What do leaders need? And what do they need most?

What do leaders need? And what do they need most?

Susan Young outlines 23 characteristics of outstanding leaders and leadership teams

Susan Young looks at what makes an outstanding school leader.

17 July 2017/Number of views (329)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Learning to research: good for teachers, parents and children

Learning to research: good for teachers, parents and children

Susan Young shines a spotlight on the benefits of evidence-informed teaching

Susan Young talks to Early Years teacher, Jane Flood about becoming part of a Research Learning Community.

13 July 2017/Number of views (451)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Here comes the sun

Here comes the sun

James Ashmore on why middle leaders need to remain optimistic

James Ashmore writes on the importance of staying optimistic as a middle leader.

03 July 2017/Number of views (507)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
PE and Sport for achievement

PE and Sport for achievement

Guest Blogger Dominic Judge Asks: how can PE and Sport contribute to whole school well-being and performance?

How can school leaders use PE, physical activity and sport to tackle issues of childhood obesity and mental well-being and to drive whole school performance?

20 June 2017/Number of views (564)/Comments (0)/
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Exploring the reality of support and provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs

Exploring the reality of support and provision for children and young people with speech, language and communication needs

Jean Gross explores the current provision and support for children with SLCN

Jean Gross outlines the provision and support for children with SLCN.

16 June 2017/Number of views (832)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Social mobility and attainment – what can Middle Leaders do?

Social mobility and attainment – what can Middle Leaders do?

What teachers and schools can do to help

In the UK today, there are areas where a staggering one in six children are currently living in poverty (Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission).

05 June 2017/Number of views (1150)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Using speakers to inspire young people

Using speakers to inspire young people

How one charity brings high profile speakers into schools

 The charity, Speakers for Schools, gives access to top quality speakers for free

22 May 2017/Number of views (1376)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
What impact could coaching have in your school?

What impact could coaching have in your school?

Lara Ginn, an NAHT Edge Advisory Council member, explores the benefits of setting up a coaching team.

Within a school context it is essential to ensure a level of consistency; a common approach to coaching sessions is important.

09 May 2017/Number of views (1810)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Getting started with video CPD (Part 2)

Getting started with video CPD (Part 2)

Developing a supportive culture and establishing a solid programme.

Exploring video CPD: developing a supportive culture and establishing a solid programme. 

20 April 2017/Number of views (1902)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Getting started with video CPD (Part 1)

Getting started with video CPD (Part 1)

Exploring video CPD and practical strategies for getting started.

Christophe Mullings, Head of Education at IRIS Connect, explores video CPD and practical strategies for getting started.

19 April 2017/Number of views (1978)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Recognising leaders who’ve made a difference

Recognising leaders who’ve made a difference

The BELMAS Reflective Practice Award for innovation and critical reflection in education is now open for entries.

The BELMAS Reflective Practice Award for innovation and critical reflection in education is now open for entries

 

17 March 2017/Number of views (2924)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Chasing happiness

Chasing happiness

Guest blogger James Ashmore asks: As a middle leader, what else could you do to raise your team’s happiness quotient?

Guest blogger James Ashmore asks: As a middle leader, what could you do to raise your team’s happiness quotient? 

06 February 2017/Number of views (2382)/Comments (0)/
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Making a difference for autistic girls and women

Making a difference for autistic girls and women

Broadcaster and campaigner Carrie Grant asks how girls with autism can find their voice, and are we truly listening?

How does an autistic person get heard and understood? How do they find their voice? How do we hear their voice? And are we giving space to hear the autistic voice?

30 January 2017/Number of views (3276)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Managing your time

Managing your time

Guest blogger James Ashmore looks at the conflict between a middle leader's personal and professional life

You may feel that your work/life balance is seriously out of kilter and that moving into middle leadership has done nothing to redress this, in fact it’s made it worse.

06 December 2016/Number of views (3211)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Recruitment, retention and middle leaders

Recruitment, retention and middle leaders

Why are schools finding that there is a shortage of middle leaders?

In the short term a dedicated middle leader can make sacrifices, willing to take on more because they are not only ambitious for themselves but committed to high quality education for pupils within their school. But is this sustainable asks Lara Ginn? 

21 November 2016/Number of views (3642)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
Teacher Workload: The Elephant in the Room?

Teacher Workload: The Elephant in the Room?

