Professional Learning Blog from IRIS Connect

Exploring what matters

Welcome to the IRIS Connect blog space where you can join conversations and discover free resources, tips and summaries. We hope you find something useful for your professional development and learning.

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What's An "Educational Ecosystem" And Are You In One?

Posted by Graham Newell on 15 December, 2017

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“Teaching quality also improves within a collegial, collaborative environment  ... the power of the collective capacity is that it enables ordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things” - Michael Fullan


Do you work in a silo?  Do you collaborate? Do you share and grow?

The answer is probably ‘No’ to the first and a conditional ‘Yes’ to the other two.  The profession has moved on a very long way since I started teaching. Yes, OK, I admit it was a long time ago but not exactly the dark ages. One of the first things I did as a young teacher was to put a ‘display’ across my classroom window so no one could see in – my classroom was my kingdom.

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Why INSET days need to be more useful and how to plan one

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 8 December, 2017

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A good INSET day should be inspiring, useful, personalised and above all engaging. A day where teachers come together to discuss strategies for improvement, share their pearls of wisdom and focus on how to improve the learning experience for students.


Sadly, the reality is quite different...


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Thriving in my NQT year: 5 tips for survival

Posted by John Mulgrew on 7 December, 2017

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Guest blog from John Mulgrew, Head of Geography and LGBT Coordinator at The East Manchester Academy, in Manchester.

After completing your first few terms in your new role as an NQT you are bound to be looking forward to the fast approaching Christmas break! Like this time last year, I could not wait for the Christmas break to get some peace from the chaos of school life. Upon reflection of my NQT year, I developed 5 strategies to help with my survival, especially after being promoted to a Head of Subject role after 6 months of being an NQT.

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Evidence-informed practice, how important is it?

Posted by Kate Herbert-Smith on 21 November, 2017

There’s a growing interest around evidence-informed practice (EIP) and its links to effective continuing professional development. A combination of indicators clearly shows this growing movement and demand for evidence among educators. Such as:

  • Emphasis from the DfE on ensuring teachers are equipped with an understanding of the latest research, and use evidence to inform their teaching practice
  • The expanding profiles of researchED and The Research Schools Network
  • The launch of the Chartered College of Teaching
  • Expert guidance being provided by organisations like the Education Endowment Foundation and Institute for Effective Education

“Evidence-based practice is not ‘cookbook’ teaching or policing, nor should it be about prescribing what goes on from a position of unchallenged authority. It is about integrating professional expertise with the best external evidence from research to improve the quality of practice” -  J Sharples, Evidence for the Frontline

But, how important is evidence-informed practice and what challenges does it pose for schools embedding it within CPD and whole school improvement?

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What you need to know about sharing strategies in a SEN school

Posted by Tom O’Hara on 16 November, 2017

Guest blog from Tom O’Hara, Social Conduct Lead at Greenacre School (Wellspring MAT) Barnsley. @justTOhara

Greenacre School is a large special school which provides a personalised education for over 300 children and young people with severe and complex learning difficulties.

We all know of that one teacher who can walk into a class, just look at the pupils and then have them wrapped around their little finger. Almost as if they have some kind of behaviour superpower. How great would it be if those positive strategies could be shared amongst colleagues, departments or even the whole school?!

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Why joint practice development is the answer to developing collective efficacy

Posted by Andy Newell on 10 November, 2017

Speaking at the recent Optimus MATs Summit I was preceeded at the podium by Sir David Carter, National Schools Commissioner. He highlighted that most MATs have now developed effective diagnostics for areas of strength and weakness but still have a long way to go in terms of systematically driving improvement. In his words, striking the right balance between “weighing the pig and fattening the pig”.

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