Feeding back

When Feedback Met Bloom

Ofsted commented on our marking or in some cases the lack of it as they have at schools up and down the country.  The response was a new policy, which in itself is fine, but also much more stringent monitoring to ensure the policy was fully and properly implemented – it’s not for the fainted hearted.  The policy is available on the post about the #5MinMarkingPlan that I co-posted with Ross McGill (@TeacherToolkit) some time ago.
In putting the Marking Policy together we focussed on what could be evidenced as good practice in the research available and in some of our own teachers’ practice.  The policy has a 2:1 ratio of formative assessment (feedback) to summative assessment.  The graphic below is from the monitoring section of the policy and lays out are non-negotiable expectations.
Formative Assessment Criteria
The big areas of foci for us were and still are:
  • Explicit success criteria, shared with students in advance, for each piece of work that is formatively assessed
  • A response from the learner that uses the feedback to improve his/her work to the next level.  Ask yourself when marking work will it be you or the students who have worked harder?  If it is not the students something has gone wrong.
  • A comment about the learning behaviours (5Rs Learner Traits) that a student has used or could have used to improve the work presented for marking.
These threads were identified and woven into the policy, and increasingly into our practice, by reading Hattie’s books and listening to Dylan Wiliam.Staff are sometimes just too honest with me for their own good!
“Since doing this marking I know so much better where the class is up to.”
It makes you proud when someone nails it.  It isn’t just about students getting feedback from the marking but teachers also getting feedback about where students are up to, what has worked, what has not and where to next.
Feedback (d=0.73, 10th) – This Means the Impact of Feedback on Achievement is Huge
Many teachers feel that they give detailed and frequent feedback to their students but according to Hattie (2009, Visible Learning, pp. 173-178) students don’t agree – apparently most of the feedback given by teachers is behavioural and social rather than feedback focused on learning.
Hattie (2009) contends the key to the effectiveness of the feedback is that it is acted on – by either the teacher or the student.  This post is about how the feedback is acted on by students within the learning process.  Students need to respond to the feedback with enhanced work or performance otherwise the marking and feedback is pointless.
Learning Through Assessment
Assessment is part of the learning process not a separate activity.  Assessment is for and as part of learning.  Given the feedback to each student, which s/he will be required to respond to is quite different, it is a great way to differentiate their learning.  Imagine at the start of a lesson every student is improving the level of his/her work with the specific feedback targeted at improving his/her performance, that level of differentiation is impressive.
Hattie (2009, Visible Learning, p. 176) produces a useful model of feedback that starts with the purpose – “to reduce discrepancies between current understandings/performance and a desired goal” – followed by actions by the teacher or student to reduce the discrepancy based upon three effective feedback questions:
  • Feed Up – Where am I going? (the goals)
  • Feedback – How am I going?
  • Feed Forward – Where to next?
Hattie (2009) suggests that each of these questions can be asked at a task, process and self-regulation level.  These levels have much in common with Bloom’s Taxonomy which I still have a certain affinity with since being introduced to it as a young teacher.  However, it is only Bloom’s “Knowledge Dimensions” that I use rather than the cognitive processes identified within the taxonomy.  If you want to unpack this a little more have a look at “When #SOLO Met Bloom Taxonomy”.   Hattie (2009) gives a number of examples but here are a few attempts from me.
Feedback TableWhy not produce your own table with a set of standards prompts, questions or responses you could use in class?
FAIL tumblr_ljf307jHVf1qb13xjo1_500 sayingimages.info

Featured on Saying Images & Tumblr Pictures

FAIL – First Attempt In Learning is described fully in Ross Morrison McGill’s new book, 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Outstanding Lessons (a great little stocking filler).

