Roundtable Discussion with Prof David Leat: “Enquiry-Based Curriculum and Learner Relationships”

Tue, 07 Jun 2011 18:00 in Discussion Forums

Where: Hilton Hotel, Bottle Bank Gateshead NE8 2AR, Newcastle
Time: 6:00pm
With: Professor David Leat, Newcastle University

Summary

Prof David Leat, Director for the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching at Newcastle University, joined the Dialogue Society, Durham Branch for a fascinating discussion of “Enquiry Based Curriculum and Learner Relationships.” In his presentation Prof Leat discussed the various benefits of an enquiry-based curriculum. The Question and Answer session focused on the question of whether this model has been successfully implemented in other countries. Discussion continued over dinner. The event concluded this season’s programme of Dialogue Society events in the North of England (Durham and Leeds Branches).

Biography of David Leat

David Leat was appointed in 1989 as Geography PGCE tutor at Newcastle University and continued in this role until 1999. Between 2001 and 2004 he was on leave of absence, working for the DfES in the KS3 Strategy as a Regional Director, putting research into practice. Since his return to the university he has taken over as Director for the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching.

Prof Leat is interested in the teaching of thinking strategies as a route to school improvement. One of his key research interests is coaching. He wrote the research-based materials which are now in every secondary school in England to train teacher coaches. He researches the impact that coaching is having on professional learning, relationships, management systems and school improvement processes. His other key research interest is “Learning to Learn.” Learning2Learn is a popular phrase covering a multitude of teaching innovations designed to make students more motivated, independent, flexible, knowledgeable learners.

Research Interests

The impact of thinking skills interventions on teaching and learning the use of teaching thinking strategies or 'powerful pedagogical strategies' is an important approach to school improvement. It allows teachers to take ownership of the nature, pace and direction of their efforts to develop their teaching. Their power comes from allowing teachers to make manageable but significant changes to their teaching, which usually brings an immediate response from students. This 'visible' response from pupils invites and encourages teachers to sustain and development changes in their teaching. However we need to know more about the factors which accelerate and support this process, such as the teacher's ability to plan well, the students' response and the school's ability to support risk and learning.

Coaching

David Leat wrote the materials, based on research, which are now in every secondary school in England to train teacher coaches. There is very little research on coaching in the British context. Although the great majority of teachers are very positive about their coaching experiences, we know very little about the impact that coaching is having on professional learning, relationships, management systems and school improvement processes. The research is exploring these issues.

Learning To Learn

Learning2Learn is a popular phrase. It covers a multitude of teaching innovations designed to make students more motivated, independent, flexible, knowledgeable learners who will be able to learn and work well (and have fun) throughout their lives. It is important to understnad the ways in which teacher learning and student learning are related within this context, so that guidance to schools and other institutions can be offered.

Other Expertise

Having worked in applied research in universities and then in applying research while working for DfES, I have considerable insights into the how research can make an impact on teachers, practice and schools. This is reflected in the forthcoming publication 'Thinking Through School'.

Current Work

  1. Formative evaluation of Open Future, a primary curriculum innovation with 4 strands 'Grow It', 'Cook It', 'Film It' and 'Ask It' (Philosophy for Children) for the Helen Hamlyn Trust. Part of the formative work is in developing a progression framework for a skills based curriculum.
  2. Evaluation of the ACTS Project (Activating Children's Thinking Skills) in East Ayrshire, funded by the Scottish Executive.
  3. A research project on coaching for CfBT and the National College of School Leadership, investigating what happens in coaching sessions and testing whether an intervention makes an impact on both coaching practice and classroom practice.
  4. Working as part of the CfLaT team on the Campaign for Learning Learning To Learn project involving some 25 schools in 3 Local Education Authorities.
  5. A number of small funded projects supporting schools undertaking action research as part of school improvement.

Selected Publications

  • Leat D, Lin M. Developing a pedagogy of metacognition and transfer: Some signposts for the generation and use of knowledge and the creation of research partnerships. British Educational Research Journal 2003. , 29(3), 383-415.
  • Higgins S, Wall K, Falzon C, Hall E, Leat D, Baumfield V, Clark J, Edwards G, Jones H, Lofthouse R, Moseley D, Miller J, Murtagh L, Smith F, Smith H, Woolner P. Learning to Learn in Schools Phase 3 Evaluation Year One Final Report. London: Campaign for Learning, 2005.
  • Leat D. Partnerships and Participation in Teacher Research. Cranfield, Bedfordshire: National College for School Leadership, 2004.
  • Leat D, Higgins S. The role of powerful pedagogical strategies in curriculum development. Curriculum Journal 2002, 13(1), 71-85.
  • Higgins S, Leat D. Horses for Courses or Courses for Horses: what is effective teacher development?. In: Soler, J; Craft, A; Burgess, H, ed. Teacher Development: Exploring Our Own Practice. Buckingham: Open University Press, 2001, pp. 57-68.
  • Leat D, Vankan L, Hooghuis F. Mysteries maken zichtbaar hoe leerlingen leren. Geografie Educatief 2001, 10, 16-19.
  • Leat D, Nichols A. Brains on the table : diagnostic and formative assessment through observation. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy and Practice 2000, 7(1), 103-121.
  • Leat D, Nichols A. Observing pupils' mental strategies: signposts for scaffolding. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education 2000, 9(1), 19-33.
  • Leat D. Rolling the Stone Uphill: Teacher development and the implementation of Thinking Skills programmes. Oxford Review of Education 1999, 25(3), 387-403.
  • Leat D, ed. Thinking through Geography. Cambridge: Chris Kington, 1998.
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