Podcast: Bradley Lightbody and Paul Tully on teaching improvement and professional practice

In this latest episode from the professionalism series on the Education and Training Foundation Podcast, author and teacher Bradley Lightbody talks about his latest book, 'Advancing Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom' and why we can't escape the presence of the teacher in the classroom.

Paul Tully, Head of Professionalism at the ETF, speaks to Bradley about his thoughts on encouraging a fusion within the classroom and online learning and ways to create a dialogic classroom.

Full transcript

Paul: Hello and welcome to the fourth Education and Training Foundation podcast on professionalism. My name is Paul Tully, Head of Professionalism at the ETF, and today I'm talking to seasoned author, teacher, trainer and college consultant Bradley Lightbody, about teaching improvement and professional practice. Hello, Bradley.

Bradley: Hello, and thanks for the invitation.

Paul: Now, we've called this session ‘lessons with soft edges’. And later in the episode, we will explore what this means, as well as the key strategies that you believe make the most difference to teachers’ practice. Bradley, just as a start, you've worked in the sector for a long time. Now, can you tell us a little bit about your own journey in further education?

Bradley: Well, probably like many other lecturers, I fell into teaching by accident. I'd always wanted to be a journalist and quite an early age, I was writing to Daily Mirror when I was 10 years of age about jobs and newspapers. But while I was waiting for responses to applications after university, I became a part time lecturer in Bradford College. And I loved it. And from there, I moved into a full-time position in a neighbouring college. My first promotion was an L2, if you remember those days… the older silver book, which many people will have forgotten about.

Paul: I remember well, I came just after the silver book, actually. But I remember many colleagues on the silver book, and it was a treasured contract in those days.

Bradley: It certainly was, it was a gold-plated contract. And I was put in charge of a 26 subject O’ Level course. And then a few years after that, I was appointed director of the sixth form, but as you do in FE you find yourself undertaking a wide range of jobs. And so, in my time, I've been a manager of adult education, a head of teacher training, a head of teaching and learning, and finally a quality director. And after that, I formed the consultancy college Net in 2005. Now underneath this all, I've always been a history lecturer, and I've always loved history. And my favourite part of the day every day was closing out the meetings, walking into my classroom, closing the classroom door, the meetings are over, and just getting on with it. That was the best part of every day.

Paul: What was it about history just out of interest, that was your interest?

Bradley: History has always been my interest from a very early age, I was always an avid reader. And I was just into history. I loved all the Roman Britain and all that. And I don't know why. But it just struck a strong chord with me and I obviously wrote history textbooks as well as teaching and learning and they're still on A Level and university reading lists.

Paul: I remember seeing one of those on the BBC as well.

Bradley: Perhaps I should add in that on the circuit, people regularly asked me “Are you Gary's dad?” I've got to say, unfortunately, I'm not Gary's dad. And there's huge disappointment in the room.

Paul: This is a Gary Lightbody?

Bradley: Well done, well done. You're showing your credentials there for music, because, yeah, many people don't get that Gary Lightbody, also from near Belfast with an Irish accent. So people think immediately are you Gary's dad? And sadly, I'm not.

Paul: Well, let’s move on from there and, and ask from your point of view as both an A Level teacher quality manager and now a successful trainer, in your view, how has the sector changed over the time that you've been in it? And what have been the implications for teachers?

Bradley: Well, that's quite a big question. I've been in the game for many, many years and bringing it down to three things is quite a challenge. But I thought about it, I think, really, the first thing I would say would be the publication of inside the black box, professors Paul Black, and Dylan William, back in 1998. They identified the hard truth that teachers don't talk about pedagogy, and there is little or no peer collaboration and consensus between teachers about what constitutes good practice? I really thought about that very carefully. I was at the time, obviously, a manager. I thought about that. I thought, yes, that's true actually. If I walked down the corridor here and walked into a classroom, basically, the lecturer would ask me to step out, we didn't know what happened inside classrooms. So maybe think very carefully about what is good practice and how do we know what's happening in our classrooms? That's my first one.

