Recipients of Excellence in Professional Learning Award
Recipients of Excellence in Professional Learning Award for Schools and Organisations
Key to the work of Alloa Academy is caring for its young people and ensuring that they are fully prepared for life now and in the future.
Alloa Academy has a strong culture of formal and informal learning supported through activities across the school. Learning is there for everyone irrespective of their role, level of experience or responsibility.
Staff are empowered to make decisions about their learning through the school’s culture of leadership at all levels. The voice of the staff and the young people in the school is respected, valued and recognised resulting in a real belief that everyone can contribute to shaping the school.
The school’s young people recognise the impact that staff professional learning has on their experience. As one young person said, “it is the little things they change and then like a ripple you can see it happening across the school.”
Angus Virtual School exemplifies professional courage. A huge leap of faith has been taken by the Local Authority, transforming the professional development across Angus schools.
Angus Virtual School (AVS) holds teacher agency and professional growth at the heart of what it does, ensuring schools that request engagement and advice are supported through coaching conversations to empower and motivate.
AVS acknowledge they ‘may not always have the right answers, but they will always ask the right questions’.
Collaboration is central to the success of AVS, with the key to success being the trust that has been built by this team across Angus. Their approach is authentic, honest and credible, and they have established a strong ‘no-blame’ culture where they sensitively identify school improvement needs and seek ways to support improvement.
One key strength of AVS is how they exemplify the GTCS Professional Standards, specifically the Professional Values and Personal Commitment.
Bankton Primary School actively live their values of respect, perseverance, inclusion, cooperation and kindness.
Through learning experiences that have a strong focus on visible thinking, they provide real, relevant contexts for learning to ensure that learners develop confidence and resilience.
Professional learning is a key focus of the school, which has an ethos of trust, self-evaluation, self-reflection and mutual respect. Staff are empowered to lead learning individually, collegiately and through collaboration and enquiry.
There is strong and authentic teacher leadership with a profound effect on teachers as learners and subsequently on the children as learners. One pupil commented, “We are all learners and teachers at Bankton”.
The teachers are empowered to undertake practitioner enquiry through excellent modelling by the leadership team and lead teachers. This sustainable model of enquiry is responsive to community needs in the ever-changing landscape of Scottish education.
Capshard and Torbain are part of a joint headship arrangement with staff across both schools engaging positively and collaboratively.
There is a deep-rooted culture of leadership of and for learning at the schools and all learners thrived on the opportunity to develop. They saw clear links with their Professional Review and Development conversations and were empowered by the trust shown in them.
At the centre of this culture are teachers-as- learners who are highly ambitious for one another and the young people in their care. There is real faith in individuals to contribute and drive learning forward. Staff feel valued and known, relishing their roles as real leaders of learning.
The children clearly articulated how teachers’ learning impacted positively on them: “When I know my teacher is learning, I know I can ask her anything!”
Leadership is genuinely distributive and evident across the Earlston High School community.
All staff have opportunities to lead learning in their own classroom. This is demonstrated through an expectation to complete pedagogical enquiry plans. Colleagues feel empowered to take professional risks and demonstrate professional courage.
They feel valued and heard and point to the supportive leadership of the Senior Leadership Team, and this team’s belief in their professional growth. Coaching approaches are used extensively and are valued by staff.
There is a strong vision and values are dynamic, regularly referenced in regard to change and improvement, and underpin all professional learning opportunities.
Learning by enquiry is a major strength of Earlston High School. The enquiries of both Teacher and Pupil Support Assistants are shared in an open and supportive way. This allows colleagues to make connections across their own learning and learn with, and from, each other in collaborative ways.
Eyemouth High School are rightly proud of their journey to develop a professional learning culture focussed on excellence in teaching and learning.
At the heart of this learning journey has been a culture change with a vision of creating a ‘warm, right and challenging’ school. This change has been steered by the leadership team who remain humble about their own achievements in creating a positive learning culture.
Professional learning and a drive towards continuous improvement pervade the learning community.
The learning culture is clearly underpinned by the professional courage of staff who are empowered to ask critical questions. This builds an authentic community of learning where teachers work with, and for, each other in a culture of trust.
Professional dialogue is privileged; and space and time has been created for professional learning. All teachers are now in a position where they willingly share, provide and undertake in professional learning opportunities.
