Creating a Learning School


David Middlewood, Richard Parker & Jackie Beere

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    • 1.1 Role set of a pupil or student learner 3
    • 1.2 Classroom relationships 4
    • 1.3 Accountability framework for the learning school 11
    • 1.4 Learning to learn – hierarchy of needs 16
    • 3.1 The management model 40
    • 3.2 The leadership model 41
    • 5.1 Luft's model of the Johari Window 67
    • 5.2 Opportunities for learning in the school context 69
    • 7.1 The triune brain 95
    • 8.1 Contexts for school learning 109
    • 11.1 Managing the professional/parent working relationship 161
    • 11.2 What parents and staff bring to the partnership for child's learning 162
    • 12.1 From national top-down to bottom-up 172

    About the Authors

    DAVID MIDDLEWOOD was until recently deputy director of the Centre for Educational Leadership and Management of the University of Leicester, where he worked for fourteen years. Previously he was a headteacher of a secondary comprehensive school for ten years, following a career in schools and colleges since the 1960s. He is currently a Research Associate of the University of Lincoln, and an occasional lecturer in educational leadership and management at De Montfort University.

    David has lectured and researched in New Zealand and in South Africa, where he has been a visiting professor and also studied schools in Greece and Australia. He has devised and contributed to training programmes for school leaders from China and Indonesia.

    David has published widely, on strategic management, curriculum management, home–school links and especially on a whole range of human resource issues such as appraisal, recruitment and selection, induction, staff development and motivation. His books include Leading and Managing People in Education (with Tony Bush) – second edition 2005, Managing Teacher Appraisal and Performance: a comparative approach with Carol Cardno (2001), and Practitioner Research in Education (1999). He has co-edited and contributed chapters to various edited volumes, including the Commonwealth Secretariat series of books on educational management in South Africa. David has recently been involved in research on teaching assistants, induction for new headteachers, senior leadership teams, schools under threat, and inclusive schools. David was co-editor of the UK publications, Headship Matters and Primary Headship from 1999–2005.

    RICHARD PARKER is currently principal of Beauchamp College in Oadby, Leicestershire, a 14–18 school with one of the largest post-16 cohorts in the country. It is a specialist college with training school status. Previously Richard was head of a comprehensive school in Corby for ten years helping transform it into one of the best performing schools, as well as obtaining his own Masters degree. He had taught for twenty years before that in schools in the South.

    Richard has been involved at national level with specialist schools and is a member of a government advisory group at present. He is a tutor for Leicester University and co-authored a chapter on support staff in Managing the Curriculum (2001 Paul Chapman), as well as being co-editor of Headship Matters 1999–2005. He carried out research for the National College for School Leadership on leaders' life histories. He is particularly committed in his practice to extended schooling in which Beauchamp is a leading national institution.

    JACKIE BEERE is headteacher of Campion School in Northamptonshire, UK, where she was previously deputy head. After years of teaching, she became one of the first Advanced Skills Teachers and is now a regular speaker and presenter on creative learning. She and her school are members of the Campaign for Learning and she was awarded the OBE for services to education.

    Jackie is a university tutor and has been responsible for establishing a Masters course at her own school, having first obtained her own MBA. She published a successful book on teaching strategies at Key Stage Three. She was invited to join the Government's think tank on developing personalised learning as one of the most successful practitioners in the field. The resultant paper (2005) ‘About Learning’ helped Jackie's ideas develop, sometimes beyond those expressed in this book.


    The main impetus for the writing of this book comes from the fact that we are all passionately committed to a move away from the obsession with education being perceived as merely a means to an end and schools valued according to their test and examination results. We, like many others in education, have a huge desire to see learning as central to the process of schooling. As mature adults, we have become more not less excited by our own learning as time passes and have often felt keenly the sense of waste when we hear young people speak of their schooling as boring and who are impatient for it to finish. The fault in most case is not theirs.

    Although we have ideals, we are also pragmatists who believe that for the people in our schools the future starts – now. Actions have to be taken and taken soon. The case studies in this book show just how many of our schools share such beliefs and are already doing things to make their students' and staff's experiences meaningful, relevant and exciting. There are also many schools where people would like to make changes but are not sure how to begin or lack confidence to do so. There are also schools where initiatives have been begun, only for them to founder after a while, causing a loss of faith in the change process itself.

    This book attempts to take a whole school view of approaches to making learning central, so that staffing and structures, external links and resources, are all dealt with in examining ways in which learning schools can evolve. We believe that unless every aspect of a school's life is put under scrutiny, an emphasis on learning will remain an ‘add on’. This of course does not mean everything can be attempted at once! School leaders and managers are astute people and know that what you do next depends on what you are doing now. Nearly all the chapters therefore include suggestions for practical and specific steps that you may wish to consider as the next step for your school. We have set out a model for change within which these steps can be taken.

    Because of the uniqueness of individual learners and of individual schools, no book can provide the answers. Rather, we have sought to provide the opportunity for the right questions to be asked. We do not underestimate the huge difficulties faced by schools in some particular circumstances but are also clear that doing nothing and staying the same is not an option.

    The first two chapters set out our vision of what a learning school will look like and why such schools are so needed. Each of Chapters 3 to 11 examines a particular aspect of schools: leadership, staffing, classroom practice, assessment, curriculum extra, resourcing, the parents' role. Chapter 9 attempts to offer a view of learning during schooling years as a journey of constant transitions, whilst the final chapter takes an overview of what all the aspects covered mean for the future of schooling and beyond, including their impact on all those involved with schools. We should also say that, all three of us share the same purpose and philosophy which shape this book, the responsibility for the specific ideas and suggestions for action in individual chapters are primarily those of the author or authors of those chapters.

    Our beliefs come from the extensive experience of teaching as well as leadership and management that we have all had. One of us was a headteacher for ten years and has since taught and researched in higher education for over a decade; the second is currently in his second headship, after ten years in his first, and the third has relatively recently taken up her first headship. Our focus is on the secondary years of schooling, because this is where our experience mainly lies, but we are acutely conscious that, for the learning schools ideal to be fully accomplished, the early and primary years remain fundamental.

    It is hoped that this book will encourage and inspire those who are also committed to the love of learning to try new ideas which will help others to share that love. We quickly realised in setting out to write the book that there was much more to leave out than it was possible to put in. We are aware of how much more could be said on each topic but believe that what is included will give food for thought and also action. Our grateful thanks go to Tracy Harazdiuk for all her early work on the manuscript, to Felicity Murray for her invaluable work in preparing the book for publication, and to Jacqui, Nora, and John respectively for their help and support to us throughout this project. Finally, we express our appreciation to all the students, teachers and staff with whom we have worked, exchanged ideas, and who have inspired us to believe that such schools as envisaged here are possible. More research continues to be needed and we hope that schools will wish to be involved in this.


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