Secondly, I would say John Hattie, and his inaugural lecture 1999, when he was appointed professor of education in Auckland University, and he introduced the concept of evidence-based practice. He not only read all those obscure articles in educational journals, which most of us never get to, he actually presented them in a rank order of the key influences governing achievement. And I guess every lecturer perhaps now has come across Hattie's Visible Learning, which was published in 2012, but if not, it really is a must read. Now, my third one, I guess, would be the arrival of Ofsted into FE in 2001. I well remember as a quality manager, waiting for the outcome of the very first Ofsted inspection of an FE College. I'll not name the college, but it was in Greater Manchester and it was judged to be poor. That sent shockwaves around the sector and prompted a flurry of internal lesson observation programmes to benchmark standards of teaching learning. Because back to the black box, we didn't know what was happening inside our own classrooms in that era at all. I also had the unwanted experience of serving under a principal who received the very first Ofsted with a poor grade for his leadership and management. The other grades across the college were fine, but he spent six months trying to shift it and get it overturned. They only managed to shift one grade from very poor to poor. So, like or loathe Ofsted, really it gave us a big focus on overriding focus on the importance of a learner experience. And that is a good thing in my book. So, there's my top three, if I reflect on it. I'll give you a fourth that you want.

Paul: No, no, that's, that's fine. Those are three really big landmark introductions into the sector. And certainly I do remember Ofsted coming in, and you're absolutely right, it really did start, some might say for the first time and others may contest that focus, forensic focus on learners, what was happening inside classrooms. And it also meant that there were teachers with significant experience who were able to share that experience across different providers. And I know people like yourself, Bradley moved from their institution out into the broader FE world to cascade that knowledge and wisdom and try and support others in their efforts to try and get into an outstanding institution. Okay, we set out in earlier episodes a model of professionalism that was first written about in June 2021 inTuition journal. Now, this has three ingredients, building expertise via research projects, developing a community ethos, through collaboration and professional dialogue, and improving practice through CPD and appraisal. Today, we take a look at ideas around improving teachers’ practice, and that's what we've been talking about just a moment ago. As a trainer and consultant, much of your work in the FE sector has been centered on teacher improvement. Why is this? Why are you fascinated by this topic?

Bradley: Well, I think we can't escape the presence of the teacher in the classroom. And the impact that has on young people in terms of high expectations and motivation with that is central really to effective teaching and learning. But I must say as a quality manager back in the day, I rarely had students come to me about complaints about the quality of the teaching. They were concerned about the status of the chips in the canteen, because they weren't crispy enough, or there weren’t enough lockers, basically, or there's not enough car parking, they rarely questioned the quality of teaching and learning. But as I say, that is absolutely key. And I don't think we can escape from it. I was always taken by Peter Drucker’s statement in 1992 that in teaching, we rely upon the naturals, the ones who somehow know how to teach. Now that really got me thinking about, well, is he right? What is the skill set of effective teachers? Can teacher training really produce high quality teachers? Or was Drucker right? You've either got it or you haven't got it?

In later years. I really like Barnaby Lenon's recipe. He was the ex-head teacher of Harrow School. And he said effective teachers are a mix of 30 per cent subject knowledge 30 per cent personality factors, 30 per cent high expectations and 10 per cent classroom management. Now, we may not agree. But I like the fact that he has knowledge into context. Because knowledge alone does not make a great teacher. I think sometimes we focus too much on knowledge.

Paul: And what about this concept of improvement Bradley? I mean, are we all short and clear about what this means across the sector? In your view? Is there? Is there one definition, or are there many definitions? What's improvement and how do we recognise it?

Bradley: I'm looking for a dialogue. In my day, staff meetings rarely talked about teaching and learning. Everything was administration. I guess I'm looking for consistency from one classroom to the next. We cannot have a situation of excellent practice in one classroom and mediocre practice in the next. Excellent teaching should not be a lottery for our learners in terms of which classroom they end up in. I've observed now about 1,400 lessons or there abouts, and the lack of consistency of good practice across a curriculum team was always my biggest concern. You could trip across a Grade one and Grade four in the same corridor. It constantly troubled me that Drucker might be right after all.

