Productive professional development for Abbot’s Hill staff

Friday 3 September 2021

It has been a motivational start to the 2021/22 academic year for Abbot’s Hill staff, with an incredible INSET programme of training, professional development and inspirational guest speakers organised by Assistant Head – Professional Development, Jen Davison.

Head, Kathryn Gorman, opened by sharing the five-year vision for Abbot’s Hill School. Looking to the future, the Governors and leadership team have produced a clear vision that builds on existing strengths and successes, and articulates how the School should be known and understood. 

Claire Harvey MBE

Our first guest speaker, Claire Harvey MBE, Co-Founder of the School’s Inclusion Alliance got our programme off to a brilliant and thought-provoking start, with her talk on Inclusion in schools. Claire flipped on its head the notion that inclusion is treating everyone the same; it is, in fact, NOT treating everyone the same. Inclusion is providing the tools, access and support that is needed for each individual to flourish – everyone’s needs are different. Through discussion on different types of bias and the huge dilemma of cognitive dissonance – what we think we’re doing versus what we’re actually doing – she pushed us to really reflect on our own inclusive practices. 

The clear message that ‘inclusivity starts with me’ resonated with all staff; although we are all ‘clumsily human,’ we can think very carefully about what we do to ensure others feel safe to learn, safe to challenge, safe to collaborate and safe to be authentic. Claire urged us to replace judgement with curiosity and to consider that even with different perspectives we can still move forward respectfully and kindly. 

Abbot’s Hill prides itself on its warmth and inclusivity and will continue to endeavour to create the most welcoming atmosphere for working and learning. Claire’s words have empowered us further to consider everything from our curriculum to our recruitment processes, to ensure we are providing the most inclusive school to allow everyone to be their authentic selves. Thank you, Claire. 

Tom Sherrington

Teaching staff at Abbot’s Hill were also fortunate to hear from Tom Sherrington on our second day of INSET. Tom spent many years as a science and maths teacher, senior leader and head in a range of different schools – including Winstanley College in Wigan, Holland Park School in London, the British International School in Jakarta and King Edward VI Grammar School in Chelmsford. He has written several books including a pamphlet based on Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, ‘Walkthrus’, in partnership with Oliver Caviglioli which explores instructional coaching and possibly one of the most important books on teaching published in recent times, ‘The Learning Rainforest’. His key principle is that a good school is rooted in establishing the conditions for learning – where behaviour and curriculum are key and he is unapologetic about his support for teacher-led instruction.

Tom started the session by encouraging us to think, ‘What’s the most extraordinary learning  we can generate?’ and shared many examples of how we can inspire our pupils with the awe and wonder of our subjects. Through firmly debunking some of the commonly known myths of teaching and sharing some of the most up-to-date thinking in teaching and learning, teaching staff were given much food for thought. The afternoon was spent with curriculum leaders, exploring the principles of curriculum design and encouraging staff to consider what out curriculum is for – knowledge, character, culture and citizenship. As custodians of our subject areas, how do we ensure we promote the school’s values, as well as prepare our pupils for life beyond Abbot’s Hill? These are questions we need to regularly ask ourselves and reflect on in order to ensure we offer the very best education to our pupils.

Chris Moyse

Teaching staff who have joined the Abbot’s Hill Coaching team were then invited to kick-start the programme with a talk delivered by Chris Moyse. Chris is a nationally-acclaimed trainer with over 35 years’ experience in education. Chris took the Coaching Team through the different types of coaching and provided valuable advice on supporting each other in achieving our teaching and learning goals through determining a narrow, yet significant focus. There was also much conversation around the key question he posed: how can we receive feedback better? It was an incredibly informative session and set us up well as we embark on our Coaching programme.

Concluding remarks from Jen Davison highlighted the input and impact the speakers had on staff : 

“It was such a privilege to welcome Claire, Tom and Chris over the course of our INSET programme. Each provided invaluable insights and inspiration to Abbot’s Hill staff. An incredibly motivational start to this year’s professional development!”