So what next for the #LearningFirst community…

So what next? We have a date: 22nd September 2016. We have a venue: Bath Spa University. We have a host: the wonderful Sarah Earle @PriSciEarle.

What we need now, is to know what the #LearningFirst community wants next.

What do you want the focus to be? What sort of format would you like? What would be most helpful to you?

We want to design these events around what you want and need.

If #LearningFirst is news to you, and you would like to part of this #professionled approach, please sign up on the, ‘Are you in?’ page.

Please add comments below with suggestions, especially if you think you are likely to be attending.

  1. Having missed the Sheffield event and not yet watched the whole stream I am open minded. I feel my focus in school is still creating an assessment system that supports teachers identify next steps in learning whilst helping Senior and Middle Leaders identify those who need support. I still have staff that look at progress in a fashion closely linked to levels and Senior staff who want to know percentages of cohorts and view pupils as walking numbers and letters.

    I like small break-out sessions after inspirational key note speakers. Thank you.

  2. First, thank-you very much for Sheffield. It was great.

    I think the strenghts of Sheffield were its ability to inspire and build a sense of a collective. I think the key next step is to open out the debate and to work out what the issues everyone is facing are and how to bring those to others with similar issues. I think there needs to be a significant amount of the same inspiration, especially for everyone who will hopefully be going for the first time. After that I think we should run open space discussions which allow the conference to generate a collaborative agenda and people to drop in and out of the bits they are interested in/have ideas to share, twitter and this website could be used to generate initial topics. It would be good to follow this with a plenary where volunteers who were with each discussion at the end gave brief feedback to bring ideas together. This could also be done continuously through a breaking news wall of large postits. I think the postit notes to share action were a good idea but need to be in one of the general waiting areas where people are milling between sessions thus as ideas come up and when people have a bit more time they can fill a wall with them.

    I am happy to help organise open space discussions as I have run them before at conferences.

  3. Great day on Saturday. Will hopefully attend Bath Spa event. Would love to go into more detail on the HOW of it all – balancing learning first with overarching accountability, the HOW in the classroom etc Would also be happy to share approach from our MAT & get construtive feedback on it!

  4. What happened in Sheffield yesterday was incredible. It felt almost like a national summit on education and it was very positive. There were not negativity feelings or blame in the air and I think this was one of the reasons why it was such a special event. We were discussing and looking forward to creating education fit for purpose to develop children and let teachers do what they do best – teach.
    In the Final report on AWL one of the recommendations is to have SLEs with specialism in assessment in all TSAs to support good practice and work on developing an appropriate CPD. Maybe in Bath someone could share ideas how it could be done. I am not sure how much interest this kind of workshop could have, but it would be interesting to know what SLEs across the country are already doing and how they deployments could support #LearningFirst in their contexts. It would be an opportunity for CIEA to get involved to provide support and appropriate training. Assessment Hubs? It works for Maths.

    • Chris – I am an SLE with a specialism for assessment and sat in the conference yesterday thinking how every assessment SLE would have been inspired by the amazing things we talked about and how the SLE system seems like a good way to share the passion and ideas through a national network. Very interested in taking this further!

  5. Bringing and sharing ideas would be amazing if practicable……and primary / secondary options perhaps?
    I like the idea of being able to drop in and out of discussions…….
    Isn’t there also a book launch in the Autumn??
    Thanks so much for yesterday….can’t wait for September!

  6. Thank you for yesterday, it was a great way to build each other’s confidence. I have two thoughts : 1) just like the presentations in the lecture theatre, 5 minute (Teachmeet style) slots on examples of practical classroom application. Impact of those revised assessment policies we’ve all been writing! 2) I travelled to Sheffield with an Independnet School Head – there is a very real and purposeful opportunity here to have some cross over work – Good Independent schools don’t have the same accountability and many don’t do SATs. They have been using a ‘without’ levels approach – I think it would be interesting to pursue the opportunity of finding out more about how they have gone about assessment for learning.

  7. Great day yesterday! There was a purity about it that was truly enervating and, indeed, liberating. Offering the stage to so many willing and worthy speakers made it what it was. That said, I am wondering if something can be created that allows for further exploration of thoughts shared. For example, I was totally intrigued by what Sean Harford (HMI and Ofsted’s National Director for Education) had to say and welcome his standpoint. I moved on, however, wanting to know more, with unanswered questions. Same, for Marc Rowland and his piece on “losing the language” around the issue of ‘disadvantaged pupils’.
    Now, I don’t know if this is actually logistically possible but might it be an idea for short inputs from selected speakers, with them spinning off into breakout rooms with delegates pursuing them to explore ideas further, through questioning and discussion – for, say 10-15 minutes? I am very familiar with Shirley Clarke’s ground-breaking work on formative assessment. I have heard her speak before and so it was no surprise to me that she struck a chord with delegates through her insightful and inspirational piece. I attended Shirley + Seamus’ afternoon session, sat back and immersed myself again in the plain truths derived from her many years of real world research.
    One final point, given that the event is down in the South West, could we encourage Bill Lucas, for one, to offer his perspective?
    A long way to travel, yes, but you can count on another delegation attending from Bader Primary School.

