Translating policy into practice – a “tartan” approach

We held our 3-18 Strategic Learning and Teaching Group this afternoon. The key strategic item was how we translate our Learning and Teaching policy into consistent practice in our schools.

The “traditional” management approach to such a conundrum would be to issue an instruction that it should be implemented by all teachers – as Captain Picard (for Trekkies out there) might have said, “Make it so” – if only it was that simple.

The beauty of our group is that it is made up of people representing all levels in education in East Lothian: 6 Head Teachers; 6 classroom teachers; 4 Quality Improvement Officers; 3 Education Support Officers; 1 Educational Psychologist; 1 Head of Education; 2 Librarians; and 1 LTS New Technologies Research Practitioner. The richness of perspectives provided by such representation means that “simplistic”, “managerial”, “top-down” strategies are much less likely to emerge – and so it was today.

Following a tremendous discussion and small group brainstorming session focussing on – how we translate policy into practice? – the following stategy began to emerge.

We reckon that real change in practice depends upon following:

  1. shared and distributed responsibility for improving and leading the development of learning and teaching
  2. the generation of a momentum which will feed and drive the change process
  3. the creation and membership of groups which extend beyond people with similar experience/expertise/interest/
  4. the identification of short-term points of focus – rather than just trying to implement the whole policy all the time
  5. constant reminders of what we are attempting to achieve – awareness raising
  6. a flexible approach which takes account of context and people
  7. absolute willingness to get rid of all “closed” doors – sharing
  8. the encouragement and modelling of professional reflection
  9. the use of technology to share ideas and support our teams/communities
  10. the promotion of the concept of teachers as learners

Each of the above can be fleshed out and developed but a sucessful strategy would need to have all of the above features if policy is to be translated into practice.

A successful strategy would also have to recognise and tackle the following barriers:

  1. time limitations
  2. the pressures exerted by the existing secondary school curriculum
  3. the physical barriers presented by school design

For those of you wondering what on earth the “tartan” approach might be – then my apologies, but I just can’t help thinking in pcitures.  On listening to my colleagues talking this afternoon – particularly when speaking about the impact “learning Teams” have had in East Lothian I couldn’t help but imagine sub-sets or venn diagrams where people can belong to one group but also belong to others, e.g

 So a secondary teacher might be a member of a department, part of a group of teachers developing an aspect of learning and teaching across their school; and also a member of a group made up of primary and secondary colleagues.

However, rather than lots of circles the thought of tartan popped into my mind – I suppose it could be a matrix – but that seems a tired metaphor. Tartan is made up of vertical and horizontal lines – and so perhaps might our strategy? By creating networks of people at various levels, sectors, areas of interest, etc, we create a community which is connected, aware and self-sustaining – where leadership can come from anywhere on the tartan.

PS – it’s East Lothian tartan.

7 thoughts on “Translating policy into practice – a “tartan” approach

  1. I think the saying is “make it so”. Not that I am a Trekkie or anything, but its a term that is still used in the Royal Navy especially in the morning and evening when ships flags are raised and lowered at “colours” and sunset.

  2. It is indeed “make it so” – and “Picard” has no k in it, and “Trekkies” has no c.

    I’ll get me coat. Or rather, I’ll get me anorak.

  3. I commend the strategy that the group have come up with and think that it marries/merges with the Learning and Teaching Policy perfectly – and if only it were a case of “let it be so,”! [that would actually be too easy] I believe that it is more like “way to go” – but what an exciting, challenging journey it should be!
    My initial thoughts are to share the strategy before the in-set day and open it up for discussion as part of the self evaluation process.

  4. Pingback: Don’s Learning Log » Blog Archive » Creative Arts and Education Group - creating a dynamic

  5. I’m not going to get pickie, or even pikkie about “make it so” but please change “reps from the library service” to Librarians – everyone else has their professional title.

  6. Your “tartan approach” is an excellent concept. I enjoyed talking to the teachers from Law Primary who are enthusiastic about the effects the Learning Team has had in their school. I could have spent a lot longer sharing ideas. I have a few threads of my own to follow as a result.

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