Saturday, 21 November 2015

Success criteria success and the importance of impact cycles

Our current focus is on Solo Taxonomy.  It's been brilliant seeing all the children, nursery included, understanding if learning is surface or deep.  Meta cognition has such a high effect size and our teachers are now becoming expert at delivering it

For example 

The year 1 staff wanted to know what the children knew and what Solo level they were before planning the learning.  After teaching they'll then go back to see if they've moved Solo levels to measure the impact of their teaching.

Exciting times

We have also done some work on success criteria this week.  We're definitely not there YET
Our Ministry of Education interviewed pupils and monitored books this week. 
This is a snapshot of what they found out

Unfortunately we didn't get it all but they found inconsistencies that we missed!

When I met John Hattie in Cardiff he asked me what had been the most difficult aspect of VL implementation
I said pace.  He said that was quite common
This got me thinking about change and supporting staff through it,

I hadn't realised the importance of impact cycles really until last week when the staff are trying to implement Solo and feedback as well as the million other things we've introduced and adapted.
I feel after the Inside Series training that things are really happening with regards to building expert teachers
So we've relooked at impact cycles as a means of slowing down a bit and focusing on one thing properly at a time, were in the middle of a Solo impact cycle at the moment.
After Christmas it will be building in the changes we've made to success criteria then after Easter feedback.  Change is happening but the management of change against the backdrop of changes to the Welsh curriculum and me applying relentless pressure gently can I imagine becoming a bit overwhelming
I suppose Rome wasn't built in a day! 
Maybe two days though 😏

Sunday, 15 November 2015

A grand day out

We were asked to present our Visible Learning intervention at the Welsh Leadership Conference last week
What an absolute privilege not just to share our practice but to meet the man responsible

The conference was brilliant.
Miss Coppack and I presented where we were up to looking at the matrix before and after

And we shared the stage with some amazing practitioners who we have learned so much from and as a result impacted enormously on our learners

I love my job
I love working in Wales and am so excited for the future of education
I love working with educationalists who are focused on our learners
I love collaborating with and learning from the best

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Now that's what I call progress

This has been a fantastic term at Ysgol Merllyn.
We started the school year by having Solo Taxonomy training with Craig Parkinson.  The day was amazing and really got us thinking about how we teach our children to think.  We have been planning for deep thinking forever but the structure that Solo offers makes teaching meta cognition really easy. I've been very grateful to Pam Hook for offering support and advice these last couple of weeks as we plan to use Solo across all curriculum areas hopefully by January.  Her Rubric Makers on has massively reduced workload.
We've had One World Week in school this week and it was brilliant to go into year 1 today and here them saying ' I'm relating' when comparing Senegal to Tanzania.

Also this half term, I've been asked to present at the Welsh Leadership Conference next month in Cardiff.  I'm so excited and I'm taking Miss Coppack with me so she can talk about the impact as a class teacher.  However the line up is as follows... Professor John Hattie, Professor Donaldson... Then me (definitely not a professor).  no pressure there then 😐

Promoting our four Visible Learning strands has also been a very positive feature.  Team time has really helped focus us in on where we are and what our next steps are.  We visited the inspirational Bader Primary last month.  The #vlnetworkuk collaboration has definitely helped us all.  This alongside our own training has been so effective in raising all our games.

What I find fascinating is how social media has really had an impact on our school improvement.  Yes, we bought into the Visible Learning intervention but being able to share with people on Twitter, for example Michelle at Pembroke Dock, Simon at Bader, all the Scottish VL family, Sarah Martin in NZ, Pam Hook, Craig Parkinson James Nottingham.........sorry if I've missed anyone
This is sounding like an Oscar acceptance speech

Happy half term everyone, we've got one more day with Craig tomorrow on Feedback.

Friday, 9 October 2015

Learner led conferencing

With Visible Learning, we are always asking and evaluating if our pupils know what they are learning, why they are learning something and their next steps.
We have wonderful displays and stickers and learning ladders but was this just wallpaper to our learners ?
Our children would tell you that they are responsible for their own learning but were they really? Could they really lead on their learning journey? What better way to test them out that at parents evening
So we have held our first learner led conferences this week, and what a week it's been.  Also, for many of our parents, school is a bit of a mystery.  You drop them off from 8am then see them again sometime after 3.15 and they might tell you what they had for lunch but they sometimes give the impression they do nothing all day.  It was really important for us to make learning the focus of everything we do.

