Alma Harris Reflects on the Leading Collaborative Learning Project in Wales using “CLARITY – What Matters MOST in Learning, Teaching and Leading”

by Alma Harris

06 February 2022

Transcript of the Video

It's a huge privilege to be part of the Leading Collaborative Learning project in Wales.

Lyn's work has been system wide in the sense that it's embraced schools, districts, regions and government. At Swansea University, we've been very honored to be the research team.

We've looked at the Leading Collaborative Learning project and its outcomes. And Michelle Jones, Angela Cooze, Zoe Elder and myself have spent two years collecting data on the processes, the intentions and the outcomes of the work. I'm hugely grateful to Zoe as her work has been both forensic and methodical and has kept the project largely on track Our data is due to be analyzed, but there are a couple of themes that are already strongly emerging from the datasets. What I'm going to do is to share some of those themes with you.

The first is our data reveals the importance of pedagogical change and the centrality of pedagogical change in system level change. And I think Lyn's work around instructional leadership and pedagogical leadership has been pivotal in improving the focus on pedagogy. There is a very, very strong emphasis on pedagogy in Wales. But I think Lyn's work has brought in an additional strength to that to that work, and has ensured that the focus very much is on the learner, who matters most.

The other theme is around capacity building, and I think what we've seen is the different elements of this project connecting with different parts of the system. And we know from the research evidence the importance of implementation and the importance of having the capacity to deliver and what work Lyn's work has done across the system has essentially built that capacity for change. So we're now in a better place to deliver pedagogical innovation than we were before the project started.

The third theme is around collaboration, and we know that isolation is the enemy of improvements. And I think what this work has done is to reinforce the importance of collaboration, particularly in a pandemic digital collaboration has been so important in making sure that this project continues. But I think the real strength of this work is the way in which people from different parts of the system have collaborated in a meaningful way to raise the stakes around pedagogical improvements and indeed school improvement.

The fourth theme is around consistency, and I think Lyn's work has emphasized a consistent approach to pedagogical improvement. And largely they come from the 14 Parameters, and we know that there's a link between those 14 Parameters and the idea of "schools as learning organizations", for example. So the fit between Lyn's work and what we want to do in Wales as a system has been practically perfect.

The fifth theme will come as no surprise to you, and that's the theme of clarity. I think at every opportunity, we've been reminded that it's so important to be clear about what matters most and clearly learners matter most in education reform and change. So Clarity has been a clarion call for focusing on the right things, focusing on the important things, not just the latest things. It's hard enough to do a project in stable times, but to do a project in a pandemic has been more than challenging. And I think that Lyn has risen to that challenge in amazing ways and so has the rest of the team. The project has progressed in ways that we didn't anticipate, but in some senses it's progressed in better ways.

So to close, I think we need to thank Lyn for the work she's done in Wales. It has been remarkable. It has been impactful. And I think that this is not the end of the project. It's the start of a new phase of work around pedagogy in Wales, and we know the importance of pedagogical change and this has been a huge impetus to send us on our way. We are a system on the move and this will help us to move even further.

So thank you, Lyn, for everything you've done.

Diolch yn fawr (Thank you very much)