Link to the book is here

It consists of giving and receiving feedback in order to improve work.  However, if you really want to see the impact of feedback you need to think FAIL, SAIL, TAIL – first, second and third attempts in learning leading to excellence.
Tom Sherrington’s (@headguruteacher) post , “Lessons from Berger: Austin’s Butterfly and Not Accepting Mediocrity” about an ethic of excellence and mastery learning just blew me away – check out the YouTube clip.
Screen Shot from www.headgurutacher.com

Screen Shot from http://www.headguruteacher.com post is here

The work that Austin manages to produce (I think he is about seven years old) would put many secondary school students’ work to shame.  The combination of what excellence looks like, consistent high quality feedback and a willingness to keep making improvements produces some pretty awe inspiring work – possibly a growth mindset in action?
 There are certain things that I find very difficult to argue against.  I tend to think of them as universal truths.  I rather like some things to hold onto in the stormy waters of life.  Here’s my starter list for you to add your own to:
  • A mother’s love and apple pie are good for you
  • No movement without a bit of friction but too much friction leads to no movement
  • Forgiveness brings healing (but it can be difficult to take the first step in mending a broken relationship) …
There may not be universal truths in education but remember, “Posts Move, Goals Don’t”.  Aspirations and high achievement, great teaching and learning and an enriching curriculum are like mother’s love and apple pie irrespective of the current political masters and external forces.  In turbulent times hang onto your values and trust what is proven to work – “The World is not flat”.

See the full article and links from the wonderful @leadinglearner at;


A fun way to understand conjugation of verbs

Languages are messy things. Not least English, with what Geoffrey Pullum so brilliantly described in The Chronicle of Higher Education last month as its ‘horror show phonology’ and ‘grotesque consonant clusters’, which he argues render it radically unsuitable as a global lingua franca.

This aleatory messiness is what makes languages human. They’re messy because they’re alive, evolving, experimental, always branching out in different directions. New words are added, old ones are modified, misspelled and mispronounced, imports are accommodated, grammatical ‘errors’ are adopted. Writers play around with syntax and elision, and there are moments when the character constraints of Twitter can make poets of us all.

This organic growth accounts for what might be called the ‘natural’ beauty of language: its charms and idiosyncrasies are reminiscent, as Wittgenstein suggested, of the twists and turns in an ancient city. But these irregularities can also cause frustration, when pupils feel they are losing their way in the labyrinth.

So where there is clarity, we should hang on to it. Not only hang on to it, but foreground, emphasise and underline it.

And clarity, perhaps surprisingly, is to be found in verbs.

When people complain about languages, they often point the finger at wayward irregular verbs. But the underlying logic of verb conjugation is really very simple. And it never changes.

In my view you can teach the full conjugation of the verb from any age, so long as – perhaps counter-intuitively – you also explain from the outset why it works the way it does. The metadiscourse is crucial. Get it right once, for one verb, and you can (if you so choose) get it right for all time.

And just as in basic Maths, it all comes down to how you set out your work. This is sense that you can see.

Where most (not all!) textbooks go wrong is in listing the conjugation as a single column, with only the most rudimentary connection between the different parts, which then encourages rote learning uninformed by understanding. Instead, singular and plural 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-person forms of the verb should be lined up neatly side by side.

But then again, the textbooks don’t really matter, because a vital part of the learning process is for pupils to write the conjugation out for themselves, and to practise doing so as they would the routines of basic arithmetic. Please don’t start by handing out a printed list of tabulated conjugations. It might be the last word in perfection, but precisely for that reason the eye – and with it the brain – will just slide indifferently over the surface.

Set the handwritten conjugation out in table form, but without ruled lines; the lining up is all in the handwriting (in itself a valuable cross-curricular discipline). If English is included it should be underneath the target language, preferably in pencil, so that it informs without imposing. No arrows or equals signs. Nothing to distract from the essential information.

Take the time to do it well. And practise doing it well. Until doing it well is akin to second nature. That might sound draconian, but with high expectations from lesson one it shouldn’t take that long.

And the beauty of it is, whatever the verb, it will always follow the same rules. A phenomenon rare enough in language learning for it to be worth making a fuss about.

Children will mostly associate the concepts of singular and plural with nouns, and if you ask them to make a word plural their first instinct will be to add an ‘s’. But they’ll have a bit of a laugh if you try following that rule with verbs. It may come as a revelation that in English we pluralise verbs by changing the subject pronoun, and that the plural of ‘I love’ is ‘we love’, and nothing to do with the letter ‘s’ at all. Adding an ‘s’ will just make you sound like the pig eyeing up his beloved turnips in that old children’s television classic Fourways Farm (“I loves ’em I do”) or more likely Popeye (“I can’t stands it no more”).

