TI-AIE: Transforming teaching-learning process: developing an effective learning culture in your school

What this unit is about

This unit will introduce you to the dimensions and factors that impact on the culture of a school. School culture arises from agreed collective values, assumptions and beliefs. These in turn determine the relationships between stakeholders, the curriculum, the pedagogy, resources, organisational arrangements and infrastructure. All schools are situated within a community, and the values inherent to the school come from this community and in turn influence it back.

School culture has been referred to as the ‘hidden curriculum’ of a school (Pollard and Triggs, 1997). It forms the rites and rituals, customs, symbols, stories, and vocabulary of a school. Students unconsciously absorb codes of behaviour and expectations from the culture in their school, which therefore directly affects their learning.

Figure 1 School culture can affect learning.

Changing aspects of a school’s culture is not a quick process; any actions you take may not show results for some months or even years. The existing culture and associated behaviours may be fairly entrenched, requiring a long-term, incremental sequence of changes before seeing any real differences. However, being aware of a school’s culture, its impact on your ability to lead change and having a vision of the culture you want to develop is critical to leading for effective learning. This unit will support you in beginning to think about the learning culture in your own school and your leadership of it.

Learning Diary

During your work on this unit you will be asked to make notes in your Learning Diary, a book or folder where you collect together your thoughts and plans in one place. Perhaps you have already started one.

You may be working through this unit alone, but you will learn much more if you are able to discuss your learning with another school leader. This could be a colleague with whom you already collaborate, or someone with whom you can build a new relationship with. It could be done in an organised way or on a more informal basis. The notes you make in your Learning Diary will be useful for these kinds of meetings, while also mapping your longer-term learning and development.

What school leaders can learn in this unit