  8. The breakout to question and talk to speakers would work quite well as part of an open space style thing I think. Able to drop in ask someone a question with questions and responses noted on flipchart paper so if someone had already asked it you could see what had been said. Could always have a 20 minute slot for that and use part of that slot to collate any additional discussion points that came out of talks to then run a 45 minute open space discussion time where people could share their thoughts on a range of issues and give more a chance to share and work out specifics of their schools with other schools with specific things they want to talk about.

  9. It was an amazing day yesterday – uplifting and empowering and I know we all felt valued and also valued the input of every single contributor. I want to come to Bath – I would love to open up the assessment agenda to include assessment of the school and staff – if we are truly to all be learners together, we need to open our minds to being assessed ourselves. I am sure that what works as strong assessment for students would work for schools and staff. Because of the culture of fear and high stakes within the profession, education has been reduced to trying to play a game to do ‘whatever OFSTED want’ – as we all agreed yesterday, we need to focus on our principles and assess and lead according to these. Through strong collaboration across schools, we could lead and assess ourselves according to our principles, so I would value learning how to achieve this from other colleagues. It would also be wonderful to see lots of practical examples of AWL from schools across the country; journeys from colleagues who have exercised their professional courage even when seemingly swimming against the tide. I really valued the panel debates yesterday – it would be great if delegates could also question or contribute in some way. Thank you so much for everything – what is happening here feels very special.

  10. Loved yesterday in Sheffieldbut would like more focus on EYFS at the next event. The culture in this phase is already more like where the whole of education needs to be … Start with the child …always!

  11. Yesterday’s conference felt like a real turning point – leaving behind an era of anxiety-inducing measuring, tracking, target setting and now working together to raise aspiration and make excellence our aim. If we can also shed the fixed mindset language of ability, top sets and gifted pupils we can really start to get excited about transforming the lives of young people AND , importantly, of drawing fantastic new teachers into the profession. Perhaps future conferences might include some sharing of exemplary work with pupils in a range of subjects… How about #mathswithoutlimits?

  12. Ooh the sharing of work reminds me of another idea I had. It would be lovely to get some pupils of various ages, primary and secondary, along to share their experiences of assessment and talk about how they think it could work better for them.

  13. Yesterday was an absolutely amazing day. Thank you to all involved. I left with a sense of clarity and purpose about the direction we need to go to make our assessment systems fit for a purpose which is very different from what for many schools and LAs they have become. The kudos of the speakers did give a certain gravitas to the day which was refreshing because there was no questioning what the next level up may say – they were there to speak for themselves. I liked the five minute input in the main session. It meant we could hear lots of ideas from lots of people – it was also a little bit exhausting!! I wonder if something similar but from classroom practitioners could work. Some kind of view of what the inspiration we took away from the day yesterday looks like in reality? What an amazing profession we work in.

  14. Sheffield was a triumph! Thanks to everyone who organised, assisted & attended. It feels like #LearningFirst has formally kickstarted an important profession-led conversation not just about assessment, but about T&L more broadly. In time, I’d be keen to see that conversation expand to cover how principled assessment informs/is informed by pedagogy underpinned by the values of Learning Without Limits (i.e. losing the labels). My hope is that #LF will reenergise efforts to make the education system more inclusive.

  15. Saturday in Sheffield was perfectly inspiring & has already shaped my direction for next week, thank you.

    My thoughts for next time…
    Is it possible to get colleagues from all sorts of different settings – small school inner city, large school rural, high mobility, no mobility, EAL, mostly high attainers and so on to share their practical approaches? Or even a discussion around does one size fit all pupil groups? As Michael said about the marking and EYFS vs Year 6, it would be really interesting to hear & discuss approaches in different settings.

