Building Learning Power by @TeacherToolkit

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
Read more about @TeacherToolkit

If you led whole-school teaching and learning and could build teaching and learning power in your school, what would you do?

This is a blog about developing job descriptions to build teaching and learning power within schools. I am currently developing plans to build 3-4 teaching positions within school, to strengthen the teaching and learning team for 2015/16. At the moment I have an open brief, but I am very clear in my mind what I believe we need at our school. What I am hoping from the reader, is to identify any missed opportunities. Having read this, if there is anything glaring obvious missing from this **draft job description, please contact me below.

Post-publication: After a discussion with @SurrealAnarchy, the title of this blog is now ‘Building a Teaching and Learning Community.’


These positions are an opportunity to take a lead in whole-school teaching and learning and develop personal leadership skills in observation, feedback and coaching and mentoring; as well as the professional development of others working at the forefront of academic research and national teaching pedagogy. The successful person(s) will join a group of experienced teachers already driving whole-school practice.

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Positions for Consideration:

  1. A member of teaching staff to support initial teacher training.
  2. A member of staff to develop a culture of action research.
  3. Two members of staff to drive standards of whole-school teaching and learning.

Purpose of the Job:

  • To drive the quality of teaching and learning across the school.
  • To conduct observations, CPD sessions and action research.
  • To drive the quality of professional development across the school.
  • To deliver high quality professional development for all staff.

Draft Duties and Responsibilities:

Teaching and Learning:

  • To drive a reflective and developmental culture of teaching and learning.
  • To support the teaching and learning team with the quality assurance of teaching and learning across the school.
  • To lead on Open Classroom; triads; learning walks; IRIS Connect; feedback and relevant models of observation practice.
  • To support the Initial Teacher Training needs of the school. For example, Schools Direct, Teach First, Beginning Teachers and NQTs.
  • To quality assure Initial Teacher Training across the school.
  • To lead the quality assurance of subject mentoring and strengthen the quality of ITT support provided at departmental level.

Professional Development:

  • To help drive professional development opportunities across the school.
  • To design and deliver CPD sessions for all staff at all levels.
  • To lead and support ITT training sessions.
  • To promote action research for all staff; sharing what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom. Investigating academic research where possible to dispel myths and help improve teaching practice.

General Responsibilities:

  • Attend teaching and learning meetings as required.
  • Attend and participate in staff training and learning activities as required.
  • To contribute to the quality control of all teaching and learning documentation and marketing internally/externally across the school.
  • Carry out any duties as may be required commensurate with the overall responsibility of the post.
  • Promote excellent relationships and a positive ethos when communicating with students, staff, parents, governors and external contact.
  • To support the school with recruitment, particularly teaching and learning requirements at interview.

**Much of the above is a first draft and subject to change.

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Please feedback here. Thanks TT.

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12 thoughts on “Building Learning Power by @TeacherToolkit

  1. Hi there, I’ve been meaning to get in touch for a while to say thank you for the blog and today’s post was coincided with the work is am doing the today it seemed opportune

    You’ve got an interesting project there and it seems somewhat similar to the work I’m doing at the RGS Guildford as Assistant Head (T&L). The brief I’ve got is to take five years and develop the student’s learning ability (BLP in all but name) and the staff’s efficacy in sharing their outstanding practice, subtext is to raise teaching and learning standards in an environment where achievement is high. The solutions we’ve developed include some of the ideas you’ve mentioned in your blog and some other approaches we’ve taken too. I’d be happy to have a chat if you’d like to compare notes.

    Best wishes

    Paul Bridges

    Sent from my iPhone

  2. Having just completed my first year TeachFirst programme I can fully support the idea of having a dedicated member of staff for initial teacher training. Although my support has been absolutely fantastic, my mentor was also CP lead so often had meetings or observations rescheduled last minute. Having a dedicated member of staff would ensure that no opportunities for development are foregone.

  3. Interesting stuff, Ross.

    Re: CPD, I’m particularly interested in the capacity of lead staff to facilitate a professional development offer which is effectively targeted and responsive to individual need – sorry about the jargon but it’s early in the morning and I’m not a morning person…. Good to get across the fact that we’re moving, as a profession, away from blanket training and towards provision which is far more personalised and bespoke.

