Have just completed the last session of the leadership course I’ve been on for the last 6 weeks. What great CPD!

For this final session we all had to prepare a presentation on a project which had lead or wanted to lead and demonstrate the leadership skills we had used. Whilst my presentation focussed on internal issues within my own school which are not really suitable for blogging about, what was particularly great was that I got to listen to and comment on 15 other people’s projects.

We had a real mix ranging from making maths lessons more creative, to building reading communities, to developing formative assessment. My particular favourite came from Ian Squire (@IMSquire). His project was on “Equipping student to become leaders of their own learning”. The focus was on drawing together the Personal Learning Thinking Skills (PLTS) and Guy Claxton’s 4Rs. The idea for the project was that it should be simultaneously inclusive but also provide challenge for the more able. Students learnt how to lead teams through an enquiry such as why King John signed the Magna Carta, but the emphasis was on the skills required to manage others rather than simply navigating the content.

Using a business model, the students create a boardroom and elect a chairperson (or more nervous teachers can select an appropriate chair). The driving question is discussed and the ‘company’ decides how it is to be addressed. He has also  tried setting up multiple companies to introduce competition.

So far this model has been attempted three times: twice very successfully but once disasterously! I think this is important. I personally learn far more through ‘failure’ than anything else and it is the critical reflection and determination to improve which really drives what I laughingly describes as my ‘success’. Ian reports that engagement in independent learning and the quality of homelearning increased dramatically. He got the students to create a Post-It wall and one of the comments made was “I don’t care about handing in worksheets but I don’t want to let my team down.” He says that students adopted a ‘can do’ and ‘what if?’ attitude to their learning which really helped to extend their thinking. Surely the challenge for all teachers.

His plans for developing this model of ‘teaching’ are to work with the school council to help mentor student leaders (genius!) and to keep adding tweaks and embellishments to ensure the experience doesn’t become stale. My own experience would suggest this is crucial: a good lesson is like a good joke – it only really works once and gets increasingly dull with repetition (I have tried to teach my 7 year old the key to humour recently). Most importantly, he wants to roll out this way of working across his school and to excite other teachers with what he’s doing.

What really excited me was that our “Emerging Leaders” course has helped share this model for helping the leaders of the future emerge.

I can’t wait to try it out in September, complete with learning spies of course.