Paul: Let's move on from there. This phrase that we've called today's episode, ‘lessons with soft edges’, which is quite provocative phrase, quite innovative. Bradley, this is something you refer to in your recent book Advancing Learning within and beyond the classroom. So, tell us about the origins of this phrase and what people can expect from your new book.

Bradley: Well, my new book is entitled, Advancing Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom and that says it all, because ideally, I want to encourage a fusion within the classroom and online learning, meaning that learning flows from the classroom online and back again. So, lessons with a soft edge rather than the hard edge that has dominated our lesson planning for as long as I can remember. You know how it goes, teachers stand at the front of the classroom, and they say, by the end of the lesson you will be able to list X and Y, discuss X and Y, categorise X and Y… Does that ring a bell?

Paul: Yes. Oh, absolutely.

Bradley: And even worse, over the years, there's been encouragement to subdivide the objectives in terms of, all of you will be able to, most of you will be able to, and some of you will be able to... Now objectives of this type, place a ceiling on progress, before the lesson is even started. And sadly students already know which category they're going to fit into. It is the opposite of high expectations, that does not fit with applying adaptive teaching strategies. We all know from evidence-based research, not least by Professor Robert Coe, and neuro scientists like Robert Bjork, that learning happens over time. Consequently, I think we must stop thinking about and planning standalone lessons, we have the rich resources of the internet, just a click away, as we plan for the spaces between the lessons and encourage self-paced online learning, and deliver additional support or acceleration as appropriate. Ideally, let's plan for the span of a unit rather than individual lessons.

Paul: It's interesting what you're saying about learning outcomes or learning objectives, which is the phrase used before that. I mean, certainly my experience in teacher education, which is more than a decade ago now, that was exactly how you taught trainees. In order to demonstrate differentiation at the outset, for a session, you would set out your learning objectives or learning outcomes often on the whiteboard, because that's what you were told, wasn’t it, that Ofsted required you to write those things up on the board to share those visually, as well as to actually orally communicate those outcomes. And that was the system by which you could demonstrate differentiation. And you would then use your assessment tools throughout the session, and at the end of the session, to try and show that you had achieved those things. And some learners would be expected to achieve one of those outcomes. And some other learners will be achieving all of the outcomes.

But you're quite right. I mean, there's perhaps over the last five or six years a new opinion, really, which is that actually these are very much ceilings, on what learners supposedly can achieve. And those ceilings potentially are absorbed internally by certain learners, maybe those who've got less confidence, and therefore feel that they're not able, they're not expected, therefore, to achieve the very highest, actually. So I did away with that, towards the end of my teaching career, I did away with those types of learning outcomes, but they're still feature I've seen teacher training courses still feature those. I think what we're saying, and I think it's a point that Tony Davis also raised, what we're saying is that perhaps we inadvertently place too many barriers with learners, when we use those very structured outcomes in ways which are self-limiting. We need to do away with that we need to see get learners to see that their horizons can be infinite, as long as their expectations are high. And I think it's setting expectations, which is the important thing in teaching rather than the sort of manufactured and structured learning outcomes that perhaps don't do that. Okay, you've mentioned Robert Coe. Now, I know that your book draws on Robert Coe’s work, but tell us why and how this has influenced your own thinking about teacher improvement?

Bradley: Well, I think many of us sat up and took notice of poor proxies for learning when he listed those in 2013. He shattered our cosy assumptions that busy engaged and cooperative students who seem to be enjoying the lesson, doesn't automatically mean that learning is taking place. And I think it really made us think about lesson observations. When you sit in the back of a room and you see cooperative students asking questions, answering questions on task, and you think yourself, this is a good lesson. But I think we're now alert to the fact we are observing performance and performance is one point in time. And learning happens over time and cannot be observed in the space of a single lesson. I think Ofsted listened to that research and took particular note of it because we've now seen over the last few years how the criteria has shifted away from the focus on the teacher and teaching to evidence of learning and personal development.

