Leading Learning Training – by Florence Pope, ELE

27 September 2018

Since becoming an ‘Evidence Lead in Education’ in June this year, I am increasingly aware of two equally exciting and faintly terrifying things.  One: the great amount of evidence available to schools.  Two: how hard it is to firmly embed the most appropriate of these practices in a large Secondary School.  It seems timely, therefore, that the first course I will be facilitating is the ‘Leading Learning’ course that Lisa Hesmondhalgh and I will be running in the Macclesfield area later this year.

The course is separated into three days, each with a clear focus on an aspect of implementing evidence-based school improvement. Day one provides a helpful insight into navigating the available evidence. Much CPD early in my own career was plagued with Wiliam’s ‘magpies’ – shiny new ideas which promise to solve a deeply entrenched barrier to progress before fading away without a trace. The course aims to eradicate this through an introduction to the Toolkit: helping teachers understand how it is compiled and updated, to decipher its various terms and to use it effectively – a sure fire way to avoid the temptation of daily emails which offer solutions to poor literacy or student engagement in one easily downloadable package. Day one also begins to encourage delegates to identify a focus for their own project that is both manageable and likely to yield results in their own settings.

Day two moves onto implementation – helped by the EEF’s recent ‘Guide to Implementation’ the main take home message is that implementation takes more time and thought that we often give it in school. Working through the four key steps: exploring, preparing, delivering and sustaining improvement, this focussed approach helps delegates consider the barriers that might prevent an initiative from working in their particular context and to consider how they might make alterations to both culture and strategy in their schools to render it feasible and sustainable.

The final day revolves around evaluation. Evaluation is often the most missed part of any implementation plan and a relentless focus on the key question, “How has the intervention helped students to improve?” drives the day. Crucially, the day focusses on the evaluation of process as well as outcome: setting up a more sustainable model for future initiatives. This includes the ‘Pre-Mortem’ – an exercise which encourages a reflection on ‘what went wrong’ without ever having to live through the worst case scenario in reality!

As a relatively new recruit to the world of evidence in education, this is a course I wish I had been able to attend several years ago.  It provides clear guidance on navigating the wealth of evidence available and crucially also affords leaders time and space to consider ‘how’ this can genuinely be translated into useful school based initiatives. I hope delegates will leave the course able to implement sustainable and effective interventions which will see an impact on student progress far greater than any ‘magpie’ ever could.

Posted on 27 September 2018
Posted in: Latest Research Evidence