A personal perspective from Lara Ginn

Teacher workload is among one of the greatest issues schools face nowadays. Over recent years this has become a source of wide scale discussion within the profession and in the media. The government has, through recent independent reviews, endeavoured to identify some of the primary factors causing the heavy workload faced by teaching staff and means by which all stakeholders can redress this.

16 November 2016/Number of views (3498)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it… It enters the classroom without knocking”

“Death neither obeys the school timetable nor appears on it… It enters the classroom without knocking”

Supporting bereavement

By the age of 16 at least one child in every classroom (1 in 29) will have experienced the death of a parent or sibling (Penny & Stubbs, 2015).

08 November 2016/Number of views (3041)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
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Securing and growing great practice in your team

Securing and growing great practice in your team

Top tips for growing great practice

Middle leaders are increasingly recognised for their pivotal role in developing the quality of practice. So how is this being achieved, and how can you plan for this?

24 October 2016/Number of views (2966)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
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Running Successful Meetings

Running Successful Meetings

Five top tips

Running successful meetings is an often overlooked skill but one that will almost certainly be required of you as a middle leader. The times you have together with your team can be critical to your success and so it is vitally important that they go well. 

18 October 2016/Number of views (4456)/Comments (0)/
Categories: StaffBlogs
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Girls and Autism: Flying Under the Radar (nasen 2016)

Girls and Autism: Flying Under the Radar (nasen 2016)

If you were asked to describe a typical student with autism, what would you say?

It is becoming more and more widely understood that there may well be as many girls and women with autism as there are boys and men, but their needs are not always being identified.

04 October 2016/Number of views (3355)/Comments (0)/
Categories: Blogs
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Behaviour for learning and developing a positive culture

Behaviour for learning

What is behaviour for learning?
Behaviour for learning is a frequently used term when developing an NQT’s understanding of how to foster effective learning in a classroom, giving feedback to a colleague following an observation or working with children on developing their understanding of their roles and responsibilities in the learning process. But what exactly is behaviour for learning? And how can you, as a middle leader, promote it in your department or phase?

Behaviour for learning encompasses the link between the way in which students learn and their social knowledge and behaviour. It’s about the link that a learner has between self, others and the curriculum. For learning to be as effective as possible, there needs to be a positive relationship between the three. This, therefore, has implications not only for the learner but also school leaders, class or subject teachers, parents and carers, and any other professional working with the learner.

Behaviour for learning can’t be seen in isolation as purely how a child behaves in a lesson, or the effort and motivation with which they approach their work. Behaviour for learning affects the learner in multiple ways. Therefore, a school’s approach to fostering good behaviour for learning needs to address all three elements on an individual and collective basis. A school and its leaders need to have a clear understanding of what their vision of effective behaviour for learning looks like, how they’re fostering it and how they’re monitoring the effectiveness of policies and strategies put in place. For a school to develop successful behaviour for learning across a broad spectrum of pupils, the approach must be tailored to the individual but also foster a common and shared ethos that’s simple for all adults and pupils to understand and put into practice.

Behaviour for learning: relationship with self

For effective behaviour for learning, a pupil must feel confident in their abilities and have a sense of worth. They need to believe they can meet the challenges set and succeed. This has an implication for the teacher because they must have a good understanding of each learner and be able to set well-pitched work that would suitably challenge the pupil and enable them to succeed.

It also has wider implications because some learners don’t enter the classroom with a secure sense of themselves as learners or people. A child who enters the classroom with low self-esteem needs to be supported to succeed, so they can develop a positive image of themselves as a learner. Such children also need this sense of self to be developed through other means, such as pastoral groups, focused work with parents and, when necessary, work with other agencies. This work may have little to do with the academic learning in the classroom. However, a child can’t develop good learning habits and succeed academically if they don’t have a secure and confident sense of self.                                                                          

Behaviour for learning: relationship with others

Social interactions between learners have a significant impact on the pupil’s success. These social interactions are both linked to the pupil’s relationship with self and the strategies a teacher employs to develop effective social interaction in a classroom. The choice of strategy may differ according to the age of the child, but the basic purpose remains constant. The pupil needs to develop learning habits in which they can listen actively in a variety of situations and partake actively in discussions – both contributing their knowledge, thoughts and opinions; and building on those contributed by others. A learner must also be supported in developing the ability to constructively critique the contributions of others in a manner that’s polite, respectful and effectively justified. Similarly, all learners need to develop group work skills that enable them to become adaptable, flexible and resilient team players who can cooperate, negotiate, compromise and lead. Such skills are as essential to effective classrooms as they will be to an individual becoming a productive citizen in adult life. However, if the pupil’s sense of self isn’t secure, such skills can be challenging to develop. The pupil may be overly passive, or conversely unable or unwilling to take the views of others on board. They might be seen by their peers as antagonistic.

