Quality Mark Rationale

Mantle of the Expert Quality Marks

Luke Abbott

As of 2020, it is apparent to many practitioners within the established Mantle of the Expert community, that a rigorous strengthening of the various Quality Marks are needed now that the community has come of age and expanding rapidly beyond our shores. We are moving from the ‘domestic’ practice-based usage to an international multi-layered context, very quickly. The levels of the Quality Marks therefore need clarifying and re-coding for the ever expanding users coming on board, especially for those new to the community often anxious to gain recognition of their growth in using MoE. 

I now claim, rightly, it seems to me, that MoE is a significantly mature, Community of Practice (David Hopkins) with a long credible history, be it in training qualified teachers or other lead professionals in education in the infrastructure of MoE. 

MoE community clearly abides by the features of a constituted and consolidated association, guild or other diverse professional foundations.

Examples of such arrangements are found in many parts of society. For example, the Freud Institute governing the psychiatric developmental practices of Freud/Jung to sport- such as ‘FITA’ (Federation Internationale de Tir a L’Arc-the International archery association, which governs archery practices and events throughout the world).

MoE as a mature community of practice, carries these features:

  • The basis of expertise of the MoE community is founded on the teachings of Dorothy Heathcote, currently under the lead of her post graduate MoE Masters student, Luke Abbott, who researched, identified and published the 3 circle model as well as collecting the elements of the intricate tool kit of MoE, over the period from 1981 to the current time (2021) with Dr Heathcote as coach and advisor until her death in 2011. 
  • The teaching pedagogic models applied underpinning MoE, derive from the Nine Aspects of Great Pedagogy 2017 researched by Kings College London and adopted by the National College of School Leadership (NCSL).
  • The community has a supreme means to make contact with any user who wishes to further their understanding skills and knowledge of MoE. The invention and management of the Mantleoftheexpert.com website under Tim Taylor, himself an MoE Advanced Skills Teacher and apprentice of Luke, has had a profound impact on the spread of Moe, both nationally and internationally, with plaudits from around the world concerning its rigour, quantity, breadth, quality and content. 
  • MantleoftheExpert.com now runs web-based international courses with attendees from around the world. It is with this expansion in mind that has caused a rethink of the QMs, given that many online participants are requesting ways to improve and gain recognition of their newfound Moe expertise. However, managing and facilitating such requests on an international platform needs new thinking and perhaps additional structures not currently invented.
  • We hold our practices up for scrutiny, often in public and in classrooms, often professionally observed and recorded/filmed in situ. 
  • We lecture at graduate, postgraduate, Masters and Doctorate levels throughout the world. 
  • We publish our findings and experiments, encouraging fellow practitioners to do the same online. 
  • We have an extensive international joined up community through Mantleoftheexpert.com and a library of peer read articles including a vast and highly praised past and present record of exemplars. Through Mantleoftheexpert.com, we have a published library of research from around the world.
  •  Current articles are peer read by the editors of Mantleoftheexpert.com to be made available to all users at no cost.
  • Members of the community also publish articles and commentaries in a range of academic and professional journals such as The Curriculum Journal (Kings College London), the NATD Journal and Drama Now.
  • Furthermore, the website Mantleoftheexpert.com, develops and publishes and advertises bespoke programmes for long term training of teacher professionals recognised by a national union as the premiere pedagogy (NEU 2019). 
  • We have a track record over 20 years of intensive weekend developmental training in drama for learning and MoE in tandem with QMs, from Classroom Practitioner QM to the auspicious Training School QM. Evaluations are taken at each one in order to evaluate impacts and Quality Assurance. 
  • We train our next generation of Trainers through ‘apprentice modelling’ and facilitating close scrutiny of the five lead practitioner Trainers-Luke Abbott, Tim Taylor, Iona Towler Evans, Richard Kieran and Lynsey McCrohan.
  • We run, organise and deploy keynote speakers to address major leadership conferences of head teachers, politicians, parents including large cluster groups of teachers and for advisers in many parts of the world.
  • We evaluate and critique our work with government agencies, researching the impacts on learning in the application of MoE. For example, with HMI and DfE scrutiny.
  •  We experiment in a range of settings to clarify further the applications of MoE and report on outcomes. For example the work in Woodrow First school on the Commissioning Model (YouTube) and Chamber Theatre.
  • We have an extensive ‘client’ base of users and Training Schools throughout the world as well as other outstanding schools who seek on-going staff and professional development/coaching in the application of Moe. For example, Woodrow First School, Bealings School Suffolk, Connahs Quay schools, The Priory School Brecon, Haut Lac International School Switzerland and many more.

