Recently colleagues involved in ‘Spirals of Inquiry’ during the last year came together to reflect on the impact of taking an enquiry based approach to professional learning. In what has been an incredibly challenging year, we were inspired by the passion and commitment shown by enquiry teams as they sought to deepen their understanding of, and response to, learner experience
Using the spirals process, beginning with scanning, has allowed schools to identify specific needs to focus on for the year and the trial strategies. The process was underpinned by regular opportunities for collaboration between enquiry teams, on both a local and national scale.
‘The most valuable resource that all teachers have is each other. Without collaboration our growth is limited to our own perspectives.’ Robert John Meehan
New Milton Junior, St Peter’s Junior and Victoria Education Centre worked in collaboration to focus on the needs of SEND learners – this also enabled the exchange of high quality practice to support SEND pupils between mainstream and specialist provisions.
‘This project has been fantastic. The strength we had of being able to work and learn together, although from completely different settings, has been amazing. Just the concept of being able to think laterally and support each other has been superb. We are going to keep in touch and plan to visit each other’s schools.’ Lisa
The impact of their involvement in Spirals included:
- Children being more confident at participating in class discussions and learning,
- Greater awareness and thought about when SEND students are withdrawn from class for support and intervention
- Greater teacher confidence and the clear benefit of using visual aids and pre teaching for some SEND learners
- Creation of learning journeys to celebrate the whole child’s learning
- Improve relationships, confidence and pride.
‘Collaborative target setting between children and adults means the staff get to know their children better and practice in the classroom is more inclusive. Children are so proud of the work that they do and the steps that they are taking to make progress, and they know how to achieve their next steps’ Stephanie
Nicola, Woodhey High School, explained that the focus of their Spirals journey had been on understanding and improving the relationship between adults and the key to that had been listening more.
‘Student voice has been fascinating, wonderful and refreshing to get the view of our students on a whole range of different things. They are articulate. They are insightful. It gave us ideas we wouldn’t have had otherwise, so that instead of making decisions on behalf of the students, with no evidence, we were making informed decisions and that is quite revolutionary.
Talking to staff too, to get their opinions and share good practice, as identified by the students, has been powerful to ensure staff are recognised, celebrated and understand their voice matters – Relationships first not policies.
‘Through spirals we have become a stronger team, we all feel the same way about the directions that things should be moving and how we should be making decisions in the future – Instead of guessing – now we are moving forward with information and a clearer direction. It feels as though what we are doing is going to make a difference as it comes from a strong starting point.
Spirals has made us realise that we need to listen more, we need to ask the questions and need to take those answers whether we like them or not and work with them to make sure we are doing it right’
Dot, Bromham Primary School, focused on the ‘hidden voices’ of Year 6 mixed attaining boys and their attitude to learning – where after a slower start the boys asked to take control drafting the action plan for their teachers themselves. The boys wanted to have their voices heard and understand how an action plan comes together. The impact their views had was empowering.
At the end of the year the boys spoke proudly and with confidence about their learning and are demonstrating a growth mindset. Staff have fed back the joy to hear these boys speak about learning with courage and confidence.
The key learning from this is that ‘Relationships matter, working together in a spirit of appreciative inquiry builds trust and courage, as well curiosity. It is inspiring to see friendship form and working relationships deepen as teams commit to learning and apply the spiral of inquiry’ Spirals of Enquiry playbook
You can find out more about Spirals of Enquiry here