    And is it worth specifically mentioning social networking as a channel for such professional development?

    Good luck!

  4. Hi Ross,
    It’s really encouraging to see you’re thinking about several people to take on these responsibilities. This will absolutely be more effective than one person attempting to do it all as is so often the case- indicating to staff that development is not important or taken seriously. Having a few staff means you’ll also hopefully be able to fully realise the power of engaging in development activities.

    Presumably each of these posts will include some teaching hours as well? It will be essential for them to maintain their practice whilst doing this new role as it will inform their work with staff…always tricky to balance the hours for each though!

    In your role for professional development, perhaps ‘facilitate’ rather than ‘deliver’ might be a better term? I can’t imagine you’ll find someone who is an expert in all aspects of T&L who will ‘deliver’ CPD on all of it. They may be better placed to get to know all of the staff and their strengths so they could arrange those staff to share their great practice too? ‘Facilitate’ would also encompass all of those other activities- PLNs as Jill mentioned, reading groups, debate and discussion groups as well as sharing newsletters, magazines, blogs that will allow your staff to take responsibility for their own CPD.

    I look forward to seeing how all of this goes!

  5. Hi Ross,

    It’s really encouraging to hear that you’re considering several roles where so often there is one person struggling to do everything.

    Presumably each of these roles will incorporate teaching hours? This is always useful for a) maintaining practice, b) sharing their own good practice via peer observations and through CPD sessions c) for their own continued learning.

    I wonder about the word ‘deliver’ in relation to CPD. This might be better replaced or at least combined with ‘deliver’. It is unlikely that one person (or even two) will be the best at every aspect of teaching & learning therefore the people in these roles might be better placed to seek out the great skills of their colleagues and encourage them to share with others too? ‘Facilitate’ also indicates that the CPD opportunities will be diverse and so it encompasses activities like reading groups, discussions and debates as well as the sharing of online content via a magazine, newsletter or blog- allowing all of your staff to take their own responsibility for development (they may already all do this in which case you can dismiss all of the above!)

    Although the three distinct roles are great for a focus of responsibility, I would make it clear there’s some fluidity there- depending on the strengths and skills of the people you appoint, it may be necessary for them to get involved in one another’s work frequently as the work they’ll be undertaking with staff runs right across all of these things. They shouldn’t be afraid to step outside of their designated responsibilities. Attend teaching and learning meetings as required- perhaps this can be made clear alongside ‘Carry out any duties as may be required commensurate with the overall responsibility of the post’?

    Good luck with it all. I’m excited to follow the progress of this adventure! 🙂

  6. From what I have gathered from training I would focus on recreating teaching, inspiring and improving moral as teachers all over the country are questioning their place as a teacher for whatever reason

  7. As a teacher I would welcome an ongoing ‘bank’ of CPD links to CPD opportunities available of all types – from the formal to the informal, costly to free. Teachmeets are a great source of these but not all teachers get to go. This could be done by way of a blog or a website perhaps – only recently started to use social media professionally so I’m sure you would know way more than me how best to make these available to all staff. Teachers could add events and schools in the same areas could network perhaps? I’m talking everything from conferences to informal pub meets and online stuff like TED talks – giving everyone the opportunity to be inspired when they can (I dedicate my daily train journey to online ‘CPD’ and share it with my students and work colleagues when its relevant. I find it amazing how much of my subject links with everyone elses – one can become quite insular if one doesn’t stay connected.)

    Also, I was literally brimming with new ideas and ‘stuff’ when I came back from the GA conference this year but it was hard to find the time to get my ideas across to other people whom I were sure could benefit – ways and means to do this would have been very helpful as would dedicated CPD ‘discussion’ time in places – in dept. and across the school. My favourite was ‘dirt(y) geography!’

    One last point – I think mentoring is a very disconnected area within a school that should definately be better connected to CPD – students and teachers alike – I would like to be mentored by someone in another school and a network to be able to do this would be awesome. This could be extended for students, some of whom become disengaged and can really put the school down – if they connected with other schools it could help them understand that education is a bought-into thing and you get out what you put in a bit better. Bit of the small fish big ocean education perhaps!

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