From tentative beginnings of practitioner awards (Classroom Practitioner, Advanced Practitioner, Training School Status and the Learning Support QM) we are now on the threshold of levelling up. 

Recently added QMs in 2019 include Ambassador and Advocate with steps to a full Trainer QM in the pipeline, again as a result of expansions in Belgium under Bob Selderslaughs. Naturally we have our critics. However we are now too strong in numbers and impacts to be affected. MoE practitioners are too numerous on the ground having discovered the strength of great pedagogy as the means to maintain internal and external credibility often having the highest of stature rather than status.

In the past few years much has changed on the educational stage in the UK and internationally. Drama for learningmethods as well as the new understandings of Mantle of the Expert systems in many learning contexts, are becoming more widespread in the UK, Belgium, Palestine, Mombasa and Greece and elsewhere:

  • The NEU MoE Training programme UK 2018-9 completed with a tranche of 11 Advanced Practitioners and 1 senior leader Ambassador
  • The Welsh MoE Training Projects Connahs Quay, Brecon, North Wales 2018-current resulting in a new Training School.
  • The Paul Hamlyn MoE Training Programme Shropshire and Welsh Borders 2019-current with Helen Chapman as an aspiring Trainer.
  • The International Schools initiative with Narcis Iniesta, Tammy Bourg and Louise Ryan an aspiring Trainer 2010-current.
  • The take up of MoE, training colleagues in Erasmus projects over the past 5 years, through Dr David Allen and Iona Towler-Evans in Birmingham has also catapulted the 4 Heathcotian derived dramatic learning models* into learning settings as far as Spain, Portugal, Germany and Switzerland. 

(*The four are: Drama as a learning process, Mantle of the Expert, Rolling Role and the Commissioning.)

Additionally, several individuals, organisations and groups are claiming training rights to guide and develop teacher’s skills and dispositions in the methods associated particularly with Mantle of the Expert methods. Whilst such a position can only be applauded there are several issues concerning QA (quality assurance) for the safeguarding of practices of skill and know how that need addressing. 

Issues regarding the QA in all their complexities now need addressing urgently as the expansion from a domestic Mantleoftheexpert.com model to a robust international model needs construction. For example, training programmes constructed by teacher educators wishing to make QM awards, will need to follow our guide, ensuring the elements of the system are taught. The MoE Training programme for the NEU and Paul Hamlin for example has served the needs of teachers well and has its roots in an earlier Drama Board programme from the 1980’s. The tight structure needed here is not to maintain strict control or adherence to a holy bible of practices. The practices involved are wrought from the intricate knowledge taught and coached by Dr Dorothy Heathcote over a 10 year period 

Currently (2021) we are  developing a QM with regard to the work of Mantle of the Expert, specifically in schools colleges and other settings where the use of the system is significant and perhaps affecting whole school policy in curriculum structures and pedagogy. 

We are offering schools, Higher Education settings and colleagues with appropriate experiences in drama for learning and theatre form as well as colleagues across the world, that wish to do so, the opportunity to apply and be awarded the QM for a period of three years if they can evidence and comply with the selected criteria they wish to address concerning the use and development of MoE practices.

In addition the construction of a team of people with the appropriate credibility and experience will be drawn together to oversee the awarding of the MoE Quality Mark in countries where expansion is occurring, but who currently, are without recognised Quality Marked colleagues who are able to award the range of Moe QMs in situ. 

Much can now be achieved with the ever expanding possibilities in high levels of technology, video, planning and one to one contacts through Zoom type strategies. This means that there is not always the need to arrange a visit from an assessor in such circumstances. 

