A Twynham School we are currently undertaking a review of the quality of learning within our school community. A key focus and surely our central purpose, is to ensure we increase the amount of outstanding learning which students are engaged in. I think this objective is far more important than a broader focus on outstanding lessons which can sometimes lose sharp focus on learning and concentrate too much on the quality of teaching. Although the two should be very heavily linked it is also the case that high quality teaching does not always ensure outstanding learning.
This debate within our school has involved a great deal of discussion around on one simple question: ‘what are the features of the learning process which enable outstanding learning’. In essence we are trying to articulate a blueprint for outstanding learning. As we continue along this discussion within our school it is heartening to see a recent report by The Sutton Trust which looks at the aspects of school life which most impact performance. This document potentially controversially concludes that reduced class sizes,use of technology and the use of teaching assistants have a relatively negligible impact on student performance. Given that all three of these factors are a significant cost to schools it should give us all some cause for reflection.
So what does the research from Durham University conclude has the greatest impact on performance? The key factors are summed up perfectly by the blog Pencilandpapertest:
It is encouraging to see researched evidence which resonates so well with what any good teacher would conclude about the blueprint for outstanding learning. The second point also aligns with a recent blog post I wrote which showed the work Dan Myer has been doing by developing thinking within Maths. All of this is not revolutionary but at the same time the process of educators openly articulating and refining a blueprint for outstanding learning is crucial. From the perspective of our own school community it is pleasing to see the conclusions we have drawn over the last three months are identical to the findings in the Sutton Trust Report.