Author Archives: David Jones

What I want to say to colleagues but might forget!

2015-last term reflections

I have to say that I have really slept well during the Xmas and New Year holiday and have had the long autumn term cobwebs blown out of me by the lashings of Storm Frank on the hills and trails surrounding Threlkeld and Keswick. Time then to turn to school matters and the remaining year ahead. I outlined my vision for the year on September’s inset day, and need to return very briefly to it again on next Monday’s inset, before the people who actually know what they are talking about, get on with their own professional development! Saying thank you only matters when you mean it and there is actually something to say thank you for. Colleagues have been kind and supportive of my leadership but I want to thank them for their support of each other. I know that when they ask for volunteers to cover their lessons when it is nativity season [if we have none available] there is no shortage of helpers and I know that when staff are absent, work is sorted, classes are often taken and student needs always come first. I also know that a host of informal observations and drop-ins have occurred and that ideas have been shared collaboratively without my nagging and chasing and I know that time has been given after school for a range of sporting, cultural, performing arts and academic support activities that many parents and students presume to be the norm and their right! I wonder how many have marked or planned throughout their holidays too. I neither ask for nor expect such dedication but hope to have helped to support a culture where it just happens and I can genuinely say thank you and provide additional time for collaborative work to be tested and trialled. I hope that our systems are flexible enough to meet the family needs of staff and the personal needs of individuals, when required of their school ‘family’

I made it clear in September that I hoped to be ‘happy’ and that hopefully that would ensure that school was a place where people wanted to come and work. Of course, whilst I might try to model desirable leadership characteristics, I’m snookered if other leaders in school don’t follow suit! There is always pressure on all of our leaders and I try to deflect much of it away that comes from national bodies as possible but the day to day management of learning, teaching, behaviour and administration will always raise issues and concerns. Dealing with people fairly and supportively is a skill that doesn’t come easily to all [perhaps not to me!] but I try to avoid certain situations e.g. emailing instead of face to face speaking over important issues, trivialising issues that the person telling me is obviously bothered about, emailing at weekends or the evening that I want something tomorrow, criticising without thought or solutions to offer and not being afraid to say let me think about it and I’ll come back to you later. I could go on and sometimes difficult conversations are tempting to avoid but they must happen. If any member of staff feels that at any time they have been treated unfairly by a colleague, they must say and be clear that in our school they will be listened to and there will be no repercussions. If I don’t know about things, I can’t act!

I really dislike divisive talk that separates teachers from teaching assistants, from support staff, from mentors etc. We all have our roles that support our students and school community and my conversations with all of our support staff, Martin with our teaching assistants and the whole of our teachers in their appraisal conversations should now have brought into the open professional needs and development requests and individual planning needs. I can’t meet them all; you have your responsibilities and accountabilities too but I hope that everybody involved has appreciated the open discussion, has received at least 1 of their requests and agreed that my own shared appraisal objectives and success criteria was the right way for the school to go!


2016-my hopes and priorities

For those of you who don’t frequent twitter, there are many discussions that get extremely heated especially the Traditional/Progressive debate. I won’t bore you with the details if you haven’t a clue about what the issue is but some have tried to argue that folks should move on, the debate isn’t valid and so on whilst others defend the right to discuss and hold views on whatever you want. I have tried to include as many of my colleagues as possible in our discussions, including inviting governors and other colleagues to SLT meetings and some have attended, others haven’t. That is their right and many colleagues are too busy planning and, marking etc. to consider attending or reading documents. However, I do believe that the opportunity should be there. It doesn’t matter to me whether people agree with me or disagree, but I want to give voices the chance to be heard and important issue like increasing our numbers and considering when it is best to academise/lead a MAT etc. need to be aired and considered with the current facts ready at hand.

The new teaching structure is nearly ready to begin to have an impact. Leadership opportunities will be redistributed, faculties will be separated back into subject specific areas to support very specific professional development and teaching expertise and by the end of next week 5 research leaders attached to year groups will be appointed and ready to rock! They will be expected to seek out evidence to inform colleagues of the very best practice needed to support learners and teachers in the year area e.g. transition in year 7, individual or group needs for intervention and to follow their own areas of research. It’s an exciting direction for the school to take and will support our own, and the TSA’s research projects.

6 colleagues received intensive training just before Xmas in ‘Thinking Reading’ and I’m hoping that the intensive support that will be put into place, supported by another whole school push on reading, will have a vital impact on breaking the sometimes impenetrable learning barrier, that poor reading skills brings.

We tried to reach out to other schools via our TSA to share ideas in the core subjects. Numbers weren’t great but grew and I hope that our next meetings-lesson study and humanities will bring more people in to collaborate with each other and us. I have colleagues ready to work with English and maths KS2/3 lesson study projects and hope that our geography and history tweeters are going to bring all of their followers into school! The final show and share brings some great research experts-Rob Coe, Alex Quigley and Gary Jones- into school and I’m grateful to Lizzy, Leon and everyone else who has come along and shared their ideas with our visitors. The TSA has already provided development opportunities for our NLE and SLE with more on its way for our new SLEs. If we can develop a reputation for quality PD and very practical subject specific/leadership support, we will feel the benefits within our own school. The success will depend, as it does with much PD, on our ability to focus on what is really needed based on a thorough evaluation of data and honest talking. Throwing money around will-nilly doesn’t work and tightly constructed, openly discussed, agreed and monitored success criteria have a chance if we open our doors and model for others what we are talking about!

Much of the inset day and professional development is now down to what the staff decide their priorities are. January reviews will be presented in a style of the subject leader’s choice and data is yours to evaluate, analyse and tell us about. You know your data and your students and classes and you know what it is telling you in terms of progress over time and intervention needs. Leon is convinced that this is the way forward and the data should be yours. I’ll do anything to support the most effective ways for you to reduce workload but know that there is no 1 size fits all approach. Teachers are always complaining about the unnecessary use of tracking and data and I would imagine that most of you will be delighted to have a choice but then might panic and think what on earth should I do! Just ask-plenty of support from others is available and having a go and failing is fine too. We’re developing leadership skills and you have to find your own methodology and practice that works for you and your department. If you feel that you have a weak area of knowledge or skills; recognising it and asking for specific PD is the way to go! This applies equally to any of our learning and teaching priorities.

I don’t know yet which areas of research our new appointments will cover but I do want to open up the opportunity for a group of colleagues to begin to gather information/suggestions re work-life balance and workload. I think that we have tried really hard in this area but you may disagree and have some wonderful suggestions to make. As I said at the last inset, I don’t teach 20 lessons a week any more. I get a bit of mither here and there but it isn’t the same and as I want a happy and healthy staff, I will be seeking your advice and words of wisdom. What was that song Ken Dodd sang about ‘Happiness’-time to go methinks and wish you all a successful and happy 2016.




PREVENT-student views

Every year we have a series of whole school discussion for our students to air their views on. Some of the previous ones are included in our external blog back categories-

These include general topics such as British Values and ‘if you were Prime Minister’ along with the more familiar questions on learning and teaching including GM, marking and feedback and literacy. Our learning walks which interview students rather than staff will begin in January and will focus on learning and teaching-blog to follow-but before Xmas our forms have been involved in a discussion based on issues surrounding the PREVENT agenda. Terrorist activity is sadly a part of our everyday news now and I firmly believe that our students should be able to openly discuss current affairs, be sceptical and critical of policies, beliefs and ideas [if they wish to be] and offer their own views in serious debate. Informed young people have a key role to play in the future of our country and although some of the issues are difficult for the younger students to fully understand, we shouldn’t shirk our responsibility in helping to prepare for a future with increasingly complex political, economic and social issues.

It would be tempted to think that some students may well be bored with the issues or as Xmas approaches, be more interested in asking us to give them a break from deep thinking! The truth is that many love to be challenged and made to justify, debate and prioritise their thoughts. Learning tutors did report back that some struggled but others were more animated and opinionated than the loudest Question Times! The questions were these, and do please borrow them, if you like the idea. I have included a whole range of answers from the different year groups to engender further discussion.

prevent 1



For those of you reading this and wondering what sort of town Southport [and our school] is in terms of possible terrorist threat, ethnicity, potential radicalisation etc. and thus the interest/concerns our students may have picked up at home or on the streets with friends; the reality is that it is a predominantly white town with many people probably not knowing any Muslim friends or worrying too much about possible radicalisation or attack. The closest big city Liverpool isn’t as ethnically diverse as London, Birmingham or the nearest other big NW cities of Manchester or Preston. Immigrant presence would be East European to work in the care industry, hotels or agriculture and I suppose that over the years terrorist potential may be more related to Irish politics and animal affairs than ISIS. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we shouldn’t raise these questions and encourage tolerance of other religions and beliefs. We do have a small number of non-Christian faith people in school [and many of no religious beliefs] and 1 teacher found the Ali poster useful in ensuring anti-Muslim sentiments weren’t aired.


I did send out some resources and ideas when the Paris atrocities had happened- from Russell Tarr and these explained clearly that it wasn’t just Western Europe that was under attack, the Russian plane disaster, of course happened more recently and there were other pertinent questions to be raised that might directly impact on our students such as our own trip to Paris and our responsibilities as young citizens of the UK.

Two other really helpful posts for teachers and parents are here.  Offers good advice regarding possible Islamophobia and teaches in a more multi-cultural area than Southport is. Amjad Ali writing as Tait did just after the Paris attacks  also teaches in a multi –cultural school and you can see his response and advice to teachers in schools who have few Muslim students. Students do have the right to their freedom of speech and opinions and as the oldest teacher still here, I know that opinions change a great deal over the years. However, I do believe that rather than forcing our opinions, we should always try to develop tolerance of others by discussion and debate. I hope that the questions are fair and promoted honest and open debate. This poster hopefully resonates with our school view.

prevent 5

Who was responsible for the attacks on Paris?

Most forms said ISIS or Islamic State immediately as you would expect given the news coverage. Other variations included terrorists, Muslim terrorists, extremists, militants and 10HH emphasised ‘not Muslims’ 8HF added a slightly different view. “Most said ISIS, they shouldn’t have retaliated, it’s not fair, and they are sacrificing their lives to kill others. Some thought that France and other western countries were responsible saying that we started it.”

Who else, apart from Western Europeans has been attacked?

Again most form groups were able to give a wide geographical spread of attacks across the continents including North America, Africa and Asia. I wasn’t sure if they would only focus on Paris and the USA but specific countries and incidents were provided as evidence.

Who are ISIS and why are they attacking others?

An interesting set of differing opinions emerged and of course many adults aren’t quite sure why the attacks and fighting is taking place. Comments included;

  • Because others don’t believe in what they believe in.
  • Trying to take over the world.
  • It is what they believe in.
  • Believe that Allah is telling them to do this [we believe that this is a lie and an excuse]
  • Attacking well known countries to make a name for themselves.
  • Because we were bombing Iran and now Syria.
  • They want others to become Muslims.
  • Because they are against other religions.
  • They are extremists who want to force their views on others.
  • Islamic extremists who believe everyone should follow their religion.
  • They are attacking others as they follow Sharia Law-they would like to force others to believe the same thing that they do.
  • We don’t actually know why they are doing this as there are so many rumours about why rather than 1 definite reason.
  • Extremist Muslims-it’s their belief that they are doing it for Allah.
  • Extremist who believe that what they are doing is getting them closer to Allah?
  • Terrorists-they think they are better than others, they want everyone to follow their rules.
  • Due to extremist religious views.
  • Jihadi John, ISIS, people who aren’t part of their religion deserve to die, disagree with the way people in the western world live their lives.
  • Extremists because they want power and revenge as they think we attacked them first.
  • Can be ISIS, can be other terrorist groups too. They are attacking people because they think that if they die doing it they will go to ‘heaven’. They believe their religion/God is telling them to sacrifice their lives to kill others.
  • ISIS claim to be Muslims and claim to acting due to their faith but in fact they are not Muslims and are not instructed to carry out these actions by the Koran. True Muslims are horrified by their actions.

I did wonder throughout my reading of all of the comments where young people get their information from these days to be able to form opinions. Perhaps I should have included a question on sources of knowledge and can only surmise. TV news, one would hope, is factual and reasonably non-biased in providing pretty accurate facts should they watch it. I wouldn’t imagine that not too many read newspapers and can’t be sure how many families discuss current affairs at home. Nor can I be sure how big a part social media plays in contributing to the information they were putting forward. Interesting views though and worth raising the follow up question after Xmas of which has the greater influence – politics or religion in the mentality of ISIS and other terrorists. Or is there something else that drives them?

Why do some people get radicalised into joining these groups?

Taking the lives of others in the name of a cause is something most human beings could never contemplate. The notion of a ‘just war’ is discussed in RE and recently again in parliament and students may be able to understand that war and the inevitable killing involved, can sometimes be justified. For them to understand why anyone would join ISIS and kill people, is harder to grasp but it happens, they do and they choose to kill. Why?

  • Lack of positive role models, lack of education, extreme views.
  • Forced to.
  • Social media.
  • How they are brought up.
  • Because they are stupid.
  • They sometimes say yes, then can’t change their minds and they’re stuck.
  • Because of poverty and a lack of education.
  • For greed/money.
  • Get taught from an impressionable young age/easier to manipulate their thoughts.
  • Vulnerable people-easily led.
  • People may do it for money.
  • Some are scared and have no choice as they are forced into it. Other believe they are doing it for the right reason as they believe this will please God.
  • People may be vulnerable or forced/born into it.
  • People who are vulnerable could be persuaded to join for the promises made to them when they reach heaven after an attack.
  • Some people may feel that they have nowhere else to turn e.g. if their local area experienced islamophobia due to these attacks.
  • Because they believe in life after death, retaliation, scared
  • Make a name for themselves.
  • Unemployment.
  • On drugs so easier to radicalise.
  • Blackmail.
  • Because it is the way they are brought up.
  • Following other Muslims with this belief.
  • They just want to do it.
  • They look up to older people doing this.
  • They see Muslims being persecuted and are angry because of this.
  • It creates a feeling of acceptance as they may have no friends or spend a lot of time online
  • They may know friends or family involved in terrorist activities or that hold terrorist beliefs.
  • They are seen as disposable pawns.
  • Shy, lonely people who are easily persuaded, criminals.
  • Because they agree with their opinions and what the extremists are doing/ share same views.
  • Blackmail (“might know something embarrassing or bad about them”) Bribery through gifts or monetary rewards. Terrorists use Islam as an excuse. Some of them live in the UK, they don’t follow any religion and so decide through pressure to follow Islam but they are told the wrong beliefs.
  • They are tempted in by lies, they target poor and vulnerable people who may be more receptive.

Bombing of Syria. Why? Do you agree? Are there other possible strategies? What would you do?

As in parliament and across the country, there were a range of opposing views and eminently sensible suggestions. Only the youngest students were more prone to some fanciful ideas on the next few questions!

