Three events, three regions, 28 schools, hundreds of children reached… a week of learning from the Spirals of Enquiry midway sessions
The Spirals of Enquiry approach to teaching and learning is a framework for leading evidence-informed change in schools. The approach was developed by Dr Linda Kaser and Dr Judy Halbert, University of British Columbia and has been used by schools in the region for almost twenty years. It allows teachers and school leaders to engage with research and trial approaches that can benefit the needs of a group of learners who are vulnerable, disengaged or are going under the radar.
“Probably the best CPD in the last ten years!”
Participant in Whole Education’s eighth Spirals of Enquiry cohort
The Whole Education team travelled to Wigan, London, and East Sussex to meet with schools who are using the Spirals framework as part of the eighth national cohort. Over 20 schools took part and shared knowledge across three full days. Each school presented a dilemma, an opportunity or a challenge that they were facing as part of their Spirals work and received feedback from their peers.
Which areas of practice are the schools working on?
The schools are using the framework to solve key challenges facing groups of learners in their context. They are focusing on developing pupils’ resilience, self-belief, independence and metacognitive skills, and creating school cultures that help them engage with and understand the importance of their learning.
- One high school in Wigan is using the framework to examine the relevance of the humanities subjects within the lives of learners
- A large London primary school is using Spirals to narrow the word gap
- A Wigan secondary school is addressing pupils’ disengagement with science at KS3
- One small primary school in East Sussex is using the enquiry model to build a school culture of collective responsibility and belonging
- A large East Sussex primary school is focusing on pupils who are finding it difficult to achieve the national curriculum’s expectations
What are the schools’ next steps?
The midway sessions reinvigorated the schools’ committed to developing their lines of enquiry to meet their learners’ needs. The teachers and leaders left their sessions with concrete next steps to carry out when they returned to school:
- Re-scan pupils to ensure that the line of enquiry is meeting the needs of learners
- Organise a whole school Spirals training day for all teaching and pastoral staff
- Involve parents in the process so that teachers and school staff are fully supported
- Find regular times for colleagues to explore and work on their Spirals projects
- Host a Spirals open morning for staff, pupils and parents
Top tips from Spirals leaders
Schools heard from three Spirals leaders Jenny Adams (the Keys Federation), Sarah Stepney (Mayfield Primary School) and Carmella Reece (All Saints Junior School).
Jenny, Sarah and Carmella have lead the Spirals work in their schools for many years and shared some top tips with the schools:
- Always go back to the children so that their needs drive your line of enquiry
- Slow down to speed up: taking the time to refine your line of enquiry will have a greater impact on your pupils
- Engage with the research related to your enquiry topic, you’ll feel more confident if your thoughts are supported by peer-reviewed, evidence-based literature
- Leading Spirals on your own can be lonely so engage all your staff with the framework, explain it to them and share the challenges and successes during your first year with Spirals with them.