Monthly Archives: September 2011

Leadership Day

Before the start of term we held a Leadership Day to review our valaues and vision.   It was a great opportunity to look anew as a team, at the things we’re passionate about and check our progress and development towards our shared vision.

The day began with a review of ground rules in order for everyone to feel comfortable, their opinions and ideas valued, their contibutions respected.   The following agreed words enabled us to set the right tone:

  • Respect for all views
  • Freedom to speak and confidence to disagree
  • Confidentiality
  • Support and encouragement
  • Clear, effective communication
  • Consider the bigger picture
  • Generate outcomes/follow through actions

Last year we held a Leadership Day for all staff with the University of Cumbria and they introduced us to the work of Lencioni.   We took this opportunity to revisit Lencioni’s work on the dysfunctions of a team and spent some time discussing how these can create disharmony and what we need to do to ensure we always take the opposite approach.

Lencionis’ Five Dysfunctions

  1. Absence of trust
  2. Fear of conflict
  3. Lack of commitment
  4. Avoidance of accountability
  5. Inattention to results

The opposite, positive approach would be:

  1. Trusting one another
  2. Engaging in unfiltered conflict around ideas
  3. Commiting to decisions and plans of action
  4. Holding one another accountable for delivering those plans
  5. Focusing on achievement of collective results

Looking again at this work made us all aware of our own responsibilities as part of a team and as leaders of our own teams.   

We have previously used the dream/nightmare staffroom scenario to help us all see the kind of place we wanted school to be and the kind of place we should work hard to ensure it wasn’t.  This time we used the question ‘what makes Hawes Side, Hawes Side?’ It got us all thinking about the things that are special to our school and that give us a sense of pride in our work.  

We then reviewed what had gone well over the last 12 months and what our priorities were for the next academic year at a personal, team and school level.   This opportunity to reflect, review and think ahead gave us a clear indication of where to focus our attention when shaping this year’s development plan.   

The chance to spend such a day with staff is all too rare.   To be able to engage in professional dialogue, share ideas, philosophies, values and vision at length is something we’re not geared up for in school.   Time is always pressing and conversation usually brief, caught on the hop.  So much of our time in school is spent firefighting  that we rarely get our heads above the parapet to see the bigger picture, to reflect on our practice and share our ideas, our hopes and fears.  The Leadership Day gave us the time and space to do the things it is difficult to do once the cut and thrust of term begins.

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The Pupil Passport

This year we are launching our Pupil Passport.   It is based on the work of Guy Claxton and Chris Quigley, who put together a set of ‘Learning to Learn‘ skills in his booklet ‘Planning a Skills Based Curriculum’.   From Guy’s original work on the four Rs (itself a response to the traditional 3Rs) Chris developed the 5Rs of learning (reflective, resilient, risk taking, resourceful and relationships) and carefully put together a pupil friendly set of standards for the children to meet.   I have used the 5Rs for a few years now and the children have come up with some great ways of developing these learner qualities however, in the past the impact has been limited to small groups and classes.   I hope the passport will impact on all learners across the school.

Each pupil will have their own passport which contains bronze, silver and gold standards for each learning to learn skill.   As a school we are going to focus on a different one each half term.   The teaching and learning group will introduce the skill in assemblies and staff will talk with the children about them and sign their passports as they achieve each descriptor.   We have a STAR week at the end of each half term when longer pupil conferences are held to talk with the children about their learning and we are going to incorporate discussion around the passports here as well.

We hope that using the pupil passports will give the children a real understanding of how they are developing as learners, what they need to do to become more resilient, reflective, risk taking and collaborative and how such qualities will help them in all they do.   Rather than looking at these skills discretely we feel this approach will permeate all the children’s learning, in the many different areas of study.  We are currently finalising the passports, ensuring the wording and progression make sense for the children.   We are launching them next week when our new teaching and learning group give an assembly on what it means to be a reflective learner.   I would love to hear from any colleagues who have come up with different ways to develop learning to learn skills across their schools.   It is early days for us but we are excited about the possibilities of this approach.