Teachers as agents of change–developing a research culture in a school. First steps.

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I’ve always been totally committed to the idea that teachers are the drivers of change in schools.  I took this approach when successfully establishing a cadre of dare devil coaches in a previous role (that feels like a previous life).  This is based upon the following, interlinked principles:

· Teachers are a mixed ability group of learners.

· Schools need to use what they have, but better.

· Teachers and young people are agents of change.

· If you don’t use it, it’s not CPD.

· If you’re not creating trouble, you’re not creating much.

In this vein, it’s good to be sewing the seeds of a research culture.  Of course, none of this is new but true innovation is often taking great ideas from elsewhere and adapting them.  I’m not going to go into too much detail here as that can wait for different voices on a more appropriate platform.  The agenda is being driven through a ‘closing the gap’ agenda.  I’m ‘Pupil Premium Champion’ for my school (amongst other things) and whilst some may criticise the Pupil Premium Agenda, I doubt many can argue with the moral purpose of helping children from disadvantaged backgrounds, whatever their ability.

The elements of the research culture are as follows:

  • 3 potential Middle Leaders are on a development course that contains a Closing the Gap Action Research Element.
  • 4 Closing the Gap Action Research Bursaries have been established and awarded to teachers within the school.   I couldn’t get a researcher in residence, but we are starting to develop a culture of every teacher being a researcher.
  • A Teaching and Learning Blog (Learning Adventures)  has been established and we will publish three Teaching and Learning Journals every year.  These will be curated by a teacher and the key audience will be our own staff, although they will be outward facing.  The aim will be to highlight many research stories as we can – ensuring that no one is left not knowing what’s going on in the rest of the school. 
  • A Learning Adventures Twitter account has been established.
  • We are retaining the key mechanisms already set up at the school, namely TLCs, 15 minute Forums, Learning Partnerships, Professional Learning Time, Learning Walks and so on.  These will come under the control of a ‘Ped Group’: a collection of teachers who will take ownership for developing these key aspects of the school.  Coaching is an integral part of this, with external support being used to shape and challenge our work.  Part of this will include looking at the best way to move Teaching and Learning forward and looking at how visits to classrooms can lose the judgmental aspect.
  • In the background there will also be CPD clinics and we aspire to allow every member of staff access to an in-depth CPD chat with a member of the Teaching and Learning SLT.

I’m deliberately not going into too much detail here, instead using this blog to highlight the work as it develops over the coming years.

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