Building a Culture of Learning

School improvement requires a culture of learning where staff work together towards the school vision. This culture is based on clear plans and systems (technical leadership), as well as building trust in one another to take risks and try new things (human leadership).
Sustaining great leadership means:
  • Making a commitment to improve
  • Inspiring others to make the same commitment
  • Being easy to follow
Fundamental to this is the creation of a consistent, common language around which you can monitor your progress. This can be framed as 3 questions that drive progress:
  • Where are we going?
  • Where are we now?
  • So what are our next steps?

Where are we going?

Your vision is the most important aspect of knowing your destination. Clearly articulated and in language that everyone can remember, your vision will act as your guiding star and your filter. In leadership terms, your vision should engage the heart. 

At the same time, you are also creating a clear structure in which to work, so that your vision – although a long way off – still seems attainable and progress is transparent to all.

The Challenging Learning Collaborative Model for Organisational Change demonstrates how each level of the organisation can work together to contribute to improving the culture of the school. Ultimately, capacity to sustain good practice requires both top-down and bottom-up leadership!

Click on the model to enlarge it, and to use it to track progress, monitoring where you are now in your growth and development. If progress is slow in any area, is there is a piece of the model missing from your school structure? If impact hasn’t shown up in the students’ learning yet, has every layer of the model been involved in designing and taking action?

Where are we now?

Your champions are your layer of support. They create your capacity to maintain the focus of the school improvement plan. People will follow the first followers, rather than the leader themselves. A key role of leadership is to build expertise throughout the organisation.

Your champions are your bridge between leadership (the school vision) and the staff (action learning). You need to build a strong bridge so that staff can see a single, clear path forward. Once they start to cross the bridge, you need to maintain it: your champions need input and attention to grow their expertise.

Your champions should reinforce your vision and encourage action by; collecting data from learning walks and focus groups, analysing the data with you, making a plan for next steps, and leading PLT meetings. Check out the Champions Page on the Hub for tools to support them with.

Collecting Data

Knowing your current reality means that you can more accurately design the right school improvement plan for your future.

As John Hattie puts it in his Visible Learning for Teachers (2012):

The key to improving education is knowing the impact that we are having on students learning; the magnitude of that impact, and the implications that understanding has for decisions about what we do next.

On this page you will find the tools to support the collection of impact data to track and share progress with your champions and staff. These will be updated throughout the process, to help collect data at the time it is needed.

What are our next steps?

Making a school improvement plan means making a plan to support your staff in learning new behaviours, methods or mental models. With the mental model ‘Your Staff Are Your Class’, effective leaders plan for the skills and knowledge that they want their staff to improve and then utilise existing school structures as opportunities to learn.

Download the Action Plan template attached and identify some focus areas for staff development. State the skills and knowledge you want them to learn, and the opportunities to do so. Use your champions, PLT’s, staff meetings and learning walks to help create some meaningful actions.
The completed example on page 2 of the download shows how planning next steps needn’t be complicated. It is more about repeating opportunities for learning and reflection than having numerous events and activities.

Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives

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Stronger Learning for Stronger Lives