A year ago we changed the way we offered staff development by launching an Enquiry Hub model. The thinking behind this project was to open up the thinking in our school beyond the questions that we usually pose our teachers and let them set the agenda for their learning. This was the most exciting thing about the whole venture: unlike traditional CPD, we weren’t sure what the answers would be, or even what questions would be asked.
One of the core aims of the Hub programme this year was about enabling all our teachers across the school to engage with research so that we are always looking outwards as an organisation at what is working for others. Ultimately though, effective research in schools is about examining these ideas to find out what works best in our context. This is not about teachers reading or producing lengthy academic papers but simply trying to find the best way to do do things. This can be summarised in our original vision for the project:
At Kennet we aim to combine evidence with expertise wherever possible. We are a research-engaged teaching community and work collaboratively to find and share the best possible strategies for helping pupils succeed.
This project also formed a large part of our application for the SSAT’s Framework for Exceptional Education strand relating to ‘Engaging with Evidence and Research’, in which we have been judged to be demonstrating ‘Transforming practice’, the highest level available within the criteria. This process was thoroughly worthwhile and we were lucky to be given the opportunity to work with and share learning with some fantastic schools as part of this.
The format for the Hubs was based on Dylan William’s Teacher Learning Communities and the basic components can be found in this research paper. Through this we aimed to give teachers opportunities to:
- work collaboratively with other departments;
- look outwards at new ideas and strategies e.g. research, pedagogical literature and the practice of other schools;
- consider new ideas carefully and critically in the context of our school;
- demonstrate a willingness to take risks, grow and develop
- trial new ways of working and consider their effectiveness.
On Monday we met as a school to celebrate all of the projects this year and to highlight the breadth of thinking that has been going on all year. It was clear to me from this event that we achieved what we set out to achieve. Each Hub Leader did a brilliant job of highlighting some of the key debates in their area (looking outwards) as well as some projects from individual teachers (looking inwards). In the middle of the presentations there was an opportunity for everybody to share some of the successes of their projects – everyone was asked to bring along something to show – and the buzz in the room was incredible.
We are now looking forward to CPD next year and we want to take forward some of the key successes of the current programme by providing opportunities for teachers to work collaboratively, pose questions and engage with research to find out what works best for our pupils and our school.