Tracy Goodway, Lead School Effectiveness Adviser at EES for Schools, discusses how research informed practice can overhaul classroom effectiveness.
Tracy worked closely on the development of School Effectiveness+ (SE+), with over 30 years’ experience in education she has lead a variety of large scale projects and was also seconded to the Department for Education as a school standards adviser.
Pedagogy, the method and practice of teaching, has been, over recent years, enhanced by engagement with high-quality academic research into theoretical concepts related to ‘best practice’. A focus on understanding which shows which aspects of delivery are most beneficial in assisting learners to succeed, engages practitioners and leaders at all levels of the profession, particularly in the context of funding that is diminishing in real terms. For example, the publication of the ‘Education Endowment Fund Teaching and Learning Toolkit’ focused the attention of much of the profession on those pedagogies deemed most effective in meeting the needs of disadvantaged pupils. The current government supports the exploration of pedagogy. Ofsted and Her Majesty’s Inspectors (HMI), do not recommend or support any one model of classroom delivery over another, positively encouraging active exploration.
“Staff reflect on and debate the way they teach. They feel deeply involved in their own professional development. Leaders have created a climate in which teachers are motivated and trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for their pupils.” (Ofsted Framework for Inspection September 2015)
We are all aware of the impact that teaching and teachers have on the delivery of a high-quality education to the young people in its care. Much research has been carried out to define what good/successful teachers do and how their practice can be disseminated to a wider audience, to positively impact on others in the profession. Many organisations now provide targeted support programmes or training to assist teachers in moving from ‘Requires Improvement’ to ‘Good’ and from ‘Good’ to ‘Outstanding’ and beyond. Imagine for a moment the impact on the experience of students and teachers, if we focused in a more structured way on the most pertinent aspects of pedagogy? Could this assist in supporting teachers in remaining engaged with both pedagogical research and live case studies of best current practice in a systematic and purposeful way? Knowing which research to engage with and which aspects of practice have most impact is essential when engaging in professional learning. Creating a high-performing workforce is a key focus for most school leaders and those that do this well often lead highly successful schools. Concentrating on teaching pedagogy and how learners learn most effectively are key. The School Effectiveness+ Maturity Profile is an example of an approach which seeks to aid schools in identifying and evaluating these dimensions within the research-led ‘25 Characteristics of High Performing Schools’.
This research reminds us of the importance of continuing to re-engage with what we know about teaching and learners to explore and develop new concepts and practices. It is, by reflecting on what we do, supported by trusted pedagogy that we can improve our own and others’ practice. As a young teacher I quickly learnt that there were rarely new ideas and that great minds had and continued to reflect on the concepts and practice within the profession and that I was no different from any learner; I needed to engage with the research and continually reflect on my practice and that of others to be able to perform to the best of my abilities.
The professional development of teaching staff is of vital importance to the maturity of a school. Being able as a staff to co-construct the school’s approach to practice within the classroom is vital to ensuring equality of experience across the classes. Sometimes though, In Service Education Training (INSET) and staff meetings become ensconced in operational matters and valuable opportunities for staff reflection and discourse on learning and teaching is lost. Opportunities for enhancement of both personal and collective classroom practice occurs best within a defined, research led framework such as that which underpins the School Effectiveness+ approach.
To find out more about SE+ please do come and visit ‘The 25 Characteristics of High Performing Schools’ – A School-led Improvement System seminar lead by Chris Smith (head of education services, EES for Schools) 10:30 – 11:30 in the Technology and Learning Open Theatre.
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