Paul: And that's an important shift, I think in in current thinking about what learning is, and how we might promote it. But let's look at Robert Coe a bit further because his research is extremely interesting and extremely current. On 19 June in 2020, he was the lead author of the great teaching toolkit and evidence review, which was commissioned by The Evidence Based Education. Coe made the following observations about great teaching and teacher characteristics. And his overarching point was that improvement must be grounded in evidence. And that's a point that I think that you're making throughout our podcast so far, Bradley, but he also identified four dimensions of great teaching. And I think these also touch on the points that you've just made. The first dimension was the need to have a deep and connected understanding of their subject knowledge. The second dimension was creating a supportive environment and the right values that operate within that environment. The third dimension was managing the classroom experience to optimise the amount of learning time, including good classroom management, clear expectations, and having clear transitions between tasks. And the fourth dimension was activating learners hard thinking, presenting, questioning, feedback, and evaluation skills. Now Coe says these four things create a powerful story about what makes good teaching. And this connects with a concept of professionalism built around developing expertise, commitment, and collaboration. Now, Bradley, in your latest book, you've consistently said that being focused on improvement doesn't need to be a major upheaval to teachers’ workload. You've identified three areas where improvement teaching can have a big positive student effect. Tell us what these are and why these are important.

Bradley: I think it's really about refocusing our direction of travel from teaching to learning, and emphasising learning much more. The title of the book, as we say, is ‘Advancing Learning’ and advancing is chosen deliberately, in terms of learning rather than teaching. Because I think too often we talk about teaching and improving teachers, professionalism, and as we're doing today, and skills, but what about the learning side of the equation? And so, there are three areas I think, which are important for us, because we now know what good practice is; we’ve ample evidence of what works from Dylan, Williams, Robert Marzano, and John Hattie, I think they're the educational peloton. But I would add in, in particular, the work of Barak Rosenshine, and the 17 principles of instruction, which most of us know quite well. His principles condense a lot of research evidence arising from teacher effectiveness research, neuroscience evidence and observation programmes into highly useful checklists. Rather than simply repeating this evidence in my book, I've done my best to translate it into a host of practical strategies for staff to adopt or adapt. In terms of the three things you're talking about are three things that I would emphasise as significant are to really help students to learn and advance learning. What I'd actually give you are replacing schemes of work with advanced organisers, and introducing dialogic classrooms, and coaching self-regulated learning. Now, I think those are my top three, there could be many more, but for me to really advance learning, we should have our eye on those.

Paul: Can I kind of push you a bit further on that Bradley and just say, why you've chosen those three particular things of all the things that you could have chosen? From the research, we know that John Hattie's work, for example, has, you know, more than 100 factors that he’s ranked, ordered, in terms of its evidence impact and its effect size. Why have you picked those three? What, what's your evidence?

Bradley: Well, I think the key change that is upon us in recent years is this shift from the classroom as being the focal and centre point of learning to online learning. And as I want to promote this fusion between the two; I think too often we just see the classroom. And to some extent, online learning is a poor cousin to that at arm's length. So schemes of work to me are the starting point. If we talk about schemes of work, if you think about them, they are a staff facing document, they don't help students to learn. Remember, staff have a scheme of work that sets up their agenda for the term ahead. That agenda, even if it was shared with students, would not make a great deal of sense to them. So rather than staff facing course planning, we need to introduce learner facing study guides to share the study goals in an open and transparent way. Learners cannot study beyond the classroom until they know what to study, and in what order and to what depth, and none of this is new. Professor David Ausubell talked about advanced organisers back in 1968. And both Hattie and Marzano have endorsed the benefits of advanced organisers. So, I think as an education sector, we need to shift our gaze and our focus away from planning, that is the scheme of work for a teacher to learning guides and advanced organisers, which are put in front of students. Now, there's no fixed layout to advance organisers at all. And curriculum teams can have quite a creative task on their hands, to think about the layout of one or the best for the students and their curriculum. I think we need to head in that direction, and to pool our expertise. And I think that can actually be a way of actually reducing workloads, because each individual member staff writing a scheme of work, is often repeating what a previous scheme of work has said or previous teacher has said, you're pulling expertise of the team, and like-minded staff who work with you, and you are writing your own learning guide.

Paul: I was going say, because we've been using that phrase advanced organiser, just for the audience, in your view. What is that? What is an advanced organiser?

