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Ready to Learn – Implementing radical changes to behaviour management in school

June 18, 2018

Behaviour-Management-BLOG-WEBRoss Martland is the Vice Principal (Deputy Head of School) at The Fallibroome Academy in Cheshire, a Whole Education Partner School. He shares how they radically revisited their approach to behaviour management and successfully implemented the change.

Ready to Learn – The Fallibroome Academy approach to behaviour management

Last year we met with small groups of school staff to identify areas we were doing well as a school and where we could improve.  The meetings were overwhelmingly positive, however we quickly identified three common improvement themes: staff workload, opportunities for staff to socialise and the management of low-level behaviour.  

In order to tackle this point, the Leadership Team began to research and visit several schools across the country who had taken significant steps to address behaviour.  We aimed to radically change our approach to behaviour management so that within 12 months there would be a climate in school where there were very few low-level behaviour issues, students were always focused and working hard, and there were exceptionally high levels of respect for all staff. Our ‘Ready to Learn’ strategy was developed from these principles.

The principles

Clarity for all stakeholders is a key part of our approach.  We chose to be very specific about what is and isn’t acceptable, and as a consequence have set the expected standard very high.  

  • We expect our students to listen attentively to their teacher and to each other at all times.  
  • We expect them to be organised and hardworking.  
  • Being respectful to their teacher is an absolute requirement.  

All this has been explained to our students, parents and staff and described in specific detail.  For example, students, parents and staff know that we issue ‘Cautions’ for being late (and what being late means), or missing equipment (and what equipment is expected). This level of detail has been essential to the success of our approach.

The process

All behaviour transgressions (‘Cautions’) are immediately picked up and formally recorded in the lesson. A summary document is also automatically emailed to parents every month.  This is a powerful motivation for most students to take our behaviour expectations seriously.

The immediacy of this approach is key to its success.  In some schools, students are given behaviour scores at the end of a lesson which may lead to sanctions thereafter.  In our view, this approach is much too slow and too open to subjective judgement. Under such a system, the link between misbehaviour and consequences can be too tenuous – and therefore much more open to being challenged by students and/or their parents.   

A student who receives three Cautions in a lesson is instantly removed to work in silence in our Behaviour Centre for two lessons. A student who has to be removed from a lesson repeatedly will quickly find themselves working in silence in our Behaviour Centre until 5pm.

To some, this might seem punitive.  In our experience, this acts as a powerful deterrent for our more challenging students.  Indeed as a result, the vast majority have learnt to self-regulate their behaviour to avoid this outcome.  

Successfully implementing the change

We have dramatically increased our expectations of staff consistency. As we have been so specific about our expectations, staff know exactly how they are expected to manage incidents.  This means that students rarely argue or contest their decisions in lessons – precisely because all of our teaching staff operate in the same manner.

The training programme that we developed for our staff before launch played a crucial role.   We produced training videos to demonstrate good and bad practice, including specifics on language, manner and tone.  We train new colleagues and our supply staff in the same way. Training for staff is followed up with repeated assemblies and communication events with all students and parents to ensure clarity for our whole community. As a result, managing behaviour well is no longer the preserve of the experienced, senior colleagues within the school and even our most inexperienced colleagues have been empowered to manage their classrooms effectively.  

To resource the changes, we recruited two new members of staff and separated our existing pastoral staffing provision into three distinct teams:

  1. Inclusion (to support vulnerable students, those on modified timetables etc.)
  2. Behaviour (managing the Behaviour Centre)
  3. Admin (attendance, medical, etc.).  

We wrote in-house software so that staff in lessons could record Cautions at the press of a button.  Our software automatically schedules students into the Behaviour Room and sends an email to the relevant staff and parents.  Data from the software is used to email a monthly report to each parent, awarding a ‘Ready to Learn’ grade and details of their Caution record, all of which builds into our internal school reward system.

