The Golden Thread: Great Teaching Toolkit

The ‘golden thread’ refers to high-quality evidence underpinning support, training and development available throughout a teacher’s career. Julie Deville is CEO of Extol Trust, which has five schools currently subscribed to the Great Teaching Toolkit. Julie spoke to us about how the Great Teaching Toolkit is becoming their Golden Thread.

Extol Trust, based in the North East of England, is determined to ensure all pupils access “stand out” education. At Extol Trust, we believe passionately that, as a collective, we can achieve much more when we learn with, and from, each other. Therefore, our primary schools launched a programme of CPD based on the Great Teaching Toolkit – one of the deciding factors in choosing the Great Teaching Toolkit was that it is based on educational research.

One of our key strategic aims is to invest in purposeful and relevant professional development because we know this is what is going to affect change in all of our schools, ensuring that our pupils attain and achieve.

We have assigned a senior leader, at each school, as a Great Teaching Toolkit (GTT) lead. These GTT leads will be responsible for modelling, supporting and instigating developments. This team of GTT leads have met alongside the Trust’s Teaching and Learning lead to establish a shared vision.
Together, we have established common values of why we teach something and how we do it. We have used the toolkit as a ‘leveller’, a golden thread of collaborative understanding.

Julie Deville's tweet about the golden thread and the GTT

What does the Great Teaching Toolkit look like across our Extol family of schools?

As we work through the courses and programmes in the Toolkit, honing our practice, we use a common professional language for learning. This enables us time to reflect on our practices and make collective decisions about what next; affording us time to explore the ‘why.’


Knowing to do something is hugely different to knowing why, how, when and what.


The Toolkit was launched on a September training day, where all our schools began with the Foundation course. We identified that the GTT focusses on student outcomes and enables us to carefully assess our current teacher practices that influence pupil learning.

We also recognised that newly-qualified teachers were a real asset to discussions; they have been ‘brought up’ with the science of learning, a key aspect of the Foundation Course.

How have we structured the learning?

As a Trust, we recognised the importance of self-reflection tools as a key strategy for affecting progress. To that end, our schools used the student perception surveys to identify which Dimensions and Elements, of the Model for Great Teaching, they were going to explore further. We then established our plan to implement the GTT:

  • Schools will ring-fence an hour a week for staff to complete a directed module
  • Following this, staff will spend a week practising, adapting and experimenting with strategies explored in their chosen module (identified by self-led enquiry or directed by leaders)
  • After this, staff will meet in teams, or as a whole, to facilitate ‘change’ discussions lead by senior leaders. Here we will reflect on our strategies and learning, considering how they align to our school ethoses and pupil outcomes.
  • To continue the golden thread linking our schools on their professional development journey, one of our Headteachers will visit the other schools to act as a critical friend, supporting them in evaluating the implementation and impact of the Great Teaching Toolkit.

If you would be interested to learn how the Great Teaching Toolkit could become your ‘golden thread’, you can book a call with us here or find out more here.

  • Chris Carpenter

    What do you feel constituents ‘evidence’ in evidence based practice? Do you see the act of teaching in terms of positivism? That is to say a causal relationship between what teachers teach and what children learn? What do you see as the relationship between education and learning?

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