Hattie – Increase the expertise of all teachers

John Hattie Research: How can we increase the expertise of all teachers?

John Hattie Research summary IRIS ConnectHow do we increase the expertise of all teachers? This is the key question addressed by renowned education expert John Hattie in his new report: ‘What Works Best in Education: the Politics of Collaborative Expertise’.

Hattie’s aim in this paper is to describe what a model of expertise would look like and what we need to do to make it a reality. Within it he lays out a number of tasks to be undertaken to establish the conditions for collaborative expertise, which we’ve condensed here for you:

8 ways to build collaborative expertise

1. Shift the narrative to collaborative expertise and student progression

Hattie says, re-framing the conversation away from its current focus on standards and achievement and towards progress is the first step. As well as recognising that everyone, from teachers and school leaders to parents and policy makers, should be working together towards ensuring every child receives at least one year’s worth of progress for one year’s input.

2. Agree on what a year’s progress looks like across all subjects, schools and system levels

What a year’s progress looks like needs to be debated and agreed upon among educators. This will reduce variability in teachers’ understanding of challenge and progression for students and truly accelerate progress.

3. Expect a year’s worth of progress by raising expectations that all students can achieve

Research proves that one of the greatest influences on learning is the expectations of students and teachers. When teachers have high expectations of their students, those students tend to be very successful in achieving their goals.

What effects student outcomes according to Hattie? Read more here

4. Develop new assessment and evaluation tools to provide feedback to teachers

We need to find improved ways of helping students and teachers to better teaching and learning through assessment. Evaluation tools shouldn’t measure learning, they should help to shape it.

5. Know thy impact by taking responsibility for the impact of everyone in the school on the progress of students

Schools need to become evaluators of impact and experts at interpreting the effects of teachers and teaching on all students.

Schools should create environments that enable excellent teaching and strong communication with a focus on making an impact,  where teachers identify what success looks like and the magnitude of the impact before they start teaching.

6. Ensure teachers have expertise in diagnosis, interventions and evaluation through teachers working together as evaluators of their impact on their students

Teachers need to be experts at diagnosis, interventions and evaluation. They need to understand what each student already knows and where they need to go next, as well as what interventions to use to get them there and then how to evaluate the impact they have made.

Learn how you can do this here

7. Stop ignoring what we know and scale up success by using the wealth of knowledge that exists in teacher communities

We have an enormous wealth of knowledge already about how to address certain challenges that students face. Teachers should be encouraged to share and use the existing expertise that has been proven to work.

8. Link autonomy to a year’s progress by studying teachers who are achieving a year of student progress and supporting teachers who aren’t

The implications…

…for teachers is that they will no longer work alone and in isolation. They will have a professional ethic thatemphasises collaboration. Communities will form in and across schools that work together to diagnose what teachers need to do, plan interventions, and evaluate success, as well as share professional developmentthat’s proven to improve teacher effectiveness and expertise.

…for school leaders is that they must have the expertise to enable teachers to work collaboratively with confidence and security, and question their effectiveness. They need to create opportunities, develop trust, provide resources for understanding the impact and lead discussions.

Hattie’s final thought…

The aim is not aspiring to utopia but scaling up the success already about us. It is expertise, it is reliable judgement, it is passion for making the difference, and it is collaborative sharing of this knowledge and doing and caring. This requires the greatest investment, and the benefits for the students will be manifest, powerful and exciting.

read more on original site


The impact of reading for pleasure

We know from the children that they often do not read at home very often – or even at all.

Within school we have embraced Pie Corbet’s stories and have used them over the last two terms to develop a ‘bank’ of stories and story language. David Didau has been looking at the impact of reading on children’s grades.

The evidence speaks for itself, so if you are not reading a challenging text to the children each day to whet their appetite, read the following and think again.

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Nagy & Harman’s 1987 paper says:

If students were to spend 25 minutes every day reading at a ateof 200 words per minute for 200 days out of a year, they would read a million words of text annually. According to our estimates, with this amount of reading, children will encounter between 15,000 and 30,000 unfamiliar words. If 1 in 20 of these words is learned, the yearly gain in vocabularly will be between 750- 1,500 words, or between quarter and a half of an average child’s annual vocabularly growth. (p.26)

Read the full article to find out what David suggests and how it can be implemented.


Using the physical environment as a tool for teaching

Using the physical environment as a tool for teaching: Netherfield Primary School

Provider background

Netherfield Primary School is located in the outskirts of Nottingham. It was judged to be outstanding in 2013.