Behaviour for learning: the curriculum

The third core aspect of behaviour for learning is the curriculum. A curriculum that’s fit for purpose – meeting the expectations set by government and being tailored to the context of a school and its learners – is an essential factor in developing a positive attitude towards learning. Mick Waters from the Curriculum Foundation said: “The challenge for schools is to create a nourishing and appetising feast that will sustain learners and meet their needs.” If a pupil is to actively engage with a curriculum and invest themselves in it, they must be inspired to do so. The challenge for middle leaders is to ensure their subject area is taught in a varied, creative and child-centered manner, and it provides full coverage of all statutory objectives.

How can a middle leader promote good behaviour for learning?

While we all appreciate the need for good behaviour for learning, how can we promote it? As a middle leader, it’s important that you promote the systems and ethos put in place by senior leaders. This means embracing all aspects and promoting them both inside and outside your classroom. You and your pupils are the role models from which others in your department or phase will take their lead. You must develop a classroom where learning is essential and everyone (regardless of their background or ability) is able to thrive and develop a lifelong love for learning.

Behaviour for learning and a positive classroom culture
In your classroom, you can do the following:

  • Develop a good rapport with the pupils, so they feel valued and appreciated. They must feel  you’re genuinely interested in them as individuals and learners
  • Promote a team ethos where all children feel included and supported by their peers
  • Encourage a can-do attitude to tasks. For example, where perseverance, resilience and adaptability are explicitly valued through classroom discussion, praise and adult modelling
  • Instil a sense of pride in the pupils. This should encompass the following: pupils being proud to be a member of the class; of their work to date and achievements; of the effort they put in; and, most of all, of their struggles. The challenges they face should be celebrated as steps to improving their understanding
  • Promote good behaviour for learning by planning and delivering lessons where the content and mode of delivery capture the interests of your current pupils rather than those from five years ago. To do this, you must take the time to get to know what will capture their imaginations and what their next steps in learning should be
  • Understand how individuals learn best and enable them to learn in this way where possible
  • Give pupils ownership of their learning and the level of challenge they feel confident to take on board. For example, allowing the pupil to self-select from differentiated tasks.

Alternatively, all pupils may undertake the same task, but you should select the scaffolding they need to achieve success.

How can your school promote a shared behaviour for learning ethos?

While every school (whether primary or secondary) is unique and faces a distinct set of circumstances, all pupils need to have the opportunity to become independent learners who can manage their behaviour and readiness for learning. At St Mary’s Primary School in Slough, we take this very seriously and have several means to develop it. Some key strategies through which we foster good behaviour for learning are as follows:

  • Five core values: love, responsibility, honesty, forgiveness and respect. These values link into our wider monthly values work. All children are expected to know, understand at their level and live by these values
  • A mantra that’s often heard by adults and all children (those from the very youngest in nursery right up to those in year six) is as follows: “Right thing. Right place. Right time.” It’s an expectation by all staff and pupils that every action is considered in this context, and if an action (thing) is inappropriate for the time or place, the pupil is asked to consider and change their behaviour. This reminder could come from staff and/or peers. It enables the pupil to take responsibility for (and ownership of) their behaviour. It also helps them to feel a sense of achievement when they modify it
  • For those children who struggle with ‘self’ and social interaction, St Mary’s also has a comprehensive range of pastoral groups that promote self-esteem, give some children a voice and enable others to develop the skills to work more cooperatively with peers
  • Self-esteem is also regularly built throughout the school through half-termly certificates, end of year trophies and, on a day-to-day basis, shiny stickers from the head teacher. Excitingly, these are accompanied by photos of the pupil with their work, which are promptly posted on our Twitter account for all to see. Even the staff feel a sense of pride when they receive a shiny gold sticker!

Middle leaders can make a real difference

The promotion of good behaviour for learning may take a flavour distinctive to your setting, pupils and circumstances. However, regardless of what form this takes, it’s essential you are a driving force behind the promotion of it in your classroom, phase or department. You’re in a position whereby you can inspire both staff and pupils to work with determination, pride and a passion to be the very best learners that they can be.




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