We'd organised two days where parents/carers came during the day and spent time in their child's class. Each parent had a 15 minute appointment, available from 8am to 5.30pm.  Our teachers were really up for it, let's have a go and see what happens, we can evaluate afterwards to see how we can refine next time.

Aren't they great! 

Anyway, the children were all briefed.  This is your conference, this is a chance to talk about your learning and explain your next steps, it'll really be exciting and you can show off how good you are at learning.

The children had their books, learning ladders, learner reward cards, learning pits etc at the ready and we went for it.

To run the conferences the teachers set tasks the children could get on with to free them up but our kids are very good at getting on with it now, they are so clear on what they need to do, what to do if they get stuck...
Our early years ran the same and out wonderful teaching assistants took groups with some tasks in the areas.  Admittedly, it was a bit trickier with our youngest pupils but we like a challenge.

I generally wandered around for the two days chatting to parents and evaluating how it was all going.  The teachers did find it hard to stand back because they are programmed to lead parents evening but after a few parents in they relaxed into it more and went with the flow.
The children were amazing.  
In the juniors, the parents went into class and their children explained the set up, how the learner displays and pits help them.  They explained all their learning dispositions and how they are used.  They then showed their books and how they are cold task planning using Solo Taxonomy then the learning intention and success criteria are building their learning.  If parents wanted to stay longer, their child took them outside the class and took their books to continue talking about their learning and next steps.  They also at some point took them to our learner progression displays and showed them where they were and their next steps.

In the infants, the children again led the learning in partnership with the teacher.  The teacher became more of a facilitator and were helping the children to explain their learning, taking into account we've been back five weeks and their age they were brilliant.  One of my highlights was a y1 girl, when her mum and dad arrived she made them close their eyes before they came into the class because she was so excited to share her learning. Another was the Polish children explaining their learning in the first language to their parents.

I also think it was so important for the teachers to see the fruits of their labours.  They were thrilled that the children could explain their assessments  and learning, why they were learning something and what their next steps were so confidently and naturally.  It made parents meetings about learning and not about lost jumpers and the dinner menu.

Our next steps is to survey the pupils and parents to measure the impact and to continue to build our school where if we were a stick of rock Visible Learning would run through the middle.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Where we are...where we are going.....

We've only been back for five days and what a five days they have been.
Day one, in our first staff meeting back, everyone was talking about how the new strategies we had introduced last year had become embedded so quickly.  Learner dispositions were ready to go, learning pits in place, feedback, feed forward etc etc.
The school improvement plan for this year was also ready to go from day one
We have split our VL plan into four areas: the visible learner, Inspired and Passionate Teaching, Feedback and Know thy Impact.  Conveniently, we have four senior teachers in school so we've each taken one strand to lead.
Each Thursday we have planned in Team Time to develop our areas.  

Day two, Solo Taxonomy training with Craig! An absolute game changer.  If schools can only afford one training session, do this one, amazing.  My most experienced teachers were telling me they wished they'd had this training 15/20 years ago.  My experienced teachers are now becoming expert and experienced teachers.  There is a difference.

Day three, learners are back.  I went into year 6 in the morning.  They were discussing the summer holidays and assessing the questions they were asking as one idea, many ideas, related ideas and extended ideas.  It took us most of the training day to get our heads around SOLO, it took year 6 about 10 minutes.  We are still, after all this time, underestimating the ability of our kids.
Also meeting one of our guiding coalition took place.  This was myself, our family worker, two parents and one ex-teacher who lives over the road from the school.  I explained their role was to help and support our aspirations to become a VL school.  The meeting went really well.  They asked that we start a lending library to support literacy and numeracy.  We discussed making prompt cards with SOLO questions for reading books to take home and next month, the group are going to observe learning so they can have a baseline of how well the learners can explain their learning and next steps.  Powerful stuff!

Day four, year 1 and 2 are using images about electricity in order for the teachers to assess what the children already know.  It was brilliant, they knew so much already and it really focused the planning on what they need to teach.  We are extremely lucky to have a Polish mum in school who comes to help out.  The Polish kids were telling her what they knew about electricity in Polish then she was interpreting for the teachers.   Amazing!

