Reflections on Day 2 of our Leading Learning training course

14 April 2018

Author: Roger Higgins

Just before the end of Spring term, we welcomed back senior leaders from around Norfolk for Day 2 of Leading Learning: our programme to improve the quality of Teacher Continued Professional Development.
The timing of the publication of the EEF guidance report ‘A School’s Guide to Implementation‘ was too good an opportunity to miss, and we used the process model from the report to structure activities for delegates:

The aim of Day 2 was to ‘Prepare to implement changes to CPD for 2018-19, in light of the available evidence’. This blog describes how the day went, and provides links to resources which we hope readers will find useful.

The ‘Explore phase’ of implementation
I introduced delegates to the EEF School Implementation process, explaining that we would initially be facilitating the ‘Explore’stage of implementation. Delegates had been asked to identify key prioritiesfor their school’s CPD models in preparation as an inter-sessional task. Our analysis showed that most delegates wanted to prioritise CPD content relating to Cognitive Science and Metacognition, to enable teachers to respond to reformed curricula.

Vicki Barnett then led delegates through key aspects of Memory, Rehearsal and Retrieval, before introducing them to Cognitive Load theory. Examples of how teachers can apply this theory to their classroom practice were given. In light of the theory, Vicki challenged delegates to evaluate not just their current CPD models, but also current Quality Assurance models. Given what Cognitive Science has to say about how the brain stores information, together with Rob Coe’s comment that “Learning happens when people have to think hard” and his comments on Lesson Observation, is it time for a change in how we quality assure?

Next, Vicki led delegates through what we mean by ‘Metacognitive strategies’, including the use of an easy to understand example by John Tomsett.

Delegates then returned to the ‘Explore’element of Implementation, challenging delegates to justify their CPD priorities, both in light of what Vicki had covered, and given the possibility that they might have selected ‘false priorities’ due to past experiences or personal preferences:

  • What pupil attainment data bears it out?
  • Past or current cohorts?
  • What other indicators are there?

Part of ‘Explore’ is looking at what other schools have done. Delegates moved on to analyse case studies of CPD models, with a focus on how well they delivered on the following aspects of the DfE’s Standard for teachers’ professional development:

  • Professional development should be underpinned by robust evidence and expertise
  • Professional development should have a focus on improving and evaluating pupil outcomes

We are indebted to the following schools, who happily gave up their time to explain their CPD models to me as I was collating case studies:
·      Huntingdon High(York): Disciplined Enquiry model
·      St Margaret’s Primary(Lincolnshire): Peer-coaching model
·      Mellers School(Nottinghamshire): Lesson Study
·      Durrington High(Worthing): Subject Planning and Development sessions

By this stage delegates needed to take stock: considering the implications for their own CPD model. We developed a tool to support to support school leaders following the stages of the Implementation process. This was issued to delegates, who used the tool’s prompt sheet in order to populate the ‘Explore’ section of the tool. We cannot claim any credit for the tool, which simply takes key elements from the full EEF Guidance report. We are grateful to Jonathan Sharples for reviewing it for us and providing insightful suggestions on how to improve it.

The ‘Prepare phase’ of implementation
In preparing Day 2, the thing which struck us most about the underlying research was the idea of identifying the ‘active ingredients’of an approach, and planning up front to ensure staff fidelityto these.

  • Active Ingredients: features or practices that are tightly related to the underlying theory of change. These things are considered critical to the project delivering the intended outcomes
  • Fidelity: the degree to which staff employ an approach as you intended them to

Doing this is something which we’d hitherto done instinctively, without an appreciation that:

  • “the more clearly identified the active ingredients are, the more likely the programme or practice is to be implemented successfully”
  • “systematic reviews of implementation studies in education consistently report a positive relationship between ..fidelity.. and outcomes for students”

Delegates used Notre Dame High school’s own CPD model, specifically the mechanisms within it to ensure fidelity to its active ingredients, to explore these ideas. You can find out more about Notre Dame’s CPD model here, and read more here about how it has evolved.

The bulk of the afternoon was devoted to delegates using the implementation outline tool (link above) to ‘prepare’ their own CPD priority in advance of 2018-19. Delegates are now sharing their implementation outline with colleagues back in their own schools, forming ‘implementation teams’ to ensure that preparations for related changes are considered by a wide range of staff, and turning their outlines into clear, logical and well-specified plans.

We look forward to the final day of the programme, where plans will be reviewed, and augmented to ensure that Evaluation occurs throughout.

References
[1] Sharples, Albens, Fraser (2018) Putting the evidence to Work: A School’s Guide to Implementation (EEF)
[2]DfE (2016) Standard for teachers’ professional development
[3]Blasé, K.A. et al. (2012) Implementation science: Key concepts, themes, and evidence for practitioners in educational psychology. In Handbook of implementation science for psychology in education. New York: Cambridge University Press; p13-66.
[4]Lendrum A, and Humphrey, N. (2012). The importance of studying the implementation of interventions in school settings. Oxford Review of Education. 38(5): p635-652.
[5]Dyssegaard C.B. et al. (2017) A systematic review of what enables or hinders the use of research-based knowledge in primary and lower secondary school. Copenhagen: Aarhaus University, Danish Clearinghouse for Educational Research
[6]Albers, B and Pattuwage, L. (2017) Implementation in Education: Findings from a Scoping Review. Melbourne: Evidence for Learning

Posted on 14 April 2018
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