An in-depth process tailor-made to help you make the changes you want in your school, pre-school or college.
Challenging Learning Process and Coronavirus (Covid-19)
We know these are challenging times, we want you to know that we’ll be here to help and do everything we can!
Our main priority is helping you get through this difficult time. When schools are closed, we want to assure you that learning doesn’t have to stop! We will be providing resources helping to support everybody at home and in schools – we are with you on this journey!
If you want to make long-lasting, sustainable change then our best offer is the Challenging Learning Process.
The CLP is a process, not a program. We don’t have any pre-determined programs or scripts. We begin by understanding your context and strengths, and then help you to fine-tune what you already do. Change will be embedded at every level: leaders, coaches, teachers, support staff and parents.
The Challenging Learning Process (CLP)
The CLP is based on evidence and improving practice. We collect baseline data at the beginning and monitor progress through data collection, observation reports and regular visits. By gathering evidence, we are able to present a window into the experiences of your students’ learning, and therefore give you a unique perspective on the current situation in your organisation from which we can work with you to set realistic and achievable goals.
No two CLP projects are the same. We understand that whilst most schools, pre-schools, and colleges share common issues, it is the make-up of your structures, staff, culture, history, location, budget, parents and students that make you unique. This makes it difficult to say exactly what will be achieved until we have designed a process with you, for your context. However, typical gains include:
- Increased staff engagement and satisfaction;
- Improved student motivation, resilience and curiosity;
- Better use of feedback, questioning and dialogue to enhance student learning;
- A healthier attitude towards challenge, progress and achievement;
- Students more often working at deeper levels of understanding, rather than with surface-level knowledge;
- Increases in students’ ability to reason;
- Increases in the number and quality of questions asked by students;
- The development of a shared language for learning between staff and students;
- More sharing of resources, expertise and ideas within and between organisations;
- The development of a culture that supports inclusion;
- Decreases in incidences of undesirable behaviour in classrooms;
- Increased parental involvement in their children’s learning.
The Challenging Learning Process in Detail
A Challenging Learning Process improves staff engagement and student learning. It strengthens your learning culture and leads to improved use of feedback, questioning and dialogue. It starts with your context and helps you make the changes you want. A CLP is driven by evidence (including meta-analyses, action learning, and student voice) and supported by practice (including teaching resources, coaching, and demonstration lessons). It has been designed from the bottom-up and top-down and is continually improved and adapted. It represents excellent value for money by building capacity and collective efficacy so that your team continues to embed sustainable change long after the funded phase is done.
A Challenging Learning Process takes three main forms: a) your staff engage in their own action learning as part of normal day-to-day activities; b) we work alongside staff to coach, demonstrate and observe; c) we run whole-staff PD events for leaders, coaches, teachers and support staff. It is only this third type that needs to be out-of-hours, but it is flexible enough to be run on training days, after school or even at weekends depending on your parameters and preferences. In the case of multi-school CLPs, we will often repeat some of the PD events so that individual schools can split their staff across a number of sessions.
A Challenging Learning Process will take place over two, typically three years (but sometimes four) depending on context and priorities. The first 3-6 months of any CLP is the preparation phase in which we get to know your context through learning walks, staff and student interviews, leader and coach preparation, and the sharing of a baseline report with your steering group, resulting in an agreement of project aims and success criteria. From there, we agree a series of action learning cycles with you. Each of these include some whole-staff training followed by your staff trying out the recommended strategies and reflecting on their outcomes – with support from in-school coaches as well as members of the Challenging Learning team. At the end of the first year, our team go another learning walk and interview staff, students and community members so that we can report to your steering group about progress made and recommendations for next steps. This process is repeated in years two and three so that sustainable change is deeply embedded.
You don’t need to involve everyone in a Challenging Learning Process. However, a CLP is suitable for all staff: leaders, teachers, support staff, instructional coaches, and district administrators. We are also happy to work with parents and offer demonstration lessons with your students if you would like us to. We ask you to convene a steering group with whom we will work to design the process aims, success criteria and on-going progress and direction. We also recommend the selection of coaches or champions to help drive the energy and success of the process.
Yes. Every Challenging Learning Process is designed to fit with your context, priorities and staff development opportunities. If, for example, you need to prioritise student equity, second-language learners, integrating technology, improving numeracy and literacy scores, or building social and emotional competences, then we will design accordingly. That is exactly why we have a preparation phase lasting 3-6 months: so that we have the opportunity to really get to know your context brilliantly. We will then design the process jointly with your steering group to ensure that all activities and outcomes blend seamlessly with your needs and aspirations.