Results so far:

Following a short trial period, Ready to Learn went live in September.  The evidence of impact has been compelling. Lessons are exceptionally calm, with purposeful learning and high levels of activity and engagement.  Frequent student, staff and parental surveys have reported that behaviour has improved significantly, with disruption minimal and swiftly dealt with.  Governors and an external consultant have commented on the ‘transformative’ impact of our approach to behaviour management. Staff have told us that they can teach more than ever before and do not have to waste time chasing students for detentions.  Our boast is that we challenge visitors to go into any lesson, with any group at any time of the day to see for themselves!

Ready to Learn has been a real success for us.  Our current developments are now focused on sustaining the approach with new students and staff, embedding ways of recognising success and rewarding and how we address student behaviour outside of lessons.

Ross is a participant on Whole Education’s Leading and Managing Curriculum Change course, which supports senior leaders to innovate, pilot and successfully implement change. He shared his story with us at one of the days of the course.

The key theme of the LMCC is supporting leaders to make values-based, evidence-informed, decisions about how to deliver the best possible educational experience for their learners, in their school’s unique context. Learn more and get in touch here.


Ensuring access to a cultural education for all your learners

June 13, 2018

At the end of March, Whole Education released the report of findings from our pilot investigating how flipped pedagogy can help increase student engagement and enthusiasm for arts subjects.

This is particularly important for Whole Education as part of our mission to support schools with strategies that help maintain a broad and balanced curriculum in the face of current concerns around curriculum narrowing.

We believe that flipped pedagogy is one valuable tool in delivering this and ensuring that all learners – with a particular focus on some of the most disadvantaged – have access to a rich cultural entitlement.

You can read the full report below, and watch the introductory video to the report from Sarah Hendy, who was Whole Education’s project lead during the pilot phase.

View this document on Scribd

Language Futures – Click, Connect, Learn celebrating Volunteers’ Week

June 6, 2018

ball-ball-shaped-color-269724Clodagh Cooney, the Language Futures and Click, Connect, Learn project manager and former languages teacher writes about the value of combining volunteer mentors and digital resources.  

Since 2013, Nesta and the Cabinet Office have been working together to increase the availability of volunteer-led tutoring within schools in order to improve the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils. To this end, the Click, Connect, Learn fund was launched in order to explore how digital technology could work to make volunteer tutoring more accessible.

Language Futures is one of three organisations to receive funding to model, implement and evaluate work in this area. Language Futures combines digital resources and language-proficient mentor volunteers with project-based learning, peer collaboration and teachers’ expertise. The approach supports students to choose their own language, so that in one classroom several languages might be being learnt. This means students can learn a language that is relevant or meaningful to them.

Students speak very highly of the positive impact of volunteer mentoring. However, there can be some geography-based barriers to mentoring: finding mentors for all requested languages, consistent mentor attendance, and travel arrangements. Therefore, a key objective of the Click, Connect, Learn funding is to explore recruiting mentors who can deliver sessions online. Currently, we are trialling online mentoring in seven schools in order to offer more students their own choice of language, giving them a better educational experience. Funding will support training for schools involved as well as for the mentor volunteers involved in online tutoring.

The Language Futures – Click, Connect, Learn approach encourages students to work together and share their learning, both in and outside the classroom. CCL also allows students to learn at their own pace and the skills and attributes the approach provides will be beneficial for students preparing for GCSEs.

Whole Education’s partner MAT Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust is using CCL to transform pupils’ engagement with language learning in a number of its schools. Margaret Stewart, a languages teacher and CMAT’s lead for the CCL project, says “I am delighted that Swavesey Village College has moved language learning into the digital age and fully embraced the new CCL project which has been launched across CMAT this year. Sixteen of our pupils are currently using CCL to learn French, Italian, Spanish, German and Chinese. We will be building on the great work done by our volunteer community of mentors, who have personalised learning for our students and encouraged peer collaboration in lessons.”

The Language Futures approach is led by the Association for Language Learning in partnership with Whole Education and funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. The Click, Connect, Learn project is led by Whole Education in partnership with the Association for Language Learning and funded by Nesta.

For more information about the Click, Connect, Learn project, or for general information on the Language Futures approach and how your school can become involved, please contact the Language Futures Project Manager, Clodagh Cooney, by emailing

Please also get in touch if you are interested in becoming an online language volunteer mentor as we are now recruiting across a range of languages.

