The first week of term has been a busy one. One particular highlight for me was a meeting of our ICT cluster sub group (3 schools) which was facilitated by another local Principal - Alison Cook. We had asked her to take us through the inquiry planning journey that her school has developed over the last 4 years. Alison shared how she has implemented an inquiry process that is structured around 4 key understandings, indicators of how this looks across the different levels and then a planning framework that sets a road map for where the inquiry could go. At the same time her staff ensure that it is still flexible enough to be altered to reflect students' interest after the initial tuning in stage so that it can't be called just an over planned unit of work. Their inquiries are locally focused and reflect both prior learning needs and current wants of the students. Alison has developed a process that manages to make an assessment of the key understandings quite manageable and meaningful and which provide her school with some excellent reflective assessments on where to next for future inquiries and robust achievement data which shows the areas of strength, concern and interest across the school.
It was a great opportunity to discuss, at times question, and to then just listen to this incredible journey of a fellow professional who was more than happy to share her expertise and documentation - openly and selflessly. It gave me and my management team an incredible snapshot to reflect on alongside what we have been working on at our school and our next step!
I really enjoyed the morning and believe that it is people like Alison Cook who remind me that it is in our colleagues - both near and far - and the networks that we develop with each other that gives us the chance to develop our own schools to be the best learning environments they can be. As a Principal (which in your own school can be a lonely job) the support, encouragement and just the chance to hear another person's journey can remind us that we are not alone on the road!
If you're ever in the deep south a visit to Alison and Bluff Community School is well worth the effort. Her localised curriculum is an amazing example of what was intended by the revised curriculum (that now seems to be slightly sidelined?!?) To hear and observe her school will be an experience you will not forget!