  • No – send ground troops to avoid civilian deaths.
  • Yes – because we need to stand up to them.
  • We are bombing Syria because we want to destroy ISIS
  • America and France are involved
  • Stop migration into other countries
  • I would wait and close all the borders
  • We are very split on this, half of our form think it is a good idea to get involved the other half disagree. The people who agree believe we need to do this in order to protect ourselves and we should act now to prevent an attack. The other half believe this will make us as bad as them as by getting involved we too could end up killing innocent people. We all agree that something needs done but we don’t know how they can be stopped.
  • The class was split on this questions, some believed it was the right thing to do to protect our country, however they also believed that air strikes may not be enough and ground troops may be more effective in targeting ISIS and less dangerous to civilians. Others believed this is the wrong thing to do as it is affecting innocent civilians that ISIS hide within and behind and will only promote the ISIS cause, and causing more people to join when they have nothing else.
  • Some say yes others no – No – because they are bombing innocent people, start looking after the NHS as we don’t have enough money in our country but we are bombing others
  • Yes – if we don’t bomb them they will bomb us, before we were not a target but now after bombing we are targets for ISIS.
  • The students were split 50/50 on this issue 50% were in favour of the bombing. The other 50% thought bombing would merely create more problems
  • Yes – Not going to stop them any other way.
  • No – Inhumane to bomb people, shouldn’t stoop to their level. Could show them videos to show the impact of their actions.
  • If we bomb them, they could then retaliate and bomb us.
  • 14 members of form agree. 2 members of form disagree- we need people on the ground to target the culprits so that innocent people are not killed. Others do not want to say either way.
  • Attacks on Paris instigated us wanting to bomb Syria. USA, Russia, France are also involved in bombing Syria.
  • Get other countries (Russia) to help out, not bomb them as they will retaliate.
  • Majority of the form said NO, they don’t agree with the bombing in Syria.
  • 6 voted yes to bombs, 12 voted no.
  • Why did we do it? “trying to get rid of ISIS’ resources so they can’t fight back”
  • Who else is involved? “Russia, France, America, Turkey, loads of forces fighting”
  • People won’t be hurt if it’s dropping bombs, “they bombed us”
  • Other solutions? “full out war – nuclear warfare” (but you’d get rid of innocent people, yeah that’s the bad thing)
  • Don’t know what else to do (“should build a Death Star!”)
  • Yes, because if they are attacking countries in Europe then why shouldn’t we attack them back. No because if we do it they’ll retaliate and it’ll never end. We shouldn’t be bombing innocent people. Some think it was the right thing to do but we have made it more dangerous for ourselves.
  • About a third agree with the bombings, go into Syria and find ISIS, try and reason with them, send the cavalry in, kill their leader. Two thirds do not agree and think that too many innocent people will get killed using this tactic.
  • Some disagree as innocent people will die and this is the same as what ISIS did, others feel that this is the right action to eliminate terrorists and stop the problem. Russia, USA, France are involved in bombing. Solutions are to just use the tornado bombers which can target specific areas rather than bombing the entire country. Get rid of the Assad regime. Take in more civilian refugees. Some people disagree that we should take refugees as it may cause more attacks.
  • We don’t think we should have done that e.g. in the playground if someone hits you, you should not hit them back. We should have better secure defences in the country so less effected. Hypocritical!
  • We are only doing it because; they are going to bomb us, to show we’re not scared of them. We shouldn’t have done it – we’re only doing it to get involved and be like everyone else to show off that we can take part. One pupil said “I would make a WW3 with nuclear weapons, that’s what they want anyway!” Another pointed out that it is a vicious circle (bomb us-bomb them) and it won’t ever end.
  • Arrest rather than kill, bomb but try to avoid civilians, don’t use violence because it just causes more violence, stop migrants in case they are ISIS, more security, something has to be done and diplomacy has failed.

How worried are you about visiting major cities? What precautions should you take or do you expect to be taken? Should we go to Paris?

  • About half would still go to Paris or other places. Bring a weapon with you. [discussion of carrying a gun occurred in a couple of classes] Full body guards around you. Soldiers will protect you.
  • Some are concerned about another terrorist attack while going abroad. Others trust the security in the country to protect us against attacks.
  • Initial response: “just don’t go” “their whole goal is to stop people doing stuff, but the security has gone up massively so chance of an attack is unlikely”
  • Some of the class are worried about major cities as ‘they’ could be there (“but why would they bomb Southport?”)
  • Not sure how to protect us.
  • Close the borders
  • Some students worried about going to places that could be seen as a target. Other people believe these places now have heightened security. Other don’t want to be scared of going places as that’s what the terrorists want.
  • Not worried because family members have been to France recently – shouldn’t be worrying because they’ve just been bombed and could be the safest place. No worried because such attacks are rare.
  • Some worried about visiting train stations – lots of crowds of people, not secure. Worried because never experienced attacks before and wouldn’t know how to react to them.
  • The students thought that the trip should go ahead.
  • 8-yes
  • 11 – no
  • Very worried because we are not sure where ISIS are. You must be careful and vigilant
  • Nobody is really nervous now and believe that security should be responsible for keeping the public safe. They think there should be heightened security at public places. Something we could do is watch out for bags left unattended etc.
  • Some of us would still be worried to go to Paris however the majority agree they would still go. We think that if they have already hit Paris they are not very likely to go back, also as there is now so many police around it actually could be safer than other countries. We all agreed with Josh’s comment that by not going to Paris the terrorists have gotten their way and won and so we should continue to support the country. If we were still to go we would be a lot more aware and alert to what is going on.
  • The majority of the class thinks it shouldn’t go ahead.
  • Everywhere is dangerous so I wouldn’t be put off.
  • If you didn’t do anything it would be very boring.
  • It is like not travelling in a car because you might have a crash. Everything carries risks.
  • People are scared of sharks, but cows kill more people than sharks do.
  • I am worried of going on a plane in case it gets shot down.
  • If you don’t do anything and you are scared, then the terrorists have won.
  • Shouldn’t be scared of potential terrorist attacks as if that was the case the whole country would be in locked down. Also the security will now be much tighter. If we didn’t travel it would mean the terrorists had been successful. However it is a worry that the police system is stretched as it is and lacking funding so they don’t have the materials available to defend the general public
  • We don’t think we should have done that e.g. in the playground if someone hits you, you should not hit them back. We should have better secure defences in the country so less effected.
  • Hypocritical!
  • We expect tight security so we are not at that much of a risk- you can’t live your life living in fear.
  • Split decision here. Some said to go because they are just trying to make us live in fear and we’ve got to show them that we’re having fun and that we’re not afraid. Some said they wouldn’t go in case something happens or that they wouldn’t go until it was all sorted properly, until all of the terrorism has been stopped.
  • Places will be safer when security is heightened after an attack. Also if nothing happens between now and Feb I would feel safe. Watch the news so you are aware of current events/threats. Learn some French so you can communicate effectively in an emergency. More vigilant about others are doing or how they are acting. Stay in groups.

What do you think that individual young people can do to PREVENT terrorism? Having discussed terrorism-what do you think ‘terrorism’ means and can you think of other forms of terrorism that you have heard of-some perhaps more local than the large scale bomb attacks?

  • Terrorism means violent extremism, frequently using religion as an excuse.
  • We should just carry on with our normal daily lives and not blame a community as a whole for causing terrorism.
  • Niamh and India know about the bombs planted in Warrington and Manchester Arndale centre – IRA
  • Not to talk to strangers. People killing or harming for no reason because of their beliefs.
  • Terrorism to us is unprovoked acts of violence carried out by extremists. We have never heard of any acts of terrorism in Southport.
  • We think terrorism means forcing people to believe the same as you do using terror, e.g. attacks. Gang culture can be a form of terrorism and terrorism can be found everywhere in all religions. [Interesting view-is it true?]
  • Educate all young people.
  • They hacked into our computers and phones- there is nothing we can do to stop them but we can educate people to teach them not to do it.
  • The students thought that any suspicious signs should be reported to the police.
  • Staying alert of suspicious people.
  • Terrorism: Different forms e.g. bombing, taking revenge, terrorising innocent people, making people feel worried/scared. Attacking people for no reason.
  • Look for extreme behaviour. If friends are talking about things you think are worrying or wrong tell someone you trust. When someone behaves in anti-social and violent manner. People with extreme views. London underground bombings. 9/11 bombing. Beheadings filmed and put on internet.
  • This opened a discussion about us all carrying guns to protect ourselves.
  • Be taught more about it, be aware of what can go on, and talk to each other if we notice signs of someone showing radical behaviour.
  • Kids could defend and don’t discriminate against Muslims. Be vigilant on Facebook. Protest to government to not let them in. Support each other.
  • Spot signs of radicalisation early to prevent people being converted to ISIS. Terrorism means people who have extreme views which an intent to kill. Stabbings in London was a local form of terrorism, IRA attacks.
  • Instagram/Facebook/Twitter. Je suis Paris, changing your profile picture to the French flag etc. to show support. We could make a video about not being scared and showing ways we’re having fun and enjoying ourselves and then put that video on the internet (something like that).
  • Preaching hate and trying to influence people is local terrorism. Keep an eye on vulnerable people and don’t let them become isolated. Terrorism = hurting people based on an extreme personal view.

The final question raises the major aspects of the PREVENT training that has been brought back into schools. Have our students been listening? I could have gone on to ask further questions about civil liberties and so on but perhaps the answers reflect the fears and expected societal responsibilities of the age that we live in.

Threats to your individual safety can come from a range of different people both inside and outside of school. We look after each other as a school community but what signs should we look for if our friends are in any danger and what should we do about it?

    • Secretive behaviour, uncomfortable, edgy, visiting websites about extremism and discussing it regularly.
    • Make sure they’re not being bribed. Tell a teacher to pass to the police. Tell parents what’s happening. Look out for them not being themselves. Check if they’re armed. [Thanks a lot!]
    • Be taught more about it, be aware of what can go on, and talk to each other if we notice signs of someone showing radical behaviour.
    • Becoming isolated from friends, having signs / logos of groups, acting strange, threatening behaviour, start agreeing with ISIS’ logic.
    • Wearing different clothes, racist views towards others, where they go, the way they act, what they do in their free time. Report it to police, teachers and any adult you trust.
    • Look out for friends not being themselves or acting different to normal, friends might become more secretive, people being absent from school for longer periods of time or repeatedly being absent from school.
    • The students said that they would tell staff at school if they spotted any issues
    • If friends start talking about attacks a lot more then it will raise a few alarms. We should tell someone you trust e.g. mum. [This was reassuringly old fashioned and touching!]
    • Tell someone if you think someone is in danger, help people if you can, keep an eye on friends but don’t get involved for your own safety
    • We should look out for any changes in behaviour, appearance, mood and language. If we were to suspect anything we would tell our parents or teachers, if we felt there was immediate danger we would inform the police.
    • We would look out for people looking or acting differently and tell someone about it. Change in behaviour, different people they hang around with, personality changing. We would tell someone we trust.
    • People having sudden and radical changes in appearance, personality and views.
    • Look out for people who show signs of sadness, who don’t want to speak to anyone, who are constantly alone and don’t want to be with anyone. Look out for people who aren’t acting like they usually would, people who seem agitated or distracted because it might mean they are thinking about something bad/wrong. Talk to those people and find out what is going on and if they need any help. Tell someone about it. (When I asked them to be more specific than “someone” they suggested Police, Parents and Teachers).
    • To be honest my form were a bit stumped by this question and couldn’t really relate to it. I don’t think they grasped it and I wonder if it is because we live in a less racially mixed town than others.

I’m sure that Miss is correct with her comment but it was a discussion that needed to happen and I hope that parents and friends found the answers interesting and thought provoking. Perhaps we will discuss Europe next or how about Tyson Fury!

Have a wonderful Xmas holiday and very happy New Year.















Let’s Work Together!

“Let’s Work Together”

“Together we will stand divided we’ll fall

Come on now people let’s get on the ball

And work together, come on, come on let’s work together, now, now people

Say now together we will stand, every boy, girl, woman, and man…”

I haven’t produced a blog since our first inset day in September-the autumn term is always hectic and the changing emphasis of my role has sent me in new directions, which I have had to learn quickly. I have also tried not to interfere or give too many of my own views whilst our new leadership team establishes themselves, especially Lizzy, who has to feel that she has ownership of areas I dabbled in for a few years! When I’ve managed to pause briefly for reflection, I invariably arrive back at the message from inset day of my desire to be happy in my job, with the knock on effect that will have on all in our community. Understanding what is valued at MCHS and celebrating what we have achieved and seeking to sustain and increase our own performance will, I believe, give us the impetus to not just keep our heads above the waters of economic and educational uncertainty and change BUT to reach new, exciting and effective learning and teaching opportunities for our students and staff. Underlying all of the sound-bites and aspirational rhetoric has to be practical day in day out collaboration and working together of all in our school. Divided we fall and whilst the fine lines between individual, department, role in school and whole school priorities can blur and cause heart felt professional disagreements and differences at times-we have to continue to develop a supportive and listening environment where all can feel valued and contribute ideas, all should have personalised professional development opportunities and all should have an appropriate workload that challenges colleagues but doesn’t break them and that focuses on agreed and discussed needs of our school and students.

Sounds great and lots of school leaders, of course, say exactly the same thing-can we make it work?

For non-teachers, parents and friends of the school who may be reading the blog, much of the time on early inset days and directed time meetings in September is dedicated to teacher appraisal. Last year’s targets, especially the summer exam results, are scrutinised and hopefully celebrated and new objectives are agreed upon and set for the coming year. The process is similar in most schools because the deadline dates are set and the successful completion of appraisal objectives is linked to pay. For many years of my career, appraisal wasn’t taken seriously and was a minor irritation to be put up with. We have to do it ‘properly’

now and whilst it still irritates many, it does represent a golden opportunity, in my opinion, to work together and join up our thinking on linking professional development needs to learning and teaching agreed priorities. The problem is that the October deadline for completion causes a cack handed way of supporting appraisal-there isn’t enough time to organise a logical process. Although we do a lot of preparatory work in the summer term-individual professional portfolios/departments agree on initial priorities-the summer results can change these drastically and the school improvement plan which is written partly in summer to offer ideas for individual/department plans is also only a draft, because I need to see what everybody is asking for so that I can put their views into the whole school plan! Appraisals should reflect individual, department and whole school issues/or at least be fully aware of the latter two. As the deadline for the head’s appraisal is 2 months after that of my colleagues, this means that they don’t get to see mine until theirs are completed. Perhaps this should be the other way round?

Appraisals are confidential but to ease workload [quite a few find them tricky and time-consuming] I did offer 20 or so possible scenarios to try and cover what I imagined would be popular choices for objectives complete with possible success criteria and measures of impact. I know that some schools impose objectives but colleagues seem happy to save time and pinch suggestions if they like them and for the one that we all have-exam residuals-I shared anonymised examples/added suggestions to firm up the criteria and help us all to be able to prove to anyone who asks, that we have done everything possible to achieve targets. Banks of anonymised objectives/success criteria will be ready next time to choose from, if required, and save precious time and effort. We have always provided examples but this is a much more thorough collaborative approach.





The timings are something for me to consider, however, they haven’t stopped us from thinking about streamlining the processes, working together to reduce workload and making the whole reviewing/appraisal process far more joined up. I was hoping that enquiry questions would replace the traditional appraisal objectives and that we could link these to research based PD. This was a step too far for this time and Leon provided a development session to show how we could replace much of the time consuming faculty SEFs with research questions which focused on perceived areas of weakness/subject specific priorities. These linked to the subject reviews and provided areas for us to follow up with faculties in the mid-winter review. A whole load of paper-work based on old Ofsted style demands disappeared and this seemed a much more effective way forward AND it can fit onto 1 side of A4! Our peer review from Challenge Partners will give us a clearer view of how others might view our approach/provide suggestions and feedback.

Department Improvement Plan                        Department – Mathematics

School Priorities
Effectiveness of Leadership Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Personal development, behaviour and welfare Outcomes for children and other learners
Professional development-meeting individual and faculty needs – MUST impact on learning and be researched, evaluated and adapted if necessary Embed ‘MCHS’ Great Teaching Continue to develop student voice Individual faculty responses to the 2015 exam results
Sustaining our leadership capacity Embed GM-link to BSG Continue attendance drive-monitor extra-curricular attendance re cohorts Fully close the gap in all subjects between ever 6 and non-ever 6
Safeguarding and workload Quality feedback-link to BSG E safety awareness when appropriate Focus on middle attainers in most subjects [focus on any areas of underperforming cohorts]
Interleaving / memory retention Subject specific careers positi9cve advice Preparation in KS3 to support G.C.S.E. [BSG, quizzing, interleaving, new NC SOLs]


Department priorities
Middle Attainers – our middle attainer cohort continues to remain a focus for our department. Revision and intervention will target this cohort and extra sessions will include invite only for these students in year 11.
 Curriculum – We need to prepare our students for the changes for the new GCSE. Complete the SOWs and introduce the idea of interleaving (LAT’s). Research into ‘Shuffled’ teaching.
Leadership – JF, ZE, BK, FD are all completing the NAML programme which connects to their appraisal targets. CB needs to attend courses to ensure department are aligned with new curriculum and mastery methods. JF to improve links with primary schools.