Hillhead High School is supported by a staff who are fully committed to providing the best possible experiences for young people.
These staff members show an outstanding commitment to professional reflection on, and discussion of, learning and teaching. Good practice is shared and research is used to support improvement.
The GTCS team who visited Hillhead heard a strong professional voice. Staff spoke with passion about their learning and the impact it could haveon the children they support.
Staff recognised and appreciated the investment that had been made in them to build on their professionalism through the school’s supportive culture. They welcomed the challenge to continually develop and grow within their chosen career pathway.
The culture and the ethos of Hillhead High School make it difficult not to engage in the learning community. The school community isn’t driven by egos and feels like a family of learners.
There is a very strong strategic drive in Kirkintilloch Learning Community.
The link Quality Improvement Officer, Educational Psychologist and Headteachers across five associated primaries work together to support the mprofessional learning of all colleagues.
A culture of trust is very evident, with colleagues openly talking about how this has positively impacted on their professional learning experiences.
Staff support one another in their professional learning: modelling, observing, sharing and reflecting together to improve and develop.
Staff are more empowered as a result of the model of professional learning embraced in Kirkintilloch.
They are encouraged to ask questions and think creatively to develop their own learning to enhance the learning experiences of the young people in their care.
Collaborative learning is a key strength of the Kirkintilloch community and the GTCS team experienced an excellent level of engagement from all staff.
North Berwick High School is a learning community that prioritises professional learning and leadership at all levels. The school is outward looking and forward thinking, and the implicit curiosity of learning to learn is nourished.
There are many opportunities at North Berwick for all to be leaders of change, not only within their classrooms but across the wider school, through Professional Learning Communities and Strategy Groups. Value and commitment are given to the importance of developing individual and collective knowledge.
During the visit made by GTCS, it was clear that North Berwick High has an embedded culture of trust that allows for innovation and risk-taking. Teachers see themselves as learners and use enquiring approaches to support the improvement agenda in context.
Teachers have identified that sharing learning and practice is the way of ‘being’ at North Berwick High, with opinions from all learners being listened to and valued.
The GTCS Professional Values were active at the heart of the learning community at Smithycroft Secondary School.
These values are shared through professional relationships and collaboration based on trust and commitment to learners and learning.
Teachers described the school culture as empowering. Leadership of learning is strongly supported and encouraged, regardless of post or experience. Nurture and restorative practices are central principles for all learners and are at the forefront of all learning and teaching.
Professional reading groups and teacher learning communities engage with literature, which they use to critically inform practice and support ongoing professional dialogue across the school community.
The GTCS panel found a strong culture of professional learning across the school and with community partners. This is based on authentic relationships built through a culture where openness, trust, risk-taking and empowerment thrive. All members of the learning community feel valued and included.
There is strong strategic leadership of learning at St Ninians Primary School, which is exemplified enthusiastically by the Senior Leadership Team.
All staff see themselves as learners within a strong culture of learning.
Staff are supported to engage in research and enquiry based on the needs of the young people and in support of their own professional learning.
There is an innovative and enterprising attitude at St Ninians. Risks are encouraged, and there is an openness to change.
Staff in all roles across the school show a true commitment to their professional learning. They reflect on what they are learning and why, making links to professional reading and then measuring impact.
Professional learning conversations are frequent, productive and focused and are very much part of the way things are in St Ninians.
St Ninians has collaboration and consultation at its heart.
There is an authentic culture of kindness in Strathclyde’s PGDE learning community based on trust and honesty.
There is a strong, supportive culture where collective professionalism and collaboration pervades all that they do.
Colleagues are involved in learning opportunities relevant to their own specialism, but also take part in activities that cross the boundaries of specialism, ensuring a broadening of knowledge and connectivity.
Staff embrace opportunities and take risks to ensure they are at the ‘sharp edge’ of new initiatives. They use this knowledge to enrich and shape the learning experiences of student teachers.
This is extremely empowering, as they are collectively seen by others as life-long learners, setting very positive examples to all those with whom they work.
The GTCS heard a narrative which conveyed a picture of Strathclyde’s PGDE community as being a genuinely caring, supportive and inclusive learning community which is inspiring the next generation of world class teachers.
