With only a few days to go before the OLEVI International Conference, we highlight two more case studies from our OLEVI Alliance members in Canada and Qatar. Each shows how the OLEVI collaborative approach to school improvement has been adopted and adapted to fulfil their individual requirements.
Western Quebec in Canada spans a vast area from downtown Gatnau to the remote, rural wilderness on the edge of Hudson Bay, where schools are miles apart and cater for a broad range of ages and diverse cultures. This can present its own educational challenges, not least in teaching methods, many of which develop in isolation.
It was into this background that OLEVI’s programmes were introduced. Canada had been identified as one of the first potential learning partners of the Teaching Schools concept in 1999, and by 2005 Pontiac School, which had been the subject of a pilot project, had evolved into a National Teaching School.
With Pontiac High taking a leading role, several schools in the Westrrn Quebec School Board (WQSB) area embraced the OLEVI model in what became known as the Thinking and Learning Schools Alliance. This involved several visits with Ravenswood in the UK and other learning partners, with the exchanges providing the opportunity to see the structures, systems and programmes in action; to hear directly from staff and students and observe first-hand how these translated into classroom practice.
The OLEVI programmes, with a focus on the craft of teaching and teachers working collaboratively to improve, were a natural fit.
Early in the partnership, the focus was on understanding, using and analysing student performance data but later shifted towards OLEVI’s Teaching and Learning Syllabus, with an objective to build capacity in the classroom and impact the quality of teaching and learning. The OLEVI programmes, with a focus on the craft of teaching and teachers working collaboratively to improve, were a natural fit.
To date the WQSB has offered four Outstanding Teaching Programmes (OTP) – this included teachers from 21 schools and three adult learning centres. In 2013-2014 the Improving Teaching Program and an additional cohort of the Outstanding Teacher Programme were offered. Evaluations of the OTP have been consistently high, with an overall rating for all cohorts of 9 out of 10.
Another outcome of the WQSB partnership with OLEVI has been the development of the coaching component of our New Teacher Induction Programme, which provides mentoring and coaching to new teachers in the school board. WQSB has also developed an Emerging Leaders Programme for teacher leaders, consultants and future administrators. While not an OLEVI program, it has been greatly enhanced by the work of Richard Lockyer and OLEVI.
What began four years ago as a partnership with Qatar International School has blossomed to other schools in the region, including six in Doha. The adoption of the OLEVI-inspired culture of collaborative learning and growth through coaching is something never before done in the country.
Qatar International School (QIS) became involved with OLEVI after witnessing the impact of the ethos and programmes at schools in the UK, in particular at Earl’s High. The goals of the school were clear: to improve levels of teaching and learning and raise standards in line with UK ‘Ofsted Outstanding’ schools. QIS had ambitions beyond its walls, however. It saw a future where education standards were raised across Qatar, for all students.
QIS started by initiating the Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP) within the school, driving change by using the best teachers to share good practice and maximise impact. The results have been phenomenal: since the introduction of the OTP, the school has been accredited with BSME status (British Schools in the Middle East), BSO status (British Schools Overseas, OFSTED Equivalent), and QNSA status (Qatar National Schools Accreditation). Notably, teacher retention has significantly improved, from 30 per cent leaving in 2016 to only 7 per cent in 2017. In the classroom, the adoption of OLEVI’s DR ICE learning model has raised standards of both teaching and learning, with 82 per cent saying they understand the elements of it.
The career progression among teachers since we began working with OLEVI has been notable, with 40 out of 50 delegates going on to promoted positions in the school within three years. This ranges from achieving Qualified Teacher Status, gaining a range of Teacher Leadership Roles positions (including middle and senior leader positions), right through to a promotion to Head Teacher of School.
The adoption of OLEVI has introduced a culture of sharing that is spreading through schools in Qatar.
With the success of OLEVI’s programmes evident, QIS has now created a network, known as the OLEVI Alumni, which allows participating schools to share ideas, meet informally and create coaching partnerships which follow on from the completion of OLEVI programmes. It’s a fundamental aspect of the founding principles of collaborative teaching and learning and an initiative that has come to the attention of the BSME, who asked the QIS school Principal to present on the initiatives at a recent conference.
The adoption of OLEVI has introduced a culture of sharing that is spreading through schools in Qatar. Outside of the programmes, OLEVI Alumni members have organised further collaborative opportunities such as cross-school coaching.
What began as a single school with an ambition to improve through shared learning has now become a model of cooperation which is helping schools across Qatar. All in the space of four years.