Enquiry Questions (Based on department and/or school priorities)
Question: To what extent can <detail of intervention> have on <cohort> How & when will it be evaluated? What does success look like? Led by:
To what extent can shuffling the curriculum have on the impact of our middle attainers? Throughout the year assessments will be used to evaluate impact of teaching. By December break have a view to evaluate sets and shuffle sets if necessary. Prior testing and then retesting methods will be introduced after Christmas. Attainment and students survey feedback will inform us of this type of teaching and impact for our subject. JF & AW
To what extent can shuffling teaching sets have impact on our middle attainers? Student survey – do students prefer to be in a smaller group or back with students in a larger class. By Christmas and then Easter have a student survey completed. An engaged set 5 with high expectations that they can achieve their target grade. CB & SL
To what extent does our curriculum design help our students at KS4 and how can we prepare students for new GCSE with LAT’s style questions ZE and BK will look at the impact of prior knowledge checks before teaching the new GCSE chapters. EVALUATION: by attainment end of Spring term 1 and spring term 2.

The whole department are involved with designing and teaching LAT’s questions for current year 9 and 10 alongside the new SOW’s that CB and JF are writing throughout the year. EVALUATION: completed SOW’s used by staff, survey. Final term of the year.

Decision to introduce prior knowledge assessments into KS3.

Completed SOW with LAT’s included.


Whole department.

Department Improvement Plan                        Department – Geography

School Priorities
Effectiveness of Leadership Quality of teaching, learning and assessment Personal development, behaviour and welfare Outcomes for children and other learners
Professional development-meeting individual and faculty needs – MUST impact on learning and be researched, evaluated and adapted if necessary Embed ‘MCHS’ Great Teaching Continue to develop student voice Individual faculty responses to the 2015 exam results
Sustaining our leadership capacity Embed GM-link to BSG Continue attendance drive-monitor extra-curricular attendance re cohorts Fully close the gap in all subjects between ever 6 and non-ever 6
Safeguarding and workload Quality feedback-link to BSG E safety awareness when appropriate Focus on middle attainers in most subjects [focus on any areas of underperforming cohorts]
Interleaving / memory retention Subject specific careers positi9cve advice Preparation in KS3 to support G.C.S.E. [BSG, quizzing, interleaving, new NC SOLs]


Department priorities
A-A* – Improve exam results within the high ability A-A*cohort.
Interleaving   – Analyse the effectiveness of interleaving topics within GCSE year 10. Investigate the success of this in embedding subject content between two different classes.
Preparing KS3 students for the GCSE transition. – retaining key facts and figures to support extended answers.


Enquiry Questions (Based on department and/or school priorities)
Question: To what extent can <detail of intervention> have on <cohort> How & when will it be evaluated? What does success look like? Led by:
To what extent can additional intervention involving targeting A-A* answering techniques benefit students within year 11. Mock exam at Christmas

14/25 A-A* students will be invited to attend a coffee morning each week to support subject knowledge for the forthcoming Christmas exams. Student’s marks will be compared with the remaining 11 students whom were not provided with this intense workshop. If there is an evident gap in the answering techniques of students whom are expected to gain A-A* then we will continue to use invite only coffee mornings for other cohorts along with the rest of these students.

·         Achieving A-A* grades

·         Answering question papers using sophisticated geographical terminology required by examining board.

·         Incorporating data and example locations for 6mark GCSE questions whilst interlinking each topic to provide a broad understanding of geographical processes.

·         SPaG will be precise and condensed to avoid “waffling” and time wasting.

·         Tests will be fully completed within time scales.

·         GMS – students will be inspired to achieve highly and be successful.



Does interleaving benefit students in retaining subject knowledge to aid overall performance?






Students will study two topics over a period of time completing general class tests and assessments. When topics are completed they will complete a 1 hour exam on the topics taught.


Evaluation of results:

These will be compared to see which class did better overall and if interleaving is an effective way of teaching and supporting retention of knowledge. We will continue this for a further two topics and feedback again the results and as a dept. choose if we will continue with this method of teaching for all GCSE topics.


Cohorts of students can be identified if strategies are working better for different students.

Students whom are interleaving will be able to link their subject knowledge across more than one topic.


Class tests and assessment should incorporate more geographical knowledge.


More facts, figures, data will be used to support their knowledge as they are able to make clear links between topic areas they may use the dame data.


Exam results from one hour test will give a clear picture of what works best from a bank of results from both classes.


GMS – students will want to learn and be eager to do well in all topics being taught.











Can fact building support student knowledge of case studies at KS3 in preparation for GCSE level?





8.4 And 8.1 Students will be given 10 facts at the start of each topic within lessons that they will learn and reflect on over a period of time. These will be used in connection with case study examples that will be taught in lesson as well. The aim of this is to embed facts and figures at KS3 in preparation for GCSE level. Students will complete an end of unit test which will require them to answer a GCSE level question which incorporates these facts.


Classes that haven’t been given the facts as a revision technique at the start of each lesson will learn them through class time activities and individual revision in preparation for their end of unit test. Marks from 8.1 will be compared with 8.2 and 8.4 will be compared with 8.3 to evaluate if fact starters are a way of embedding information.

·         GCSE style questions are answered using facts and figures that is relevant and correct about the case study.

·          They use these willingly and without hesitation when verbal communication is used.

·         Students will be able to recall this information at a later date and end of year test.

·         Students when choosing Geography as a GCSE subject are eager to learn more facts and are prepared for the change in level of content required at GCSE level.

·         Students reach their BSG target and beyond.

·         GMS – students will thrive on including facts in their work and will work hard to remember the key data.




Whilst the teachers were helping us to shape the future direction of learning and teaching, there were still 2 large groups of adults within the school who I needed to hear the views of and who contribute hugely to the overall effectiveness of our school. I have worked with our large group of teaching assistants [varies between 25-30!] and written about their PD and celebrated the contribution of all of our support staff in various previous blogs. The truth is though, that I haven’t been able to constantly provide the discussions, sharing of experiences and necessary PD with our TAs as I have wanted to and I’m delighted that Martin has been working with them this year and that we have planned early finishes after Xmas to provide much needed PD time that doesn’t take them from their students. His initial questions/responses are here.

Professional Development session

Questions for Teaching Assistants


For my part have interviewed all of the rest of our support staff from the office staff, site technicians and mentors-just a couple more to catch! I asked these questions, which many of them prepared for before the meeting.

Name                                                              PDWB conversation                                      Date

Which aspects of your role during the last 12 months do you feel you have been most successful with and should be celebrated and valued?-give me some examples

Please provide some examples of how you have supported any colleagues over the last year when they have needed support/advice/perhaps just someone to listen? Are there any times when a colleagues has really helped you when you needed it most?

What are the key skills that you need for your role?

How could we help you to become more effective in your role-this might be to up-skill you, change systems, anything else?

Are you as happy and motivated with your role here as you want to be? Are there any barriers to happiness/health that you want to share/need help removing?

Have you got any secret aspirations or career moves you would like us to support you with or discuss?

What do you think has been your biggest impact on student learning/development over the last year?

Looking at wider issues, perhaps in your own area or across the whole school, what can the leadership team do to improve any areas of weakness/lack of organisation etc. that you perceive-please offer some practical solutions for me to raise at the appropriate forums.

The PDWB-professional development and work life balance title-showed my clear intentions of giving all colleagues the chance to tell me about their contributions, their own PD needs to help them become more effective and to offer lots of solutions as to how we can improve any areas of school that they wanted to tell me about. I have tried to make at least one of everyone’s wishes to come true but my main hope was that everyone could see how much I value their work and by us all working effectively in our own areas- together we can really make a difference for our students.

Most of the school blogs are about sharing ideas with each other and regular readers will know that everyone is expected to contribute ideas and examples on chosen subjects such as feedback. Hence some of the blogs are massive uber blogs! Lizzy has introduced some new collaborative ideas relying on volunteers, in the first instance, as they get going and it’s important that these opportunities develop alongside the non-volunteer ones-the more the merrier! Her most recent blog should appear at the same time as this one so it saves me from explaining the collaborative Breakfast Jams, middle leader training and Learning Hubs. Below is an example of the latest learning and teaching bulletin she produces with staff input every couple of weeks.

MCHS LT Newsletter 8

The large ‘sharing’ blogs will follow the up-coming lesson study/lesson observations when we feedback to everyone on the great practice observed and also after our first book monitoring of the year when all teachers will share an example of their feedback with each other. Informal observations have already been happening/experienced teachers modelling aspects of teaching and Lizzy has been taken aback at the openness colleagues have with their willingness to invite others in, to share ideas and resources they have produced and actually be welcoming and nice to each other! As we are currently in the middle of our consultation process of proposed staffing structure changes to re-distribute leadership further, it is worthwhile pausing to consider the rationale behind this and everything I have written here about ‘working together’ and perhaps linking it to well-known John Hattie quote, “ Do you have the courage to see excellence all around you?” Whatever else happens in education financially or otherwise, I have to invest in the PD of our staff, value them, develop them, and protect them from excessive top down dictates from external or internal sources.

Working together also includes our parents and governors. Parents have already been into school for our traditional information evenings and parent evenings but I’m pleased that Annette added an extra session to support the parents of students who have left and then found SEN support in FE pulled away and that Annette and Cal had a successful turn-out for an E-safety evening which had parents asking for more of them. Our governors play an important role in school but it isn’t often mentioned or explained. The requirements of Ofsted in their new inspection handbook places a huge emphasis on school leadership which includes governorship and the document was discussed at our full governors’ and then I extended an invite to come into our SLT meeting to discuss the professional development needed to answer the questions effectively and to discuss the changing role and expectations of them. They regularly attend local training but I have asked that we join the national association of governors to offer a wider perspective and both our clerk and chair are keen to sign up to Edge Hill University appropriate courses.

I absolutely welcome the desire of our teaching staff to use research to provide the evidence to inform their practice and bring the best ideas into MCHS, I want them to visit other schools and bring back ideas that are better than our own-I want them to be the best that they can BUT this approach towards professional development has to include everyone who either works here or works together with us. This also has to include the schools and teachers who will work with us in new and developing supportive systems. We have to stand together!

[Student ‘working together’ with us to follow and apologies for the change in font for the final paragraphs-none of us know why this happens-any solutions gratefully received!]




Subject Specific Professional Development

Hopefully our inset sessions aren’t quite as tedious as ‘Secret Teacher’ articles complain ones at other schools may be! We do try to provide personal choice, subject specific PD and lots of collaborative sharing of practical resources and ideas that can be used in our classrooms and then evaluated and adapted. However it would be even better if we could organise professional development events where colleagues from other schools could gather and quite simply talk about their subject, swap and share ideas and make new links with schools they might not even have heard of before! I’m constantly asked by colleagues if they can go out to other schools to see great practice and I would imagine that the situation is the same elsewhere. Teachers on twitter, supported by TDA and CUREE advice want to have their own ‘bottom up’ PD choices, want the opportunity to meet colleagues from other schools and want to be able to gather ideas that will impact on their own teaching and student learning. No more talking and moaning-let’s make it happen!

We will host, organise and feed for nowt-all visitors have to do is to bring themselves, their mates, their ideas/resources and be ready to talk to strangers about their current good practice or raise issues they would like to discuss. We will start at 5 to allow the NW to participate and arrive and we will show willing by sharing some of our ideas to warm everyone up. The start time will also allow as many people to engage as possible-if it was in the school day, usually only 1 person would be allowed to attend [the subject leader perhaps!] but we want colleagues of all experiences to feel free to come along.

The growth of teachmeets has been phenomenal and great ideas are gleaned from them [and from twitter] but not everyone feels confident enough to stand and perform so apart from the press-ganged MCHS staff, everybody will be in small enough groups to feel comfortable enough to speak and share openly and honestly. The topics can be decided on the night, although when you let us know if you are coming, it would be useful to know what you feel we should suggest as topics and what you can share. Lizzy, our new learning and teaching AHT’s details are on the flyers; please let her know a.s.a.p.

I feel passionate about the power and potential of collaboration across schools and hope that others feel the same way too and will find their way to sunny Southport. We’d love to organise events for all subjects in the new year but need the support of NW teachers. I hope that you can support the events and look forward to meeting lots of new friends. If you have any alternative ideas for collaborative professional subject specific development, please do let us know your suggestions.






The Eagle Has Landed-a shared vision of values

Inset day this September will be an extra special one this year. I began teaching at Meols Cop in September 1980 and have sat through or delivered many inset sessions since then but this will be the first time [and hopefully not the last!] that I will actually stand up and speak as Headteacher of our great little school! How this has happened is a long story and I don’t wish to open up ageist discussions neither but know that there is a fascination with possibly being the oldest new head around. Every time I venture into town, I’m congratulated by either one of many thousands of ex-students or parents who often begin, “I thought you would have retired by now” and then ask “are you looking forward to September”, “are you worried about the challenge ahead”, “you’ve got big boots to fill”, “it’s changed so much since I was there, can you keep it doing so well” and often, “it’s really hard to get our kids in, can you fix it for us!”

The truth, as I will explain to colleagues [and others in our community can read here] is that I’m absolutely looking forward to a new challenge and am determined to enjoy it. I don’t have a young family to consider and am able to immerse myself totally in school life and many years of experience tells me that this is the right time for me to take on a role that I may not have been ready for or suited to in my younger more temperamental days! I’ve hugely enjoyed my learning and teaching roles for many years and, of course, the duller aspects of leadership [for me] which I’ve managed to naughtily avoid, will now take up more of my time. I have gathered a brilliant new team of senior leaders around me to cover my areas of less knowledge [and attend meetings for me!] and have explained now at different forums that the main reason for me staying and agreeing to accept the offer to be Head are the staff and students. Who wouldn’t wish to work with, and lead them? I’m a lucky man and am going to enjoy this once in a lifetime opportunity!

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to be bouncing around with a permanent false grin, shouting “good morning” to all and sundry and, although I do say thank you about a hundred times every day, like Dweck, I do believe that for both students and staff, praise should be given for effective hard work and resilient responses to challenging situations. The need to feel ‘valued’ by school leaders is made easier to respond to when leaders make it clear what they actually value and these are my views shared with colleagues this week. Even though most of the staff who were present probably thought that they knew exactly what my vision and strongly held beliefs are [I do try to always be a living model for my views-but being human I may fail!], I do believe that they are worth sharing at the start of the year and hope that they are already the shared values for many of my colleagues.

The slides are accompanied by the general gist of what I had to say [ish!] The image of me taking a breather after legging up an Austrian mountain was one I was going to put on my twitter account, only be told by my daughter that I looked too miserable. I thought that I looked rather happy!


More than anything else I value the time and commitment in planning and teaching great lessons, in giving up time for extra-curricular activities and in digging in when the classes or individuals get tough or another government [or SLT!] initiative seems likely to tip colleagues over when they are tired. Teaching, like learning for the students, can be fun and enjoyable but for much of the time, it is hard relentless work and the best teachers, supported by understanding leaders, will take on what is asked with a resilience based on experience and collaborative support and will get there in the end, developing never to be forgotten key skills along the way.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing students or colleagues who have struggled, who have taken risks with their learning/teaching, sought out advice/research and used it or who have worked incredibly hard succeeding. The penny dropping learning moments; perhaps created by great teaching, superb coaching, caring mentoring, individual drive and determination- when what seemed impossible becomes possible, move me immensely. I refuse to give the papers the names of students who have achieved 10 A*’s as though they are more important to our school than students who have worked their best to achieve their own set of grades. Each student works hard to achieve their personal best, with our support and their effort should be celebrated and nobody should be singled out due to raw data. Similarly, I will not single out individual subjects or teachers today for their exam results. This is a staff where everybody tries to achieve the best possible results for their students-nobody deliberately teaches badly and the exam playing field is notoriously uneven. We are professionals capable of evaluating and analysing our own results to the nth degree and I trust your ability to decide whether or not your results were good enough for your professional pride and your students. If you are pleased-ask how can you do better and if you are unhappy-seek help and support and together we can provide a learning plan to move forward. I’ve had years where my results weren’t as good as I wanted and I’ve worked out how to improve my teaching and been delighted to see the smiles on the faces of successful students the year after-there is no better feeling as a teacher!

As soon as a student, or teacher walks into our school their development over 5 years or longer is my [and our] responsibility. For a student, they should be shaped and helped to form great learning habits from year 7 onwards [year 11 intervention as some seem to favour is too late!] The lessons learned from year 11 exams, moderator’s reports and constant intervention and monitoring should be filtered a.s.a.p. through to key stage 3. For staff joining us, we should be immediately seeking to tease out their potential [even if they don’t necessarily see it for themselves] and help them to develop professionally, even if it means losing them! Should any students or colleague struggle or have to leave-I fail! That will make me even more miserable-make me happy by sharing success stories and Magic Moments when your actions have made a vital difference to someone else.