Then again, if you are teaching Spanish, your pupils will suddenly appreciate that the apparent tedium of having a unique verb ending for each of the six grammatical persons is in fact an elegant means of liberating you (for much of the time) from the bother of pronouns at all. The French of course have it both ways.

In reflecting on the logic of conjugation your pupils may also experience something of an existential awakening (their parents, on the other hand, may be making quite different connections). They will be familiar with the distinction between 1st- and 3rd-person narrative from English lessons, but probably won’t have had much time to ponder the finer philosophical implications.

Aha, they now think. I am the first person or hero, the eponymous protagonist in the story of my own life. When I am born, I am (briefly) aware only of myself. Then a second person appears, in the shape of a parent, then a third, whether relative or friend.

It’s easy and effective to model this in the classroom. ‘I’, in this case the teacher, can have a personal conversation with ‘you’, a selected pupil, rather exaggeratedly making the eye contact that defines and confirms our conversational relationship. Then you and I can have a cheeky conversation about a third person in the room, without looking at them of course, or maybe with just a sneaky complicit glance or two to single them out. This encounter can be watched by ‘them’, the rest of the class, whom you may also choose to speak about. But, if you turn to speak to them, addressing them directly, ‘they’ are suddenly transformed into ‘you plural’, a crucial switch of identity and point of view.

Then, just in case you have any nervous, sensitive types, you can smooth over any awkwardness by reaffirming that ‘we’, the whole class, including the teacher, are a cohesive, mutually supportive group. I’m not a big fan of role plays, but in this case they work. As do comic strips.

Funny how much you can glean about the human condition from learning how to conjugate a verb.


Dr Heather Martin is a languages specialist and tweets @drheathermartin.

see the article


What does Differentiation look like?

Dealing with Day-to-day Differentiation

This week I ran a session on differentiation with our NQTs. I felt it was a good, open session where we could all share some ideas and describe the challenges that we face in meeting the learning needs of all of our students.   The fact is that we all find it hard  – and that’s because it is; sometimes it can feel as if you’re never quite getting it right because someone or other isn’t flourishing.  As with many things in teaching, we need to aim high but we also need to be realistic, pragmatic and tolerant of imperfection in order to flourish ourselves.

To begin with we talked about the myths.

Differentiation does not mean that you must have tiered resources and tasks in every lesson.  It does not mean you should have must-should-could learning objectives. It does not mean that a lesson where every student is doing the same task is fundamentally worse than one where students do have different tasks.  Any given lesson snap-shot may not have explicit evidence of differentiation at all – and it could still be outstanding, or at least be leading to outstanding outcomes.

Differentiation needs to be seen as the aggregation of the hundreds of subtly different interactions that you have with each of your students, according to their level of attainment and progress.  Even OfSTED now officially do not expect that the needs of all students are being precisely and directly addressed in every lesson observation.  Differentiation is a long-term process that mirrors the long-term nature of learning and progress. (See Learning Arcs and Journeys)

We talked about some of the bottom-lines.

In real life, we have ups and downs.. and a bottom line.

We all have ups and downs; we can all mess things up.  We all have lessons that seem too complicated to factor in yet another level of support or challenge; we have all had lessons where behaviour issues dominate or you do more didactic input and the differentiation is less evident. However, there are always two things that I’d say are non-negotiable:

1. Neglecting the basic access entitlement of students with particular learning needs. If you have a student that can’t read the text-book or follow the standard instructions because of learning difficulties or physical impairment, you have to sort them out every time.  You need to plan for their needs every lesson and go to them immediately to make sure they know what to do.

2. Setting work that is too easy for the top end. There is nothing worse than having students waiting for others to finish with nothing to do or simply having time for a good chat because they’ve completed a basic task.  Here the solution is to set in-built extension tasks as a matter of routine. “If you finish Task A, then go straight on to Tasks B, C and D”.   Of course, there is the issue that ‘more work’ doesn’t necessarily equate to ‘more challenge’. It’s better if each task is increasingly difficult  and you can always consider allowing students to skip Task A and B if they feel confident to tackle other tasks straight away.   At the very least, there should always always be a ‘what next’ if the initial task is quite easy.

