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'We're on a never-ending quest for WAGOLLs'

England has an advantage because teachers are striving to find WAGOLLs – 'what a good one looks like', says Matt Hood

England's teachers and school leaders are committed to finding WAGOLLs - 'what a good one looks like', writes Matt Hood

England has an advantage because teachers are striving to find WAGOLLs – 'what a good one looks like', says Matt Hood

Back in July we announced the merger between the Institute for Teaching and Ambition School Leadership; bringing teaching and school leadership together into a coherent whole in the service of children from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Whilst our colleagues in schools were gearing up for the new academic year, we were gearing up, too. When our talented team came back into work on 3 September, the merger was complete, and we had quadrupled in size. We began our work helping over 5,000 educators – from new teachers through to multi-academy trust CEOs – across the country to keep getting better. 

Shortly after, I made the unapologetic and optimistic argument right here in Tes that, by any standard, this new organisation was part of a top-performing education system. More importantly (and I stand by this), I backed England as the most likely to get to the podium ahead of Canada and Singapore because of one crucial advantage; I’m convinced that England is the home of the best conversation about education in the world.

Teachers and school leaders are working together

More than anywhere else, England's teachers and school leaders are working together, trying to figure out what Vicky Richley, a teacher and school leader in the North East, calls a "WAGOLL" – "what a good one looks like". What does a great art curriculum look like? What does a good explanation of gravity look like? What does a good hinge question look like? What does a good culture of high expectations look like? These teachers and school leaders know that it's figuring out these WAGOLLs (not making big sweeping policy changes) that’s key to sustained, incremental improvement. It's the key to our advantage. 

Never one to rest on our laurels, Ambition School Leadership and the Institute for Teaching have been working our socks off to do our bit to strengthen this advantage. We wanted our first formal outing as a new organisation to be about opening up conversations about what makes great teaching and school leadership. That’s why this weekend, with our partners at The Varkey Foundation, we’re bringing the Global Teacher Development Forum to England. 

This event (you can still sign up for free here) will bring together education experts from around the world with our teachers and school leaders. We’ll be talking about what teachers and school leaders need to know and be able to do, and in what order. We’ll be talking about how it’s best to teach teachers and school leaders. And we’ll be talking about the conditions that need to be in place around educators to encourage and support their development. In short, WAGOLLs for "Curriculum, Craft and Culture". 

The quest for WAGOLLs is a journey that England’s teachers, and our merged organisations, must never leave.

Matt Hood is director of the Institute for Teaching. Tes is the official media partner of the Global Teacher Development Forum

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