Perhaps it’s tempting sometimes to ignore trouble or struggling students or colleagues. The thought of extra work or mither when we are under our own pressure may elicit negative thoughts but that can’t be our way and it isn’t the right way. I’ve seen recent examples of colleagues who when they have known a teacher is struggling; invite them to their own classes to observe, sit with them, plan with them and most of all find time for them. There will always be times when each and every one of us will find times difficult-even me after all of these years! Don’t walk by-reach out and if you can’t help after listening, tell me-there are few issues in teaching that I haven’t made a mess of myself or worried about and I will listen and help. Please help to ‘Make a Difference’ to the learning and teaching of others.

The development of lesson study, professional portfolios, student learning walks and learning conversations after observations rather than grades over the last couple of years has allowed me to see the most insightful dialogue about teaching than I’ve ever seen before. Keep it up please! It is the way forward and I get very excited after these experiences, which usually ends up with a blog to share the ideas with you all! Do keep constantly thinking about your own practice and what is working well but even better if you think about what isn’t working and use that as an area to work on for your professional development. ‘Make a Difference’ to your own practice!

There was a time when faculties didn’t share ideas with each other, happily gone now and there was also a feeling of ‘us and them’ at times. This was usually aimed at SLT [often seen on twitter!] by teachers who felt that SLT had forgotten what teaching a full day was like etc.! I’ve only heard a couple of comments recently [not by teachers] and have to admit they sounded like a 70’s sitcom in their stereotypical use of old union style language. I would hope that we have moved on now to having a shared purpose and from my many years here, I would hope that nobody would doubt that I always have the best interests of the school at heart in any decision I make, sometimes to the detriment of my own views and interests. If mistakes are made or performances slip, look at ‘the man in the mirror’ and not somebody else. If a decision is made that you don’t agree with, try to see if from the other person’s point of view and think why they have made the decision. One of the best ways to prepare for leadership is to try and ‘see it’ as a middle or senior leader would. Everyone has the potential to be a great leader here and our PD NAML offer to all staff is aimed at developing and sustaining that crucial capacity. This leader doesn’t believe in the gun slinging heroic cult of personality leadership-the space marked head teacher in the car park will be left vacant!

I implicitly trust colleagues to make decisions and will try constantly to give responsibility-take it and the accountability that goes with it. That doesn’t mean that you will be left to flounder; support and advice is available at all times and I will be incredibly happy to see you try new ideas, pluck up courage to offer your lessons for informal observations, admit you are struggling and want to see someone else in action and join in all of the professional development opportunities that are now available. Please look for the Magic Moments in others, be happy for them, tell others about them and let me know-guaranteed to make me smile and make the Bird Woman of Denton proud!


Many schools seem to be very quick to proclaim that all in their school are learners! I do wonder whether or not the tolerance and mind-set qualities granted to students is always extended to teachers and other staff. Mistakes made and learned from, critical advice sought and used, thoughtful feedback and feedforward given and followed up, and aspirations nurtured and celebrated….mmmm! I’ve written a fair amount on mind-set and professional development and am convinced that staff must be supported in the development of their mind-set, just as the students need to be. Senior leaders and myself, need to be seen to exhibit a positive mind-set ourselves for all to see. I do believe that we should teach or at least be in the classrooms as much as we can be. I will teach because I want to and I want to teach some of our least able students because I feel that my experience can help them with basic learning needs. This isn’t to say that I can then tell colleagues that I’m a head that teaches and understand their teaching needs! The reality is that I haven’t taught a full day of lessons for 15 years-I try my best to recall what that feels like and try not to overload but I’m sure that our staff now want to see me as someone who leads them well, rather than someone who teaches a few classes well. My leadership team may well be teaching their own exam classes, coaching, sitting in lessons to offer BFL support and advice, covering or taking over long term gaps and so on BUT great leaders are like gold-dust and I employ them predominantly for their leadership qualities. [Although everyone knows that I’d be furious if they weren’t great teachers who could control their classes, achieve high exam scores and modelled best practice!]

I probably smile most when I’m still teaching and smile least when I have to attend meetings and leave my class with someone else. Unfortunately that is the biggest issue with having me teach a class and if it becomes too unfair on the students at any point, I need to be told!

The growth of our staff involved in a whole variety of micro to macro research projects does make me smile. The evolving national projects, learning hubs and lesson studies offer the chances to engage with the latest best practice, visit other schools and try out a host of new ideas before evaluating the impact on the learning of our students. We can only grow stronger as individual teachers and as a school by our involvement and this naturally delights me HOWEVER, please don’t just accept the validity of new ideas/research because an ‘expert’ tells you they have worked in schools elsewhere. Question what you have been told, adapt it, try it but then tell me if it actually works for you and your students. Much of what we have been told is good practice over the last 20 years, has now been debunked-if you think growth mind-set or peer critique is a waste of time-have the courage [and evidence] to say so and use what works best for you. [And have the data ready to convince me!] Do please use student and parent surveys and evidence to support any impact or data that you wish to share.

As a teaching staff, you have agreed, without my interference, what you want ‘Great Teaching’ to look like here and have the additional guidance from teacher standards to guide your appraisal and professional portfolios. There are 100 of you and only 1 of me so although I gather and try to assimilate as much of your professional development responses and priorities as I can, you do need to keep helping me. The one financial aspect of school I mentally ring fence is PD cash-it is crucially important that we provide the best possible PD opportunities BUT you need to tell me what you want, based on your self-appraisal and own professional needs. Of course you will spend the rest of the day discussing your priorities and how they can fit in with faculty and school ones and I will read them all and try to respond. Use today’s faculty discussions and your own evaluation of your exam data to firm up what you asked for in your professional portfolios and ensure that what you want is in your appraisal documents and can be reviewed throughout the year. If you feel, at any point, that you aren’t successfully working towards your agreed PD targets-tell your line-manager or come to see me straightaway.

Similarly if for whatever reason things are becoming difficult and work is getting on top of you-please, please, speak out and seek help. It is a sign of strength not weakness to know when to ask for help early enough to prevent you becoming overwhelmed with issues that can often be easily resolved. I have tried to cut out excess work/administration and am forever trying to come up with time-saving and more effective methods but again, I do need your help to share our best practice that might just be the answer to an issue another colleague’s problem.

A happy staff who clearly understand and have ownership of the school’s destination and vision, who want to come into work to make a difference and know that their hard work will be valued and appreciated and who are prepared to offer so much more than their basic role would mean so much to me and will sustain the school’s future for all in the community. Many say that the students are the most important people in a school but without a committed and dedicated staff, who’s needs also need nurturing and supporting, you haven’t got a school that can ever achieve long term success for its students.

I’ll repeat again that I do not teach 20 lessons a week anymore-tell me if what has been asked is unreasonable and provide me with an alternative. I love brilliant ideas I can claim as my own!


When I spoke to the new year 7 parents and their children and in every assembly I will visit on Thursday, I will mention my simple vision and ask for everyone in the school to think about and act on during the coming school year. How can you, and will you, ‘Make a Difference’ that will improve your learning and how can you support others to do the same? It sums up everything that I have said so far and it reflects what we have worked so hard to achieve in MCHS over the last few years. For students and staff to constantly self-evaluate and take responsibility for their own progress and development within a truly supportive environment matters more than anything else to me. Seeking to create opportunities in every aspect of school life for us all to have the opportunities to achieve excellence should be a right not an aspiration. To borrow Bournemouth FC’s mantra as they tackle the challenge of Premiership soccer, ‘together anything is possible’

Meols Cop High School will be successful regardless of who the head is! You are already working collaboratively with the aim of making MCHS a great school and I know that will continue. Benfica FC, the Eagles of Lisbon are the biggest supporter owned sporting club in the world. They have over a quarter of a million members and many different sports catered for and have the wonderful motto of ‘Out of Many One’ I wish I had thought of that to explain our school’s strength and to share with others how highly I value your many qualities and individual contributions which together make one-Meols Cop High. A bald eagle has landed in Southport and together we can move our school forward again and again and again!






Summer Feedback part 3 The Final Showdown

Summer Feedback part 3 School’s Out!

Here comes summer School is out, oh happy days

Here comes summer Gonna grab my girl and run away

If she’s willing We’ll go steady right away

Now let the sun shine bright on my happy summer home

I knew you’d be expecting the Alice Cooper song! I’m an old romantic at heart!

School’s not so bad but the summer is better

They give me more time to see my girl

Walk through the park beneath the shiny moon

Oh when we kiss she makes my hair curl

Not too many of our staff will recall my curls but the sentiments are probably the same now as they were when Cliff Richard [and many others] first sang the song. Sadly though we do have to say goodbye to some long serving colleagues and of course, quite an important person!

This is our final blog of the year and the 3rd part of our summer sharing of feedback/marking and observation ideas. It is also the last blog of Alison Heaton’s leadership of our school. Alison prefers to stay out of the limelight, always seeking to praise and develop the contribution of others, rather than talking about her own leadership and success. The truth, now revealed, for those from other schools who read our blogs, is that everything you read about our collaboration, mind-set and innovation and sharing emanates from a vision and a role model that Miss has provided Meols Cop with for the last 11 years. She will deny it and always say that the best is yet to come. Her leadership has taught us that this is the only way we must think here to sustain and improve what we have. We do celebrate our success internally but externally you won’t hear us talk about inspections, results or progress to anyone. [Unless we are asked-we try to help and support those who need it most] If the ‘best is yet to come’, that is only because of the foundations that Alison has worked with dedicated commitment to establish here. She’s pretty good for a posh scouser! Thank you Miss, enjoy your retirement and be ready by the phone to dispense your advice when we get stuck trying to lead half as well as you have!

A few pictures to begin with from Carol our English TA who has designed some lovely board games to support our G.C.S.E. classes. Connect four, blockbusters and trivial pursuits-thank you Carol!

01 02 03 04 06



Our mathematicians sent their feedback from our last faculty meetings to me and you can see the questions asked, if you haven’t seen the previous blogs.

Maths best bits!

  • Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

CB shared her using the STAR marking to identify issues. Identified confidence issue then supported with different approach and students completed successfully


CB – another response from student’s misconception and tackling response.


09 10

BK shared her student’s responses to the STAR questions


ZE – showed us how a student had shown they could take action with their weaknesses.


AV identifies student concerns and makes students list their own individual steps needed for the mathematical processes.

  • Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!



BK – We had a whole class discussion on a similar questions as identified as a weakness. Students that struggled were asked to answer something similar in their books. We can see from student response they’ve appreciated the extra go!


AV – Penny dropping moment from 9 set 1 to challenge their mind-set to push from KS3 to KS4 understanding, using the multiplier method in maths.


JF – Trialling ZE’s method of differentiated hints this student had really struggled with the 1st attempt but was keen to have another go. After a silver hint which was more structured than the Gold she successfully answered a tricky surface area question.

  • Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



ZE – student showed a positive attitude towards problem solving by using a challenging hint to assist in their second attempt in learning.


ZE – Students were asked to solve a problem using sequences, they make their first attempt and choose their own differentiated hint ‘bronze, silver or gold’.


SL shared her observation lesson. No clues for the first attempt and students designed their own hints and attempted a second time if needed. This student had the confidence and didn’t need a second attempt.



BK – Students are given the opportunity to ask for a ‘challenge question’ when completing their STAR marking.


JF- Mindset in action and a student write ‘I don’t get it yet’, celebrating the YET part!

  • Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success



An honest students discusses their thoughts from BK


AV – Students are grouped to support with Peer assessment. Books are swapped 3 times for different students to look.




SL – Students tackle misconceptions with the different methods on multiplication.



JF- Peer assessment and Growth mindset together, using the students to build confidence in answering high end GCSE style questions that can sometimes cause students to panic.

  • Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



CB – during an external visit CB challenge 10 set 1 to redraft their work on a A* GCSE question. She used the ‘hint’ method to guide. This example is a second attempt where we she simply checked her work.


ZE – Student has another go at their final answer.

Art and DT

Katy, Aimee and Josie kindly sent me examples of their current marking and discussions.

Lesson Observation Risks:


The focus of my l and t and also my lesson obs was independent learning spurred on by growth mindset.

I chose a problem solving exercise in which students where given the style of an artist and had to work out the best way of simulating that style using 4 tables of different materials that they moved around. The risk was the movement of students around the room and the fact that students would be at different stages of development even if they began from the same starting point. All students produced something according to G/S/B criteria and the challenge of problem solving worked well as a motivational tool.

Students did not manage to get around all tables in the time given however if this task becomes embedded as a regular lesson format, less explanation and more work will take place. Problem solving will be linked to real life work scenarios to ‘up’ the stakes and increase motivation for boys and girls alike.

Independent learning was achieved by all students in some capacity and a great side effect was the problem solving dialogue between students at the same table.


8.4 lesson on ‘teens and choices’.

My lesson was based on special dietary needs of individuals and I wanted the students to consider their own special dietary needs being a teenager. The students completed a starter task using min wipe boards and were given some facts about special dietary needs answering true or false to each statement using their boards. This task had some common misconceptions surrounding nutrition and teens choices for example- ‘how many teaspoons are in a can of coke?’ I wanted to use facts which surround their choices to really make them think about their choices and if they are the right ones.

The students were then given a fact sheet full of information about teenager’s special dietary needs- the student used a highlighter to highlight key words. I did this as I feel I really want to push independent learning as I feel that student in key stage 4 struggle to collect information from for example a textbook in mass.

The student then analysed case studies and planned suitable meal for each case scenario giving reasons for each item using factual information – from their fact sheet. Some students struggled with this and I encouraged them to highlight and they found it useful.


The students used the growth mind set dice as their plenary task I really feel this was a very positive task as I overheard some great comments such as ‘ we talk about this in science and PSHE’ .

One of my lesson targets was GM and I was really happy with the outcome- students made some great comments and all gave positive feedback about the plenary activity. I enjoyed the conversations I overheard during this task.

The second lesson target was independent learning and I really feel this was a highlight as the student all used the factual sheet to collect information to complete the task. Some students did struggle with this activity but I feel if they were to do a similar task again would find it easier and with this in mind it would aid their research and learning in key stage 4 as I personally feel in Catering this is something some students struggle with- the confidence to research independently.

I guess what I was really trying to do is make them each think about their choices and how the choices they make now are so important. I used factual information on items such as ‘coke’ McDonalds’ for that reason to make them aware of what is actually in each item.


8.3 – Observational Drawing and Independent Learning

The class were coming to the end of a scheme of work investigating observational drawing, an important focus of the new Art GCSE. The focus of all artwork has been to understand the skills required when drawing from observation, the technical use of a variety of media and learning to develop and refine their artwork over a period of time; the lesson therefore was a further development of these skills and understanding.

The focus of this lesson, was to build upon their understanding of using media and explore observational drawing through the use of ‘creation stations’. The four ‘creation stations’ were split into two different media; graphite powder and Indian ink. These were both mediums that the students were new to, however the application of them is no different to their understanding and use of pencil and paint.

Normally when a new media is introduced, I will demonstrate and show students exemplar artwork to show the possibilities of the media; this can however result in some students becoming very reliant upon teacher guidance. The risk of this lesson, was to give the students primary observation items to draw with new media, having received basic guidance/instructions for use from myself.

Basic guidance was supplied through simple instructions and health and safety guidance in a photo frame on every table.


My expectation was that the students would struggle on the first media, ask for teacher support and then improve on the second media. When it came to the activity, I was pleased and impressed that the students enjoyed the exploration of the new media and the fact that I wasn’t telling them what to do. On the second media the student worked to a much higher standard, as their confidence seemed to grow. When they evaluated themselves on the scale of confidence, all students noted improved confidence on ‘creation station’ 2.


To support the risk, I utilised the four Platinum students I have in 8.3 and put one in each group as an aspirational target for the other students to work towards. I think this worked well, as the discussions between the students involved tips to help each other use the media and support as to how to improve their artwork.

The aim of this lesson was to improve independent learning and the idea of exploring new media; when feedback from the students was collected they all commented that ‘you should just have a go’, ‘don’t be scared’ and ‘don’t panic’.

