WE Spirals of Inquiry Network
“Inquiry is about being open to new learning and taking informed action.
The Spiral of Inquiry is not an initiative – it is a way of professional being”
(Networks of Inquiry and Indigenous Education website, 2019)
“The Spiral of Inquiry assists schools to take an inquiry-oriented, evidence-based approach to learning and teaching — one that focuses on making the education system more equitable through the provision of high-quality learning opportunities for all young people.
The Spiral is about listening to learners and reflecting on our own practices as educators.
The spiral image captures the nature of inquiry – a continuous process and not a fixed cycle. The six key stages in the framework help school teams take a disciplined approach to professional inquiry, but inevitably, the true process will be messy and you will move between the stages as needed.
The Spiral is never complete – new learning always brings about new questions, ways of knowing and new opportunities for our learners.”
(Taken from NOIIE website, 2019)
What is Spirals of Inquiry
Whole Education is proud to support schools in England to use this internationally recognised model of professional inquiry. We work closely with its originators from British Columbia where schools have been using Spirals on Enquiry for 20 years to narrow the gap for disadvantaged learners.
What’s the evidence?
An independent evaluation into the impact of Spirals for schools in the UK commissioned by Whole Education found there was significant impact for pupils. Impact included better academic progress, more pupils feeling their teachers believed in them and increased engagement. School teams reported an increased sense of engagement and ownership of their professional development.
What makes Spirals of Inquiry unique?
The beauty of the Spiral of Inquiry is that it is built on evidence-based concepts you already know and practices you may already use. But there are features that, in combination, distinguish it from other forms of action research. For example:
- It requires collaboration.
- It starts with a deep understanding of learning and the experiences of learners.
- It is specifically designed to change outcomes for learners in important areas.
- It respects the judgment, experience and language of teachers.
- It is informed by the best of what we currently know about powerful professional learning.
“Spirals is a fabulous journey and I can now see why it is a spiral as my enquiry has already generated more ideas to investigate.”
Classroom Teacher 2018
“We have learnt we needed a consistent, whole-school approach to our enquiry to ensure it made a difference to the learners. We found children needed explicit conversations to explain and identify what feedback is and the purpose behind it.”
Deputy Headteacher 2018
“Narrow your focus after the initial scanning. Use the questions and listen to the students. Respond. You’ll be amazed at the difference these simple steps make. I really enjoyed this project and felt it made an impact on my learners’ confidence”
Assistant Headteacher 2018
“Do not set a predestined path. Follow the advice of Bilbo from The Hobbit, “it’s a dangerous business going out of your front door, you step out on the path and if you don’t keep your feet, who knows where you may be swept off to.” Be prepared to be swept off to somewhere unexpected!”
“We have learnt to listen carefully to what the children are saying and not to structure questions so that we just receive the answer that we want to hear”
“We have learned to use pupil voice more regularly and more effectively to adapt our teaching and learning to the needs of the children. Talking to children has helped us realise the importance of explaining the reasons why we do something”
Principles of Spirals of Inquiry
We know that it can sometimes feel like initiative overload in schools. Spirals is not another intervention for short term gains. It is about supporting creativity, curiosity and collaboration among professionals to create sustained and sustainable improvements.
The six stages of a Spiral of Inquiry
All cycles of inquiry start with the scanning phase and asking learners the four key questions. The four key questions helps school leaders to draw out the true experience of the young person and determine the extent to which they are connected to the learning community and developing meta-cognition and self-regulation.
- Can you name two adults in this setting who believe you will be a success?
- What are you learning and why is it important?
- How is it going with your learning?
- What are your next steps?
Spirals of Inquiry in the English education system
Whole Education has been supporting schools in England to use the Spiral of Inquiry since 2014. Over 100 schools in our network have embraced the Spirals framework as the basis for their school improvement, narrowing the gap for disadvantaged pupils and developing a culture of professional inquiry in their schools.
Schools’ Spirals stories
Read the stories of some recent Whole Education Spirals teams.
We offer tailored support options for groups of schools who want to work on a shared inquiry project. Get in touch if you would like to learn more about how this could would for you.
Reducing exclusions at secondary: From Autumn 2019 we will be working with secondary schools across England to use the Spiral of Inquiry framework to consider how to make the school experience more equitable for young people at risk of exclusion and experiencing adversity.
Locality groups: We work with both primary and secondary locality groups. We support these schools to identify shared inquiry questions and facilitate the sharing of learning and establishment of their own network of inquiry.
Trusts: We support schools across trusts to conduct cycles of enquiry and to collaborate on shared inquiries.
COST AND COMMITMENT
Participating schools must commit to completing a full inquiry cycle within an academic year. This includes attending three face-to-face events as well as completing each stage of the spiral back in school.
School teams are usually made up of three members. The only stipulation is that one member of the team must be on the senior leadership team.
Non Whole Ed Schools | £1800 + VAT
Whole Ed Schools | £995 + VAT
*Group discounts are available – please enquire for more information