We also talked about data.

We’re saturated with data but it only helps if it comes off the spreadsheet and influences our practice in the classroom, helping us to understand and address the needs of the hundreds of students that we teach as individuals. The main use of student data is to prompt you to ask questions about your perception of a student’s ability and progress.  Am I getting this person right? It pays to look back at prior attainment information a week or so after meeting a class for the first time and again after the first term. If you triangulate between the prior attainment info, your gut feeling and your own assessment data, you get a better idea.  Sometimes it’s quite revealing.  Oh gosh, I’ve been underestimating John all this time…. or perhaps I’m neglecting Michael’s underlying lack of confidence; his reading age is lower than I thought.

Most importantly, data helps to ensure that you never settle for mediocrity from someone who doesn’t perform in the way the data says they could.  Ben’s Official Target grade is A but his recent test score was C? Ok…something is going on there. That should catalyse a different response than if the prior attainment data suggested C would be a sign of good progress.

In my last comprehensive school job, I used to devise a differentiation guide for every class to help me plan lessons without forgetting about people. Other teachers made their own. An example is shown here. The grade here is artificial; in reality there would be lots of data points feeding into the crude categorisation: reading ages, MidYIS scores and KS2 entry data would play a part alongside other internal assessments.  The idea is to make it easy to think about the students in rough groupings rather than allow the complexity of the individual data sheet, usually presented in alphabetical order, to be overwhelming and ultimately unhelpful.

A sample differentiation guide.

read the full article at


Tracking and reading problems

Do you teach pupils who can’t read as well as they should? Do they skip words or lines when reading? Or struggle to read long words? Do they struggle to copy off the board? Do they need to run a finger or ruler under their place when reading? Or lay their head on their arm, to cover up one eye, when reading or writing? Do they have difficulty catching a ball? All of these problems can be symptoms of convergence problems.

“All children with reading difficulties should be tested for convergence.”

Other symptoms include getting sore eyes when reading, words moving or being blurry or appearing double. Or starting off reading OK, but then after a short while their reading gets worse. Convergence problems can exist with or without dyslexia, but all children with reading difficulties should be tested for it. Convergence is something that is easy to correct, and makes a massive difference to reading ability.

Learning to walk and talk are natural developmental milestones which don’t usually need to be taught. Pretty much all children develop these skills by themselves at the appropriate time. Learning to read is very different. It isn’t a natural developmental milestone, as our brains haven’t evolved to pick up reading. In fact, the part of the brain that fluent readers use to recognise words is actually the part of the brain designed to recognise faces!

Reading requires very good control of your eye muscles, which only develops as a result of learning to read. For example, a child who can only read English will be able to track left to right better than they can track right to left, whereas for a child who can only read Arabic the opposite will be true.

There are three main vision movements you make when reading: Saccades, Fixations and Convergence.

Saccades and Fixations are used for tracking your eyes across the page. Convergence is the ability focus both eyes on the same point or letter. When you read your eyes don’t flow smoothly across the page. They move in little jumps, called saccades. The points the jumps end on are called fixations. So we actually look at one letter then jump to another letter and read that. While focussing on one letter we can see four to eight letters either side of it.

Fluent readers jump every eight to 16 letters while reading. They normally jump from the middle of one word to the middle of the next. But if the word is long or hard or unexpected they may then jump backwards to an earlier point in the word and have another look at it.

Beginner and non-fluent readers make much smaller jumps, and more often jump backwards to have another look. But for children with dyslexia this is amplified hugely. A fluent child might focus on 150 points in a minute, with 50 of them being backwards jumps. But a typical dyslexic reader might focus on 1,000 points in a minute, with 500 of them being backwards – in fact some of the points won’t even be on the correct line!

Typically dyslexic children can’t control their eye muscles precisely enough to scan across the page correctly. This is one of the reasons they find it hard to understand what they’ve read. All of their brain processing power is spent processing the 1,000 points they’re looking at, and filtering out most of the 500 points they shouldn’t be looking at. This is also why they confuse ‘b’ and ‘d’. As their eyes are moving left to right as often as they’re moving right to left, the two letters look the same.

