14 September 2023
Mr Chris Kellaway, Director of Empowered Learning
Six members of staff spent their first Saturday back at school in a different classroom (and in 30 degree heat) in Highgate, London at the ResearchEd national conference, hearing from a range of leading specialists speak about education research (https://researched.org.uk/). I was joined by Dr Dixon, Mr Rickard, Mrs Turner, Ms Batka, and Dr Bishop, covering our science, theology, classics, English, psychology and maths departments at Woldingham.
Started in 2013, ResearchEd aims to bridge the gap between research and practice in education. Over the course of the day, running from 9-5pm, we had access to more than 100 speakers on the latest research in education. By sharing this with colleagues back at Woldingham, we can implement it in our practice, so Woldingham students learn as effectively as possible.
My personal key three teaching takeaways from the speakers I heard were:
- More research in teaching will ensure effective learning. Peps McCrea spoke about investing more in teachers and changing perceptions to treat teaching as an applied science.
- Dr Carl Hendrick spoke about dispelling teaching myths like the idea that there are learning styles (e.g. visual learners) and that students should learn by ‘discovery’. There is no proof of the value of learning styles as educational tools and students need guided practice to reach mastery.
- Dr Heal discussing the importance of building on a student’s prior knowledge as a foothold on which to build new knowledge and ensure we guide students to recall and connect previous learning to build on.
We also heard from the BBC’s Ros Atkins about the importance of succinctly delivering explanations and ensuring you take into account when communicating that nobody cares about your e-mail/idea as much as you do.
This year has seen the launch of our Empowered Learning teaching approach at Woldingham, designed to enable our students to write their own educational story. It is built on the foundations of the latest educational practices and the pedagogical forethought of Sacred Heart Sister, and Woldingham House Patron, Janet Stuart. A great teacher in her time would be a great teacher today and most of us can remember *that* teacher from our own school days.
We want all our teachers to be *that* teacher and ensure students love their subject and ensure, through empowered learning, a consistency that means all students are learning as effectively as possible. Days like this trip help us to keep improving the experience of our students. All six staff volunteered to attend these Saturday talks as we are hungry to improve and help our students.
As well as sharing insights from the conference, as a staff body we have regular staff development sessions throughout the year. I will be running sessions on giving feedback enabling students to move forward, Mrs Haythorne will talk about emotional intelligence and Mr Rattle on digital tools to enable effective lessons. Additionally, Dr Dixon runs half termly sessions discussing education research.