Feedback Evidence:

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

31 32 33

Aaron Fuller has struggled with the observational drawing scheme of work, as he is not a confident realistic drawer. He has used the diary to record the tips and advice I have verbally provided and applied it to his artwork.


34 35 36

Freya Matthews is a talented artist, but she rushes her work. The feedback diary has encourage her to slow down and focus on her skill level and therefore ensuring she gained Platinum at the last reporting opportunity.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

37 38

Peer Assessment is often used in Art, as I’ve found the students provide honest critique of their peers’ artwork. As well as complimenting the artwork, students are encouraged to choose an area of the artwork that needs improvement. They must provide very specific advice, and not say complete the artwork.

Rezija Vitola was told to focus on increasing her use of pattern.

39 40

Nathan Wills was complimented on his observational drawing and encouraged to improve his use of pattern and white chalk in his artwork.

The peer assessment generally takes place half way through the lesson, therefore allowing students the opportunity to use the remaining part of the lesson to focus on their targets and feedback. When they have done that, they write down exactly what they did during DIRT time as a record of progress.

School is almost out for summer and I’d like to thank all of my colleagues who have shared ideas over the year and all of our new friends at other schools who have either visited us to chat about our ideas or engaged in a dialogue about learning and teaching with us. Have a wonderful and hopefully sunny holiday.

Summer Feedback Trilogy Part 2 Fast Feedback Trials and Observation Risks

The science faculty have been trialling their ‘fast feedback’ ideas all year and their original shared ideas and reasons for their trial are here.

Their PPA is planned on the timetable so that they are able to meet and plan together once a week and obviously one of the topics might be to share feedback ideas and adapt their ‘fast feedback’ trial from the lessons continually learned. The ideas shared in this blog follow on from part 1 where I explained that this week the whole school shared their Magic Moments celebrating good practice gathered  from our summer observations and book monitoring. This is our second and final ‘big share’ of the year and follows our winter one explained in this post.

It’s really important to me that staff get the chance to talk honestly and openly to each other about their practice in small groups and then their conversations are shared whole school. This gives the opportunity for colleagues from different faculties the chance to 1] nab ideas, 2] go and talk to someone about an idea they like, 3] offer support to a colleague who asks for it with a certain teaching issue, 4] choose to plan and work with a colleagues from another faculty on a similar idea, 5] informally observe and for middle leaders and senior leaders the evidence to help them prioritise PD needs and support.


Observation Risks:

CM – I chose to cover independent learning as the main topic for my lesson observation. I introduced pupils to a new topic and gave them minimal support. They were provided with a straightforward introduction, some simple instructions to find their feed using the equipment and chemicals. Then more detailed instruction to perform a neutralisation reaction. There were then questions to complete to allow pupils to consolidate their learning. The risk was that pupils could have just floundered and not actually done anything. They could have wasted a lot of time and not completed the tasks claiming they didn’t really understand what they were supposed to do. However they were fine and all but two pupils made very good progress. To increase the risk further I introduced the idea of recording evidence on voice recorders and cameras with a view to overcoming the issues of lost time from reluctant writers and weaker literacy lowering quality of evidence of scientific learning. This aspect of the observation was very encouraging and will be taken forward next year with a paired trial.

HS- with 8.5 the risk I took in the observation was the independence of the lesson, students learned by discovery.  They “played a game” that enabled them to find out how a carbon atoms moves through a cycle, and to appreciate it is a cycle, it doesn’t have a start or end point.  This was a risk as they are accustomed to me stopping and explaining when something gets difficult, they haven’t read instructions or get stuck.  Students moved around the room for 15minutes with no input from me, I was surprised to see how all the students got on with the task, followed the instructions and gathered all the information they would later need for the closing questions. I will develop this further next year by focusing on independent learning within the classroom with 10.4 a different class who I have discovered recently respond really will to learning through discovery.

HW – Pupils were given the task (to see how concentration affected rate of reaction) and the equipment in a tray, and had to safely work out the method and record their results. This was a risk as they’re used to either me demonstrating the practical at the front, or giving them a detailed method sheet.

This worked really well, I think due to the way I had arranged the ‘Science buddy’ pairs so they could help each other. If anyone ever asked me a question I said ‘could your buddy answer that?’ and it turns out most of the time they could!

As well as this risk, I purposely didn’t tell them what concentration was, and tried to get them to use their prior knowledge, results, and a diagram to create their own definition of concentration, and then use this to explain why they got their results. This had mixed success, but I’m glad I tried it as some pupils surprised me with their ability to think conceptually and apply quite difficult scientific knowledge.

FD – I chose to promote independence and student ownership of own learning for my lesson observation focus.  I introduced students to a ‘big’ scientific question which they were to devise their OWN answer and definition of during the course of the lesson.   Learning activities/episodes were planned and set up that would contribute to their own internal understanding of the ‘big question.’  The practical elements of the learning were deliberately planned to challenge student thinking from their previous understanding in order to really cement the concept in their minds.  Firstly, the students completed a basic investigation to note that mass did not change when a chemical reaction took place.  To challenge this, students were asked to test this theory with a reaction that would release gas (thereby losing mass as gas atoms) and explain this phenomenon compared to their initial thoughts.  All pupils could explain that mass was lost due to atoms escaping as a gas.  To further challenge this in their minds, I asked them to consider if the mass would change in a reaction if you could increase the volume of the product considerably from start to end of a chemical reaction.  When this demonstration confirmed that mass does indeed remain constant in chemical reactions, a real penny dropping moment was struck.  Some high level (penny dropping) explanations in terms of atoms and atomic/molecular arrangements in chemical reactions (in reactants & products) were provided by some students which was very rewarding.

Students were required to convert their own thinking and verbal responses into written dialogue in an organised, coherent way that used scientific terminology appropriately.

The biggest risk was asking students to work through various practical based scenarios about a scientific concept (conservation of mass) and devise their own theory in a coherent written format, using appropriate scientific terminology.

The risk was that students could have wasted time during the practical elements and would not really understand how to convert this learning into written dialogue.  But they all did!  A peer assessment of the written dialogue was undertaken to ensure all students could provide this written work to the gold standard required for progress, with dedicated time provided for improvements to their written work where required.  The standard of the written responses was very encouraging.

I will take this aspect of providing learning episodes to answer a ‘bigger question’ independently through to my maths teaching from September, promoting the ability to problem solve in our learners which is a strong focus of the new mathematics curriculum.

WS- The main risk was in letting students undertake a practical task without any verbal instructions. They had a practical sheet and were told they could ask for me or Mr K to read it not explain it. The premise was to use” 3 before me” to support each other and develop resilience. It went well because at first students did do the practical wrong and weren’t quick enough assembling the equipment to collect the gas produced. However, this was not a barrier and they adopted a great growth mind set ( which we have been working on for 2 years, although not calling it that) by keeping going, not getting stressed and trying the procedure in a different way and they were all ultimately successful, by helping and watching each other and they obtained the results required.

The wonderful thing is that they are very comfortable to learn by trial and error and the principle of learning being a journey and not quite being there “yet” but still striving for gold and even platinum, showing commitment to learning rather than being taught.

PJ – The risk that I took in the recent observed lesson was to let the students work with as much independence as possible to answer a question that I posed at the beginning by carrying out an experiment. I then got the students to teach others what they found out and they had to answer questions on that as well. It went really well but could have gone wrong right from the start.

Whole Department Highlights and Developments:

Highlights of Book Monitoring

  • The use of colours to show peer, self and teacher feedback, as well as clear evidence of response to feedback and redrafting.
  • The clear progress in the books.
  • The use of peer and self-assessment. Highlights of observations
  • The independent nature of the observations
  • Trialling new ideas e.g. PJ and IRIS, and CM with visual and oral evidence for progress from hand held devices.

Next year’s T&L focus

  • Interleaving Trials:
  • CM IPad, meaningful homework’s
  • PJ IPad, IRIS
  • RM HW HS independence high middle and low
  • HW questioning
  • Whole department, meaningful learning through practical’s

Feedback evidence:


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


The student at first has described how the paint and car attract but they missed out a key concept of the particles repelling, this was addressed in blue pen.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


Here there has been discussion to clear up the confusion of the pulmonary artery and vein, and understanding how they aid delivery of oxygenated blood to the body.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving itBS3

Students were given various targets 1-6 and 7 they decided on their own.  The targets where based on what makes a “gold” student and marks that are lost for silly little reasons, e.g. not using the correct key word, not reading the question properly, (dash-it marks).  The students totted up where they lost marks that could have been achieved with little extra effort, set a target, said how they will address it and said what the evidence of this will be.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



Students self assessed, then peer verified work to show progress.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap



Pupils first attempted an open-ended question ‘why don’t people need to mow their lawns in winter’. This was to assess knowledge remembered from the previous lesson and any other prior knowledge. Then the answers were discussed in pairs, then as a class, then a model answer shown. Although the peer assessment in this example isn’t very detailed, he has shown the keyword ‘glucose’ is missing. Then her redraft has massively improved as she has included more keywords and successfully linked it back to glucose. Her improvement is SPaG based, which she struggles with due to her dyslexia (links to CMs study about the use of iPads removing any literacy barriers but allowing pupils to still show their scientific knowledge).

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


Conservation of mass can be hard for some pupils to understand as they assume if you’re reacting two things together, the product must have gained mass because they’re adding together. Or reversely if you add two chemicals to make one product, it must be lighter.

So I showed them the particle models of a reaction and got them to count how many of each element were on each ‘side’ of the arrow (top 4 lines). I then got them to answer some maths questions to prove conservation of mass (e.g. 7g + ??? à 10g, what is missing?)  They could then write their own scientific definition, which I was very impressed with!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

bs54This pupil really struggles with his literacy and doesn’t enjoy writing. However here he has attempted a question, self-assessed it, improved it to nearly perfect (5/6) and then redrafted the whole thing again to get full marks. Even better – I’d said to him ‘just add in the bit you missed out’ as I know he’s a slow writer, but he persisted and did the whole thing again as he ‘wants it perfect’!

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Self-reflection on their learning before an assessment. Very honest, and after reading my comment she came to see me at break to ask about the page numbers she needed to look at in her textbook ‘for the carbon cycle’. She then came back at lunch and said she didn’t like the textbook page, and could she take her exercise book home as she prefers her notes from class. This shows great GMS as she’s identified her weakness and is working on improving it rather than giving up. She then successfully answered the carbon cycle question in her assessment, and said ‘oh my god Miss, revision works!’ I think without this reflection beforehand, she would have attempted to revise everything, felt overwhelmed and given up.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.



Pupils were given a hypothesis they had to write a method to test. First attempt was without any help on what makes a good method. Then after a class discussion, they had a second attempt that was peer assessed. Then the third attempt has also improved. Although the 3 methods are all similar, the subtle improvements are necessary for scientific methods. This redrafting (although still not perfect) has shown this class in particular (that doesn’t like writing!) that if you do it properly and thoroughly once, it won’t need correcting. This redrafting has told me as a teacher that the class needs a further ‘method skills’ lesson to a) see if they revert back to the style of the first attempt, and b) to improve further with how they measure 1m, the distances, etc.

WS:  My belief is that Growth Mind Set is everything and if we get that right everything else will automatically follow as we have laid such a good framework to enable learners.

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Student was then able to calculate mass number and atomic number and relate to the number of sub-atomic particles

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Adaptation of NTEN techniques in classroom to improve retention


Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it.





Optional GYM homework set on cystic fibrosis and after discussion – the optional homework was re-drafted


Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

GYM review sheets



Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Katie Badley – structure of the leaf (Y7) CM

Katie completed her original work in black pen, I provided initial feedback in green pen. Katie then made some minor amendments in blue that I had requested then improved it by adding an additional paragraph for the missing details.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Aimee Blundell – Ray diagrams and law of reflection (she had set up her equipment incorrectly).



Aimee Blundell did had not really appreciated all the details required for the ray diagram, particularly the reflection points from the mirror and had set the equipment up with the mirror in slightly the wrong position so the back of the mirror was not lined up with the line. This meant her incident and reflected ray did not line up. After some feedback she made some labelling additions in blue then went on to repeat the investigation and get the ray diagrams and angles perfect!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



Laura Pendlebury – Law of reflection and ray diagrams CM

Laura took four attempts to get the diagram correct and use the protractor carefully. She kept going though which is a great mind set. Laura often jokes that she puts more graphs in the bin than she gets right in her book, but she always keeps going, which is fantastic.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success



Ally Lyon – determination of population of species CM

Ally self-marked her population piece (original work completed in black and self-marked in red pen) then redrafted it in blue. This was then peer assessed by Eleanor and peer verified by Nour.



Ally Lyon – nuclear radiation, the gamma knife CM

Original work in black pen, peer assessed with improvements by Nour, then redrafted in blue the following lesson.

  Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.


Fast Feedback, Zoe King CM

– shows use of coloured pens to speed up marking, self-assessment in red pen, peer question in blue that is then pupil response in black


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

BS29 The students work was peer assessed in red pen.  The peer assessment was ineffective at identifying exactly what the learner was missing to improve their answer to achieve the Gold criteria.  After checking the peer assessment and marking myself in green pen I highlighted the learning gap to the student in question.  The learner has responded in blue pen to my feedback, evidencing that they now understand this concept, closing this specific learning gap for this learners understanding of the causes of day and night.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!


This student did not appreciate that when explaining the concept of diffusion, that specific scientific key words must be used for it to be assessed as Gold standard.  The student’s first attempt at the explanation is written in blue pen.  I have assessed the students work in green pen, asking for a definition using key words that have been taught during the course of the topic.  Without reminding the student of the actual key words to use, the penny has dropped for this student as the improved definition is perfect!

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



Dan Hinchcliffe Set 7.2 – Dan followed all feedback and kept repeating his attempts at Sankey diagrams until he had perfected it and reached the Gold standard


Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Charlie Shields 7 set 2 – here is an example of Charlie’s self-assessment of homework.  He addresses any knowledge gaps by including correct answers in purple pen – to aid revision of the topic


This shows another example of Charlie responding to peer feedback to improve upon his original work

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.


Fast feedback – peer assessed in red pen – the peer assessor has added a fast note in red pen and arrows to indicate where answers are the wrong way around to provide fast feedback to the learner.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap



The students above were really struggling to grasp the concepts in fractional distillation. They attempted a six marker and RAG’d it and it was peer assessed. They then used their feedback to have another ago, and RAG’d their work again. This was then followed by a final peer assessment and feedback given by me. The process took two lessons but I really felt that the students ended with a much better understanding of fractional distillation.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!




7.7 students really struggle to complete any work independently. I completed a two week growth mind set project with them which led to them becoming much more independent and confident in their own ability. There is one student in particular who suffers from low confidence. She is actually one of the more able student in the class but she will not attempt any piece of work without reassurance from the TA. Over the two weeks, she really proved to herself how capable she was of doing tasks independently. She showed such good growth mind set over the two weeks that I chose her as one of my growth mind set stars for my observation lesson with this class. She did not complete the same tasks as anyone else as her role was to peer assess and give feedback to the other students on their work. It was lovely to see her having the confidence to guide other students – something that she had always been capable of doing but had never been confident enough to. I think it was a penny dropping moment for both her and me to see how she could come in just two weeks.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it



I completed a two week growth mind set project with 7.7 in which the students really concentrated on becoming more independent learners. The students started by writing growth mind set pledges, choosing things such as ‘I will not say I can’t’ and ‘I will not give up’. The students were given a series of tasks to compete independently each lesson and those who did particularly well were awarded growth mind set stars as seen before. They were also given peer and teacher feedback throughout the project. The end result of this project was that the majority of the students were able to work independently for 45 minutes. This was a big achievement for these students who previously would not attempt anything without help or support from myself or the TA.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

BS45The student above has been given specific feedback and advice of how to improve. They have then redrafted their work, and have then had it verified by another student who had given them further feedback. This dialogue has led to them producing a work of high standard (but not particularly good presentation!) that included most of the necessary key words for the topic.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

All of the above examples show evidence of DIRT. We have tried very hard to incorporate DIRT into all of our lessons over the last year, and the students are now well practiced at completing peer assessment and improving, redrafting and reflecting on their work. There are also above examples of students redrafting their work – students now know not to hand any work in that hasn’t been marked (by either themselves or a peer) and improved on within the lesson.


Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap


Student replied to feedback by identifying the answer then they used that further knowledge to help them define a keyword within the lesson.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

In my observed lesson one group predicted an incorrect outcome to a practical before carrying it out. Then when they did the practical they were able to identify they were wrong and why. This is evidenced in my lesson plan.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it


For whatever reason the image was beyond my GM and rotating skill! Sorry Phil!

Yr7 student answering a DIRT question. Could label the parts of an animal or plant cell but I wanted to see if they really understood and could take it further by telling me what each part does. As you can see they were able to do this so I threw in an extra one that they had missed out and they got that as well.

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success


Above is an example of a DIRT lesson at KS4. These lessons are also done with ks3. In these lessons students answer an open ended question with as much information as they can remember from the week. These questions are then peer assessed in red pen and any improvements given. Students then redraft their work taking into account these improvements in blue pen. They are then rechecked by myself.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

The above picture also shows an example of re drafting and how it is carried out. The below picture is an example of how I use SPAG. In this example I have shown a literacy question which centres around a common spelling mistake in science – Fluorine. This is an area I feel I need to improve on.


Carmel has also been thinking about how to keep an on-going faculty reflection, rather than waiting until a distant time and SLT requests for a current state of play. I’m keen for all to contribute any ideas that will save time/ease work-load. Creative ideas shouldn’t just come from the top-all need to be able to put ideas forward and try them out. I’m interested to see how this one works out and if other faculties try something similar.

David, Leon,

I was thinking of ways to collect department level evidence of sharing and reflection after our discussion yesterday. I need a way that is helpful to us as a department, uses minimal time and could be done as we go along (same criteria as we used when we developed fast marking).

I have mocked one up for you below.  I know it may appear like a list of trivial details, but these are the real items that are done day to day to build a bigger picture and that is the important point. This will then form the raw data for mine and Hannah’s reflection at the end of the year.  

I am hoping it will show our ideas and practices evolving over time and how everyone is contributing. It will be held in a spread sheet which people can add to at any point, the topic is there so we can sort by topic.

I’d like to think of it as one long set of meeting minutes, a meeting that we are all attending all the time! I anticipate most people will contribute on an adhoc but weekly basis and we have agreed that it could take the place of our after school weekly science meeting, to free up peoples time to add their contributions. Perhaps the next evolutionary step in department meetings as it is not limited by start and end times.

I have mocked up some data entries to give you an idea of the type of thing that could be included but who knows what people will add!

What do you think?

date Comment Feedback topic
HS Trialled learning by discovery with 8.5, 15 mins without any guidance and actually GOT THE CARBON CYCLE at the end. Going to try it with 8.4 next lesson. HW – can you send a link, 8.3 don’t quite get it yetHS W:\Science\Book Monitoring and observation 14-15\Summer observations\Observation resources\HS\Carbon Cycle Game.docxWS – I’ll try it too

CM  – can someone add it to the SOW pls, ta

T & L
WS Trying optional GYM homework with 8.6 CM – hmmm, let me know if they do it – could it be a step too far??HS – interestingWS – 25% have done it!

CM – that’s more than I would have expected – great idea Wendy will you do it again

WS – done another this week

WS – 45% this time, and Ella Thistlethwaite has redrafted it after id marked it! Really proud

CM – Wow amazing

HW My books are looking really good with these coloured pens. I’m doing my DIRT couple of times a week, makes marking quick. CM – can you add the dirt tasks into the SOW slidesHW – doneRM – I used them, really great thx Holly Marking
RM Coloured pens going well, books look really good but its taking too long to manage giving them out and taking in HS – try making pen packs, Val has some small plastic bagsWS – I use pen packs tooCM – pen packs didn’t work for me as pupils didn’t always put pens back in them. I’ve got wooden blocks with holes drilled in them. equipment
CM My y 11s are getting behind as they are so much slower in the afternoon – had to use my consolidation week just to finish C4 PJ – me tooRM – me too, set 2 are a real problem Tuesday afternoon. I’ve had to speak to KRHW – me too

CM – not a lot we can do except really push the pace in the Thursday lesson.

CM – my 11.6 are ahead of 11.1! that the effect of 75% afternoon lessons.

CM – Maths finding similar issue but there’s is a 50% split.

CM – shouldn’t happen next year as going to 2 week timetable.

CM Have found kerboodle – an online homework for OCR GCSE, think may be good for KS4 intervention. Got a free month trial, gives you reports of results so you can see who is struggling. HS – does it do triple too?CM yes I’ve emailed everyone logonsWS – love it, they can practice as many times as they like before doing it

RM – great ill set some

CM – I have found that setting the same one three times and getting them to do it immediately after each other works really well for recall .

HW – I’m setting them – can we order them

CM it’s in budget for next year, can use as hw too.

PJ Thought about doing a lesson using IRIS CM – Brave – let me know how it goesPJ – student teacher wants to do one too.HW – fab, let me know how she gets on.

CM – anyone else want to do IRIS?


T & L
CM Going to set up some multi choice recall quizzes on ……for lunchtime intervention if anyone wants them I can share HS – they can run them in my lab if you want.WS – can I send someCM – yes just send me list of names

WS – I will help chase people up and deliver them if you like.

CM – Ta

CM – People keep forgetting to chase up – I’ve emailed learning tutors to prompt but still not running smoothly.

WS – I think it’s because we are alternating the weeks between 11 and 10.

HS – yes I think you are right, they mean to come but just forget.

CM – let’s try and find another way, this is not being effective for anyone. Quizzes are good though so we can use them in lessons.

CM Year 10 triple girls are becoming really amazing at peer assessment and redraft – able to correct the science effectively PJ – yes I was impressed with them too.RM – 10 4 definitely not there yetCM – 10 5 ok, I’ll send you some of the scaffolds I’ve got. Marking
WS Controlled assessments running behind schedule as we don’t have enough balances HW – agreedRM – me too agreedHS – yep

PJ – defo

CM – message received (problem the 0.01g ones are £400!)

CM Going to trial ‘print your own stickers’ that Greg uses RM – I’ve seen his books I love themCM – let me know if you want a box of blanks to print on.HW – can I see some when they’re done Marking


The PE faculty worked incredibly hard during Sport’s Week [as did others!] and had to be flexible and re-arrange plans quickly when the weather turned. It really is the highlight of our school year and the team spirit both students and staff engender and display really shows the power of the alternative curriculum. The PE folks still managed to meet to share some of their ideas like the old pros that they are! This old pro, after foolishly playing in the year 8 girls 5 a side and the 2 staff v year 11 helpers’ games, has had to forsake his Sunday bike ride and write a blog because he is still stiff!

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

Aaron- Creating dialogue with students in books, use of dot marking in psd lessons enabled me to show this within my book monitoring and I feel this has closed the gap.

Sam- Video footage of year 7 girls doing the tennis serve. Girls acted upon the advice after watching a pro tennis player and their improvements are clearly evidenced in the video footage.

Tom- Use of ipads of analysis of high jump technique, students were able to analyse their performance which lead to a massive improvement.

Rosie- Video footage for year 10 GCSE group, which helped the lower attainers watch their own and other performances to help identify targets for improvement. Video footage is evidence of before and after.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

Aaron- Year 9 mixed GCSE group fully understand that GCSE PE consists of 40% theory as well as 60% practical which is more challenging but has been drip fed to improve their knowledge and understanding which will bridge the gap for year 10.

Tom- Use of growth mind set in lessons to allow students to understand how to develop their skills.

Sam- Lower year 7 girls have fully understood that it is far easier to remain confident and up beat instead of letting things get to them.

Rosie- Lower year 7 girls have fully understood that is far easier to communicate and remain positive and start to use team work to achieve success rather than trying to do everything solo.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

Rosie- See book monitoring (Katie MacDonald book)- massive improvement for 10 mark questioning.

Aaron- During KS3 PE observation student gave feedback and was then asked to re-do it which was in more detail and of a much higher standard.

Tom- During observation students taking a lead learning role and developing other student’s skills through analysis of performance in cricket (Dylan Burrows).

Sam- Students used home learning to research the skeletal system producing high quality resources for their next lesson (Rachel Cresswell).

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

Aaron- Creating dialogue with students in books, use of dot marking in psd lessons enabled me to show this within my book monitoring and I feel this has closed the gap.

Rosie- Peer sheets for verbal/ written verification to use KS3 which had a positive effect on the assessor and the performer, which gave them confidence to critically reflect.

Tom- Year 11 exam question analysis and peer assessment (Purple pen), improving student learning.

Sam- Batting in year 8 rounders. Video footage was observed by partners and honest critique was fed back. Students then videoed them again checking that feedback was completed and success had been had.

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

and, of course, any of your own choice [just tell your colleagues why you chose it and think it is your best]

GCSE PE and Dance- See books and book monitoring- PR and PEPs for GCSE PE- SPS/ TE

Thank you as always to all who have shared ideas-part 3 next!































Summer Feedback Trilogy-Part 1 The thing we use to call marking

Colleagues have been gathering their thoughts in faculties about the Magic Moments observed in our summer observations and sharing examples of their latest feedback tactics offered to line-managers during book monitoring. Although staff are tired as the term comes to its end and have been exhibiting some very different pedagogical [and other] skills during our Sport’s Week, they have still managed to celebrate their successes and hopes for next year with each other. I usually put them all together for internal purposes and then on to the external blog so others can borrow if they wish to. It’s such a huge read, that I’ve split them this time into 3 parts! Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to inspire me and allow me into their thoughts, concerns, ideas and classrooms.

Preparing the new school SEF and SIP pushed me to read the new Ofsted handbook and criteria in greater detail than the cursory glances I gave it a few weeks ago when it first appeared. My changing role will still involve professional development and it was good to see in the outstanding criteria;

Staff reflect on and debate the way they teach. They feel deeply involved in their own professional development. Leaders have created a climate in which teachers are motivated and trusted to take risks and innovate in ways that are right for their pupils.

It’s become part of our culture now that we organise our directed time and inset to allow open and honest debate about learning and teaching and risks are encouraged so that innovative ideas are trialled and should they not work; lessons are learnt. It remains important that we need to constantly seek ideas and expertise from external sources too and different approaches to the way we might think/do things are always welcome. A couple of interesting ideas re the use of book scrutinies and use of marking as a method of monitoring/checking progress are here; @mrhistoire

Our observations and book monitoring is different to many other schools, and I’m aware from colleagues who visit us, that our approach interests them whether they agree or disagree with it! I can’t hide my dislike of grading observations or tightly imposed structures for monitoring ‘marking’-BUT we do what works for us and is best for our staff and students. This doesn’t mean that we aren’t ‘Ofsted savvy’ –I need to know what they are up to support schools via our Teaching School remit and watch the subject specific current inspections like a hawk, just in case! Their outstanding feedback criteria is what you might expect [they seem to like the word incisive!] without dissecting every word and I would imagine most schools have something similar in their own policies. In Michael Tidd’s post above he gives the EEF description of feedback and we can discuss the use of oral, written or any other form of feedback at length in another blog-this one simply shares some of our current and proposed practice!

Teachers provide pupils with incisive feedback, in line with the school’s assessment policy, about what pupils can do to improve their knowledge, understanding and skills. The pupils use this feedback effectively

Pupils are eager to know how to improve their learning. They capitalise on opportunities to use feedback, written or oral, to improve.

 The questions that I asked faculties to feedback on will become apparent as you read through their responses. I’ll begin with English.

SF 1

SF 2









I’ve explained in previous blogs that I like staff to experiment with their feedback to find what is best for them and their classes within a loose whole school policy.

I will always suggest that if well-known marking acronyms/phrases are used that E is added for evidence and examples-e.g. What Went Well [Evidence of what was so good] Even Better If [Example provided] to make peer critique even tighter-same for 2 stars and a wish which is used occasionally with some of our younger lowest ability students as part of their transition from primary.

The English faculty have thought long and hard about finding quick feedback strategies which will impact both on actual specific English needs and staff workload in creating the most effective intervention tactics. They shared their new idea with the rest of the staff-this might be the last time we see some of the above slides! I can’t do justice to this using pictures and words but will explain it more after a term or so of trialling it. The maths faculty have already told me that they like this and as both faculties have begun to meet together to discuss their research project [another blog!]-watch this space!


You can see that they have designed a set of symbols to allow them to mark quickly and then use the symbols for the students to interpret and respond to as part of the feedback and dialogue process. They hope that the use of symbols and agreed intervention criteria will be easier for them to track and give a bit more time to actually intervene purposefully to support students who have struggled with certain aspects of their learning. Looks good on paper and I’m delighted to see them innovate and I will be fascinated to see if this is something that makes a difference to both sets of learners [students and teachers]





Each teacher discussed different aspects of their feedback and the risk taken during observations. A more detailed discussion will take place in September to decide faculty learning, teaching and feedback priorities-this is to give our middle leaders a real grasp of what is currently working well and areas that need professional development and will feed into the whole school SIP.

Feedback that the student acted upon and you then have the evidence that it closed a specific learning gap

TM- A variety of dialogues completed during dirt. The use of questioning allows pupils to develop their answers.  Students are challenged linking to their targets to push to the next level & grade. Students will be asked to prioritise, explain or asked the other side of an argument. With regards to GCSE questions – aimed at pushing pupils up to Level 3 of mark scheme. GCSE questions often link to skills e.g. P.E.E ensuring pupils either fully explain their answers or include relevant data to justify their answers

MD- After first book monitoring purple pens were introduced which evidenced improvements and feedback which was then checked and improvements grades were issued. This strengthened the 3 way marking process that was already in place and made it more visual.

GT- The use of level up activities within history from both peer and teacher questions has really allowed pupils to develop and improve on exam questions across KS3. Pupils use the mark scheme and their own understanding to ask questions that really push pupils to close the gap on their target grade. This is then re-marked and if successful pupils are given a ‘level up’ grade. I also really enjoyed using Helens ‘What’s missing’ activity with pupils which has allowed them to use peer providing to highlight how pupils could improve their exam answers to increase their grade/mark. It served as a great way for pupils to see where they could improve their work before redrafting it.

HY- 7.7 feedback responded which has been developed throughout the year, they have enjoyed dot marking which works well with low ability. Assessment slips show students clearly what level they are on and how to reach the next level. Students know exactly what they are working on and towards. DIRT stickers are used to show they have overcome learning challenges.

Feedback that you can evidence was a real penny dropping moment that might have taken ages to for it to drop!

ED – Low ability year 9 learning case study material on Bangladesh and retaining information was really rewarding for them and myself. Also this same group used dictionaries and GCSE text books to learn meanings of key geographical words to enable them to understand geographical text. Through this they were able to use the terminology to complete 6mark GCSE questions. Using this terminology allowed them to reach the higher marks within the question.

TM- year 10 using PEE chains. Helped them structure their 6 mark extended answers and allowed the students to gain more confidence. Over time these were withdrawn and now the students can answer there question more effectively.

MD- first observation – students completed a causal web with low ability year 10 GCSE. I adapted high ability task and added challenge which students more than lived up to which showed me that low ability thrive from aspiration and high expectations.

GT- The penny dropping moments within my last observation with Y8 history where they were applying their understanding in a solo taxonomy activity that had been introduced to the pupils that lesson. Penny drop was when Eve was able to make links between pictures that I had not initially thought of during the planning. This was even further developed in the peer assessment where pupils were encouraged to highlight further links on other pupil’s visual hexagons.

HY- with GCSE exam mats which include 6 mark answering techniques and command words students enjoy using these. Low ability year 10 who struggle with extended writing used these and were able to achieve higher levels in their questions.

Feedback that you feel showed a tremendous piece of mind-set from the student involved in achieving it

TM- Redrafting – y10 pupils redrafted their work after an assessment. Pupils showed great growth mind-set and it was clear they wanted to improve to do their very best. (example from Aleta attached)

MD- Based on feedback to a year 8 assessment 2 students returned at lunchtime and wanted to further improve their assessments to achieve a level up.

GT- I have found that a large range of my feedback opportunities have tested pupils resolve and has been a growth mind set challenge, especially for lower ability pupils as they have had to critique using success criteria. I have found modelling has supported this. Also, making improvements on level up and redrafting is a challenge for pupils as many do not like redoing work, as some of the more positive improvements really show the effort that have put into improving.