Click, Connect, Learn is one of the projects Whole Education is involved in as part of our mission to make learning more ‘real, relevant and engaging’ and support pupils to take ownership of their own learning. 

Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge – how one school found a balanced approach

May 28, 2018


Following Andreas Schleicher’s keynote at Whole Education’s Annual Conference 2018, one school leader and Whole Education Board member reflects on how his school implemented a ‘whole education’ curriculum.

Whole Education’s mission is to help young people to develop the range of skills, qualities and knowledge they need to succeed and thrive in life, learning and work. It was this mission that led Shenley Brook End to join the network in 2012.

To misquote a line from the movie Jerry Maguire, ‘You had me at…skills.’

Our school had felt it was ploughing a lonely furrow through its development of a learning and assessment framework emphasising the overlap and transferability of Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge (ASK). To find a network promoting this approach in an increasingly knowledge and outcomes focused environment was inspiring and affirming. Especially helpful was connecting with similarly aspirational schools, like-minded colleagues with a strong belief that positive outcomes were the by-product of a great education and not its sole focus, that school should be a place where young people acquire both great qualifications and great qualities.

The ASK framework

If you are considering developing an ‘ASK’ approach, I believe it works best as a process to develop rather than a package to adopt. Our debates in school between staff, students and governors truly informed and refined our consideration of the attitudes, skills and knowledge we would want our students to develop.

The attitudes – the word selected by students above attributes – were described as the 5Cs: Curiosity, Creativity, Communication, Consistency and Cooperation.

The skills development aspect had an overarching heading but was contextualised by subject. It is known as TENSILE- ‘capable of being stretched’- standing for;

  • Teamwork
  • Expression
  • Numeracy
  • Solving problems
  • Independence
  • Literacy
  • Enquiry.

Our clarification of the possible attitudes to learning transformed our formative assessment and dialogue with parents. The framework entered students’ language – my favourite example being, “Sir, I was well Tensile today!”

The area of knowledge was subject specific, and along with the new specifications led to the rewriting of our curriculum maps and a broader opportunity to discuss common approaches, transferable skills and the timing of key assessments.

I believe this framework has helped us sustain a positive learning culture among the anxiety of curriculum and assessment change. It has also supported students in becoming reflective learners, enhancing their readiness both for the challenges of new exams and new experiences beyond school.


Delivering a ‘whole education’ curriculum is getting harder. Radical curriculum and assessment change, accountability change (progress 8 and English Baccalaureate), financial pressures, and recruitment and retention challenges all understandably lead schools to focus on the quality of outcomes, often at the expense of the quality of the process.

The OECD framework, the future and more

It was fascinating to hear Andreas Schleicher argue for an ASK approach at Whole Education’s 2018 Annual Conference. The OECD’s own 2030 Learning Framework prioritises wider skills, knowledge and qualities, as well as individual and societal wellbeing.

Andreas argued the UK should not be making such an approach more difficult to achieve at a time when technological, social and economic change make it ever more important. Post- Brexit, we should ask how to provide young people with the most fruitful educational provision as they complete in-school learning and prepare for future learning, life and work.

Perhaps an ASK approach is part of the answer. Perhaps the emerging consensus in the UK around the need for a broad, rounded education for all learners will continue to grow. Or perhaps our system will continue to travel in the opposite direction to most OECD countries.

The Whole Education network believes that every young person should have an education worth having. A balanced emphasis on qualities, skills and knowledge should surely be at its heart.

Chris Holmwood is Senior Deputy Headteacher at Shenley Brook End School in Milton Keynes and Principal of its Leadership and Training Centre. He is a member of the Board of Whole Education.