Dunbar Primary School is the largest Primary School in East Lothian with a role of 1237. There clearly is a strong strategic and holistic vision of professional learning and the ‘school community strives to provide a happy, secure and stimulating environment where children are motivated to learn, are valued as individuals and are encouraged to reach their full potential’.
The GTCS team who visited the school were very appreciative of the open, honest and reflective nature of the school community. All staff, pupils, parents and partners spoke of their pride in the school as a learning community and a place to learn. Across the day it was clear that the professional trust placed in staff created a dynamic attitude to professional learning, and that this is a dynamic learning environment.
The Headteacher and School Leadership Team act as strong professional learning role models and there is real evidence that professional learning is collaborative with staff encouraged and supported to ask questions, critically engage with policy and take risks in their own learning. There is a culture of creating space and time for staff to engage fully in professional learning which is supported by an embedded culture of coaching. The promotion of, and support for, teacher agency to build capacity and ensure a strong focus on learning and teaching was clearly evident.
Glasgow’s Leaders of Learning was imagineered through a strong strategic vision from Glasgow City Council to provide the very best learning opportunities to positively impact on the lives of all young people across Glasgow. The Scottish Attainment Challenge funding allowed primary school practitioners to be released as ‘Challenge Leaders of Learning’ to take forward targeted interventions and in turn build capacity within their own establishments.
The development of a range of sustainable programmes of learning form part of the work that Glasgow’s Leaders of Learning lead across the city in schools and this strategic focus has significantly shifted teaching practice and has helped to build professional capital. There was a strong sense that teachers felt empowered and part of a culture which establishes the teacher-as-learner through sharing research and high quality learning and teaching and resources. This in turn has that encouraged teachers to contextualise the learning for their own settings and the needs of their learners. During the course of the one day visit the GTCS panel witnessed the strong developing leadership culture as a result of the quality of leadership of and for learning fostered by the Glasgow’s Leaders of Learning, and described this as “true collaborative professionalism in action”.
Kelso High School in the Scottish Borders is an outward looking school that seeks opportunities beyond the learning campus to engage young people in real world life experiences to help raise attainment and achievement for all young people.
The Headteacher and Senior Leadership Team strongly believe that creating a culture for learning for all is vital to the success of the school and this is well supported with significant investment of time and resources. The learning culture puts teacher agency at the core of improvement, underpinned by a clear vision that supports growth for all learners. All staff were encouraged to take leadership roles and be innovative and creative to improve the life chances of all the young people.The GTCS Team who visited the school were impressed by the positive culture and ethos that promotes and supports Professional Learning and felt that this was reflected in the positive relationships between all members of the learning community and, in particular, the peer support staff offered to each other as staff learn about their learning together.
The model of Professional Learning and enquiry was demonstrated to support teachers as learners and there are excellent opportunities for collaborative learning across the learning community and beyond. Young people in this learning community benefited from their teachers undertaking practitioner enquiry and the young people feel their voices are heard and actioned.
The Leadership Learning Community involves all Primary Headteachers in North Lanarkshire Council organised into “Family Groups” based on similar characteristics with each group supported by a lead Headteacher as well as local authority personnel. At the heart of this Leadership Learning Community is the deeply interconnected relationship between the Headteacher-as-learner and the learning that is enabled within their schools.
There is real clarity of vision and professional trust in schools from the Authority to empower school leaders to find their own solutions through a self-improving school system.
The climate and conditions are facilitated but not imposed by the Authority, allowing Headteachers to learn together, grow and authentically build capacity. Learning by enquiring is central to the Family Group meetings with Headteachers asking critical questions about themselves as leaders, their school, pupils and the systems they operate in. Reflection, research and reading are the catalyst for learning, with a range of resources used to provide real opportunities to critically examine knowledge and impact. Professional discussion is focused on leadership of and for learning with Headteachers enacting collaborative and enquiring approaches to their practice.
The objective of a ‘self-improving school’ system to facilitate effective practice transfer, leading to ongoing improvement across all establishments’ is at the core of the Professional Learning support, giving clear ownership of this to Headteachers.
There is a very strong strategic vision for learning across the St Andrew’s Secondary School with high quality leadership clearly evident and well developed at all levels. There is a vibrant, culture of learning and this learning takes place in the context of a school community where over 75% of the young people live in SIMD 1 and 2, with another 10% in SIMD 3. The whole school vision aligns with this focus on leadership and learning and professional learning is at the heart of making this school a successful, caring place to learn for all.
