The Thinking School – Developing A Dynamic Learning Community For All Staff Within A Primary School

Kulvarn Atwal became head of Highlands Primary school in east London in September 2012. At the time, the school had just received a Requires Improvement rating from Ofsted. By the end of the year, pupil progress at Key Stage 2 was in the top 3% of schools nationally; by the end of the second year, they were in the top 1%. When Kulvarn took over, he firmly believed that by developing teachers within an expansive and collaborative learning environment, teachers will have the confidence to innovate and develop their practice. The simple premise was that through the empowerment of staff, children would flourish and their learning would accelerate. In this article he describes why he decided to create a dynamic learning community and considers the impact on staff.
Headteacher and pupils of Highlands Primary School

Communities of Practice

Throughout my career in teaching, I have always had the impression that there is a significant anomaly in schools. The anomaly is that in the very institutions that have learning as their core business (schools), staff learning is undervalued and underutilised. I took the opportunity to study the quality of learning environments in other institutions and industries and I was introduced to workplace learning literature. This introduction changed my perceptions, which had been predominantly influenced by my own experiences of working in schools. I developed an understanding of the value of informal learning and I decided that I wanted the learning environment for staff in our school to be more expansive.

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