Day five and the rest of this week's plans.  Thursday Team Time to look at a baseline for Inspired and Passionate teaching and Friday, action planning SOLO.   

In a couple of weeks we are having our second #VLnetworkuk meeting at Bader primary.  The collaboration between our UK schools has been excellent and the sharing of our practices have benefitted us all, regardless of the education system we follow.

It's going to be a good year at Ysgol Merllyn.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The how after the why.....

On Thursday myself and a colleague spoke at the Incerts leadership conference at the Wales Millenium Centre in Cardiff.
We have worked a lot with Incerts over the years and have always found their online tracking systems brilliant for formative and summative assessments.

In the morning, we heard some great speakers.  Richard Gerver spoke about the need for education systems to be focused on learners and learning and to try to ignore the politics of distraction.
We also heard from George Gilchrist who had a Scottich perspective on school leadership and asked us some really thought provoking questions. 
I also spoke to George about our friends in Midlothian Educational Psychology Service and our Visible Learning collaboration 

When we spoke about our visible learning journey it fitted in really well after the 'why' all morning as this was hopefully shoeing school leaders 'how'.

Visible Learning shows you how to out learners first, how to enable learners to become their own teachers, how to use evidence and research to plan interventions and how it really can embed excellence into all schools.
We shared how we had implemented learner dispositions, learning progression charts, pupils as young as 3 evaluating their own learning, amongst others.
We also had videos of pupils explaining the learning pit, how they had evaluated their own work and parents talking about the difference in their children's attitudes.
We also shared some before and after videos of pupils talking about what makes a good learner.

I think it went down very well. Many people came up and said how impressed they were and how it had really got them thinking about their own schools.  

For us at school, our network grew a little.  I am sure we will keep up to date with George Gilchrist and we met some great heads from Swansea who want us to go down there to talk about Visible Learning.

I think I'll need a summer holiday first.

Friday, 3 July 2015

What a visible learning week

The blogs been a bit quiet lately. Basically, we're just getting on with it.  Slowly building, creating, adding, analysing, evaluating along the way.
We are blessed at Ysgol Merllyn that we have such a dedicated and passionate team who are all focused on improving learning for our pupils.

This week their work was recognised in such an amazing way.
Firstly on Monday we has 11 senior leaders and heads from Gwynedd, Wrexham and Flintshire.  I was so proud of the children and the team for the natural way the children talked about their learning.  It was for us like watching Stonefields school in New Zealand.  We were so amazed when we first saw the fantastic work at the school and the inspiration and passion of the head, Sarah Martin.  Now we're not that far off.

Also massive appreciation to Pembroke Dock, Bader primary and Midlothian EPS who have been with us all the way.

Yesterday, we had visible learning day for our parents (although some of the little uns were calling it invisible Learning day!!)

Around 60% of families attended.  We had two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.  Learning club did a little talk in the hall and then off the parents went to see the learning.  I was very moved by one of our dads and his son in year 1.  The boy was explaining the learner progressions and his dad was thrilled to know what his next steps in learning were so he could help him at home.

It was a brilliant day, we were all very proud but the shift is because everyone can SEE the learning, understand what they can do and their next steps.  

Yesterday we also gave out end of year reports.  Our friends at incerts had changed the format so teachers could report on learning skills and progress.  The parents really appreciated that and the feedback has been very positive

Today was spent preparing our visible learning presentation for the incerts leadership next week.  For those of you attending I hope you'll take something from the power of visible learning, using effect sizes to plan school improvement, and teachers being able to see learning through the eyes of the children

Or as Simon at Bader says " when our learners know what to do when they don't know what to do'

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The work continues.....

Game of thrones fans might get that

Anyway, we are quietly carrying on with our revolution at Ysgol Merllyn.  The word is spreading far and wide and a week Monday we have got around 10 heads visiting to see Visible Learning in action.  Also our Iteam (coders) went off to Blackpool on Friday to take part in the wonderful Hackpool event to code the light sequence for the Blsckpool Tower.  They didn't win but of course we recognised the resilience and self efficacy of the children.  In fact, one of the teachers said a lady came over and commented on how well the children were collaborating and getting stuck in without fear.  Our teacher said that'll be the Visible Learning Effect! The lady happened to be from Edge Hill university and wants to also come and see it in action.