HY- Jasmine Evans didn’t make her target grade – she returned after school for extra support. This helped improve and reach her target showing a positive growth mind set.  

Feedback from self/peer that was a superb example of honest critique with examples/follow up checking/success

TM- see pictures attached showing marking.

MD- year 9 – Created a how to answer exam style question revision guide by writing on the desks. Students worked as a class to improve each desk and wipe out incorrect information collectively created an effective learning resource which has then been used when planning answers.

GT- I have found that using both peer verification has proved a really great opportunity for pupils to critique each other’s work both across KS3/KS4, it has given then a chance to develop their critique and setting targets/improvements on this. Also, I encourage pupils to write their own peer critique using WWW/EBI and setting targets/questions which are answered within the classroom.

HY- peer assessed effort in lesson of each other – BSG, different questions about group discussion, using geographical vocab and leading roles. Students self-assessed their effort and then peer assessed agreeing or disagreeing. 

Feedback that hit any of our current obsessions-re-drafting, innovative, fast, SPaG etc.

TM- Have trialled dot marking with low ability and found it very useful. Pupils are beginning to become familiar with this process and can now identify mistakes easily. Labels stuck onto lower sets to show where feedback has been left. Removed once I am happy with responses – Pupils now have high expectations when it comes to DIRT tasks as they know I will check all work. (They also seem to hate having the labels stick out of their books so are keen to get rid of them by completing high standard work!) Mock exam review – Review after mocks to identify key areas of strength and areas for development. I have found this really helpful and it allows students to easily reflect on their work.  Fast feedback – GCSE mark scheme highlighting – When pupils answer a GCSE past paper question they stick in the mark scheme long with their answer. I then use this to mark the work, highlighting where they have hit criteria of the mark scheme. This allows me to give specific feedback which links directly to what the mark scheme is looking for without having to write lots. Use of HYs GCSE mats

MD- re-drafting – using the redrafting form students were able to use peer and teacher feedback to redraft work to show clear progress.

GT- SPag Bombs, personalised stickers, SPIT marking, Highlighter Marking – These are a variety of methods I have tried to introduce help familiarise students with peer critique and to also vary the methods used so pupils are challenged and stay engaged. SPaG bombs have allowed me to focus on improving spelling of key words across KS4, whilst personalised stickers have increased my fast feedback, high level questioning and have overall made my marking more efficient.

HY- dot marking and GCSE mats, growth mind set displays, growth mind sets efforts plenary. Introducing peer assessment of GCSE questions at KS3.

Each individual teacher please also be ready to explain the ‘risk’ they took in the recent lesson observation and explain what the impact on learning was. Where will you take it next?

TM- used a role play activity with year 8 – was worried they wouldn’t participate and be shy however they excelled and verbally used their key geographical knowledge to take part effectively. They still talk about the activity as they can remember the key knowledge of the lesson clearly. Next I would give the students more responsibility within their roles and filter this through to lower ability classes.

MD- boxing to argue – developing arguing for and against skills allowing them to be in charge of decision making exercise. Pupils had to think on their feet developing their speaking and listening skills and apply this then to 10 and 12 mark questions. This will be trialled with lower ability students.

GT- A risk I took was getting pupils to set create, set, share and peer assess their own 12 mark questions at GCSE. This was a strategy new to me as it aimed to develop pupil’s skills as answering a range of questions

HY – speaking and listening – students had talk tokens given when good geographical conversations were taking place. This was with a high ability class therefore higher order terminology was required to achieve a token. This encouraged students and helped them with answering GCSE questions. After speaking to Dave I would try giving the tokens to the students and allowing them to decide when their partner deserved a token for good use of terminology.

The humanities gentlemen have shared lots of photos of their feedback in 2015 blogs so I’ll give our geography NQT Toni a clarion call for her continual refection and refining of her feedback strategies by sharing some of her snaps.

The first 3 show some targeted questioning and then the follow up self-evaluation to see that the advice/knowledge has been met/memorised.





Toni has encouraged the students [red pen] to peer assess SPaG and BSG criteria-this was an early example [Toni began her NQT in November] and Toni would now ensure an example of an explanation was given by the peer marker. This development in her feedback is seen below.


SF17  SF18


Miss then verifies the peer critique saving her time and by supporting better quality peer critique, the learners are hopefully strengthening their skills and knowledge.


And she also finds time to teach G.C.S.E geography too!


Performing Arts

The creative ladies had an early attempt at September’s inset activity-individual colleagues will share their learning/teaching and feedback triumphs and their priorities for 2015/16 [based on their appraisal foci and professional portfolio] so faculty leaders can easily collate an overall PD need to match individual and faculty needs-this then comes to me to give me a whole school picture.


For our book monitoring or scrutiny, colleagues self-evaluate their feedback first, highlighting areas of interest before passing books representative of the different cohorts to their line manager.

Some have wonderful colour schemes to represent the different factors we are currently trialling. See Toni’s below


Book scrutiny is a professional development exercise in the same spirit as our observations are developmental-this doesn’t make them a soft option! If feedback needs to be developed further, targets are agreed upon but the whole process of collaboration and sharing of ideas means that there are always examples of great practice from within our own school to go to for inspiration and guidance. I liked Sophie’s idea of including her summer evaluation after her Autumn/winter one so that she could link and explain her own professional progress and development over this



Thank you to all who shared their ideas in part 1. Part 2 will star our scientists!

Thanks for reading












A different approach to literacy in science

Carmel, our subject leader for science sent me a Sunday morning treat to read to add to our collection of subject specific literacy Magic Moments. As my partner is also a physicist [but one who loves to write!] I’m fascinated to find out what other scientists think and to hear from other schools who employ similar of different approaches. I’m delighted to see my colleagues trialling new ideas and am sure that others within our own school, possibly in science, but certainly within Carmel’s learning hub, will offer their views/share their own literacy trials. Over to Carmel……

Literacy Magic Moments.

Apologies for such a long piece, as I have done something a little different from photographing activities or pieces of good marking, I wanted explain a little about my ideas behind it too.

I am a physicist, and as such, my numeracy and logic skills are very very good, however I have always struggled with spelling and find it quite difficult and time consuming when having to produce extended pieces of writing, whether they are departmental reviews or the current terms ‘literacy moments’ for sharing amongst staff. It’s just not my strength and I find myself reading and rereading the piece over and over and probably have about 10 draft versions before the final one is ready for public scrutiny (this of course means it takes me 10 times longer than everyone else and why you are only just receiving it now!). This does not mean that literacy is not a fundamental feature in my lessons, moreover that I appreciate first hand how difficult it can be to get your ideas down on paper when your brain fully understands the subject, you are overflowing with ideas but just can’t seem to get the across as quickly and easily as others can.

As standard practice I will provide scaffolds, use sentence starters, connectives, keyword lists etc but it still doesn’t always allow some pupils to get their science understanding across as fully as I’d like them to. I have seen that misconceptions can be implied by weaker literacy or worse still, hidden. I have a class of year 7 pupils who, on the whole, have quite weak literacy skills, and as always there is quite a range within the group, this does not mean their scientific potential is weak. Some pupils cope very well and will produce pages and pages of ideas and explanations and have done really well to get over their fear of the blank page. I do have a few who are very reluctant writers and produce very little evidence of their learning although verbally they get their understanding across well. In between these two extremes I have a number of pupils who’s literacy is quite ‘out of balance’ with their scientific understanding and should be following scientific careers when leaving school as long as the literacy demands of the subject doesn’t put them off and these are literacy demands that would not necessarily be there in the workplace.

New technology is fantastic and I find spell and grammar checks invaluable. I see friends of mine whom I graduated alongside, in science and engineering careers chucking away their pens and simply speaking into their iPads and phones and recording info by photo and video.

So this term….

I wanted to find a way of making sure that my pupils with weaker literacy skills produced evidence of their learning that was in line with actual scientific understanding, and that in collecting this evidence, they were still improving their literacy and perhaps moving their subject progress even further than they would have previously.

What I did……

The topic was acids and alkalis, over the course of one lesson I was expecting pupils to identify some clear liquids as acid or alkali simply by using universal indicator, then perform a simple neutralisation reaction to get experience of the pH scale and moving from acid to alkali back and forth. Then finally to work on naming a range of salts and produce word and symbol equations for those reactions. The aim was to move them to the stage of performing a titration in the next lesson. This lesson was also carried out partway through our independent learning trial so pupils were given very little support, only independent materials, including an instruction sheet, some questions to help them summarise their learning and some simple introductory slides. I told them they needed to provide evidence of their learning but this could be in whatever format they liked. They had voice recorders, video and cameras and their normal lab books.

What they did…..
All pupils used the camera to take photos for identification of the liquids,  this took about 5-10 mins of the lesson (once they had collected equipment and figured out what to do). They added labels like ‘red-acid’, which I was happy with. In a more traditional lesson I would have expected pupils to record these results in a table, which probably would have doubled or even trebled the activity time for some pupils, and I would have ‘lost’ the reluctant writers along the way.Pupils quickly moved on to a simple neutralisation. Again they all photographed their evidence. Some did before and after pictures, some just the end result and some at various stages. I would have liked them to video this part so they could demonstrate their practical techniques but I did not want to interrupt them as this was also part of our independent learning trial and some pupils are quite self conscious and unsure of this way of working. Normally I would have expected pupils to draw and label the scientific diagram for this part and write a description of what they did (I would not normally bother with a full experiment write up for this investigation). This group would probably only get this part completed by the end of the lesson. But we still had about 20 mins left!
The most successful part of the lesson was the questions, pupils tend to dislike this part but it is the most important. The questions were structured so that when all answered, they summarised all the learning pupils needed to make before moving on to titrations. Majority of pupils recorded their answers on voice recorders, some still preferred to write their answers as they said they didn’t like the sound of their own voices.

I will split pupils into three types (although I don’t like putting people in boxes!).

Type 1, reluctant writers.

These pupils completed the entire lesson (there is normally a risk of losing them a third of the way in, unless I’m constantly with them, they stop), they enjoyed it and were fully engaged independently.  They felt they had done well and got their understanding across and were very happy with their progress. In our BSG system I would have given them gold for independence and silver/gold for the scientific understanding. Their use of scientific keywords and statements were mostly correct, I did prompt these pupils several times to describe their ideas and mostly they did not just give one word answers although they weren’t quite speaking in full sentences.

Type 2 Good scientists – weak literacy.
This approach worked very well for them. They completed their work quickly, scientific level achieved was definitely gold and they got to the point of recording symbol equations in their books, although some still tried to record these verbally, which I’m not sure I would encourage longer term. This way of working was a real success and the group this trial was aimed at.

Type 3 All ready writing quite well and making good progress (although the majority are dyslexic) –

This was the group that surprised me, although with hindsight I’m not sure why I didn’t realise this would happen before the trial. They also chose to record their answers verbally as they do find writing slows them down but because they are committed they don’t let this hold them back. What I wasn’t expecting was how long they spent working out and discussing exactly how to phrase their answers before attempted to speak in full sentences with lots of detail and explanation. In discussing their ideas before they recorded them they actually addressed any small misconceptions they had between them in their group. This is the type of learning I aspire to make happen and I’m sure they would not have discussed the detail quite so thoroughly had they been writing their answers even when given the opportunity, or as part of peer assessment.


We covered a lot more in the 1 hour lesson than normal, we gained about 20 mins which is 33%! Could we really be looking at a potential significant gain in curriculum time?

  • I did not lose my reluctant writers, having evidence they can look back on over time, and them engaging in the ‘questioning and thinking’ part of the lesson could really move their learning on more than I believe they would have done normally.
  • Good scientists who get put off the subject by the writing were fully engaged and moved their learning on in line with their ability, which does not always happen.
  • The pupils whom I would categorise as already doing well used it as powerful tool, exciting now to think how much further they could go!

Next step.

How do I store and manage all this information. Clearly, recordings are not as easy to mark. I have been experimenting with iPads and looking at what real scientists and engineers do in the field. Siri looks great, we can use dictation rather than voice recording. In applications such as ‘pages’ (apples ‘word’ equivalent) whenever you get the keyboard option you can dictate instead/as well. Pupils can add in or correct using the keyboard when necessary and of course add in photographic evidence with comments. Pupils will then still be used to seeing written words, but won’t be held back by pencil skills and spelling. Documents can be shared and managed using Dropbox or google docs although a lot of thought needs to go in to the organisation. With regard to marking, there appears to be some nice annotation apps available for feedback comments too although I’ve not tested any yet.
First indications are that we would gain learning time, which we could use to consolidate the more demanding scientific ideas.

More reasons to do it ……
This is how engineers and scientists work in industry as I’m sure many other sectors do, and the primary driver being that it saves time. Collecting ideas, evidence and understanding together in a variety of formats and compiling them into summary reports is an essential skill in the workplace and one we try to use as part of their learning. I’m sure we all expect pupils to do project work on computers embedding many different features into documents but there is so much opportunity to go further with handheld devices. It is also worth bearing in mind too, that the pupils are probably better at this than us!

Drawback – each pupil need access to their own iPad for the duration of the lesson.

This leads on to the dream of the electronic lab book….. And a paperless classroom…..

Carmel answered a few of my questions after I read her email and she placed the trial in the context of her own leadership of science and  reactions to external and internal changes, philosophies and student needs.  Back to Carmel…..

I wanted to record this journey to demonstrate (hopefully) how to bring about fundamental culture change and progression, albeit at a department level, and how to deal with the obstacles as they arise along the way (building resilient staff as well as resilient pupils). I know that these are philosophies and changes you are bringing about from a whole school perspective, however, as a middle leader, at the coal face, the day to day issues we will face will be very different and a journey I feel is well worth recording and sharing.

Several of us took part on an online CPD with the exam board last week, where they shared their new specification and sample exam questions. Personally I was delighted to see that quality of written communication is no longer being assessed on the papers and the 6 markers are now testing pupils ability to draw together several scientific ideas rather than it becoming an exercise in interpreting the question. They stressed that questions are now being designed to identify good understanding of science, something our department can do well. The more difficult skill of application of knowledge will be addressed on a weekly basis when drawing their conclusions from practical work and linking it with ideas covered in previous theory lessons (great opportunity to get a bit of interleaving in!). It is also interesting that exam papers in combined science must contain 20% mathematical skills, which we are very happy about.

With regard to the reluctant writers in their final exams, throughout their time with us, we will still work with them towards being able to get enough of their ideas down in writing to get the GCSE grades they are capable of. The benefit this project could (hopefully) offer is that they should remain fully engaged for 4hrs per week for 5 yrs before hand. A lot of time to master a lot of science or a lot of wasted time if they switch off and miss part of every lesson.


Summer Magic Literacy and Numeracy Moments part 3

Our penultimate big sharing of ideas for the year focuses on literacy and numeracy ideas from our English, art and design and PSD faculties and I’ve included a couple of ideas that colleagues have been developing in their learning hubs.


01 02

From Hannah

I have attached examples from members of the department. I hope that this is appropriate as we are all working on the same goals at the moment.

One of the biggest things for us this year was fully embedding basic Literacy into all lessons in English. A couple of the biggest things we have adapted this year are weekly SPaG homework and consistent use of SPaG lesson starters. In September, we will be assessing all students half termly on SPaG to monitor progress and to emphasise the importance of this area. Our improved routines are having a profound effect in terms of the reduction in basic errors across the board. We use a wide range of tools to support the development of Literacy including word banks, writing frames, scaffolds, dictionaries, thesauruses, word cards, key words, challenging literature and so on.  Reading bingo has been used to develop the independence of our learners; we are aspiring to make students take ownership for their writing.

We have developed a routine of ‘best work’ only to be marked by teachers. Most teachers will use drafting books next year which, again, will push our learners to look critically at their errors before submitting their final piece. DIRT time has also successfully been built in across the department and errors are highlighted (usually six) and the students go back and correct these in red pen. We find that they are far more cautious as a result of our marking methods this year. We anticipate that our current KS3 will be extremely competent in terms of grammatical accuracy and etc. by the time they sit their GCSE.

The big difference this year is that we are taking a collaborative approach to how we deliver Literacy (lesson starters follow the half termly focus/ SPaG homework follows the half termly focus). The entire aspect of accuracy is high on the agenda on a daily basis. I am starting to see the impact of a whole school approach as students are now checking their work without being prompted.

