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Reflections on a learning journey

Ros Bartlett, recently retired Assistant Headteacher and Director of Teaching and Learning at The Earls High School, has been facilitating the OLEVI programmes for seven years. Here she reflects on her journey with OLEVI and the impact it has had on her professional career.

“In July 2016 I retired from my position as Assistant Headteacher and Director of Teaching School at The Earls High School, Halesowen. This was a difficult decision to make since I am still very committed to improving the life chances of our young people. However, my involvement with OLEVI has meant that I can continue to contribute to ensure the teaching and learning they receive is the very best available.

I first became involved with OLEVI in the autumn of 2009 when I attended a meeting at The National College in Nottingham. At the time, Tom Johnston, the then Principal of The Earls High School, was keen for our school to become an OLEVI Facilitation School to ensure schools across the Black Country Challenge could experience the excellent professional development the Improving Teacher (ITP) and Outstanding Teacher (OTP) programmes provided.

Initially, this involved a number of schools attending the OLEVI Teaching and Learning Immersion programme. This was very popular in encouraging schools to work together, and to share their knowledge and best teaching practice, which, in turn, helped create change within their own schools. For The Earls High School, this collaborative approach allowed us to develop our own colleagues working alongside colleagues from other schools across the Black Country and beyond, impacting on improved learning opportunities of our young people.

During the intervening years we, as a school, have facilitated the OLEVI suite of programmes for schools across England and Wales and, more recently, further afield internationally, to the International School in Doha, as well as schools in India.

Through our work with OLEVI, the school became a Designated OLEVI Centre (DOC), giving us the opportunity to provide the full suite of OLEVI programmes and train colleagues to facilitate the programmes in their own schools.

Many of the colleagues who attended the earlier programmes have gone on to positions of seniority within their schools. Some have used the programmes to develop their own leadership skills, taking up positions as headteachers themselves.

Currently I am involved in facilitating programmes with Nikki Meredith, now Director of Teaching School at The Earls High School, both locally and in North and South Wales. The work in Wales has allowed me, in some small way, to give something back to the country of my birth. A return visit is planned to the Qatar International School to help colleagues facilitate the programmes in Qatar.

My visits to the OLEVI headquarters always take me out of my comfort zone, but I always return enriched and motivated to work with colleagues to make a difference to the learning opportunities of both students and colleagues. I feel very privileged that through my work with OLEVI I developed not only my skills in the classroom but also my leadership skills.

I am currently reading about the Danish concept of ‘Hygge’ where communication, collaboration and sharing is at the heart of what we do in building a global community. OLEVI is about coming together to share, collaborate and celebrate the best in teaching practice – this ethos epitomises the OLEVI programmes. The ethos involves being challenged in our thinking, engaged in new learning and always role-modelling that we continue to learn.

In March 2015, I was made the first Fellow of The Thinking and Learning Professional Alliance, one of the highlights of my career and, hopefully, this will allow me to be at the heart of future thinking and innovation in educational practice.

However, growing and developing excellence in teaching and learning over these last few years has been the real highlight of my career and I am so fortunate to continue to be part of the ethos and culture that OLEVI brings.”