Brief description

This Ofsted good practice example shows how a primary school makes highly effective use of resources and space to provide children with outstanding learning experiences. A range of teaching approaches, both formal and informal, sit side by side in a highly planned curriculum where both the indoor and outdoor environment are used creatively. A research-based approach was taken when setting up the environments, and a large staff team works together to seek ever better ways of ensuring that children get off to a good start. At this school, the headteacher is clear that ‘the environment is the best teaching tool we have’.

This is part of a set of eight good practice examples showcasing good practice in early years to support the report: ‘Teaching and play in the early years – a balancing act?’.

The good practice in detail

Making use of the indoor space

The indoor environment is highly structured. It consists of one large room (the unit) with several smaller, ‘groups rooms’ radiating from it. These rooms can be closed with moveable dividers. As the early years leader explains, the environment is “designed with the child in mind, ensuring ease of access and independence. It starts with the furniture, where clear zoning enables children to see exactly what resources are available. These zones are located strategically so that children can select resources from one zone that will help with their play in another. For example, ‘small world’ is adjacent to the ‘big blocks’ because children frequently play with these resources together.”

The great outdoors

Despite being located in an urban setting, with limited space and only a small playing field, Netherfield Primary School makes the absolute most of its outdoor resources. The early years leader describes the outdoor environment as ‘mirroring the indoor environment as much as possible so that children have access to all of the same kinds of activities and learning opportunities outside as they would inside’. This strategy responds to the school acknowledging that some children prefer to learn outside and would miss out if the areas were dissimilar. However, the early years leader also believes that, ‘the outdoor activities have to be challenging and open-ended to encourage and promote problem solving, creativity and critical thinking.’ The children’s interests are also reflected in the outdoor area

read the full article at


Lesson Study 101

Lesson Study is a professional learning cycle where 2 or more teachers identify a challenge to learning, research possible solutions, plan a lesson together using this knowledge, observe the lesson and reflect upon their findings. This cycle is then repeated until all members of the group have delivered a collaboratively planned lesson and their finding are often delivered to colleagues or others to share their learning.

Dudley (2010) identifies the process originating in Japan in 1872 and due to this it is a significant proportion of the researched written by practitioners in Japan. He identifies this as a “highly effective form of collaborative, classroom-located teacher learning which focuses upon improving and innovating practice knowledge.”


1) Identify an aspect of teaching to improve.

2) Research approaches to improving this aspect.

3) Plan a lesson collaboratively.

4) Lesson is taught and observed.

5) Target students interviewed.

6) Group meets to discuss findings.

7) Cycle restarts.

8) Next steps; presenting findings and forming new groups.


read the full article on


written by

Barry Dunn – @SeahamRE

14th July 2015

Philosophy for children boosts their progress at school

A programme to teach young children the basics of philosophical thinking in UK schools has been shown to help them progress in maths and reading. A new study evaluated the use of the Philosophy for Children (P4C) programme in which primary school children are guided through discussions of questions such as “Should a healthy heart be donated to a person who has not looked after themselves?” or “Is it acceptable for people to wear their religious symbols at work places?” The programme is intended to help children become more willing and able to question, reason, construct arguments and collaborate.

A randomised controlled trial in 48 primary schools compared more than 1,500 pupils who took philosophy lessons over the course of a year with a further 1,500 who didn’t, but then took the lessons the following year. The children who had the philosophy lessons first improved their maths and reading by around an extra two months’ of progress compared to those children who weren’t taking part. And the poorest children made the most progress of all.

The scheme appeared to cost less than £30 per pupil, making it a possible use for the pupil premium funding provided to those schools for children eligible for free school meals because of their parents’ low income.

P4C was delivered by the Society for the Advancement of Philosophical Enquiry and Reflection in Education (SAPERE) and is currently in use in about 3,000 UK primary and secondary schools. SAPERE recruited the schools for the trial, provided training for the teaching staff in half of the schools and provided on-going backup and support.

