Who we are
The Expansive Education Network is a group of organisations, universities, schools, colleges, and individual teachers whose vision for education intersects at four essential points. It provides teacher CPD and is coordinated from The Centre for Real-World Learning at the University of Winchester in collaboration with a growing number of partner universities across the UK.
More information on Expansive Education
What do we do
In a world where success does not always follow good exam results, where young people are under increasing pressure to the detriment of their mental health, where employers, communities and societies need robust, capable, thinkers and doers: teachers need to be armed with more than content expertise and behaviour management strategies.
This is where we can help.
The evidence tells us that teacher-led research is the way forward for school improvement. Teachers plan a change to their practice on the ground, act out the change, observe it carefully, reflect on the process, and repeat. This is the Action Research cycle. It has to be small. It has to be simple. It has to be shared with colleagues and students. It has to be re-iterated until you are happy you’ve got it right. And, we believe, it has to be ‘expansive’ in its focus.
We teach teachers how to do this. We provide schools with the opportunity to send some, or all, of their teachers to three twilight – or distance learning – sessions with us, or one of our university partners. Here, we will teach them how to research their own professional practice. We will help them choose a small thing they would like to address in their classrooms that reflects ‘expansive’ values and is manageable. We will coach and support them as they prepare a plan that includes suitable methods for ‘noticing’ the impacts of their research. They will carry out the research, and share it with us and their cohort. Ultimately they will be able to take their learning back into school to share and embed good practice.
What do we believe
Research in the learning sciences, neuroscience, psychology and education in recent decades has shown what good teachers know: children and young people need to become better at thinking, and better at learning, if they are to do well not just in class and in high stakes exams, but out there in the real world; the one we’re preparing them for.
This is not about bringing in technology to stimulate bored students – though students will be reinvigorated. It’s not about pushing up reading levels – though it will probably do that too. It’s not about ‘engagement’ for engagement’s sake – though you’ll find your learners showing deep interest and even passion for learning if you get it right.
This is about taking each lesson and thinking: how can I use this lesson as an opportunity to develop a love of learning in my pupils? How can I teach them to think better; to ‘notice’ what they’re doing and care about the process of drafting? How can I instil an attitude that only ‘excellence’ is good enough and pride in your work is an amazing feeling? How can I tweak this lesson to bring in more opportunities for students to reflect on one another’s work?
Becoming a better learner doesn’t happen by accident, or as a by-product of teaching the National Curriculum. We believe that teachers need to take a dispositional approach to teaching. This means that alongside their very valuable subject content, they will also be teaching learners to be more reflective, to ask better questions, to notice more carefully, to be better observers, to be more critical thinkers, to be more self-controlled, to be proactive and determined and resilient… The list of desirable dispositions, or ‘habits of mind’ goes on.
Our vision stands on the shoulders of many others, several of whom are part of the partnership of universities and partner organsations who are building and growing EEDNET, and many of whom you will have heard: expert thinkers like Professors Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, Carol Dweck, Michael Fullan, Howard Gardner, John Hattie, Ellen Langer, David Perkins, Lauren Resnick, Sir Ken Robinson, Martin Seligman, Robert Sternberg and Dylan Wiliam.
Whether through a focus on critical thinking, bringing philosophy into schools, developing character, improving creative thinking, focusing on problem solving, teaching resourcefulness, learning about optimism, managing emotion, or restructuring the way space and time work in your organisation, there are many paths to instilling sound habits of mind for learning.
Who we work with