The other vision skill needed to read is the ability to converge (focus) both eyes on the same letter. If you can’t do this your brain will be receiving two different images. For example, when trying to read the word “brain”, one eye will be focussing on the ‘r’ and the other eye will be focussing on the ‘i’, which is very confusing.
“Dyslexic children can’t control their eye muscles precisely enough to scan across the page correctly.”
This causes many typical dyslexic symptoms: words may appear to move, because the brain processes the r, then the i, without the eyes moving. If the words don’t appear to move, it’ll still make reading very tiring and slow, as the brain has to ignore all the images from one eye.

Specialised eye tests on 3 year olds, before they’ve even started school, can pick up with which children have eye tracking and convergence problems. Researchers (Levinson, 1994) have found a 95% correlation between children with eye tracking problems at three, and children who later have reading problems or dyslexia.

If children, particularly those with dyslexia, don’t develop good convergence and eye tracking skills naturally then it is something that should be practised at school via an intervention. Otherwise, they are likely to always struggle with reading, with spelling, and with copying off the board. Reading will forever be harder for them then it should be. A chore, not something they can enjoy.

Spelling requires even better vision skills than reading, as in order to for a word to be spelled correctly you have to get every letter in the right order, whereas for reading you can often look at the first few letters and guess without having to look at every single letter in the word.

If pupils aren’t able to focus on the letters in a word when they read, their spelling is likely to always be a bit hit and miss. And the often prescribed advice for poor spellers to ‘read more’ won’t help.

For further reading, I’d recommend Eye Movements in Dyslexia: Their Diagnostic Significance by George Th. Pavlidis

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Motivation and Engagement

Motivation and engagement: every minute of every day matters

How much does student motivation and engagement change over the course of a day, a week, and a month at school? How much does motivation and engagement vary from student to student?

We sought answers to these questions in a recent study published in the journal, Learning and Individual Differences.

Three times a day, five days a week, for four weeks, we tracked 20 high school students.

Students were asked to rate themselves on the motivation and engagement factors in the Motivation and Engagement Wheel (see figure below) using their mobile devices. For each factor, they responded to questions on a one (Strongly Disagree) to seven (Strongly Agree) scale, in the morning, the middle of the day, and again in the afternoon.

What is motivation and engagement?

Motivation is students’ energy and drive to learn, work effectively, and achieve. Engagement is typically seen as the behaviours that follow from this energy and drive.

The motivation and engagement factors in our study were those in the Motivation and Engagement Wheel – assessed using the short version of the Motivation and Engagement Scale (Martin, 2014).

The wheel is separated into:

  • Positive motivation (self-belief, learning focus, valuing);
  • Positive engagement (planning behaviour, task management, persistence);
  • Negative motivation (anxiety, failure avoidance, uncertain control);
  • Negative engagement (self-sabotage, disengagement; coded red as these factors are substantially more problematic than negative motivation factors).
The motivation and engagement wheel

The Motivation and Engagement Wheel (reproduced with permission from Martin, A.J. and Lifelong Achievement Group; download from http://www.lifelongachievement.com)

Why does change in motivation and engagement matter?

Whether a student’s motivation and engagement changes through the course of a day, week, or month at school has significant implications for teachers.

If these factors are relatively stable across this period, this suggests it is more a trait of the student and not something that varies in response to different subjects, teachers, activities, and tasks. That is, it might suggest there is a fixed motivation and engagement ‘set-point’ for each student that will not change much from subject to subject, class to class, or task to task.

However, if motivation and engagement is somewhat variable through the day, then this tells us it is very important to identify factors or events that are causing this shift.

A similar question concerns variability from student to student. If there are relatively few differences between students, then motivation and engagement would seem to be something that is stable and not something that would benefit from instructional attention. However, if there are significant variations, then clearly there are some students who may need additional support.

Change in motivation and engagement matters because these factors are related to learning, achievement, and enjoyment of school. Thus, the extent to which we can boost motivation and engagement has direct implications for the extent to which we can boost learning, achievement, and enjoyment.

