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Well-led professional learning is...

Strengthened by professional collaboration

Within schools, leaders aim to create the conditions for colleagues to work together and to share ideas openly. Beyond the school, leaders generate collaboration between staff with similar interests in other institutions (Woods and Roberts, 2018).

School leaders look beyond their own school communities to build networks of knowledge, research and practical expertise (Brown and Poortman, 2017).

Leaders are aware of borders and barriers that exist to impede open collaboration. These may be departmental boundaries (restricting inter-departmental collaboration) or phase-related boundaries (for example, impeding primary and secondary teacher collaboration) (Zeng and Lo, 2021).

Collaboration forms a visible part of professional learning. Critical engagement with professional learning communities within and beyond the school is a powerful element of professional learning (Estyn, 2017; OECD, 2018; Kools and Stoll 2016).

Leaders create the conditions for practitioners to work together and to share ideas openly. They build collaborative, supportive and collegial professional relationships, within their own schools, and they model and promote professional dialogue themselves (Cordingley et al 2015; Estyn 2017). Leaders ensure that practitioners have the skills and mindset necessary to learn through collaborative approaches (ASCL, 2018). Staff reflect together on how to make their own learning more powerful and learn how to work together as a team. Staff feel comfortable seeking advice from each other, and trust and mutual respect are core values. The school allocates time and other resources for collaborative working and collective learning.

Leaders ensure that structures for regular dialogue and knowledge exchange are put into place. New staff receive induction support and all staff have access to coaching and mentoring support. Coaches and mentors also have opportunities to learn with and from each other (Lomax, J, 2020).

Jones, K. (2022)

Insight Series: Leading Professional Learning (2022)

Association of School and College Leaders (2018)

Leadership of Professional Learning: Guidance Paper
Networks for Learning

Brown, C. and Poortman, CL (2017)

Networks for Learning: Effective Collaboration for Teacher, School and System Improvement London: Routledge

Cordingley, P. et al (2015)

'Developing great teaching: lessons from the international reviews into effective professional development.', Project Report. Teacher Development Trust, London

Estyn (2017)

School-to-school support and collaboration – a summary and discussion paper Cardiff: Estyn

Kools, M. and Stoll, L. (2017)

What Makes A School A Learning Organisation? Paris: OECD

Lomax, J. (2020)

Should mentoring be used as a professional development strategy for teachers at all stages of their career? A research working paper CollectivED Working Papers Issue 11 Leeds Beckett University Carnegie School of Education
Collaborative School Leadership. A critical guide

Woods, P. and Roberts, A. (2018)

Collaborative School Leadership. A critical guide. London: Sage

Zeng Y, Lo LN. (2021)

Leading as boundary crossing: How teacher leaders lead across a professional learning network in Shanghai China. Educational Management Administration & Leadership

Make the Connection

Schools as Learning Organisations

Developing and supporting continuous learning opportunities for all staff

Professional Standards for Teaching and Leadership

Professional Learning (formal leadership roles) I Collaboration (formal leadership roles)

Professional Learning Journey

Staff professional learning

Be Inspired

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.

Read the case studies


Join In

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.

Contact us