High Quality Teaching: Are We on the Same Page?

“High Quality Teaching is High Quality Teaching for all without having SEND as an after-thought or bolt-on.”

A thought leadership blog from Kenny Wheeler, SAfE SEND and Inclusion Lead

I love those games where you must describe a word without using the actual word itself and you get others to guess what the word is. Games like Taboo and Articulate where you hear some really interesting descriptions for specific words. It is fascinating to hear how some individuals describe a word. You may often think “that’s not how I would describe that word at all!”

In this blog, I’m keen to explore what we might mean when we describe High Quality Teaching, sometimes referred to as Quality First Teaching or even Inclusive Teaching.

Unpicking the terminology

When we talk about High Quality Teaching (HQT)are we confident that we all understand it in the same way?

When we mention HQT do staff nod their heads and we therefore assume that we all have the same understanding?

Reinforcing a common understanding

This is an important point. If we aren’t on the same page or don’t have the same understanding, when we move forwards, we risk individuals, phases, subjects or faculties lacking a clear vision, going off on tangents or having their own interpretation and understanding of HQT.

We need to consider how this will impact on learners and their experience within the classroom.

Building a knowledge base

We have a wealth of research and documentation that we can draw upon, here are just a few examples you might find useful:

  • What makes great teaching? – Sutton Trust
  • Effective Teaching from the Education Development Trust
  • Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction
  • Teachers’ Standards
  • ITT and ECF (delivered locally by our TS Hubs, Xavier and SFET)

Critically challenging our development

Part of the challenge is ensuring that frameworks and the research we cite complement one another so that we build on the skills and knowledge that Early Career Teachers are developing. Our vision for HQT then extends to all teaching staff so that individuals continually improve and develop their classroom practice regardless of how long they have been in the profession.

Schools will have accumulated an expanse of learning through their CPD programmes and we all seek to build on what has gone before. The question is; is it worth going back to the foundations so that we have a secure base on which to build our teaching and learning?

This might extend to re-visiting the Teaching and Learning Policy and the SEND Policy and ensuring there is one clear and consistent statement on HQT.

This seems highly topical given that we know there will be some learners who are likely to have gaps in their knowledge following the disruption caused by the pandemic. So, what strategies can we draw upon to meet a range of different individual learning needs?

Creating a culture of QFT/HQT

Essentially, we need to establish what HQT means in our own setting.

We need to have the utmost confidence that when we talk about HQT we have the same understanding and appreciation of what it is and what it involves.

We need to know that it is not just about buzz words that we drop into conversations but about understanding our learners and being able to use a range of strategies to engage them.

Our approach to defining, communicating and supporting HQT can then help ensure that it develops and becomes embedded in our school culture. A culture where we have high expectations for all our learners and where all our staff continue their journey to become great classroom practitioners.

Kenny Wheeler, SAFE SEND and Inclusion Lead

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