  16. A great event yesterday with so much to think about. I have spent today mulling everything over in my head and thinking about the best way forward for my school, my children and my staff. It has been an exhausting day of deep thinking and much questioning!
    I am heartened that the things I value about child centred assessment through listening, talk and observation were highlighted as the basis of all meaningful assessments. I completely agree that all school leaders should be able to identify their key principles with their teams- this is vital, now more than ever.
    As an NLE I support a number of schools and would value further sessions on the HOW of what we need to do in greater detail, with consideration to the accountability that all schools are under but in particular vulnerable schools. It is difficult for these leaders to be brave when you are under constant scrutiny.
    Further sessions showcasing bold, brave and innovative practice from other schools would be great too.

  17. I would share Karen’s views – as an SLE in a secondary school I would love to see some examples of practice both in secondary schools like mine and primaries. I liked the idea of Balance shown in our afternoon session (Blue group) on Saturday but sadly it’s not available to secondary schools yet. Particularly interested to hear whether any secondary schools have had comments on such child-centred, non-accountability-driven approaches from Ofsted and so on. Obviously I was made up to hear Sean Harford’s comments, particularly “I am hear to listen” but my leadership team remain sceptical due to our impending inspection.
    Can’t wait to go to the next one, such a positive experience. Best CPD ever.

  18. Hi,
    I absolutely loved the Sheffield conference and would echo the comments so far about it being an incredibly exciting education summit for everyone to gather together and transform learning.

    I’d also agree with those who have so far suggested that the next conference should seek to capitalise on the fact that we’re all in one space together for a day.

    I recently attended an Unconference and loved the free format of the day. You can read more about it here:

    A suggestion could be for us to have a couple of sessions throughout the day where the time is a little more flexible. There would be a huge wall with sticky notes on it and people could write up the title of a conversation they’d like to have and say where they’ll be for that conversation- 4th floor breakout area for instance. At the time of each of the breakouts, people would go to the wall and decide what conversation they’ll join FIRST- because they’d be permitted to flit, like butterflies, from one conversation to another as they saw fit (there is one Unconference law of ‘two feet’ that could be used). It would be wise to limit these ‘conversations’ or at least combine them so perhaps there’s a deadline for people to have posted their sticky note on in the morning (and then again in the afternoon) and then a couple of ‘organisers’ (happy to help) could sort through them in between until there’s a more reasonable number of discussions taking place in each slot. What I really like about this approach is that everyone really is given a voice and choice.

    Whether it’s in the above format or not, I’d be really interested in participating in workshops where ideas and shared and challenges solved (or at least some ideas gathered). I’d be more than happy to run a session on facilitating professional learning so that staff could come along and collaborate on how they’ll offer learning opportunities for staff that rely on co-agency, build trust and lead to impact on students.

    Thank you so much for starting such a fabulous movement!

    • This is what I am talking about with Open Space! Seems to be a different name for the same thing. I think it could really work for this as it gives chances for ideas to come from everyone in a truly profession led manner.

      • Completely the same thing! Sorry- I had seen your idea but had only glanced at it and not read it properly. Great minds think alike! đŸ™‚

  19. Thank you again for a great day in Saturday.
    I agree with others above that more interaction with speakers would be useful to develop the ideas – I too left with lots more questions to consider.
    I also agree with Clare that we need to consider how the conference can reach out to more vulnerable schools and help them to feel brave in their context.
    Looking forward to Sept!

  20. The energy and positivity on Saturday was truly transformational. The quality of the speakers, and the delegates, led to rich learning and facilitated further enquiry. I would like to invite my inspirational colleagues Russell Hobby, Pie Corbett and Linda Neil to speak at the next conference. In addition, I would like to see representation from the DFE to witness first hand the passion, commitment and professional rigour that makes our countries educators world class.

  21. I absolutely loved the conference on Saturday, and really enjoyed sharing our school’s learning journey with Visible Learning. Thank you to all involved for making it such an inspirational and motivating day. It was great to hear and meet a fantastic set of people.

    One thing that those in my workshop started to discuss was the gap between the sense of ‘knowing what to do next’ that was ‘offered’ by levels/schemes of work etc and the lack of clear guidance in the wording of the new curriculum. I definitely think it would be supportive to build a shared understanding of progress in different curriculum areas and further exploration of how this progress could be meaningfully assessed – both formatively and summatively. Perhaps there could be some leading experts in literacy, maths, science and other areas to share and discuss what progress looks like. We have developed a conceptual progression in science at our school using the ideas from Wynne Harlen and the ASE on developing their big ideas of science, which our teachers report has been helpful in planning for progress.

  22. After a very informative conference on Saturday, I would like to run a smaller regional #LearningFirst in July. If anyone is interested in attending or speaking then please let me know. It will be held in Tamworth, West Midlands. @heelismichelle .

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