We have also got a Visible Learning event for parents and families on 2nd July.  Learning club are busy preparing presentations on different aspects, should be a great event.

Our three year Deliverology plan is nearly finalised and preparations for September underway so all good

Monday, 25 May 2015

Now that's what I call progress

It's half term this week and time to catch up on the paperwork which I have to say is not my strongest area.  Why be in the office during the school day when I can be talking to our learners and sharing excellent practice with all our staff?

We have three visits a year from our regional consortia, who feedback on school improvement to the local authority.  Our visit 3, focused on leadership and management is next week,  there's not a lot of paperwork expected to be fair, just updates on progress but as I'm not great at keeping everything up to date,.....I'm sure you get the picture.

I have to say in my 20 odd years in this profession I have never seen such massive progress in one year.  The year started off cautiously with Visible Learning, we didn't want to rush off and get started without thinking things through carefully and it was really after Christmas and Teacher Day 1 that the magic really began to happen.

We have been greatly helped along the way by our little growing network but particularly at first by Simon at Bader who I had great advice on at the beginning and Michelle at Pembroke Dock who has the most amazing school.  I hope I've been as useful to them as they have to me!!

So, reviewing our school self evaluation and measuring the success of this years improvement plans has been fine.  All good.  
Next years plans are drafted to go to governors.  Four areas to be improved
The visible learner
Inspired and passionate teaching
Know thy impact

In other news, our school works with the Save the Children in facilitating the FAST programme, Families and Schools Together which strengthens the links between home and school, reduces social isolation and strengthens family bonds.  It's a fantastic programme which has benefitted our learners in unmeasurable ways.

Our school, along with Flintshire Family First project have been shortlisted in the national Social Care Accolades on June 18th.  We're off to Cardiff for the day, we are down to the final 3 out of 200 submissions.  Fingers crossed for that but even as finalists, it's fantastic this work gets recognised rather than on attainment at the end of key stages for a change!!

Anyway, this paperwork won't do itself..happy holidays 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Impact by the bucket loads!

We've been busy here at Merllyn Towers this week gathering our data.  
In school, as you know, we are judged by our results by the powers that be.

Today we submitted our end of key stage results.  Here in sunny Wales, in year 2, we have to submit 'outcomes' in language, literacy and communication (LCE) mathematical development (MD) and personal and social education (PSD)

The average is outcome 5, similar to the old level 2 and outcome 6 is similar to level 3

So today, sims was opened up and the levels went in.  90% of year 2 were awarded outcome 6, not because they are gorgeous bundles of loveliness but because two of the strands are directly linked to Visible Learning
The first strand is development in independence and perseverance and the second strand is reflection. So because the learners have been given so many opportunities to develop these skills through Visible Learning, it's tipped 90% of the class into outcome 6.

Because of these skills and giving massive credit to Pie Corbett Talk for Writing, the LCE and MD results are also much improved and nearly all learners have exceeded their targets.

I'm very proud of all our infant staff who work tirelessly to improve the learning and their teaching.  
So looking forward to continuing our journey with Craig and the other #VLUKNetwork schools to work collaboratively, 

I can't imagine what this is all going to look like in a years time!!! 

Friday, 8 May 2015

Effect size part two

I had a meeting this week with a colleague from our local authority.  She was impressed with our Visible Learning journey so far and I was explaining effect size as our guide to the changes we are making.

It got me to thinking about how we relate to parents, visitors etc the research behind what we are doing

In our school we have a wonderful mum who volunteers in the infants.  She is so creative and enthusiastic and she was given the task to make an Effect Size tree in our reception area.  If you're new to Visible Learning, you'll find out that we kind of like trees as a theme for displays!! I used the effect sizes that are easily understood and relatable to what we are doing in school

This is now in our reception, we are all delighted with how it looks and the messages it conveys.  I just need a little more explanation of what effect sizes mean but wanted to share this wonderful creation

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Effect sizes

We've been talking a lot in school about Effect Sizes.  Not how we work them out, it's a bit further down the road for us, but John Hattie's and what they mean.