Yes, it is. Indeed, a CLP is often seen as the logical next step to embedding a culture of learning following a Visible Learning project. As a company, we held the exclusive licence to run Visible Learning in Scandinavia from 2013-2019, so we know the Visible LearningPlus program inside out. This program was designed from the meta-analyses collected by Professor John Hattie and focuses primarily on collecting and interpreting student data. Our Challenging Learning Process pays respect to the research, of course, but focuses primarily on improving teacher pedagogy and student engagement.
Our evidence is that it does, yes. One reason is that we have designed every single Challenging Learning Process to match the context and intended outcomes of the people we work with. To date, we have worked with single schools, groups of pre-schools, colleges, as well as whole districts and regions. Our focus is on improving staff pedagogy and student engagement and can therefore work with anyone looking to strengthen the learning of young people between the ages of 2-19 and beyond.
If you want to engage your community then a CLP can help you achieve this. Many of the CLPs we are running include parent/carer sessions to share some of the best ways to support their children’s learning. We often also focus on improving transition from, for example, pre-school to school, or from primary school to middle or high school. The key is, if you tell us community engagement is an important part of the reason why you want to engage in a CLP then we will make sure it is part of the design.
We are currently running a Challenging Learning Process with all 84 schools, pre-schools and colleges in Karlskrona, Sweden. We are also running very many CLPs with single schools around the world, some of which have fewer than 100 students and others with more than 2000 students and 150+ staff. A CLP we ran in Skanderborg, Denmark involved every pre-school in the district, some of which had fewer than 20 children in their setting. Our current work involves the whole range from remote/rural to urban/inner-city; from high to very-low socio-economic; and from mono- to extremely multi-cultural schools, pre-schools and colleges. There are economies of scale to be gained from joining together with neighbours as well as benefits to designing a CLP entirely focused on your community.
Costs really depend on your context, aims and aspirations. Organisations with fewer than 10 staff generally need to team up with a neighbour or access special-circumstance funding, whereas those with 15+ staff find it a bit of a stretch but not impossible to go it alone. Larger schools are generally able to afford a full CLP from within their normal professional development budgets. As Judy Martyn, principal of Highweek Primary School – a 3-11 school with 300 children – remarked after making a £24,000 investment for a 2.5-year CLP, “Challenging Learning is the biggest investment we have made in professional development; it is also by far the most cost-effective as well as most significant in terms of children’s learning.” (See more about Highweek here).
There are many ways that organisations have funded a CLP. Larger schools pay for a CLP from their professional development budgets; smaller schools tend to join a network together. Some organisations use special-focus funding such as pupil premium, equity funding, empower funds, close-the-gap money, and so on. Districts often offer to part-fund their local schools because of the impact they have seen in other districts. If you get in touch with us, then we would be happy to talk through options and put you in touch with people in similar circumstances to you who have found ways to fund their CLP.
Our emphasis is on improving the learning culture and helping staff to focus their energies on the pedagogies and practices with the biggest impact on student progress. Of course, this generally leads to enhanced grades because the more progress students make, the better their grades tend to be. However, grades are not our focus. We are more interested in lifelong learning, student resilience and passion, staff empowerment, and community engagement. We achieve this by helping staff to improve feedback outcomes; enhance classroom talk; deepen learning with better questioning techniques; move students from surface to deep learning; and strengthen collective and self-efficacy.
Right from the outset, our aim is to design ourselves out of the process. We want to help you build capacity so that you no longer need outside experts to challenge, engage and encourage. That’s why we train your coaches (some call them champions) to drive the process; we also support your leaders to direct the CLP so that in our absence, your enhanced collective efficacy will lead to continued and sustained improvements.
Any of our Challenging Learning team would be happy to talk with you about a CLP and to send you a proposal based on your context, aspirations and budget. We could also put you in touch with some of the people already engaged in a CLP. We have four offices to choose from, so contact the one closest to you: Australia; Sweden; UK; USA. Phone or email us and we’ll do the rest.
TALK WITH US …
We’ll connect with you via phone or video call to answer your questions
TALK WITH OTHERS …
We’ll put you in touch with people already engaged in a CLP to give you an insider’s view of the process
REQUEST A PROPOSAL …
We’ll send you a detailed draft proposal, showing the extent of our support and the costs involved
TALK FACE-TO-FACE …
We’ll arrange to meet your key decision makers face-to-face
GO ON A STUDY TOUR …
We’ll organise a study tour for you and your colleagues to visit some of the schools and districts engaged in a CLP