Applying the principles for direction and support (part 4 in a series)

When the degree of direction and support required for a particular educational scenario has been determined, we can then begin to look at how to apply the principles

This is where the OLEVI Professional Progression Framework comes into play. This framework is split into a series of stages and phases, which we explain below.

The OLEVI Professional Progression Framework

The slides below illustrate how we have currently incorporated these principles for direction and support with a framework. We refer to it as the OLEVI Professional Progression Framework.

The vertical arrow represents the relative performance of the member of staff or the student.  The colour coding is used to denote the range of performance from:

  • Red – unacceptable
  • Amber – cause for concern
  • Green/amber – good
  • Green – outstanding
  • Blue – beyond that defined as outstanding

The rectangle identifies the change in the ratio between learning and teaching as performance improves.  The progression is divided into three phases, each with two stages.

The progression is also provided in tabulated form. The table shows

  • The intended outcome using the concept of upwards convergence
  • The source of the knowledge
  • The type of learning to be undertaken to access it
  • The stage and phase of the progression.


The Phases and Stages 

Phase One – Compliance

Ensuring through directed learning that the statutory and collective agreed knowledge of the school has been acquired.

Stage One – Meeting statutory requirements 

This is the start point of a member of staff’s learning journey; it is designed to ensure the performance of leaders, teachers and students meets statutory requirements.  It is expected that few staff or students possess knowledge or behaviours below that required by statute.  However, should this arise leaders and teachers should actively apply direct learning to ensure that the gap is closed rapidly. If it is not, appropriate action must be taken.  As the pandemic has shown us, this area needs constant monitoring and the directive action of leaders and teachers in this area should take precedence over all others.

Stage Two – Meeting the collaborative learning community’s non-negotiables

Once the statutory learning and behaviours requirements have been met in an effectively knowledge-managed school or class, staff and students actively seek to learn from the school’s past experience. This is achieved by identifying through evidence what has worked in the past in a given situation and over time from this, the non-negotiable and the degrees of variance of learning which result in the required performance can be determined.

We have referred to this as locking in the knowledge (Berwick, 2013). In previous blogs, we have described how we use rubrics, rituals, reviews, results and routines to achieve this.  In a highly effective school or class, these can become quite refined, however, too much prescription can inhibit creativity. The approach here again needs to be directed learning, though it is important that newcomers to the organisation understand the rationale for the how, why and when we all do things around here.

Throughout this phase it is essential that any closed loop learning is challenged, open loop learning isestablished, and the espoused theory of the school or class is clearly understood by the teacher or the student.  This means that the learner has to be able to make explicit their actions, contrast them with what is expected of them, select more effective actions and evaluate the outcome.

Phase Two – Collaboration

With performance moving beyond the statutory and school basic requirement, learning collaboratively to support each other’s learning with also a shift from some external to self-regulation.

Stage Three – securing good

Once these first two stages have been met and the level of performance indicates performance above these two minimum standards, the degree of direction by leaders and teachers reduces and they start supporting but retain an active monitoring role. Teachers or students begin to be trained to work collaboratively with their peers and to coach and mentor those who perform below their standard. In addition, they might begin to take responsibility for a specific area of knowledge,

  • Defining what should be known,
  • Determining it is known,
  • Who knows it and if it is transferable?
  • If not, where to go to access it.

However, their primary role, alongside their colleagues, is to continue to learn how to perform at a higher level.

Stage Four – moving to outstanding

As the performance of learners continues to improve, they reach a stage where they may be asked to share their knowledge with a colleague and to start learning collaboratively. They are now managing their own learning. This switch in responsibility from a monitored approach to a self-determinate one is critical if they are to take the next step in their performance which will result in them becoming an outstanding leader, teacher or student.

Taking on the responsibility for their own learning sets in place the foundations for them to eventually become role models to their peers. They will also have at this point taken full responsibility for an area of knowledge and are spending more time teaching their less successful peers, often using coaching and mentoring techniques.

Phase Three – Contribution

At this level of performance leaders, staff and pupils expand the knowledge of the school – they grow the top.

 Stage Five – outstanding 

With performance at this level, these leaders, teachers and students possess invaluable knowledge. In an effective knowledge-managed organisation they are then able to assist their peers, bringing them up to the same level. To achieve this, they must not become isolated but instead fully embrace the collaborative learning community, acting as mentor and coach while ensuring their own performance is not impacted. They are also now responsible for a major area of the school’s knowledge base and become role models.

They also collaborate with other outstanding staff and pupils to create solutions to some of the ‘wicked’ learning problems within the school.  We use this term to describe key problems that stifle the learning of many in the school.  For teachers this can range from difficulties in teaching a student with specific personal characteristics to, at the other end of the scale, assisting a student to learn a specific scientific concept. This distillation of problems from the numerous to a relatively limited collection of ‘wicked’ ones takes many years to achieve but once this point is reached then the time available can be clearly focused on resolving the specific learning needs of the school, which will often have the biggest impact.

Stage Six

At this level of performance, the internal knowledge of the school or class has been totally accessed and so we seek knowledge from beyond.  We do this by assessing best practice in other schools through organisations such as Challenge Partners with their hubs of schools or OLEVI with its Designated OLEVI Centres. We also undertake and access relevant research, working with our university partners such as the UCL, Institute of Education or the Education Endowment Fund.

Staff or students who reach this level of performance illustrate to their peers what is possible and in so doing are often inspirational.

In the next post in this series, we look at how this framework is implemented in practice.

Take care and stay safe




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