In terms of Literacy, we do not face challenges in terms of embedding it as it one of our main goals. Students enjoy SPaG starters and often become quite competitive which is something we are pleased to see.

Numeracy in English.

We have a number of opportunities to develop numeracy in English. We teach students how to sequence ideas/ events, we encourage students to work out percentages when a numerical scoring is required and as our subject is so demanding in terms of time management, time is a common discussion in lessons. LC/ RH have been using scrabble starters which require students to add the value of key words. Also, (and most impressively) we have introduced the use of Venn diagrams as much as possible to support the KS4 learning of this topic in Maths. We use Venn diagrams mainly for drawing comparisons from poetry.


<from LC. Students have to the value of particular words (numeracy links)

Hannah attached quite a few ideas so I’ll include the full examples for colleagues/other schools to borrow and adapt if they wish to.

Observation and inference


Capital Letters

Vocabulary building – Year 8 – Week 1

Year 7 Vocab Half Term 1 Week 2

NTEN SPaG Powerpoint Second

SPaG Homework New

Half Term 1 SPaG Test

04 05 06

Art and Design

Josie sent me examples from both her textiles and art lessons.

Literacy Starters in Textiles.

07 08 09

Literacy in Art

In Year 7, as part of understanding drawing skills, I have used YouTube videos to re-inforce the techniques they are using. The students watch the video and note everything the artist does well and relate it to their previous/current work.

10 11

In Year 8 students have been encouraged to write and analyse artists artwork based on the teaching strategies that I use with GCSE Art.

They were given an image in their sketchbook, as a class we discussed the keywords of Artist, Colour, Line, Composition, Scale and Opinion, then individually the students worked through each section of analysis based on prompts and suggestions from their peers.

12 13 14 15 16

The resulting work from Year 8 is detailed and well written and forms an improved understanding of analysing artwork and related art keywords.

Aimee shared her food technology numeracy.  It’s quite a big PPT so I’ve included it all below. A couple of examples look very tasty!


17 18 19

Literacy (PSD)

From Aarron

Georgia Healy 8.5


The only marking I had done can be seen here [1 word!]

When peer assessing letters; students were given set questions to raise so they can get a response and create dialogue.

Within PSD we use dot marking- students are given a template which is then glued into the back of their books- see below

21 22

Again the same can be seen with Ellie’s- the only marking I had to do was here.

Numeracy (form time)

23Every Monday I will ask my students write a paragraph about what they have done over the weekend. I encourage them to write in full English using connectives, capital letters and full stops. I believe this mini task gets them back into the working mind sent they need to be in for school.

Main Learning barrier

I have some students within my class who struggle to read their own handwriting therefore at times it is quite difficult to give quick feedback as I will have to sit down and proof read their work.

I have also noticed that some students have a significantly higher level of literacy than others who are in the same set. At times this has proved difficult and when I first took over the class during pair work, some were way ahead of others in terms of task completion. This had a knock on effect to the rest of the lesson as this led to less time to give peer feedback.

From Marion PSD

There has always been a literacy focus in PSD but this year I have tried to include activities and assessments which have a significant link to the types of writing or presentations the students are expected to produce for their English GCSE.  For example, year 8 have written a formal letter about child labour (The Rights of the Child), an information leaflet/sheet about politics and the General Election,

24 25

they have presented in front of the class (Charities) using presentation and persuasive techniques and they have debated the pros and cons of legalising cannabis. Year 7 have written an informal letter giving advice, a poem about bullying and a narrative story linked to safety.

26 27

They have also prepared speeches for school council elections and practiced speaking through discussions. Before these activities we go through the techniques they need to use such as PAF, SPaG and PEE and I emphasise their importance not only for PSD and English but for other subjects. An example of good practise is often shared beforehand for support/guidance. I use the dot method – dot over the spelling, they have to find the correct spelling, then write it out 3 times.

The inclusion of numeracy tends to be more difficult in PSD, however this year we have used percentages when looking at the number of seats a party needs to form a Government and statistics when discussing the smoking, drugs and alcohol. Year 8 have also use numeracy to calculate the amounts of calories in different diets.

My magic moment has been seeing the students in my form become independent and likeable young adults who are now ready to pursue new horizons. Of course it is also a slightly sad moment too, as they will disappear from my daily life after being very much present for the past five years and I will disappear from theirs. Still, one of the benefits of being a teacher is that when students leave they are swiftly replaced by new ones who need us just as much as we need them.

Dawn one of our Teaching Assistants shared how she supports literacy and numeracy with her year 7 class.

Ensuring all students have the necessary equipment at the start of the lesson (pens, pencils etc.  Anyone who works with 7/5 will know this can take a while!)

Some of the students in the group have a diagnosis of dyslexia so in lessons that require a lot of writing, I will assist them with scribing, including writing out lesson objectives/questions.

I encourage students to us highlighters to emphasise key words in a passage.

Assisting with note taking, to use later if writing a longer piece of work.

I ensure students who need overlays/laptops/Alphasmarts have access to them.

Verbal prompts reminding them to use SPAG.

Offering lots of praise and encouragement to the students, not allowing them to give up.

In maths in particular we have a student who is very gifted but spends the majority of the lesson distracting others (he is currently waiting to be assessed for ADHD), I spend a lot of my time with this student encouraging positive behaviours.

Mandy, another of our TAs shared her strategies.

Learning Barriers – This student needs support to structure their work, especially in extended writing tasks. Help to organise thought processes and encourage them to plan their work and use a laptop to record their work. Student will edit his own work on the laptop but can be reluctant to revise their answers or show workings.

Strategies that I am trying

-Use of laptop to record his work. Needs support managing the laptop.

-Using a task organiser to help structure and plan the task and use of a visual prompt to extend and provide evidence to his work (P.E.E.R)

-Support when editing work Capital letters, Punctuation.

-Encouraging student to revise finished answer  – need to build time in for this to make sure that the answer is addressing the question asked and is appropriate to the audience ( especially in English extended pieces of writing) but, this also needs checking in other subjects too, for example Science and History.

Spellings –At the front of their English folder I am noting down common spelling mistakes in a word bank.

Homophones. We have tried a homophones worksheet during 1:1 handwriting sessions to check understanding and use visual reminders.


SPAG Challenge – regularly check with student and remind them of their specific targets. We identified recently that he ‘had forgotten’ that the personal pronoun ‘I’ should always be a capital letter.

Specific Literacy Targets – the student is aware of his specific targets and will now identify errors in his own work occasionally independently but still needs prompting when editing.

When peer marking he is able to offer positive feedback and this helps identify his own needs.

He is on target to meet end of year grade C. He now writes using full paragraphs and uses quotations appropriately and is becoming more independent in his work.

Growth Mind –Set Wendy leads our learning hub on GM and they are working on helping the students to think about their effort and very practical ways of self-evaluating their own GM in lessons. I shared Alex and Andy’s trialling of ideas in our GM blog-this is Wendy’s.

GYM review for Genetics unit Year 8-6

 What are you doing to improve your learning and achieve Gold? using “Grow Your Mind”

What grade did you get on the Genetics Test? ________________


To do this you need to be really honest with yourself!

  1. Did you ask for the extension sheet to try and improve your grade? _______________
  2. Did you complete the optional GYM homework on Cystic Fibrosis?______.

If yes, do you feel it helped your learning and why? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

  1. Do you ever look over the revision guide at home? ________________
  2. Do you answer questions in class? __________________________
  3. Do you talk about your science lessons at home with family?


  1. Do you ever try to extend your learning by looking things up on the internet or YouTube to try and find out extra information? ____________________________
  2. Do you give well thought out feedback during peer assessment? ____________________________________
  3. Do you ask for help or more explanation if you are stuck? ____________________________________________________
  4. When you revise, do you try to write things out or use the memory techniques we use in class? _______________________
  5. Do you usually complete your homework?_________________
  6. Do you try and come to science lessons with a positive attitude, ready to enjoy and get involved in lessons? ____________________________________________________
  7. Do you try to work things out for yourself or with a friend before asking a teacher? ________________________
  8. Do you use your DIRT time well to re-draft your answers ? _____________________
  9. Do you think you have a Bronze Silver or Gold Growth Mind Set? ________________

Now the important bit – what can you do in the future to commit more to your own learning? – Make a promise for next year.

My GYM targets for next year to help me become a committed and independent learner


These will be stuck into your new books for next year, and I will refer to them, so think carefully and use ideas from the questions!

In Year 9 I will try to improve my Growth Mind Set by trying these things:


Signed : _____________________________________________________

These will be stuck into your new books for next year, and I will refer to them, so think carefully and use ideas from the questions!

Business Studies

Colin has been leading our questioning hub and has used research provided by Dan Brinton at Belmont and has been avidly reading Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby’s latest book to add more ideas [before I lend him David Didau’s book which will probably tell him that they are all wrong!] I observed Colin in action so know that his stuff works! His questioning mixes pose, pause, bounce with GM [hints and tips from maths] and literacy.

30 31 32

His ‘hint and tips’ scaffolds are to help his students’ access the growth mind set ‘YET’ and develop their answering skills when they begin their G.C.S.E. course. By year 11, the scaffolds will gradually disappear with the memory of how to answer embedded in student brains. There are a list of connectives to help link the answers and encourage longer responses of greater quality.

The learning hub are looking beyond teacher questioning to try to develop student self and peer questioning skills and you can see that Colin uses his Business Buddies to set each other questions [scaffolds to help at first] and a whole range of interactive methods from chucking the Frisbee round to lots of posing and bouncing. Colin makes tremendous use of his technology to aid learning and assessment and of late has mixed this with the tricks of the trade from other less technically gifted colleagues i.e. me-of using mini whiteboards, pair-share and so on. An eclectic mix of teaching styles!

His observation plan from last week shows the thinking and risks taken behind his planning and use of his learning hub ideas.

Teacher  Mr Lee  Subject Business Set year 10 mixed
Action points from the last observation Relevant appraisal learning and teaching objectives Which MCHS ‘great teaching’ criteria have you planned to model?
To further develop the students ability and confidence to independently set challenging deep questions, use hints ‘n’ tips and answer challenging questions linked to GCSE 3, 6, 8 and 10 mark criteria A-A* Achieve +1 progress target by pushing student on to the 6, 8 and 10 mark criteria through student led Q&A session.This is linked to my CPD research on the impact of questioning, Help students build explanations and answering questions impact = strong level of evidence. Students lead the questioning and answer session independently and moreover, challenge and support each other to achieve their +1 targets! 
Context of lesson Student have completed unit 1 and have begun their controlled assessment research (unit 2). While they are conducting their questionnaires and interviews for homework, we have begun unit 3 Marketing.Is there an area of their learning/your teaching that you have found to be challenging and have decided to focus on?

§   Yes – students have found the step from 3 markers to 6 markers challenging. They often do not apply their knowledge to a business context (sometimes it is too general). A recent Edexcel exam report (June 2015 unit 3 feedback) highlighted that if students want to achieve the A-A* criteria they must develop higher order application, analysis and evaluation skills. This is a big strength of the department and is developed through PIC skills (product, industry and competitors) (literacy 1)

§   They also don’t focus on the downsides of their argument. In response to this the lesson will challenge students to think more deeply about the downsides (BSOC skill 1)

§   They also struggle to link sentences. Again this is another strength of the department, but today it will be more explicitly developed through ‘suggested snowball connectives’ (literacy 2)

In response they will set their own challenging 6 and 8 marker questions and model the answer themselves through an interactive student led Q&A by tackling a 6 marker and then an 8 marker! They will have a Business Buddy and new hints ‘n’ tips AFL sheets to support them. I really want them to push to their +1 targets and this interactive Q&A session will help them to model the criteria so they push on to do this themselves (Growth mind set!)

Getting your skates on! Which is the biggest anticipated risk/chance of failure you have planned to take in the lesson? How can we help?

§   I am going to try and get students to lead the Q&A themselves and this is a big risk. The use of the three hints ‘n’ tips will help students to stay on track and I will only act as facilitator. I will only intervene once three Business Buddies hint ‘n’ tips have been used. This is challenging for a teacher to do as we often feel the urge to lead and question the students ourselves as it feels ‘natural’ or an expected ‘conditioned/learned teacher response’. I’m learning to take a step back in the Q&A sessions (not easy for me, I still often intervene!!), but getting them to think for themselves through a student led deep Q&A session will enable them to model and further develop their higher order skills to achieve the +1 targets.  I will be exploring these points further in my questioning research)

§   I will be starting with a 6 marker (very challenging) but breaking it down using the hint n tips sheet and white boards to give students some wait time.

§   I will trial the white boards and pens to improve interaction. The Frisbee holder will ask all students the questions (linked to grading criteria) and all students will respond on white board. They will then be targeted by the Frisbee holder.

§   Students might find using the connectives difficult, but I really want them to develop the use of these to strengthen their answers today!


Learning and risk taking is for both students and staff-none of us will develop without un-fixing our mind-sets! Rachael H has produced this poster for her classroom-it’s a good ‘un to leave you with!


Extra bit! 

Colleagues from MCHS and another school asked me to share more examples of Colin’s questioning after reading the initial blog-probably to test my expertise at inserting pictures into the blog!! I have excluded a couple of excel documents with student grades on but will describe them. This was Colin’s submission for his summer book monitoring. Hope this makes sense!

AFL Business Studies Book monitoring evidence  

  1. 1. Students set themselves a challenging 3, 6, 8 or 10 mark GCSE question using the appropriate command words using the Business Buddy setting questions guidance sheets and bank of command words (evidence routine sheet 1 & google docs command words]

colin 4

2. One of the student’s questions is chosen to be used as the question for the class example = 6 marker see above. They then begin to lead the questioning and ask the class the question initially

colin 53. Students have 2mins wait time to work in pairs to plan an answer to the first 2 marks (judgements) using the: New Hints ‘n’ tip sheets for 6, 8 and 10 markers, white boards, literacy Business skills laminates (routine sheet 2 & 3 ).

colin 6

colin 8

The timer is also used to help improve time management skills

Students go through a 6 marker in mini episodes to keep them all engaged

They start by making a judgement to the 6 marker using the hint ‘n’ tip sheets and white boards in pairs!

colin 9

colin 10

4. The student questioner manages the praises and allocates a student for questioning. They target a student who is low on praises and asks them their google docs question. They throw the Frisbee to the student. And they answer the question

They are allowed

  • Some additional wait time
  • If students are still unsure after the wait time, they can use ‘3B4 me’ this is 3 Business Buddy Hint ‘n’ Tips from any student of their choice. If they are still unsure I then give them my own Hint ‘n’ tip. Students get a praise for each mark they get correct on the mark scheme and a praise for contribution.
  • Students use hints ‘n’ t tips sheet to help students with the correct answer and get a praise for contribution
  • There has been a reduction in hint ‘n’ tips (see excel sheet below) as students have got used to the criteria and their questioning and answering skills have improved-sheet not included but has info on each student with the number of praises/hints n tips.

colin 11

colin 125. The student who has answered the question then has to set the next part of the question to all the class. In the same pairs, students then complete the other elements of the 6 marker. They start by discussing the upsides and downsides of their arguments and develop their answers and literacy business skills using the PIC and snowball laminate skills sheets, connectives sheets and 6 marker Hint and Tips sheets.

A new student is targeted with the Frisbee and then must answer this section and step 4 above is repeated.

colin 13

colin 14

colin 166. The student then asks the class to make a final judgement and conclusion using their whiteboards and Hint and Tip sheets. Again is step 4 is again repeated student is targeted to make a final judgement.

colin 17

colin 19  colin 187. Student then answer 6 markers in google docs and Business Buddy mark each other’s work using the comment thread tool.

colin 20colin 218. Student are encouraged to push to the A* by completing the add factor 8- 10 marker challenge hint ‘n’ tip sheets by adding a new factor and extending their conclusions.

colin 22

colin 23

colin 249. I then give teacher feedback linked to the knowledge and skills of the 2, 3 and 6 markers and how to move on.

colin 25

colin 2610. Students are given teacher feedback and use DIRT  to input their scores into the Google docs tracking sheet and then what skills and knowledge they need to improve on for each topic-the sheet not included has information on the topics to be improved after the FAIL and then has the SAIL score.

A mixture of new technology and old school to make an interesting initiative and already proven impact on memory retention and improved pieces of learning.