Watch Andreas’ livestreamed keynote at Whole Education’s Annual Conference below:

Alternate, longer version (sounds starts from approx 1:05)

Panel discussion following Andreas’ keynote with: Lord Jim Knight, Robin Banerjee, Neil Carberry, Valerie Hannon and Rachel Tomlinson

How one Whole Education school went Swedish for a week

May 22, 2018

black round analog wall clock

Julian Grant is the Headteacher at Shevington High School. The school has taken part in the Student Agency In Learning programme, which is a group of schools in the Whole Education network inspired by the Kunskapsskolan principles. Here he reflects on the school’s ‘Swedish week’, which implemented lessons and ideas from Sweden in school for one week, in advance of a wider roll out in 2018/19.

This year at Shevington High School, we started to deliver a KED Inspired curriculum to Year 7 students, that included coaching and working on steps and themes. As a school we had a strategy to immerse ourselves as much as possible into the KED philosophy. We have participated in study visits to several Swedish KED Schools, we hosted 20 exchange students from Kunskapsskolan Enköping in December and then visited them, and one member of staff had the fantastic opportunity to be involved in the Teacher Exchange Program.

After a few days in Kunskapsskolan Enköping, it was quite clear we really needed to trial some of the strategies we had seen there before implementing them fully in September. This is when the concept of Swedish Week came about.

The idea was to introduce some KED influenced practices for a week to see if they worked within our UK context. Susanna Wahlqvist from Kunskapsskolan Enköping came here to support our efforts. We changed the timetable for Year 7 and 8 so they had a workshop session every day. In that time, they had three tasks to complete by the end of the week.

We decided for Swedish week all students would hand in their mobile phones as we had seen it done so successfully in Enköping. It seemed to be one of the biggest challenges of the week.

We put on a Swedish inspired menu in school and staff were encouraged to eat together with students, which reduced the need for the usual supervision. This really made the atmosphere in the canteen so much calmer.

Another thing we tried was to turn the school bells off. We usually have a bell ring every hour to indicate a change of lesson. For Swedish week we had no bells at all. The movement around school was much calmer and relaxed as the students did not exit classes all at the same time. Punctuality was not affected; students were still quick to get to lessons.

 The final but very successful approach adopted during the week was Fika. Every day at break time, we provided tea and coffee plus a range of refreshments, i.e. fika. The purpose was explained to all staff – to get them together and talk about anything other than school.

 Swedish Week was an excellent way to fully embrace the KED principles; most staff participated in the workshop sessions and more students than ever had the opportunity to lead their learning. Now we are excited about planning for September-in fact, Fika Friday is already permanently in place due to the popular demand!

Julian will be contributing to Whole Education’s session at the Inspiring Leadership Conference 14-15th June. The session, ‘Curriculum development in the current climate: building an entitlement to a fully rounded education’, will be hosted by Whole Education’s Chair, Sir John Dunford. 

To learn more about Whole Education’s SAIL programme, run in association with the KED UK network, visit our website.

How one school is getting the best out of their learners with Spirals of Enquiry

May 11, 2018

Holy Cross Jupiter class

Pupils at Holy Cross Primary practise identifying birds as part of their outdoor learning

In this post, learn about Holy Cross’ experiences using the Spirals of Enquiry framework with one specific group of learners. The Spirals approach calls for openness to new learning and teachers taking informed action. It was developed in British Columbia to narrow achievement gaps for disadvantaged learners, and is also used in classrooms in Australia, New Zealand and in England through the Whole Education network.

The staff at Holy Cross C of E Primary knew that something was not right: the school was doing well but one particular group of learners was not thriving. The Year 4-5 Jupiter class was judged by staff to be disruptive with a poor attitude to learning. The pupils’ self-esteem was low, particularly for the 22 boys in the class.

The school used the Spirals of Enquiry approach to find out how they could support the Jupiter class to develop their learning and self-esteem. The initial results were shocking: when asked by staff how they would describe themselves, the boys believed that they were ‘rude, silly, angry and bad at listening’. The pupils had condemned themselves, very much in the same way that the staff had.

The staff committed to changing these negative beliefs: they read around improving boys’ self-esteem and assigned staff mentors to each pupil. The pupils kept mentoring diaries so that their mentor-mentee meetings could be recorded.

