Working with schools to “Make the Main Thing, the Main Thing”

In the culture of high accountability and “Ofsted Chasing”, schools can often be distracted from their core purpose to provide high quality learning experiences for young people in the classroom. As I travel around the country, I see many schools in initiative overload, frantically trying to do “everything” to improve, often with the result of a lack of clarity, coherence and impact. I believe the key to school improvement is:

  • Focusing on what matters most – quality teaching and learning
  • Removing the Clutter
  • Developing Leadership and Teamwork
  • Shifting Expectations
  • Quality Staff Development
I work with individual and group/partnerships schools and academies at different stages of their school improvement journeys, from those in Ofsted categories that need to improve urgently, to those judged “Good” and “Outstanding” that want to refine their practice and continue to move forward.

I think that by focusing on developing great teaching, learning and learners, using pedagogical strategies that have real impact based on research as well as drawing on innovative practice from round the world, schools can have high quality teaching and learning, expert learners ready for the next stage of their lives and outstanding Ofsted judgements.

Schools need to focus on the 5C’s of  improvement :

John Turner is an inspirational trainer who has worked in schools across the UK as well as in Australia and Europe. He is passionate about the “core business” of schools – improving the quality of learning and teaching in the classroom. As part of this process, he enjoys working at a strategic level on whole school improvement in learning and teaching, as well as at a classroom level with groups of practitioners on how to make a real difference to learning and teaching practice in the classroom. After many years working as a senior leader in secondary schools in the UK, John became an Independent Learning Consultant as well as a Regional Giftedness Coordinator and then worked in Australia for a year training and researching learning to learn and approaches to teaching gifted children. When he returned, he ran learning to learn training courses, a learning to learn network of over 900 schools and worked in international schools in Europe. Recently, John has worked with Alistair Smith’s Alite Company as their Lead Trainer and Consultant and collaborated with Alistair and Mark Lovatt on their much acclaimed book “Learning to Learn in Practice: The L2 Approach” which focuses on strategies to develop independent learners. He regularly collaborates with Alistair on training, consultancy and research around improving learning. John has written resources and tools for schools on how to improve the quality of learning and teaching.
Learning to Learn in Practice

John has worked recently with Alistair Smith on editing footage and designing resources to support a new staff development package, “Step Up: Outstanding Learning and Teaching” – with lesson excerpts as well as staff and student interviews from seven outstanding secondary schools. See the preview film on the Step Up page!

Read more about Step Up: Outstanding Learning and Teaching »

John’s latest venture with Alistair Smith, is to jointly produce a staff development DVD for primary schools “Primary Perspectives” with headteacher, senior leader and teacher interviews, great teaching and learning ideas, as well as lesson clips designed for staff training around key features of teaching. See the preview film on the Primary Perspectives Page!

Read More about Primary Perspectives »

Other recent work

  • Leadership, Lead Practitioner and Coaching Training at Benton Park School, Leeds.
  • Delivering an acclaimed five day course for Derby Teaching School Alliance aimed at moving primary teachers from “Good to Outstanding”.
  • Training partnership on improving learning and teaching with Mary Immaculate School in Cardiff – recently named one of the most improved schools in Wales.
  • Supporting two schools in Special Measures in Nottingham and Derbyshire on their successful school improvement journeys.
  • Delivering on-going training programme for Bishop of Llandaff School in Cardiff around developing Excellent Teachers, Learning Champions and Outstanding Coaches.
  • Training partnership with Kensington Avenue Primary in Croydon focused on developing leadership at all levels and high quality teaching and learning.


“John has a much sought after ability of not only being able to deliver an inspiring and motivational key note speech, but also to strategically assist, direct, coach and challenge a school in improving their teaching and learning over a longer period of time.”. - Garth Watson, Assistant Headteacher, Benton Park School, Leeds

”We are proud to work in partnership with John to support staff in raising the quality of learning within school”. - Marc Belli, Headteacher, Bishop of Llandaff School, Cardiff