I had a meeting today with Flintshire's parenting coordinator about a possible pot of money to enable nursery to stay all day (as seen at the wonderful Pembroke Dock)
The idea would be to provide intensive speech and language work in order that our little uns get the best start.  It got me to thinking about our current nursery provision. 
In two and a half hours they have to have a healthy snack and brush their teeth.  I wonder how much learning time this actually takes up!

Anyway, our LA have invested in Peeps communication programme and are looking to pilot it in a nursery provision


All looking good.  I was explaining effect size and how so many of the top effect sizes were met through this programme

1. Student expectations- you're in school all day, this is really important, I expect you to make progress through the Peeps programme
2. Teacher credibility- experienced early years practitioners in place
3. Phonics
4. Early intervention
5. Vocabulary programmes

It's like a box of deluxe Thorntons chocolates, at least five good effect sizes wrapped up in a big bow

This alongside building their learning capacity will have brilliant impact

Monday, 27 April 2015

What's it like to learn?

After Teacher action day 2, I was very much inspired by the young chap in New Zealand describing what it's like to learn.

We are well on the road to becoming a Visible Learning school, no beavers as yet building dams, children can talk much better about their learning and their next steps.

I did get to thinking about WHY we are doing this.  Yes, better end of key stage assessments and better reading and maths etc etc. but at the crux of it all is that we want our pupils to love learning, really love learning, become a bit addicted to the buzz of success and triumph.

So the wonderful Mrs Jones, year 1 teacher and delivery team leader for Inspired and Passionate Teachers asked the infants today to describe what it's like when you learn something new, succeed when faced with a challenge

The answers:
like you can do everything
Tickly inside
All the right ideas inside you
Happy, I want even more work
Like a rainbow
It makes you proud

I feel all the above writing this blog.  This is a question we definitely need to talk to the children about more.  I can feel a display coming on.........

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Strategic planning is like a game and now we are on the next level 😉

The masterplan

With Visible Learning implementation, you are often in the 'Pit' 
What do we focus on? How shall we start? What are our priorities? 
We sent off for our VL survey to New Zealand and it came back (see above) I ironically put First Attempt as a nod to the fantastic work we saw at Pembroke Dock earlier in the week. 
At SLT yesterday, we decided to go through each strand and discuss it further.  We could see where things could be sorted quickly, the areas that were in place and what needed more time and energy 
Our three year aspiration is for all areas to be blue, no rush, using the processes that have been designed by Visible Learning.  However, not too slow that the learners are ahead of these processes.
As mentioned in a previous blog, we are using the work of Sir Michael Barber to design our plan.  I will post that when its finalised.
So we decided that each member of SLT will become a delivery team leader, one. team to develop Inspired and Passionate Teachers, one for Feedback and one for Know Thy Impact.  I'll do the strategic planning, staff meetings, appraisals.  
Each team will have time (team time!) to work on their own areas and gather evidence over the next two years then a year to reflect and embed.  We will also have a Guiding Coalition, a group of people associated with the school for the team leaders to report back to.  Our GC hopefully will consist of parents, governors, community and high school teachers.  They will meet, I think, every 10-12 weeks but that needs sorting.
Our next step now is to finalise the plan, carry out our next impact cycle and continue strengthening our Visible Learners

Friday, 17 April 2015

From the mouths of babes

In Learning Club this week we reviewed the impact of what we had done so far with Visible Learning.  These two boys are in year 2.  They talk about the learner dispositions, the learning pit, strategies for learning, visual feedback  sand how learning makes them feel.

This is after approximately 10 weeks of real intervention, you be the judge! 

Monday, 13 April 2015

Taking stock..VLAT Day 2

Today all the staff went to Maes Y Mynydd in Wrexham to undertake teacher day 2.  
The first part of the day was spent with the teachers and learning support assistants feeding back on their first impact cycle.
It was brilliant to hear all the great work that had been done in the first three months of the year.  

On reflection the Visible Learning at the four schools was making a huge impact already on the lives and futures of over 1000 pupils...amazing!

Mind frames came next, there are nine that we are working on.  We need now to make a decision on how we assess mind frames and develop them.

I am very lucky that all the staff at Ysgol Merllyn are inspired (and inspirational) and passionate about learning.  They were so ready to embark on this journey.  It will be interesting to judge whether our learners think we're inspired and passionate too!