What did we find?

From our research, we found two major patterns among students.

First, there was far more variation in motivation and engagement throughout the school day than between school days and weeks. Initially we thought this may be due to the time of day; for example, rising from the start of the day to the middle of the day, then declining in the afternoon. But, this was not the case.

Instead, it depended on what the students were doing (for example, the class they were in, the teacher they had, the task they were performing.).

Our second major finding was that there was substantial variation in motivation and engagement between students. In fact, drawing on previous research (Martin et al., 2011), there is far more variation in motivation and engagement from student to student than there is from class to class or school to school.

by Andrew Martin

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Growth Mind Sets and what Dweck really means

In September, Carol Dweck published a very informative commentary for Education Week, which dug deeper into her meaning behind having a growth mindset. In her revisit, which you can read in its entirety here, Dweck explains the meaning behind the heavily researched philosophy when she writes,

“We found that students’ mindsets–how they perceive their abilities–played a key role in their motivation and achievement, and we found that if we changed students’ mindsets, we could boost their achievement. More precisely, students who believed their intelligence could be developed (a growth mindset) outperformed those who believed their intelligence was fixed (a fixed mindset).”

Over the last few years, thousands of schools around the world have jumped on board with the growth mindset. It seemed to become the low-hanging fruit for schools to easily grab. Going from school to school, posters about effort that focus on “trying harder” and books about the mindset for teachers and students are all around. Some school principals like to start conversations by stating that their schools are “Growth Mindset” schools.

But are they really?

Based on the research of John Hattie, someone I work with as a Visible Learning trainer, the growth mindset only has an effect size of .19, which is well below the hinge point of .40. The hinge point means that the influence on learning being used is providing a year’s worth of growth for a year’s input (in the future, Hattie will further explore and explain the meta-analysis that he used to find the effect size).

Read the full article in Education Week by following the link



what is effective CPD?

The teacher development trust have worked with the IOE to consider what makes the most effective CPD in schools. Some of the findings are shown below with a link to the full PDF at the base of the text.


The review shows us that content is also key to achieving impact on teachers’ practice. All reviews found that an essential element of successful professional development is generating buy-in: creating an overt relevance of the content to its participants – their day-to-day experiences with, and aspirations for, their pupils. The reviews also noted the importance of programmes that provide differentiation: opportunities for recognising the differences between individual teachers and their starting points. Similarly important were opportunities for individual teachers both to reveal and discuss their beliefs and to engage in peer learning and support.
Schools must consider how they support teachers’ skills in identifying and understanding needs. We must develop the capacity for teachers to reflect on their classroom and students’ learning, and map this onto areas of need for their own practice. This can be supported by providers – who should take time to identify and understand the particular needs of participants and their students. They must create opportunities for participants to share these and understand the content in overt relation to these.


The review points out that achieving a shared sense of purpose during professional development is an important factor for success. Whether teachers were conscripted or had volunteered to take part in an activity did not appear to be a highly significant factor – a positive professional learning environment, sufficient time, and a consistency with participants’ wider context were all more important.
Within schools, this might suggest there should be less of a focus on splitting between voluntary and conscripted activities. Rather, CPD programmes should create a coherent and shared sense of purpose across staff, and demonstrate an explicit relation to their everyday experiences and context. Providers should focus on providing course content that builds a sense of purpose. This can be done in a number of ways; examples found during the review included peer support, the use of evidence from experimenting with new approaches, and working on why things work, as well as what does and does not work.


The review indicates that effective programmes will feature a variety of activities to reinforce their messages and test ideas from different perspectives. No single particular type of activity – or configurations of multiple activities – was shown to be universally effective or crucial to success. What matters is a logical thread between the various components of the programme, and creating opportunities for teacher learning that are consistent with the principles of the student learning being promoted.
For the providers of CPD, this will require important consideration around how best to reflect and model the approaches they share with teachers in the delivery models used. Schools, meanwhile, should consider how in-school processes reflect and support the elements sought in external opportunities. School leaders should support staff to develop strategic approaches to professional development that allow for clear links across activities.


