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266: Why we need to stop trying to fix everything in education with Damian Mitchelmore from OLEVI

Damian Mitchelmore, was a history teacher and deputy head for 12 years. Damian believes that swooping in and solving problems for staff isn’t the answer to help schools tackle both current and future challenges.

Educators are predisposed to want to help people achieve their best. It goes with the territory. But school leaders that try to give colleagues all the answers are not providing their team with the tools to succeed.

In the same way that we understand that tying the shoelaces of a year 2 pupil before break will get them out to play faster but will not help them in the long term, we need to adopt a similar approach to overcoming other issues in a school. If we can empower people to solve more issues themselves, staff – and the pupils they teach – are happier, more motivated and ready to face even the most complex challenges.

Damian believes that developing a coaching culture helps school leaders put aside their natural ‘I want to fix everything’ tendencies so both staff and pupils develop their own problem-solving skills.

OLEVI has been at the forefront on innovation in Teaching and Learning for over 20 years, leading the development of Leadership in Teaching and Learning to become a driving force for change.

Late 1990s: A vision for the Future

During the late 1990s, Professor Sir George Berwick and Richard Lockyer explored how school leaders could create a learning community which retained and valued excellent practitioners and facilitated them being able to share their skills and knowledge; with the aim of raising teaching standards and improving learning outcomes for all. This “Teaching School” concept encouraged Richard to design and develop various Teaching and Learning programmes to raise standards and create partnerships with other schools.

This formed the foundation of the Thinking & Learning Schools’ Alliance – later to become known as OLEVI.

“Raising teaching standards through innovation and challenge and improving the learning outcomes of all children, is at the heart of all we do.

Central to the success of students is the quality of teaching and learning provided by the school.”

The 2004-2006 London and City Challenges: “Turning Schools Around”

OLEVI’s Improving Teacher Programme (ITP) and Outstanding Teacher Programme (OTP) became the driving power behind the London Challenge and City Challenge project, which helped raise previously struggling schools to levels of outstanding achievement. The OLEVI Teaching and Learning Syllabus became part of the strategy of the government’s drive to transform under-performing schools in some of the most challenging catchment areas in the country.

2007-2019: Sustainable Whole School Improvement

Building on the success of the ITP and OTP, Richard Lockyer, designed the Outstanding Facilitator Programme (OFP) and various (TTT) programmes. The programmes provided schools with how they themselves could drive forward improvements as part of the OLEVI Alliance. The rigour and challenge of the OFP has been recognised by the DfE and National College as being key to the success of sustainable whole school improvement.

Over recent years, OLEVI has grown dramatically:

• 1,500 schools and trusts are facilitating OLEVI programmes as part of the OLEVI alliance.

• Over 20,000 coaches and facilitators have been accredited by the OLEVI Institute, including over 300 Professional Facilitators and Coaches.

• OLEVI Bespoke continues to design high quality programmes, delivered by our team of OLEVI Professional Facilitators, to thousands of educational professionals every year.

OLEVI Connect has been established.


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