There is real investment in time for professional learning with close care paid to sustainability of the initiatives. Coaching is very real and present as part of the culture of learning and is central to the ethos of learning, with professional dialogue making a real difference to promoting the growth of professional capital. Teachers are actively encouraged to understand the impact of their learning through critically examining a wide range of sources of information and are encouraged to develop their professional voice and act as leaders of change.
The Panel commended the motivation of staff and their willingness to really embrace professional learning; there is evidence of meaningful engagement because teachers described it as ‘worth it’. As professionals, staff were supported to excel and to find their passion for learning.
Creating the culture for Nurturing North Ayrshire to thrive is underpinned by systems and a deeply held belief that long-term, sustainable impact and change are achieved by investing in staff and their professional learning.
Leadership and vison are wrapped around all Nurture and Restorative approaches with Quality Improvement Frameworks underpinning the focus and helping drive this work forward. There is a targeted focus on building the capacity of leaders and teachers by giving them the professional currency and knowledge to support the cultural change required. There is clear modelling of expectations at every level which is central to creating Nurturing cultures for children and staff.
The whole school approach to developing a Nurturing Culture ensures that this work is not solely about Nurture bases but applies to all children and young people. There is evidence of the impact at whole school level in terms of a greater awareness of the well-being of children and young people through understanding nurture principles and their application.
The Nurture team’s commitment to their own professional learning influences change and improvements across the professional learning provision for all staff, which was described as ‘we teach best as learners and learn best as teachers’.
Riverside Primary School’s vision of ‘Be the best you can! (Dèan do dhìcheall)’ is shared and enacted by the wider school community and is supported by a clear strategic vision where professional learning supports the school on its continuing journey of change.
There is a very strong sense of collegiality within the school community, with collaborative learning embedded at all levels and a clear focus on the intended impact on children and young people. There are many opportunities for rich professional dialogue, which is often linked to professional reading, and for staff to share learning and practice. Staff are supported to take leadership roles and innovation and creativity are actively encouraged.
There is a commitment from the Senior Leadership Team that all significant changes adopted as part of the School Improvement Process will be based on research, with teachers supported to undertake enquiry which is relevant to the context of their class or stage. Staff refer to the ethos of trust and support which empowers their commitment to this approach which may involve ‘stepping out with their comfort zone.’
The supportive ethos, which is evident through the positive relationships between the Senior Leadership and wider staff team, encourages staff to engage fully in professional learning. This is acknowledged and valued by staff who feel that they are actively encouraged to take ownership of their own learning and to be reflective practitioners.
The community that St Mungo’s Academy serves is one of the most deprived in Scotland. The GTCS team who visited the school felt that teachers and young people were empowered through strong professional values and that these were demonstrated in action. Leadership of and for learning which establishes the teacher-as-learner was evident through the energy and strategic vision of the school leadership.
There is a genuine sense of a strong moral imperative from teachers about their own learning and the importance of the impact of this on pupil learning and achievement. Teachers described how they have the power to actively respond to the needs of each and every young person in the school because the young people need them to reach their full potential through learning. Coaching conversations formally and informally challenge teachers to really examine their professional identity though the values. They are able to critically reflect on their regularly because of the daily challenges that the young people face, and are able to use these reflections as a catalyst for their professional learning.
There is a real sense of collective responsibility from teaching staff and collaborative professionalism is nurtured through frequent and focussed professional dialogue across participants in the whole learning community. Pupils, teachers, university partners and college partners connect through different professional learning activities. It was clear that teachers seem to have such infectious enthusiasm as leaders of learning across the school.
The Fife Pedagogy Team was established in 2013 and consists of 10 teachers and three pupil assistants who have been seconded to work full-time on the project.
Their aim is to go into schools serving the most disadvantaged communities and help to build support and capacity for teaching and support staff to enable them and their school leaders to reduce the attainment gap across the region. The team has developed professional learning training in literacy, numeracy and nurturing. The foundation stone of all this work is nurture.