Bradley: An advanced organiser is simply a study guide for students that you're doing it topic by topic, by unit of study. So, I'm looking at a unit of study, I say that three lessons is the span of this learning organiser, and I'm planning for those three lessons in that learning guide, but plus the spaces between the lessons.

Paul: And in your view, this will have more impact. Is it because it's more memorable? Is it because it's easy for the student to grasp or and internalise and retrieve? Why is that more effective than your traditional scheme of work?

Bradley: Because the scheme of work is, as I've said, already a teacher document, which we don't really share with our learners at all. We want to cue the learners as to what's coming up what's lying ahead, what's in front of them, what to study, what resources to look at, and where to place all of that in front of them. Now, our Art and Design staff have been ahead of the game for years, because they often use what's referred to as a learning brief. And students love these because they're actually they do cue them into what actually they should be looking at and have to study.

Paul: Okay, dialogic classroom. What is a dialogic classroom? That was your second item. What does that mean? If I'm a teacher listening to this podcast episode, how do I create a dialogic classroom?

Bradley: Well, let me say, first of all, by way of stepping into that, that the benefits and effectiveness of online learning are readily questioned. And a search for evidence of impact really dominates the educational press and online forums, but the same test and questions aren't raised about the classroom, in my view. There appears to be an assumption the classroom is the best and online is inferior, and perhaps even risky. We have known since the earliest days of organised learning that only a minority of students thrive in the classroom. Now the evidence is here every August in our annual examination results 30 to 40 per cent of each GCSE cohort significantly under achieve or feel entirely they have nothing to show for 11 years of compulsory education. The classroom is not a success story. We want to re-fashion it. That's where the dialogue comes in dialogic classroom, we want to avoid the talking head teacher standing in front of the room and draw our students into richer and more productive participation.

Now, let me just expand that on that slightly because, I regularly hear criticisms of online learning that's not effective and what's the evidence for it but consider the criticisms of  classrooms that have been made over the years? I'm sure like me, you remember Benjamin Bloom, and Learning from Mastery. Let me just  read you a quote from 1968. From learning from mastery.  Bloom said: “Each teacher begins a new term with the expectation that about a third of his students will adequately learn what he has to teach, expects a third of his students to fail  or just get by. And finally he expects another third to learn a good deal of what he has to teach, but not enough to be regarded as good students.” That, to me, that's an enormous indictment of the classroom and mass education. But we rarely, as I’m hammering on about, hear criticism of the classroom, but we do hear criticism of online learning. Now Bloom went on from that to identify that one-to-one tuition produces the highest learning outcomes. And to issue the Two Sigma challenge for educators to find a way to achieve more one-to-one within the limitations of timetabled lessons, but it proved impossible. But my point is I can have online personal learning programmes that can offer individualised, personalised support or acceleration as appropriate. So having said all this, I'm not advocating that we step away from the classroom. Quite the reverse. I believe that classrooms are and will remain the primary hub for learning, but recast as the dialogic classroom. In other words, we need to focus less on that teacher standing at the front of the room speaking at length, and more on our students responding to pre-questions in heterogeneous pairs, quads and groups. Let's rearrange the seating so that when students walk into the classroom, the chairs and desks are in a different pattern, they are set out in pairs, or quads or groups, or two facing lines for debate, or a large central block for a Harkness seminar approach. So, this rearrangement of furniture immediately spotlights dialogue as a focus of a lesson rather than facing the front and listening. The benefit we gain is a teacher is freed from standing in the front of the classroom, and now our teacher is free to circulate around the room around the pairs around the quads , listen in prompt, encourage, answer questions, hear misconceptions and correct those, and they're in this rich dialogue between teacher and students and peers, you get proper deep learning.

Paul: And that's important, isn't it? Bradley, I mean, what you're saying. And again, we've had the pandemic, we've had a whole plethora, a sprouting of new technologies that have come to the foreground. And what you're saying is that the teacher is critical. As a facilitator of that technology as a learning tool. We're not talking about the replacement of the teacher, we may not even be talking about the wholesale conversion of face-to-face hours into remote learning hours where there has been some debate. And let's say that maybe in some circles, some fears that maybe teaching is going to go down that route, is it going to be more efficient, for example, not to have a teacher in the room, but to have all of these modules laid up on a knowledge repository, where learners can dial in remotely independently and self-monitor their progress against pre-existing assessment criteria? That's not what you're saying, it is Bradley; you’re saying actually, the teacher, it might be a new kind of teacher, but this teacher is equally as crucial in that kind of face-to-face set up in that organiser of learning as they ever were?

