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Becoming a learning organisation: One school’s methodology and findings

Written by: Martin Byrne
6 min read
Martin Byrne, Assistant Headteacher, Kings International College, UK In Issue 13 of Impact, I asserted that ‘schools that are characteristic of learning organisations have a culture in which individual and team learning is encouraged and valued. Teachers will recognise a clear focus for their CPD, which not only promotes personal mastery of their practice but is aligned with the development of the school as a collective.’ (Byrne, 2021, p. 52) This article outlines the steps taken by one school in the south-east of England to create a culture of meaningful professional learning in order to drive sustainable school improvement, while maintaining accountability and delivering impact on student outcomes. Context A state-maintained secondary, judged as ‘Good’ by Ofsted in 2019, the school is improving. Student numbers have grown by 46 per cent over the last four years to have 720 students on roll.  The teaching staff of 51 includes: 40 per cent with leadership roles or

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    Kristina Lewis

    Thanks for this article. We are following a very similar PD model. One of our challenges has been the time between twilight sessions (each session occurs every half term). Please can you elaborate how you created protected time for lesson studies; what does this look like in practice? Thanks again.

    Martin Byrne

    Hi Kristina,

    We learned the same in our first iteration that 6 twilight sessions alone don’t really pay dividends.

    This year we added an additional protected 5 hours of directed time to the
    CPD budget for each colleague to use at their discretion during the year.

    Teachers were given a high degree of autonomy in how to use this time with the expectation that working as groups of 3+, they would identify suitable lessons for lesson study focus and be willing to provide mutual cover so far as was possible.

    This allowed for each teacher to do 3×30 lesson study as observer, 3×30 min cover slots to help facilitate lesson study in their PLC (which dounled as opportunity to view practice of peers they were covering in respect of shared learning focus) and allowed another 2 hours for debriefing each other and moving around during lessons. It reduced but didn’t totally eliminate the cover burden.

    When I pitched the request to operate this way I was, understandably met with some scepticism (and if I’m honest I was nervous about staff buying in fully) but, having introduced several mechanisms to ensure impact (See EEF 2021) in our end of year PLC learning fair last week the engagement of staff was clearly evidenced and placing trust in our professional staff was justified.

    If you want to speak directly to discuss in more detail or share resources I used to scaffold the process please contact me at Kings International College, Camberley.

    Best wishes
    Martin Byrne

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