Stanwell is an English- medium co-educational comprehensive school for pupils aged 11-18 with foundation status. There are approximately 2,000 pupils on role and over 100 members of teaching staff. 10% of their learners have an additional learning need and just under 5% of pupils are entitled to free school meals. Stanwell are a Lead Enquiry School (Pioneer) and contribute to system growth through effective partnerships with Regional Consortia and ITE providers.
Over the last 7 years, we have been working to develop and embed a culture of high quality and sustainable professional learning for all. Our approach to professional learning is enabling, interactive, collaborative and is research informed and enquiry based. We utilise expertise from within and outside the school to assist in the development of our professional learning offer. Although our professional learning takes multiple forms, the principles and expectations of our professional learning offer is understood by all staff and is consistently applied.
Through a highly strategic approach to the design of formal professional learning, we have also enabled our staff to engage with unplanned and informal professional learning. The skilful design of formal professional learning sessions have upskilled staff in enquiry and coaching principles and this in turn permeates informal and unplanned professional learning opportunities throughout the school.
We have worked to create highly effective systems and structures which support an approach to professional learning that is sustainable and manageable and is firmly embedded in our school culture and calendar.
Our approach to professional learning enables us to approach national change from an informed perspective and the investment in time for professional learning enables staff to discuss, enquire on and reflect upon innovative approaches to teaching and learning, ensuring that professional learning is transformative rather than transmissive.
Through the development of an enquiry approach, we are able to reflect on innovation, ensuring that professional learning is transformative, tried and tested and research informed. We constantly evaluate our professional learning offer in line with national and school improvement priorities and evaluate professional learning provision to ensure a coherent and connected approach to pedagogy and practice, enquiry, professional collaboration, curriculum design and national reform.
We have implemented weekly professional learning whereby staff are released from their teaching commitments every Monday (in cycles). These sessions have a relentless focus on pedagogy and staff engage with and take part in educational research and enquiry to encourage reflection on professional practice and ultimately reflect upon how any innovation impacts upon practice, pupils and standards. We have also utilised these sessions to ensure that all members of staff have been trained on the basic principles of coaching and are therefore able to coach each other through enquiry projects and curriculum design. Professional Standards have been used as a reflective tool and we have also spent considerable time focussing on pedagogy in line with our own school approach to learning and teaching (a co-constructed language has been developed). These sessions also enable staff to gain a deep and profound understanding of curriculum design and national reform.
In addition, our middle leaders are released during the Autumn term to attend professional learning where the focus is on curriculum design. Middle leaders from each Areas of Learning and Experience (AOLE) work collaboratively in AOLE teams and with our curriculum consultants in order to link pedagogy and practice and ultimately design our curriculum for 2022. The same staff are released in the spring term to work with primary colleagues where the focus is on understanding curriculum design and progression. A strategic approach to whole school INSET supports and triangulates the internal weekly professional learning and AOLE curriculum design days.
In addition, a member of our SLT facilitates the Middle Leadership Development Programme (MLDP) and acts as a coach for the Senior Leader Development Programme (SLDP) along with Lead practitioner partnerships with Local Consortia. We also facilitate ASPIRE training for Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTS) and we are a lead practice school with Cardiff Metropolitan University (CMU). We have also written a bespoke, five-week programme entitled the “Developing Teacher”, this has been accredited by CMU and we deliver this in the summer term to both internal and external delegates.
We have increased capacity within our learning and teaching team to enable a sustained approach to professional learning. This includes the creation of a Partnerships Coordinator and two Lead Practitioner roles. This team is overseen by a Senior Assistant Headteacher who has responsibility for professional learning and learning and teaching.
Monitoring and evaluation activities indicate that our co-constructed language of learning and teaching together with our coaching approach has improved standards within the classroom and by adopting a non-judgemental, developmental approach to lesson observations, teachers are able to reflect upon their practice and relate it to a specific enquiry focus. Enquiry into the impact of our weekly professional learning shows that…
The SLO survey conducted as part of our weekly professional learning session further evidences the impact.