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Skip to 0 minutes and 12 seconds If we’re going to develop true collaboration within learning relationships across the school, then I think there are two broad areas which we need to focus on. One is the actual strategies and skills needed for collaborative working. The other is the structure of the school. But, of course, now there’s a third dimension coming in, which is information technology. And I think we’re barely scraping the edges of that at the moment in terms of the implications that it has for collaborative working. We all know about Skype, for example. And some schools are using Skype very well. But, actually, the potential of Skype in terms of worldwide learning is just enormous. But maybe we need to work progressively.

Skip to 0 minutes and 52 seconds First and foremost is to look hard at the skills and the strategies that enable collaborative learning. A school in Australia works on this way simply by changing the classroom layout from 28 people sitting at desks into seven small groups working in fours around a small table and working collaboratively. That totally changes the dynamics of learning. And it totally realigns the work of the teacher away from teaching a lesson to 28 students into enabling learning for seven groups of students. That’s a very different set of relationships and working practises. And then we need to explore the way in which we actually encourage the potential for effective learning.

Skip to 1 minute and 37 seconds And, crucially, there it is about effective collaboration– real collaboration where everybody’s committed, everybody’s involved. And that, I think, is something that comes naturally for many. And, certainly, the context of girls’ schools often does enable that to take place because there are so many opportunities for collaborative working. But it’s got to be embedded across every dimension of a school’s working life, particularly in the classroom. The third issue we’re barely engaging with, which is the fact that many of our students now are using information technology and the various types of social media in a very sophisticated way. And in time we need, perhaps, to begin to say, how does that relate to our understanding of collaborative working across the school?

Developing collaboration across the school

Having carried out your own observation and reflection, we are now going to look more broadly at developing collaboration across the school. In this video, Professor John West-Burnham discusses the broad areas schools need to look at to develop collaboration within learning relationships across a school.

After watching the video, select and read one of the following resources that can be found in the download sections below:

Skills and strategies to support collaborative learning

Leadership styles and strategies in the context of collaborative learning

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Girls' Education: Teaching Strategies That Develop Confidence, Resilience and Collaboration

Girls' Day School Trust