The Fife Pedagogy Team approach is unique in Scotland, and is a powerful agent for change because of the one-to-one training and support teachers and other school staff receive. This approach enables them to support teachers to understand the progress of children and young people and the relationship between and impact of teachers’ professional learning on outcomes for children. The GTCS panel who visited the school found The Fife Pedagogy Team to be a great example of a learning community that has been established to support and lead the learning of other teachers.
“Learning as collaborative is a critical strand of the success of the Pedagogy Team and it is evident the principles of collaboration and partnership are key:
- The collaborative, co-teaching and ‘learning partner’ approach is exemplary. The Pedagogy Team are able to develop significant credibility, trust and create meaningful space to support and promote participants to take risks in their learning and practice. The team really ‘walk in the shoes’ of participant teachers and learn with them allowing for meaningful and genuine collaborative learning.
- Rich dialogue about learning, both the learning of participants and learning of children, is prioritised and central.” (extract from GTCS panel report 2017)
The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy evolved from council’s Attainment Challenge bid. Inspired by how the world’s best schools improve, the council wanted to close the poverty-related attainment gap by investing in practitioners. The Professional Learning Academy team undertook considerable research into how the best schools improve.
Ultimately, they felt that investing in the education workforce and teachers was important as it ensured that whatever they did and continue to do was sustainable and would improve the quality of learning and teaching, as well as attainment and achievement. The academy supports early years practitioners, primary and secondary teachers, speech and language therapists, and educational psychologists, to work and learn together to support and improve their skills.
It is clear that The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy is committed to and develops a collective responsibility for ‘learning of and for’ all and actively engage in professional dialogue about their own learning and learn with and from each other. The North Ayrshire Professional Learning Academy Captures the spirit of professional learning and collaborative professionalism.
“There is an outstanding culture of ‘Leadership of and for Learning’. This is evident from the bold, clear and aspirational vision for the quality of provision and importance of professional learning for all staff and the impact of this for all children and young people in North Ayrshire. The Professional Learning Academy is the physical manifestation of this vision and exemplifies the commitment to and value placed on professional learning.’” (Extract from GTCS panel report 2017)
Key to the work of St Ninian’s is striving to ensure that its young people are fully prepared for life in the 21st century.
The young people who attend the school are encouraged by all of the staff to be ambitious in their achievements, confident in their abilities, responsible within their community and effective in their learning by developing the talents of each individual.
St Ninian’s values are deeply embedded within the school culture at all levels where they can be observed both living and breathing across the school. Trust, respect, integrity, awareness and creativity were all clearly demonstrated across the school and learning community and were clearly a catalyst for learning.
During the course of the GTCS one day visit to the school it was clear that there is a real sense of equity and deep respect for each other. There is clear belief that in St Ninian’s “anything is possible” for ‘teacher & student learning’.
“The strength of the culture and practice of ‘leadership of and for learning’ is clearly evident. Across the day it was clear that learning is what St Ninian’s is all about. Social, human and decisional capital was significantly evident through a real sense of collective responsibility through what was described as an “open culture” where collaborative professionalism is nurtured through frequent and focussed professional dialogue between participants in the whole learning community. Parents and pupils, teachers and colleagues through different professional learning activities and forums and significant inherent involvement in the life of the whole school, both participate in teaching and shape their own learning. The unity of the leadership, demonstrating being both valued based and values driven, a shared culture of fearlessness and risk taking was a model of distributive leadership in action.” (extract from GTCS panel report 2017)
Windygoul Primary School currently has a roll of 815 pupils including a Nursery and Behaviour Base. As a school community it strives to develop its vision as a centre of excellence through inclusion, collaboration and community spirit. They are a learning community where achievements are celebrated and steps for improvement built on through shared dialogue and understanding. The voice of parents and the community is a strong feature and there is real belief in the impact of each person in the school being able to contribute and drive the learning forward. As part of this the children across the school community have developed the idea of ‘learning heroes’. There is no doubt the school is clearly having a significant impact on the learning culture of the cluster and Local Authority by sharing the ‘Windygoul way’.
“There is an outstanding culture of ‘Leadership of and for Learning’. The senior leadership team provide the framework and strategic direction for learning to be central in every way and model this though their own engagement in learning and commitment to developing collective knowledge. In summary the panel saw the following formula was abundantly evident: Strategic vison + Culture + Focus = Learning.” (Extract from GTCS panel report 2017)