Other measures were introduced to raise children’s confidence and aspirations:

  • The school invited positive role models to speak with pupils, including a former Holy Cross pupil who is now a firearms officer with Sussex Police.
  • ‘Fantastic Fridays’ were introduced, offering pupils the chance to thrive in new areas of learning including Spanish, sport and drumming.
  • A male teacher has been brought in to work as a mentor and positive role model for the Jupiter boys.
  • The pupils spend time outdoors to reconnect with nature and share and develop social, emotional and moral skills.

The feedback from the Jupiter boys has been entirely positive: they’re happy to have an ‘inspiring’ male role model at school and feel more confident in their abilities, owing to the regular mentoring sessions with Holy Cross staff.

The headteacher, Cathy Dart, agrees that the Spirals of Enquiry approach has helped to sharpen the school’s focus. She says: “A complete culture shift around how boys learn was required to ensure that their learning styles were fully met and opportunities are provided so that they can shine, instead of fail.”

Well done to Holy Cross C of E Primary School for being brave, open to new learning and taking bold action!

At our Annual Conference, the journalist Laura McInerney tweeted about the importance of the Spirals scanning questions and the potential they have to change a child’s educational experience. 

If you’d like to find out more about how the Spirals of Enquiry framework can get the best out of your learners, please contact Natasa. We’re excited to be working with Drs Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser, the originators of the Spirals of Enquiry, to implement this approach in a UK context across the Whole Education network. You can find more information here


Turn of the Century: Artificial Intelligence in Education

May 8, 2018


Sam Wignell is Head of Science and Technology at Ansford Academy. In this post he writes about his school’s experience using the artificial intelligence platform Century Tech to offer all students a personalised learning experience. 

Just a few years ago, the extent of technology in the classroom didn’t really stretch beyond the use of a smartboard and the teacher’s computer. We all use technology to make tasks easier, such as collecting assessment marks and analysing them, curation of PowerPoints and worksheets for a lesson and communicating with colleagues.

Over the course of this academic year, I have been implementing Century Tech at Ansford Academy. Century has had a huge impact so far. It’s Artificial Intelligence has personalised the learning pathway for each individual student, and its live data analytics have enabled meaningful interventions to happen with very short notice and with no manual manipulation of a spreadsheet.

Century is capable of analysing the way that students respond to different types of learning material and can change the learning material presented to different students. Data is also compared to other students nationally to enable Century to make comparisons and recommendations for further learning. Students are amazed by the platform’s ability to have a whole class review the same modules, yet give every student  a different experience.

Data is a teacher’s best friend, impacting how lessons are adapted based on the strengths and weaknesses of each individual, ensuring that all students can make progress. Data also shows us how effective our interventions have been.  A common problem with data is the regular manual maintenance required. Century can assess students and update itself, with no input from the teacher. This enables us to spend time coaching the students who need support rather than completing admin tasks.

Century is used as a homework tool enabling students to review prior learning, particularly in areas they found difficult. However, it can also be used as a flipped learning tool. It has a large amount of content that can be set for students to complete in advance of a lesson. This material is followed by an assessment. Using the platform in this way enables teachers to  refocus lessons and advance students further since less time is spent ensuring everyone has the same prior knowledge. Before the lesson, teachers can check to see who has a good grasp of the key ideas and highlight students who might benefit from working in a small support group.

As our Y11 students have been heading into exam season, Century has helped them get their revision on track. Revision is a daunting task for many students, the biggest hurdle being “where do I start?” Having a personalised pathway of recommended learning has mitigated this issue, helping students focus on the learning that is important to them. Century decides what learning material should be revisited more urgently, so students don’t have to remember the areas they have a hard time with.

Using AI has saved me countless hours over this academic year in marking and has made me a better teacher. Students have had a personalised experience, along with interventions at just the right time. Most importantly, it has freed up admin time, so I can dedicate more time to planning and teaching!

Whole Education is working with schools to help teachers use AI to save time and target interventions where they are most needed. To find out more, email RosieWe are also working with experts to think about the implications of AI for work and education. At our Annual Conference, Professor Rose Luckin and Sir Anthony Seldon were part of a panel debating Work In 2030.