Professional practice is informed by research. Much of this is written for an academic audience and is context-related, but increasingly individuals have access to small and large-scale findings from practitioner research online (see, for example, the CollectivED Working Paper Series). Social media can provide a useful medium for keeping up to date on research, but a critical eye is essential (Carpenter and Krutka, 2015). The senior leader does not have to be the ‘expert’ in accessing and using research, and others (especially student teachers or newly qualified colleagues) may be better leaders in this.
Professional enquiry is a useful tool for teachers and leaders. The Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership in Wales state: “There is structured engagement in an action research community and evidence of practice informed by wider reading and research findings on a national and international scale” (Welsh Government, 2020).
The professional learning culture of the school encourages and supports this, but the process is critical, shared and acted upon, using evidence to inform planning and practice. The focus of professional enquiry is not confined to school priorities, though it is inevitable that the focus will align with these in most cases (Welsh Government, 2019).
Whilst much professional learning can be organised and delivered within the school community, there is also a place for external input, in tandem with internal specialists. School leaders are clear about what support is needed and the contribution that external expertise can make to securing depth in professional learning and to embedding learning into school practices (Cordingley et al 2015; Cordingley et al. 2020).
Establishing a Culture of Enquiry, Innovation and Exploration I Learning with and from the external environment and wider learning system I Developing and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff
Professional Learning (formal leadership roles)
We asked leaders from schools across Wales to tell us how they are Leading Professional Learning, using each of the eight hallmarks of well-led professional learning as a reference point. The resulting Case Studies offer an insight into a diverse range of effective approaches to Leading Professional Learning that we hope will bring the hallmarks to life and inspire fresh, strategic thinking for other leaders in Wales. We want you to Be Inspired.
If your school or cluster has an example of practice that could be included in the Leading Professional Learning resource – under one (or more) of the eight ‘hallmarks’ of well-led professional learning, we want to hear from you.