Whilst learning and teaching is only one of the five development focuses, it is undeniably one of the most important. While we would have undertaken the work in this area even if we had not been part of the School of Ambition programme, the capacity for development which now exists in the school and the speed of progress in this area can be attributed to the School of Ambition programme. In short, it acted as a catalyst.
As part of this development and starting from the senior management team we have developed an entitlement for staff to have Away Days to discuss a wide range of educational theory and practice. In the case of the senior management team and principal teachers these days were led by an external consultant, paid for by school of ambition money. The impact that this has had on the capacity of the staff for change is noticeable and has been of particular value as we enter into our final preparations for a Curriculum for Excellence. The opening-up of learning, which has, in part, been achieved by taking all staff away to gather and develop their views, has been instrumental in the progress we have made in the area of learning and teaching.
Alongside the school of ambition programme we also received an ‘Associated School Grant’, which supported the creation of our system of learning teams. Learning Teams have become central to everything we do and an excellent example of distributed leadership. We are now in the position where approximately two-thirds of our staff have been part of a learning team either within the school or the education authority. At the end of each session reports on our Away Days and Learning Team projects are written and shared with staff.
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Members of the learning team also take leadership in the delivery of in-service days to share best practice with the whole staff.
Our involvement in action research can be attributed to both the learning teams and the school of ambition programme. Our collaboration with other Schools of Ambition, their teachers and students has also contributed to an enrichment of our learning and teaching programmes. Our whole-school adoption of Assessment is for Learning was commented on during a recent visit by HMIe.