Visible Learning at Bader: The Story so Far : 2015-04-20

Ever since hearing of and then exploring John Hattie’s brilliant work I have carried it in my head, with a view to its implementation in practice. As a staff we considered the messages and learning within videos of John Hattie speaking (You Tube). We observed, with awe, the amazing work that has been done at Stonefields School in New Zealand – through their excellent website. Discovering that Osiris run the Visible Learning Plus program pushed the door wide open.

We have worked hard here to create a culture of learning, learning, learning and learning. We recognise that ‘It is the personal and professional growth of teachers that will have most impact on pupil development’. Self-development is a shared mission. VL has been embraced with great enthusiasm. It has encouraged an even greater degree of reflective practice, willingness to try a greater range of approaches, and want to effectively monitor and assess the impact of teaching at Bader. Beyond that, the level of collaboration and openness to sharing has been taken to a whole new level. Teachers are taking risks, making themselves vulnerable. And that is OK! Already busy teachers, negotiating the advent of a new curriculum, along with ‘assessment without levels’, are eagerly making time to have learning conversations with their peers, across teams, vying for time in staff meeting to share their latest learning. Wonderful!

So far as our pupils are concerned, the floodgates have opened! Our pupils have shown an appetite for dialogue on: learning, generally; learning dispositions, more specifically; and an acceptance of challenge that I am not sure we have fully appreciated before now.

Beyond our immediate learning community, what a bonus it has been to connect with like-minded, inspired, inspirational, and passionate fellow professionals and learners. Learning conversations (via Skype) with Stonefields’ brilliant principal (Sarah Martin) and her colleagues, have guided us in recognising the importance of process and the need to contextualise. We are proud to be in the vanguard of a growing network of UK schools (#VLNetworkUK), along with Pembroke Dock Community School, Ysgol Merllyn (both in Wales) and those schools attached to the VL initiative being led by Midlothian Educational Psychology Service. We met up for the first time last week at Pembroke Dock, invited by Michelle Thomas (Head Teacher) to share one another’s progress. What a school! What a Visible Learning School! Nursery through to Year 6, through to parents and the local community. A Visible Learning steeped school!

Exploring Visible Learning and its potential for transforming the way we design and then make learning happen at Bader has been an absolute thrill! Every element of every training day led by the inspirational Craig Parkinson (UK Visible Learning Lead Consultant) has been valuable, well received, and has taken us forward. Our latest training on the use of SOLO Taxonomy to plan for balanced and challenging learning added another piece to the jigsaw. As the various pieces of that jigsaw offer up avenues of progress, I have put my mind to strategic planning that will pull everything together and ensure impact and sustainability. A visit to meet Laura Kearney, Head Teacher at Hodge Hill Primary School in Birmingham, proved to be extremely informative, encouraging and helpful – especially our conversation around professional learning. A tour of the school left us convinced (not that we needed convincing) that the Visible Learning model works. Many conversations with wonderfully articulate young learners!

A sharing of ‘holiday’ reading material (via Twitter) with Tracy Jones (Head teacher, Ysgol Merllyn) introduced me to Sir Michael Barber’s Deliverology model. One reading of the Executive Summary that heads the book was all I needed to convince me that here we have a way of guiding delivery of our aspirations. So, starting this evening (SLT) we will work through the deliverology process, feeding that into staff meetings the following evening. We will work in that way from here on in as we strive to be the very best we can be. I will post updates on our use of the process to this blog as we move forward. I would love to hear from anyone who has used this process in school. The longer I do this job the more I appreciate the value there is to be had in collaboration and sharing of knowledge, practice and experience.
To those schools out there who may be contemplating embarking on their own Visible Learning journey, I say Do it! Do it as a whole staff, with as well as for the children. Leaders, see it as a process, drop formal lesson observations and build effective feedback to teachers in to your Visible Learning driven school improvement cycle.

Leave a Reply