What is professional learning?

Student, parents, carers and families often ask us what professional learning actually is, asking what an INSET Day is, and why we have them.  These are sensible questions!

This page aims to answer these questions and share with you some of the professional learning opportunities that all staff have through their work in the GFM, and at Brune Park.

Professional learning is the term we use to describe any learning that takes place as part of your role or job in the GFM.  It is much broader than ‘just’ completing a course or going to a training event.  For us, professional learning is something we are all entitled to, and it makes us better in our role and job.  When each of us are better in our role, students and families of the school and the GFM get a better deal.  We expect anyone working for the GFM to be committed to wanting to be better  – we ask staff at interview and through their job to reflect on their disposition, we ask staff to seek to be better by beig positive and by engaging in professional learning.

Professional learning is therefore everything we do through our work to improve.  It is every meeting we attend, every conversation we have – as well as attending training in school.  What is important is that we all approach learning in a positive way, being resilient when it is challenging, seeking ways to improve, encouraging ourselves and others  – the same expectations we have of children though their elarning, and the same encouragement we give to students.

Why is it so important to us in the GFM and at Brune Park?

Put simply: we want everyone to want to be better.  When we are all striving to be better and engage in learning we are a community of learners striving to be better together – children and adults.  This way we to ensure the school is the best it can be.

What do staff do on an INSET Day?

Each INSET Day is a really important time for staff to come together for learning.  Every INSET Day is carefully planned months in advance and sets out to support how we are improving as individuals, teams for the benefit of the students and schools.  Often INSET days focus on improving the student experience of school.



Examples of INSET presentations in the past 2 years:

Jo Duff and Dean Searley – what are our Secondary Phase Values?

Our aim is simple: we want students to be happy, equipped for adult life, and to achieve greater and further than they may have thought possible.

We value and believe in every individual; showing this through kindness, care and high challenge with and for each other.

We are honest and open as we navigate together the challenges of life, learning and striving for success and value partnership working with young people and their families characterised by high expectations, mutual support and challenge. 

Our commitment is clear: we strive to be better to enable all to be better.

GFM Secondary Phase:  Values statement

  • Everyone has a right to be happy 
  • Everyone has a right to learn
  • Everyone has a right to be treated with fairness and respect

These principles underpin high expectations we have for the way we treat each other and conduct ourselves.

We value, respect and celebrate behaviours that enable all to be happy, to learn and to be treated fairly and respectfully.

We challenge and address behaviours that compromise these rights.

We emphasise the value of restorative conversations, relationships, and reflection to support behaviour modification.

We emphasise behaviour modification as an outcome of the use of sanction.

We work in partnership as a staff, with students and families to challenge and address behaviours that compromise our ethos.



Looking after young people’s mental health and well being  – Rachael Adderley, Steve Kitchen and Beccy Brice

  • We have all – children, young people and adults alike – been affected by and responded to this pandemic in different ways. 
  • We play hugely important roles in pupils or students’ and colleagues’ lives – especially when other parts of their lives are difficult or disrupted.
  • Uncertainties and challenges can affect our wellbeing and mental health. 
  • Focusing on positive coping strategies – including good relationships – can help. 

It can be hard to know how children and young people will be feeling and coping at the moment, so it can be useful to focus on two elements for everyone. 

The first is to acknowledge our feelings and learn to express our emotions, have them validated and recognise that we are not alone.  

The second is to develop a sense of hope and resilience in the future.

Top tips:

  • Every positive interaction is an intervention in itself  
  • Don’t underestimate the power of the small quality moments 
  • Your qualities and interpersonal skills are enough
  • We learn through interactions and relationships 
  • Positive interactions support resilience and  wellbeing 

Positive language:

Instead of “you need to” how about saying “together, lets..” 

Instead of “do you need help?” how about “ I am here to help if you need it” 

Instead of “I explained this last lesson” perhaps use “maybe I can explain another way”

Instead of “you’re doing fine” how about “how are you feeling?”

Instead of “we need to get working because we have a lot to catch up” how about “I am so pleased that we are back together in the classroom, let’s get learning”

Kirstie Andrew-Power, Head Teacher: 

Our purpose as a school, and as educators in Gosport and the GFM is to support and enable every young person to be the best they can be (to be greater and to aspire further than they may have previously imagined possible.) To this end we all need to continue to strive to be better ourselves and therefore our role is to support and enable you to be the very best that you can be.  Through my presentation I wanted to unpack with staff what ‘striving to be the best you can be’ can look like – I strive to be a better leader, I strive to want more for you as a staff and more for our students so my summer reading has been looking at how I might do that. I shared two books in particular that shaped, inspired and motivated me and provided ways that I can continue to improve, and I shared key messages with staff (see detail on the slides.)

I celebrated with staff how remarkable and wonderful our collective purpose; supporting each other to be the best that we can be in order that we serve our young people in the very best way possible so they can be the best they can be.  I played Elbow’s ‘Magnificent (she says)’ and asked staff to consider the little girl who holds a sea-worn piece of glass as if it is a sapphire (‘sets it as a sapphire in her mind’) – seeing something so innocuous as something so precious, some things which others may ignore or simply not see, and to consider that she represents every child that is in our classes or in our corridors.  We must actively refresh our perception of how precious and wonderful each and every young person is, and our responsibility to value them and nurture them because of their contribution to the world. And we have a tough, tough job, and a wonderful job and it will ‘all be magnificent’ when we ‘throw our arms around the world’ and work collectively, collaboratively and individually to be even better. 

I ended with reading a message from a student in year 11 who finished with us last summer – she described how as a result of superb, engaging and caring staff she had learned to value herself, value her education and see her potential – as a staff we gave her  ‘the support she didn’t know she needed.’ What a powerful statement that is and what a role we have and there is nothing better than when we reach a youngster like this, and a youngster like this is in every classroom and every corridor, every day.  

Ian Potter – CEO of the GFM:

The purpose of the GFM is to build a coalition around the notion that schools work collaboratively to bring about local landscape of schooling where there is equity of provision in the area. We model such an aspiration in having a collective endeavour within and across our schools; we cooperate in driving up standards where necessary and energetic in our expectations of each other and for the young people we serve. In order to achieve this, a key characteristic of the GFM is a culture of joint knowledge production, because we are intellectually curious and fascinated by the business of teaching and learning. We want to understand more about it!

Expectations of staff and line managers  – Nic Twining and David Higginbottom

Have high expectations of line managers and line management meeting time! More time during line management meetings should be spent on tasks that are important and urgent.

Colleagues were ‘challenged’ with identifying from a range of daily issues:

  • What are the issues that I could deal with?
  • What are the issues that I would need to take to my line manager?

Be a radiator (of positivity) and beware the ‘Mood Hoovers’

Effective qualities of a good line manager:

  • Supportive, fair, honest – The voice of reason
  • Questions, challenges, suggests improvements or
  • solutions.
  • Relevant knowledge of the specifications of subjects.
  • Regular contact and clear communication
  • Holds to account – positives and negatives. Helps you
  • hold your teams to account.
  • Problem solving – forward thinking.
  • Clear in requests and deadlines – high expectations.
  • Coaching, mentoring, facilitating leadership / career
  • development.
  • Helps to steer the focus.

‘People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.’

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  • Brune Park Community School, Military Road, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 3BU
  • (023) 9261 6000
  • enquiries@brunepark.gfmat.org

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