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Coaching staff and students to deepen understanding of the process of learning

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Achievement Show Preview: tasters of what you can look forward to

This is the sixth of our Achievement Show Preview: tasters of what you can look forward to series. During the series, you will hear from practitioners and leaders who are presenting at this year’s Achievement Show – giving you a preview of what to expect from their presentations.


Zone: Leading Learning B
Presentation: Coaching staff and students to deepen understanding of the process of learning
School: Landau Forte College
Presenters: Sue Bill, Vice Principal

A culture of coaching for staff and students engages with learners at all levels to deepen their understanding and enhance their learning, explains Sue Bill, Vice Principal of Landau Forte College. Their approach has enabled the development of co-constructed sessions that benefit both learners and tutors.


It operates on a number of levels, she explains, and her presentation to the show will demonstrate how. The college has established learning champions, and both students and tutors have trained learning coaches (of which she is one) to observe and help evaluate the learning that is taking place.

For example, they work on specific projects such as a year 8 trade fair, and use the experiences and problems that inevitably arise in a new challenge to advance the learning.

If, say, the group believes one member is not contributing effectively, the coach will lead a ‘learning discussion’ to address the issue. Peer mentors, older students working with younger ones, then work through specific problems.

If the group believes one member is not contributing effectively, the coach will lead a ‘learning discussion’ to address the issue. Peer mentors, older students working with younger ones, then work through specific problems

Lead learners
Over 30 students from years 7 and upwards have become lead learners, running regular sessions throughout the year for the other students on elements of the college’s learning toolkit and the skills to enhance learning.

The skills include effective listening to understand, questioning, deepening thinking and effective feedback.

The large number of lead learners enables each of them to have the flexibility to manage their time effectively. ‘It works well,’ comments Sue Bill. ‘They feel they’re part of something special, but they know they are able to plan their own time to balance all of their different activities.’

Tutors sometimes use lead learners in other ways, such as recording facts about a particular aspect of a lesson, for the teacher’s own development – eg, how wide was the range of questions used in the lesson; or if there was a dip in learning, when did it happen?

It’s made clear that the student provides the information, and the teacher evaluates what to do about it.

The approach is deliberately designed not to be threatening to either tutors or students. The training for both emphasised this, and was implemented gradually over many months as an element of the college’s coaching culture.

Measuring the outcomes
How does Landau Forte know this approach works? Sue Bill points out the quality of any learning – that is, in her view, whether it encourages such features as curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm, empathy, persistence, courage and leadership – cannot be measured in most tests, and certainly not just in GCSE and A-level outcomes.

‘We can measure these skills by how successful our young people are in life. Our academic outcomes are strong; but just as important is what our students do with their education. Our students go on to be successful in higher education, employment and training.’

The quality of any learning – whether it encourages such features as curiosity, creativity, enthusiasm, empathy, persistence, courage and leadership – cannot be measured in most tests.

Tellingly, perhaps, 100% of Landau Forte’s year 10 and year 12 students undertake work placements.

Sue believes ‘the enhanced package of learning they get makes sure these are things they care about… It’s the blend of two things: they need qualifications, but also the broad and balanced education. The enhanced package of learning they get makes sure that employers value what our students can offer. It’s the successful blend of both high academic achievement (represented by qualifications) and the high standard of enhanced education.’

Schools do not have to choose between qualifications and a broad education; it is possible to have both.


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