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Supported Experiments Showcase the value of CPD


After supporting the project planning process, Joanne Miles from LSN attended the John Ruskin College Supported Experiments Showcase on 6th July. The event was arranged so that staff at the college could display the results of their experiments and see the work colleagues have been doing over the year.

Guests from the wider sector also attended to find out about the model and its impact at the college.

Mandeep Gill, Vice Principal Transforming Learning, John Ruskin College, Croydon, summed up the ethos of the project as follows:

“This was about recognising not the value of CPD but the value of having effective CPD. The Supported Experiments cycle develops coaching skills, project skills, and most importantly, develops the skill of trying something for the benefit of the learner, regardless of outcome. It develops the culture of trying things without fear, to improve learning.”

The teachers had spent the year experimenting with new approaches and sharing findings with colleagues in coaching sessions led by Solution Focused coaches, following the Supported Experiments action research model.

Click here for information about the model.

For more information on Solution Focused Coaching approaches, please click here.

 About the event:

 The introductory presentation from Mandeep Gill, Vice Principal and project lead, made clear that there had been numerous benefits from the project, related to both quality improvement and the effect on the culture. He shared with us that the observation profile at grade 1 and 2 had improved by 16% since the start of the project and he felt that the renewed focus on teaching and learning and related engagement from staff had been a big part of that improvement.

Joanne Miles, visiting the event from LSN, was struck by the value of showcase events and commented:

 “It really made an impact on me to see so much professional pride from the teachers about the experiments they’d completed and to hear their comments about the value of the process. Many told me they had made great progress with issues that had hindered learners’ achievement and their enthusiasm and excitement was evident. Many mentioned that this progress was due to having the opportunity to focus on improving learning in a structured way, with time allocated to sharing ideas with colleagues. Through talking to them I picked up some useful, new ideas to share with others, as many experiments focused on widely applicable skills such as peer assessment and differentiated target setting. Thanks to everyone involved for such an engaging and enjoyable day.”

The event included a range of online and paper based displays, with feedback from learners and evidence-based reflections on the outcomes of each experiment. The experimenters were on hand to explain and answer any questions and the overriding impression was one of enthusiastic professional dialogue in an informal setting.

Evaluation feedback from the project demonstrates the way teachers valued the experiment process:

“Gives me the opportunity to critically interrogate and appraise and plan my lessons effectively.”

“The experiment helped me to increase my subject expertise without placing great burdens on my time.”

“It’s been an empowering experience which has developed me as a person, a coach and a manager and it has been an opportunity to give staff renewed enthusiasm for teaching and learning.”

Project management tips from the team at John Ruskin College

There are many challenges in delivering a successful action research project like the one at John Ruskin College, e.g. engaging the staff, communicating effectively, planning milestones and maintaining momentum. For this reason, the college brought in Joanne Miles from LSN to support the project management process and she helped the college team to plan and monitor their project. After their experiences of that process, the project team have these tips for others who might want to deliver a similar project:


  • Make sure you have an outstanding project manager with organisational skills, communication skills, enthusiasm, typing skills, directive and non-directive facilitation skills, coaching skills and an ability to keep everyone on track.
  • Sell the project positively, emphasising the benefits.
  • Ensure the project team has the right people, with a mix of skills and representation across college.
  • Keep plans manageable and achievable, with small steps that are not over ambitious.
  • Get senior management on board and engaged to support project actively.
  • Find or make dedicated time for experimenters to discuss experiments.
  • Teamwork is vital, especially  respecting each others’ skills and differences, being organised and focused within the project team.
  • Keep paperwork to a minimum for the experimenters and for the project team, i.e. one side of A4 only for evaluation forms or project templates.
  • Maintain regular communications within the project team and with the experimenters.
  • Record as you go in meetings to capture key points.
  • Keep up a good filing system of project records.
  • Evaluate every step of the project.
  • Stick to aims and objectives to keep it on track.


Coming soon: The project team are now compiling an LSN case study to share their experiences of this project with the wider sector and this will be disseminated by LSN later this summer.

 For more information about Joanne Miles or to get support for your organisation, please contact Joanne Miles.


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