So far, so Good.

VNET headteachers David Oldham and Adam Mason were video interviewed respectively 15 and 25 days into their journey with Cooperative Learning.

 

“Like a lot of schools, we had a problem with very passive children…”

– David Oldham, Headteacher at Drayton Junior School, 2017.

 

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Watch now.

 

Head to head

David Oldham of Drayton Junior and Adam Mason of Fakenham Junior both joined the Diamonds in the Rough programme offered to members of the Viscount Nelson Education Network at discounted rates. They were interviewed respectively 25 and 15 days into their journey with Cooperative Learning.

Their common message to colleagues is that Cooperative Learning is not an end in itself, but rather the means to all the other things that need to get done. Adam describes how he is embedding it throughout his SIDP to advance such general objectives as better social skills and behaviours for learning, leadership monitoring, as well as such specifics targets as “improved outcomes in maths.”

“It’s hitting all the areas of the SIDP,  it’s being pushed through performance management, not as an objective in itself, but as an action underpinning all of their objectives.”

– Adam Mason, headteacher at Fakenham Junior School, 2017.

Watch now.

 

Background

Fakenham Junior School had their first three-hour session on September’s staff training day, followed by two further twilight sessions interspersed with a half-day of leadership coaching/observations of a handful of selected teachers. Fakenham just did their third session yesterday and also happens to be involved in the SSIF Maths programme.

“All the children are 100% task-based at all times, it isn’t needing that behavior management of the teachers keeping them there.”
– Adam Mason, headteacher at Fakenham Junior School, 2017.

Drayton CofE Junior School started later that same month and therefore chose to have all their three sessions as two-hour twilights, placing a full day’s coaching to virtually all teaching staff just before their third session.

“I went with my deputy head to a taster morning at Mattishall … and on the way back to school I said, “Honestly, what do you think, is this something we should invest in?” and straight-away he went …”this is just what we need…”

– David Oldham, Headteacher at Drayton Junior School, 2017. More on the Mattishall event.

The benefit of this step-by-step approach to training is described in detail by David, who was especially wary of overtaxing his staff. The gradual rollout gave time between each twilight for everyone to try out and review how each Cooperative Learning Interaction Pattern worked. Yet, both schools managed to pack all three sessions and coaching into a 30-days period – with the results they are describing in these interviews.

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Amelia’s task to her peers. One of the most powerful elements of Cooperative Learning is that it effortlessly puts pupils in the driver’s seat, yet the interaction, tasks and content is tightly controlled and continuously assessed and tweaked by the teacher.

Watch now.

Tailoring

Though both Drayton and Fakenham have many things in common – such as being larger-than-average junior schools both on the rebound from poor Ofsted reports – they did not receive the same training in the same order, with increasing divergence as time progressed.

This reflects the history of each school, the vision and priorities of their headteachers, and the disposition of their leadership teams, pupils and staff – to name a few. This diversity is why David advises other headteachers against taking snippets they might have observed at other schools out of context.

Watch now.

Caring, Cooperative, Christian

One evident difference between the schools is the religious ethos, which is very distinct in Drayton and tying this in was therefore a focus in their training. Of special interest to other Church of England schools, David describes in the video how they had a SIAMS inspection on November 20, barely three weeks into the programme. The inspector lauds David for consolidating the school’s caring ethos by introducing Cooperative Learning “across the curriculum“ (p. 3).

Recently introduced co-operative (sic) learning strategies encourage pupils to support each other as they learn together in mainly mixed-ability groups. This has generated a pleasant and harmonious atmosphere around the school which is particularly obvious when pupils are playing together and moving around the school between lessons.

– Stephen Green, inspector, SIAMS report November 2017 Drayton Junior School, p. 2.

 

Consistency through Cooperative Learning

In the video, you will notice that David repeatedly uses the phrases “shared language” and “shared framework.” Cooperative Learning is broad enough to reflect the most maverick teacher’s unique materials, style and personality, yet gives very clear, practical guidelines to the more cautious members of staff. Nonetheless, everyone – from the headteacher to NQTs and TAs – are suddenly able to communicate across subjects, intervention types and key stages because the basic form of the Cooperative Learning Interaction Patterns never change. This creates a consistency across the school that combines to exponentially increase impact of the programme.

 

“[Previously] I’ve had lesson observations where some teachers have said, “we’re in despair, I just don’t know what to do, we get told all these different things.” And it just made me think: Well, here is your framework.“

– David Oldham, Headteacher at Drayton Junior School, 2017.

Watch now.

Adam and David welcome members of your leadership team and teachers to visit their schools to learn more.

fakenhamjuniorschool.com/

draytonjunior.norfolk.sch.uk/

***

More information on werdelin.co.uk and cooperativelearning.works.

 

“…that led me to the blog and the videos and I spent the next half hour of my life immersed…”

– Adam Mason, headteacher at Fakenham Junior School, 2017.

 

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