The benefits of such a QM as follows:

  1. The MoE QM will enable schools and a range of user settings (children’s homes, UN Refugee Camp Schools in Palestine for example) to select and attract high calibre teaching staff looking for institutions that are innovative, creative and holding an inquiry philosophy
  2. Holders of the Training School Mark QM will clearly indicate that the individual(s) or school/setting holding the award, publicly stands for more that an instrumental approach to learning and teaching and can demonstrate high levels of practices able to be shared in the wider educational or community arena.
  3. Trainer(s)/Training Schools will be identified on the Mantleoftheexpert.com website and will be the first to be approached to run and work on any of the National and International assignments we are currently engaged in as well as those being planned at the moment for the future. (We already have completed assignments in the UK, USA, New Zealand, Jordan, Palestine and China for example.)
  4.  In the UK, Local Authority powers to support and challenge has been severely diminished placing more emphasis on the local cluster, or Academy Training School arrangements for CPD.
  5. Also with the loss and exit of the Creative Partnership (UK) initiatives the MoE QM will indicate that the school/setting is able to self evaluate innovation and the curriculum. Such a feature will be useful for formal instrumental reviews of standards as in OfSTED processes that currently (2017) require Great Pedagogy as a standard for teaching in the UK. The use of MoE has a long track record in raising standards overall as it has all the features of Great Pedagogy as outlined in the recent research at Kings College London. 
  6. Highly acclaimed practices as reported by OfSTED/HMI UK have also been evident in the current tightening of the Ofsted regime. 
  7. Nationally, the same is true of subject evaluations (Bealings Geography 2010) and in long term evaluations of large scale cross county MoE projects by HMI for example in Barnsley LA 2011 and HMI evaluations of the outcomes and impact of MoE- Dartford schools in Kent 2011 and the work of the MoE Training Schools in International exchange contexts (Woodrow and Palestine for example).
  8. The QM criterion directly parallels the findings in the HMI evaluation of The Curriculum in the Most Successful schools (UK) as reported by senior HMI Robin Hammerton who based his research on Bealings School, under the headship of Duncan Bathgate and the first Training School for MoE in the country.) Bealings has been an officially designated Outstanding School for the past 12 years where MoE pedagogy has been at the heart of the schools teaching.
  9. The QM protects the quality of the provision and development of MoE in the community of practice. Schools and others will no longer be able to claim superficial rights to publicise their ability to train or demonstrate MoE practices, unless they are of the highest calibre, as the processes for application and holding of the QM will be well publicised.
  10. In time, it will be evident that schools holding the MoE QM will be able to hold Lead School status in MoE meaning that other schools wishing to embark on MoE developments will seek such lead schools as their mentors with the added financial benefits and stature.
  11. For schools wishing to have detail of their CPD needs in the development of MoE, the QM will act as an indicator for future development in teaching quality for those looking for curriculum inquiry within an imaginary context.

Institutional application processes and timelines

                        The processes for obtaining the QM’s are as follows

  • Institutions will specify the QM(s) they wish to be recognised for by contacting the National Director, Luke Abbott. All details can be achieved through e-mail and phone contact in the first stages and is cost free.
  • The settings will write a short brief set of details evidencing the criteria in the appropriate section details as above. There will follow correspondence via e-mails and phone calls, or if near a National Team member will make an initial visit. This will be to verify and evaluate the evidence supplied by the school concerned. If the criterions are met in the eyes of the National Team member from this initial record the next stage will be the day visit.
  • The one day visit will be at a date suitable to the institution and will be led by a designated member of the National MoE Team who will then verify the overall training practices, the quality of provision and outcomes as well as teaching practices. The QM will be awarded on the day in question, with a brief written evaluation by the National Team member. 
  • A typical day will start at 9.00 with a conversation with the HT and staff followed by a programme of observations, planning reviews, records of school visits from other settings with comments/impacts. During the day MoE QM reviewers will discuss issues with the lead teacher and hold brief conversations with all teaching staff as well as TA’s and HLTA’s. If possible a governor contact will be made as well. Finally after conversations with learners where appropriate, observations in classrooms and outcomes generated by MoE processes, the award will be made.
  • The QM MoE Mark can be displayed in the school and on any literature if needed or any other site decided by the setting. Photo records of the event are encouraged and any images can appear on the MoE website with the mutual consent of both schools and the national team member concerned.
  • Charges are £475 per day plus VAT at 20%. This is broken down in time slots as follows: £75 for evaluating the written submission and £400 to cover the time and travel of a National Team member.
  • The QM will be awarded for 3 years from the date of the practical evaluation visit.
  • In the event of a school judged to be in need of more evidence to support their standard required they might submit further evidence at any time. It will be at the discretion of the National Team Evaluator to charge any more depending on time and travel needs up to a maximum of one-day full charge if necessary.
  • Schools may submit evidence at any time within one year of their first evaluation.

Luke Abbott National Director Mantle of the Expert January 2021 ©