Bradley: Absolutely, teachers are crucial, because there's a huge difference between accessing information and understanding information. And it's in that dialogue in the classroom where we will have that depth of understanding.

Paul: And can I just pick up the last of your three points, which is about self-regulation. I know that John Hattie talks a bit about self-regulation has been one of the one of the key tools that produces the biggest effect sizes. In your view or your definition, what is that?

Bradley: Yeah, I think it's very true that we pay insufficient attention to self regulated learning. Teachers are often reluctant to plan say a flipped learning approach, for instance, for fear the learners will ignore and blank the advanced reading and note taking. But the question is, how far have you actually coached and resourced self regulated learning? How is it translated into action? Perhaps some study skills are referenced and covered during induction course. But after that, as each unit study or assignment as approached, how far do we model and scaffold the skills of self-regulation and independent study? This is somehow in my view got lost over the years. But consider this following quote, if you bear with me. from the Board of Education Teachers Handbook published in 1904. Here's what they said in 1904: “Self education should be the keynote of the older children's curriculum, instruction will have its fullest effect when the teacher realises that his chief task is to teach the scholars to teach themselves and adapt his methods steadily to that end.” Now do curriculum teams still hold the same view? Have they identified the strategies to put the self-regulated, study practice into their curriculum, and really support their students to become independent learners? And sadly, and I say it with sadness, Ofsted, for reasons unknown, have removed all references to encouraging independent learning and along with all references to online learning from the EIF. It has to be said. It doesn't make sense to me, because our most successful learners have always been the independent learners with their high levels of study and organisational skills and self-regulation.

Now, it's not just my opinion, look at the evidence of who dominates our examination pass rates every August. It is well known that it is students from an Indian and Chinese heritage background who dominate our exam results. And they're all independent learners who put in many, many extra hours of study above and beyond the actual timetabled lessons. We need to normalise the study skills and organisational routines of those independent learners across the whole cohort. Now students are hungry for this sort of guidance. And the evidence for that is the rise of the Study Tubers on YouTube. These are students who not only share their study methods, but also document their morning and evening study routines, and the planning and completion of assignments and approaches to exam revision. Ruby Granger, for instance, she's attracted over 11 million views. Jade Bowler has 6 million, Eve Bennett has 5 million views. And Blair Finder, she hit the headlines last December 2020, because she attracted 7.4 million students to enjoy her sessions on Tik Tok. Isn't that evidence of a big demand for support and guidance on how to study?

Bradley: I mean, that's exceptional. And clearly over the last three or four years, that's a new breed of instruction and intuition, isn't it, that's come on board via our social media platforms in a way that four or five years ago, we simply just did not have that kind of medium through which messages could be cascaded. You're in professional development Bradley, so I'm going to I'm going to move on a little bit, but I'm sure we will, we'll return to some of these concepts that you are outlining. We had Tony Davis on an earlier podcast debating whether current systems of observations graded or quasi graded. For example, using rank ratings or category words or colours, were really helping teachers to improve their practice. In his view, as a former inspector, he did not feel that most of those systems were helpful to practice improvement. So as a professional development scholar, in your view, what is the most successful way of developing these core teacher attributes that you've identified? If I'm a manager, and I want to do this with my team? How might I go about it?