Read the full article on


Key conclusions

  • 1. There is evidence that P4C had a positive impact on Key Stage 2 attainment. Overall, pupils using the approach made approximately two additional months’ progress in reading and maths.
  • 2. Results suggest that P4C had the biggest positive impact on Key Stage 2 results among disadvantaged pupils (those eligible for free school meals).
  • 3. Analyses of the Cognitive Abilities Test (a different outcome measure not explicitly focused on attainment) found a smaller positive impact. Moreover, in terms of this outcome it appears that disadvantaged students reaped fewer benefits from P4C than other pupils. It is unclear from the evaluation why there are these differences between the two outcomes.
  • 4. Teachers reported that the overall success of the intervention depended on incorporating P4C into the timetable on a regular basis. Otherwise there was a risk that the programme would be crowded out.
  • 5. Teachers and pupils generally reported that P4C had a positive influence on the wider outcomes such as pupils’ confidence to speak, listening skills, and self-esteem. These and other broader outcomes are the focus of a separate evaluation by the University of Durham.

    Extract from https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects/philosophy-for-children

Learning by Doing – DEMOS research paper


Educating for the development of character is back on the agenda and is likely to define Education Secretary Nicky Morgan’s tenure. Yet the high-stakes accountability of Ofsted inspections and league tables has in recent years led to schools too often turning inward to focus on preparing students to pass exams. There are too few opportunities to take part in ‘non-formal learning’ activities in schools: activities that can help young people to build vital character attributes.

The evidence suggests that character attributes not only reinforce academic learning but also have a significant positive influence on various later life outcomes, including those relating to health, wellbeing and careers. It also indicates that participation in non-formal learning activities – semistructured activities such as sport, drama and debating, which are primarily delivered outside the classroom – play a vital role in developing these attributes. In this report we present our research into whether non-formal learning is sufficiently embedded into the British education system.

Our research shows that large numbers of young people in the UK – particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds – do not have enough opportunity to take part in non-formal learning and are therefore at risk of not developing key skills important for success. Moreover, an overwhelming majority of teachers see non-formal learning as vital, and want to see it more strongly embedded into the education system.

Download the research publication for free on;


Why it’s sometimes important to take your teaching to the classroom outside

Mike Lamb
Writing for the TES

It is at this time of year that thoughts turn to planning next year’s programme of study and in biology it is important to consider when we can get outside. Teaching parts of the biology syllabus in a classroom has limitations. A subject such as ecology which is all about interactions between species and their environments is surely better taught surrounded by our environment rather than a classroom which can feel relatively sterile.

Of course not every school is surrounded by countryside but most schools have access to some playing fields or grass at the very least. A few dandelions or daisies growing among the grass is all that’s needed to carry out a mini-field study using a quadrant. Being able to access a pond is an excellent way to collect samples of species that can be used as biological indicators, as is a selection of trees that have lichens present on the bark leading to discussion about air pollution. Spotting birds looking for food is a great introduction to food webs and an oak tree provides the perfect start to helping pupils get their head’s around pyramids of numbers. Inspired by their surroundings the pupils can also be challenged to design their own investigations or come up with ‘thought experiments’, which they enjoy more when sat under shady tree on a hot day.

The novel environment seems to engage the pupils and they can carry out field work that closely mirrors what ecologists really do in the field. Suddenly the dry process of learning definitions such as population, community and ecosystem is made much more interesting and put into context when the pupils can see the plants and animals in front of them. There can be some difficulties in controlling your class or getting concerned glances from other staff, but I have always found it effective when used carefully and in a controlled manner.

As such here are some tips when planning ahead to teach lessons outdoors;

  • plan your programme of study carefully to ensure topics such as Ecology can be taught outside (e.g. In September or after April) when the appropriate species are available to sample;
  • plan your outdoor lessons in advance, ensuring you are prepared for weather changes and other unpredictable elements;
  • ensure you have evaluated any risks from road crossings to pupils throwing pine cones, which may require adapting or amending an existing field work risk assessment;
  • have a plan B, for example if rain prevents you from going outside set up a transect in the corridor with different types of sweets (e.g. colours of jelly baby) being different plant species;
  • make your expectations clear to the class, the novel environment is great for learning but the informal surroundings can lead to less predictable pupil behaviour. I generally set the rule that any inappropriate behaviour will mean no more lessons outside;
  • use the opportunity to discuss other relevant concepts such as food webs, biotic factors, climate, etc whilst ‘in context’. This allows you to provide a more holistic, joined up approach to the subject which can help bring the subject alive for some pupils.

I’m sure for all (biology) teachers the benefits are obvious and evidence from various sources supports the effectiveness of learning outside, so next time you are trying to get a key concept about the environment across to your class, try the classroom outside.


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