At Dulwich College International, we believe that teachers play a hugely important role in giving our students the best education that they deserve.
When considering teacher professional learning, we acknowledge that both teacher and pedagogical leadership evolves in a multi-faceted set of conditions. In other words, simply doing continuous professional learning – or CPD – does not lead directly to improvements in the student's final outcome.
So, our approach to CPD promotes teacher initiatives and focuses on student learning rather than other teacher practices, which is aligned with the notion of "adaptive expertise" raised by Helen Timperley, Professor of Education at The University of Auckland.
"Changing teacher practice happens holistically by not only considering its complexities of a faculty’s dispositions, beliefs, experiences and prior knowledge, but also building successful professional learning that aims to change practice in a dynamic and constantly evolving context." said Dr Kevin House, international curriculum director at Dulwich College International.
This is why our ConnectED Institute regularly works with professional learning leads and College Leadership Teams (CLT) in each of our schools so that we constantly have a detailed understanding of group-wide and individual school CPD requirements.
To have both immediate impact and lasting effect, we create inquiries and research to update the purpose and focus of our CPD agenda, and enable teachers to understand what part their own characteristics, values and beliefs play when adopting new ideas and reflecting on their own practices.
Through a wide range of CPD projects offered in our network, we have built and nurtured a culture of evidence-based, professional reflection across our schools, alongside providing opportunities for teachers to have initiatives in their learning and practices.
In 2019, we undertook an internal school review process which entailed interviewing over 5,000 Dulwich students to understand what was impactful in their learning experiences and what might be improved. They felt their learning would be better with more prompt, in-person formative feedback. Based on this, we searched the globe for quality assessment CPD before striking up a long-term partnership with the UK company Evidence Based Education. It agreed to make a unique "Assessment Essentials" programme to meet our particular context and now it is available as a self-paced online CPD programme for all of our teachers.
Another example of us using evidence to inform what we offer our teachers happened during the Covid-19 pandemic. On having to move online, our teachers identified a desire to know more about what were the best practices in both blended instructional design and online assessment practices. On the back of these findings, we led a cross-school task force with an innovative online adult learning consultant to develop a programme of blended CPD to address concerns highlighted by our own people. Again, this programme will be available to all teachers very soon.
On top of these, we also launched our "Accelerate" programme to build diverse middle leaders. "Accelerate" is a year-long middle leadership programme designed to allow participants to build greater self-awareness, drive a high-performance culture and inspire others towards excellence. The programme is in its third year and currently has over 60 participants from all our schools and offices, with equal representation from both academic and professional support staff. All participants have said it delivers a hugely rewarding leadership experience.
With our early years and junior school teams, we have been using targeted CPD to investigate how we might use concept-based inquiries in both the classroom and the curriculum to promote greater levels of teacher and student initiatives. The approach has involved each school linking directly with renowned educational consultants who are providing online workshops and virtual consultancy throughout this year. One of the most exciting aspects of this work is how far it accelerates the initiatives of the teachers to make the best-informed revisions to both their curriculum and practices, so as to make the student learning experience more applied and engaging.