Our plans for this week include myself and three teachers travelling to Pembroke Dock for a VLUKNetwork meeting with schools from England and Scotland joining us to continue collaborating and sharing excited

And finally, if this wasn't enough excitement, I've just scored two tickets for an audience with John Hattie and Peter Hill next Tuesday in London.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Friends in high places...get me!

Spent the first week of the Easter break reading this book

Recommended by Craig Parkinson, our Visible Learning trainer.
I was very taken by the structure of school improvement and how you set aspirations and set targets and trajectories.  Then having the Guiding Coalition.  I asked Craig if he knew any schools we could collaborate with who have used this model.  Craig said why don't you ask Sir Michael Barber himself through his Twitter account.  Which I did and he responded...twice!

Also I have spoken to Incerts who design our templates for our end of school reports.  We had taken feedback from our parent focus group and they have now changed to include Visible Learning statements.  The draft will go back to the parents next week for their approval before we roll them out in the summer 

We are also planning a Visible Learning day in school but I want the Learning Club to lead that.  More updates as the day is planned.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

We've got the evidence now need the action

Our senior leadership team met with Craig and our collaboration schools at the end of term.
It was great to establish how far we had come and established our priorities as a whole school for next term.
I've re read sections of this book today.  It's definitely helped to focus my thoughts on our next steps.


 Visible Learning.. when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and when students are able to be their own teachers

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Learning club... Focusing where it matters

Learning club started from the initial student focus group.  This was a group of random pupils from year 1 to year 6 chosen to do a baseline assessment. I met with them first in January to ask them the baseline questions. There was nothing remarkable about their answers then off they went back to class.

A couple of days later, one of the year 3 boys asked when Learning Club was meeting next.
He had come up with the idea to continue meeting as a group and seeing how they could help other children learn.  

Now bearing in mind the initial group was basically 2nd and 12th on the register, it truly was a random group and by no means chosen.

Since then we have met about four times.  

They gave their opinion on some ideas for visual feedback before I had discussed it with the staff.  Now this was quite interesting because the Learning Club had shown such insight into visual feedback that the teachers could not argue against its implementation.  Although I knew they wouldn't have objected anyway.

We met this week to discuss Learner Awards and how they could further promote dispositions.  They wanted to choose the 'Learner of the Week' this was too happen each week.  I asked how they would choose and they said they'd be on the lookout for good learning that week.  I asked about the pupils who aren't easily picked.  They said they'd keep a record of who had won.  If they felt there was someone missing out, THEY would encourage them to be a good learner that week by supporting them with learner dispositions.  That was a moment when I had a tear in my eye.
I'm not easily moved in school but that was a moment I'll remember for the rest of my career.

Learning club weren't overly impressed with the current Marbles in the jar reward system and wanted house awards for learning.  They asked for four jars, and when the children displayed learner dispositions they would win a brain token.  One said he'd be happy to cut out lots of little brains as awards but I think we'll stick to counters.

Learning club have made their own badges and are ready to roll after Easter.

The power of yet....

Alongside Visible Learning, we have focused our attention on growth mindset.  As you come into school, you'll see a display explaining growth mindset and we have started using Disney characters so our learners can put the features into context.

This is a video by the legendary Carol Dweck that we have used as part of our staff training

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Parents...they complete the jigsaw

At school we have done two cycles of Families and School Together, funded by Save the Children.

This has resulted in great relationships with our families.

Out Fastworks group were also given a baseline assessment with similar results from the children.  So developing parents knowledge of Visible Learning became a priority.

At parents evening, some classes gave out the learning dispositions in a handy booklet and all parents received a leaflet showing where their children were in their reading, their next steps and how they could help.

The feedback was 100% positive.  The parents appreciated the focus on learning and which dispositions their children had.  It made a refreshing change to focus parents' evening on learning.  

We are planning to have a Visible Learning day in June, organised and delivered by the Learning Club to further improve links with our parents and community 

And so it begins

Baseline evidence was bitter sweet. The children really lacked understanding of where they were in their learning and their next steps.
We had previously judged excellent by Estyn for Assessment for Learning but what do they know?

The answers some of the children gave were hilarious.  What makes a good learner? Someone who eats healthily, someone who wears glasses

So we started with really focusing on learner dispositions and explicitly teaching them.

