact of this dimension underlines the value of school leaders as the ‘leading learners’ of their school. In higher achieving and higher gain schools, school leaders are more likely to be active participants in teacher learning and development and more likely to participate in staff discussions of teaching and teaching problems.

Planning, coordinating and evaluating teaching and the curriculum

Leaders in higher performing schools were distinguished by their active oversight and co-ordination of teaching – an idea captured by the term ‘shared instructional leadership’. They were more directly involved in co-ordinating the curriculum across year levels than in lower performing schools and in activities such as developing progressions of teaching objectives for reading across year levels. Such leaders were found to be directly involved in classroom observation and subsequent feedback, with positive comments from staff about how useful such feedback was and how helpful appraisal interviews were in identifying ways to improve teaching. There was greater emphasis in higher performing schools on staff monitoring student progress and using test results to improve lesson planning.

Condensing findings from a number of pieces of research, it can be argued that good leadership improves the quality of learning and teaching when:

  • There is clear pupil-centred vision and purpose ensured pupils reached their potential.
  • Maximising young people’s well-being and achievements was at the heart of these schools.
  • Getting the best or most out of people was related to the philosophy, leadership approach and personal skills of the headteacher, including:
    o Motivating, encouraging, trusting and valuing colleagues to do well.
    o Modelling, leading by example, especially in teaching.
    o Providing an opportunity to undertake greater responsibility and undergo development programmes from the second year of teaching.
    o Promoting professional development focused on teaching, learning and leadership, and keeping abreast of change; coaching is much in evidence.
    o Encouraging initiative and allowing people – students and staff – to experiment, confident they will be supported.
    o Showing interest and being generous with praise, encouragement and help in moving forward.
    o Knowing the names of a very high proportion of learners; valuing and respecting them.
    o Being community-minded, involving, consulting and being engaged within the local community.
    o Building teams and empowering them.
    o Approachability and the ability and readiness to listen. Closeness to the core work of the school meant that headteachers were aware of people’s needs and what colleagues were already doing.
    o Innovative heads were identified as looking out for new ideas and being entrepreneurial.
    o Enthusiasm, associated with commitment, passion, hard work and energy. This is also motivational, especially when accompanied by a sense of humour.
    o Determination and decisiveness; without denying the importance of consultation and distributed leadership the best heads are credited with having high expectations, setting high standards and being very demanding.
    o Effective communication skills to imbue staff with confidence, relate to learners and manage day-to-day transactions, consultation and corporate decision making.
    o A focus on quality, which applies most to learning and teaching but is reflected through analysis and observation, high expectations, moral purpose and a striving for excellence, on the basis that learners deserve nothing less.
  • Leadership actions develop a learning community, in which staff learning is key to enhancing student learning in three ways:
    o Creating a collaborative culture: a collegiate approach ensures knowledge is shared through expectations and systems (such as ‘learning triads’).
    o Ensuring staff learning: a non-negotiable process includes appraisal, coaching and mentoring and systems for peer learning.
    o Widening the community to include links with other cultures: networks, learning partnerships and outreach work can include engagement with national organisations and education in other countries.

You can audit your own leadership of learning and teaching using Template 1.

Leadership for Personalising Learning (West-Burnham 2008), uses linked processes as the basis for good leadership for learning:

  • Modelling – setting an example.
  • Monitoring – analysing and acting on data relating to pupils’ progress and outcomes.
  • Dialogue – creating opportunities for teachers to talk with their colleagues about learning and teaching.

This triad concentrates on doing a relatively small number of important things well, it is important not to overcomplicate the craft of leadership.

Template 2 allows you to plan how your school leadership team might implement these three key areas of West-Burnham’s leadership for learning

Conclusions

In order to ensure sustained positive impact on the quality of learning and teaching in school, it is important that senior leaders take into account:

  1. Good leadership powers the drive for school improvement and pupils’ success.
  2. Well-led schools are clear on their missions and proactive about their futures.
  3. In highly effective schools, leaders are involved in learning and with learners. As pedagogical leaders, they are both highly skilled in teaching and learning and deploy considerable leadership skills.
  4. Effective leadership provides for CPD of all staff, including structured opportunities for leadership development.
  5. As far as possible, effective leaders of learning apply the same principles, values and expectations to staff as to student learning, building a community of learners.
  6. The development of pedagogical leadership uses a range of practical approaches within the home, school or a group of schools utilising the experience of outstanding schools.

References

  • How do school leaders successfully lead learning? Matthews, NCSL, 2014
  • The Impact of School Leadership on Pupil Outcomes: Identifying what works and why, Day, C, Sammons, P, Hopkins, D, Harris, A, Leithwood, K, Gu, Q, Penlington, C, Mehta, P & Kington, A, ACEL, 2007
  • Leadership for Personalising Learning By West-Burnham, NCSL, 2018

Toolkit

Use the following item in the Toolkit to put the ideas in this article into practice:

About the author

Steve Burnage has a breadth of experience leading challenging inner-city and urban secondary schools. He now works as a freelance trainer, consultant and author for senior and middle leadership, strategic development, performance management and coaching and mentoring. Steve may be contacted by email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via his website

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