Bradley: We need to shift our thinking, as I've highlighted, away from great teachers to great teaching.  It is mistaken in my view to keep sifting the workforce for the star teacher, the star manager, or the star principal  because what happens when they leave? Data released by Ofsted in March 2019 revealed that 117 outstanding schools were re inspected between September and December 2018. And of those only 27 retained accolade outstanding, 50 slipped to good, 35 dropped to requires improvement and five plunged to inadequate. Now that only equates to 23 per cent of schools maintaining their standards from one inspection to the next. And I can update this because this morning data has just been released again from Ofsted for this term from September to November 2021.  It  reveals that 47 per cent of schools with an outstanding rating have lost that rating, with some dropping the whole way down to inadequate within our colleges. Curriculum managers see the same pattern of ups and downs of grades from one inspection to another. What it indicates  is the lack of consistency of practice and reliance upon the star teacher or the star manager. Now, we should obviously recognise individuals and praise individuals for an original and effective contribution and initiative. But let's stop focusing on teachers and lecturers and focus instead on trialling and developing effective teaching and learning strategies. Lecturers may come and go, but the strategies remain.

Paul: Okay, that’s a powerful point there. Less about the teacher is the individual, somebody to be evaluated, much more about practice and about the sharing of the principles of effective practice. And our colleagues working together about building on good practice and doing it as a team or even as a whole organisation seeing that, you know, we're all in it together.

Bradley: I think the key is that curriculum teams actually display their professionalism by writing a Teaching and Learning Policy as the voice of the team. They actually work together, they trial of course what works in the classrooms, they observe this, we can go back to systems like teaching squares, if you remember teaching squares, you remember that? Yeah, we get teachers together to collaborate on what works to observe and what when they've done it to publish it in their own teaching and learning policy. Now this was set out by McKinsey and Co way back in 2010, how the world's most successful schools keep getting better. I'm quite interested to try and understand why colleges don't emphasise that more, this collaboration between teaching staff.  We're seeing that collaboration that's been called connectivism happening a lot online, whereby we have the research ed and we have TeachMeet. We have all sorts of social media connections with people, we're swapping and sharing all sorts of ideas. And I must give a shout out to Havant and South Downs College, and they've actually established a website called the Teachers Takeaway to share good practice and that to me, is good professionalism in today's era, that we have a collective view. This takes me back to the black box, doesn't it? We want those classrooms open, we want shared practice, as agreed.

Paul: I've seen that good practice site. It's an excellent site. I mean, it probably takes quite a bit of resource to develop it and keep it going, but it's certainly one mechanism through which practice, good practice is modelled and shared, and which excites people enough to want to also put contributions online and build that library up. So certainly, for those who are thinking about how to share good practice, Havent and South Downs College has got a system. It's one system that you might want to have a look at and make contact with. Bradley, we’re just moving towards the end of the podcast episode. In your many years of observing the sector and participating and leading on professional development, if you were in charge of the FE field and had a magic wand, what one thing would you change to bring about improvement for learners?

Bradley: That’s a difficult one in many respects, but I think really, the return of the pedagogue or in modern day parlance, a personal mentor. Now, I know mentors exist. But quite often, from my experience, they focus upon a narrow remit of assessment, and attendance, monitoring, and behaviour management and all those sorts of things. But I want them to take a more positive view, operating as a life coach, and offering positive advice and guidance and emotional support. Because education is not a number, it is not a grade or a single phase of life, it is a lifelong quest for personal fulfilment. I think every young person, especially what we hear today about endless issues of poor wellbeing for many of our young people, and the anxiety caused by social media, we need that anchor, we need that person who's that trustworthy anchor they can turn to for support and guidance. So a return of pedagogue.

Paul: And a very positive note to end our discussion. Just before we go. That brings us to an end to this episode. Bradley, thank you for joining us for sharing your views about ways supporting teachers to improve their practice. We've heard today what we mean by improvement, and some of the elements that make the most difference in the classroom. If you're looking to pick up a copy of Bradley's new book, Advancing Learning Within and Beyond the Classroom published by Routledge, it's out in bookshops. Now. If you are not yet a SET member, that is a member of the Society for Education and Training, the professional membership body of the ETF this gives you access to a whole library of good practice and case studies to support teacher improvement. It also gives you access to our inTuition journal, which has opinion pieces and current research reviews from teachers and academics from across the further education and training sector. Please visit SET for more information. If you want to know more about today's topic lessons with soft edges, you can contact me at paul.tully@etfoundation.co.uk or Bradley at Bradley.lightbody@ college net.co.uk. Bradley, thank you very much for joining us.