We also had a Learner Focus Group, two pupils from each class.  I met with them to discuss learning and their role in helping drive learner dispositions.  They renamed themselves the Learning Club.   More about them later

Teachers also had a personal target which formed their impact cycle.  We set up impact partners but success was limited due to time restraints.
But like good learners, mistakes we made with impact partners meant we learned something.

We had a few areas we could work on quickly.  Displays in the corridor were changed, stickers were bought

And the magic began....

Into the pit we go....

After training in January, we became somewhat overwhelmed by where to start

Learner dispositions?
Success criteria?
Progress matrices?

I could go on.  But like a good learner, I used my own dispositions to help us get out the pit! I phoned a friend
I sought the wisdom of Simon Feasey, head of the inspirational Bader Primary in the north east.

They are about six months ahead of us in their journey so wanted to know what they had learned so far.

We decided on a three pronged approach, which without realising looks like a school appraisal plan, although everyone knew there was absolutely no accountability to the approach.  Now there's a thought, performance management without accountability, it may catch on!

So we went for whole school explicit teaching of learning dispositions and learning environment to support.  Each teacher then had their own development plan that was their impact cycle and we did short activities for areas we could quickly change.

And so from January 2015 we were off

September 2014

Back to school.  Holding back the reins, we decided to wait until we'd had our Foundation Day training before making any changes.
Foundation Day was great, all staff involved in developing a collegiate understanding of what makes a good learner.  Effect size was explained..the new mantra became 0.4 

Next came SLT Evidence into Action day 1.  We couldn't wait to get started, on reflection, it would be interesting for John to measure the effect size Christmas has on schools 😉

All staff had a role in collecting baseline evidence and what fun we had.  It really focused everyone on how little we had involved our learners in all our processes.  How much had been done TO them instead of WITH them.

Teacher day 1 was excellent in January.  Impact cycles at the ready and 2015 was going to be the year that was going to have unrecognisable and unprecedented impact

Our Visible Learning journey May 2014

From January to May, much work had gone on behind the scenes to scrape together the funding to buy in the Osiris Visible Learning intervention.  Three other schools had joined us in our journey and we went to London to the Visible Learning conference and heard not only John but other inspirational speakers all focused on learning.  We were inspired by James Nottingham and the Learning Pit

      Here's our Learning Pit at school 

Everything had been booked, our trainer Craig Parkinson was on board and we were ready and raring to go.
We had our scoping day and although we thought our learners had a good understanding of learning, basically, they didn't 
But we were on our way......

Our visible learning journey

January 2014
Part of my role was a part time secondment to the regional school improvement service.  Colleagues were presenting on pedagogy and good practice they had seen.
Again, it was professionals telling me what works and things they had seen which looked great.

Part of the presentation touched on the work of professor John Hattie
Effect sizes were explained showing that EVERYTHING I knew worked now had research behind it.

I immediately went to Amazon and bought John Hattie's book 

Our Visible Learning journey

All through my career, my experience was telling me I was being asked to do things that I knew didn't work. I did a five day training in 2003 where brain based research was first introduced to me.  I was a year 6 teacher in Cheshire 
I went back armed with 'mistakes are good, being stuck is how we learn' etc but also visual, kinaesthetic and auditory learning.
On my own in year 6, I was trying to encourage these dispositions until a senior leader told me to stop because it was time to revise for SATS.
So back to giving the pupils mountains of past SATS papers hoping a miracle would happen and they would start getting more questions correct and I could justify my salary by having more level 4s than the previous year.

Roll on to 2011 and I was given the utmost privilege of leading Ysgol Merllyn.  I inherited a team that all had the pupils at the heart of their work.
We decided on the vision, Making a Difference Every Day, and then aimed to realise this vision.  It soon became apparent that I lived by this.  When they asked for anything I asked how they could measure impact.  I told them that I wouldn't ask them to do anything if it didn't make a difference to our learners, and if I did they had the right to say no.

This resulted in a real team effort and a culture of allowing to try things out to see if they worked and continuing or stopping during reviews.  For example, we opened a nurture unit.  This was excellent and made a real difference to learners.  From this our school evolved to have a real goal to ensure our families completed the jigsaw in a holistic approach to our learners.