The review also highlighted certain types of activities that, with specialist support, should lead to successful outcomes. Successful facilitators employed activities that aim to:
  •  Introduce new knowledge and skills to participants.
  •  Help participants access the theory and evidence underlying the relevant pedagogy, subject knowledge, and strategies.
  • Help participants believe better outcomes are possible, particularly among schools where achievement has been depressed over time.
  • Make the link between professional learning and pupil learning explicit through discussion of pupil progression and analysis of assessment data.
  • Take account of different teachers’ starting points and – from the strongest review – the emotional content of the learning.
Specialists should also support teachers through modelling, providing observation and feedback, and coaching. Again, it is important for facilitators and specialists to balance support and challenge while building relationships with participants. The exact nature of effective specialist support can, however, vary depending on the subject specialism involved. In maths and science opportunities, for example, to be observed and receive feedback were not always prerequisites for successful professional development.
Finally, some evidence in the review suggested that effective specialists mobilised, encouraged and guided teacher peer support. They might also offer remote support in a variety of media such as e-networking and provision of instructional and other materials.

The review identified four core roles for school leaders in effective professional development.

These were adapted according to the school context and the nature of changes being implemented:
  • Developing vision – including helping teachers believe alternative outcomes are possible and creating coherence so teachers understand the relevance of CPD to wider priorities.
  • Managing and organising – including establishing priorities, resolving competing demands, sourcing appropriate expertise and ensuring appropriate opportunities to learn are in place.
  • Leading professional learning – including promoting a challenging learning culture, knowing what content and activities are likely to be of benefit, and promoting “evidence-informed, self-regulated learning”.
  •  Developing the leadership of others – including encouraging teachers to lead a particular aspect of pedagogy or of the curriculum.

read the full summary on;






Supporting pupil premium pupils

The Department for Education has today published a hefty 146-page research report into the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was asked to investigate the difference between some schools in the performance of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds – those eligible for pupil premium.

Here’s what they found:

1. Schools have tried out an average of 18 strategies to boost the learning of pupil premium students

The survey found schools had used a large number of strategies to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils since 2011.

The most popular and effective strategies focused on teaching and learning, especially; paired or small group additional teaching; improving feedback; and one-to-one tuition.

2. Differences between school characteristiscs – bad news if you’re disadvantaged and in a rural secondary school with large year groups

– Schools with higher levels of pupil absence had lower performance among disadvantaged pupils

– Schools with larger year groups overall also had lower performance

– And so did rural secondary schools

3. Differences between school type – being a member of a Teaching School Alliance makes no difference

– There were mixed findings for sponsored academies, which had poorer performance at primary level, but better performance and improvement at secondary level

– Selective schools and teaching schools were associated with higher performance (after taking into account the influence of high-performing intake)

– And the study found no evidence of a statistically significant relationship between positive performance among disadvantaged pupils and being member of a Teaching School Alliance

4. The 15 most popular pupil premium strategies used by schools

15 most popular strategies


5. The most popular are also pretty much the same as those deemed the most effective

Most effective

6. Teachers thought the best ideas actually came from within their own schools

best ideas from schools

7. Nearly one in four schools said a major influence on their decision of how to boost attainment was whether parents liked itParents thoughts

8. Children’s minister Sam Gyimah has some tips on how to be a successful pupil premium school

“Successful schools adopt a whole school approach to their use of the pupil premium that delivers on the full potential of every pupil, including nurturing their more able pupils to excel.

“Successful schools deploy the best staff to support their most disadvantaged pupils, and use their resources to develop the skills and roles of their teachers and teaching assistants.”

9. In conclusion, evidence-based strategies tailored to specific schools are the best

Overall, this research suggests there is no single, “one size fits all” solution to closing the attainment gap. Instead, a number of measures are required, tailored to each school’s circumstances and stage on an improvement journey.

These measures include setting a culture of high expectations for all pupils, understanding how schools can make a difference, selecting a range of evidence-based strategies tailored to meet the needs of individual schools and pupils, and implementing them well.

10. Here’s a handy building block chart of the most effective ways to support disadvantaged pupils


Disadvataged pupils buildiong blocks

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