Author Archives: Elizabeth Francis

KS4 Learning walk/student voice

In March 2016 students 4 student from every teaching group in school were interviewed about their progress here at MCHS and how they think their learning is going. We quizzed KS4 on their mocks and recent assessments and how strategies their teachers might be trying are working. In KS3 we focused on growth mindset and on literacy. The following two blogs represent the collated results of all discussions.

Learning Walks – KS4
1.Based on your mocks/assessments so far and your gut feeling-what are you realistically going to achieve in this subject in summer/next year? Justify your answer with concrete evidence.
All students were very familiar with their mock results and could talk at length about how they had done along with their strengths and weaknesses. They were able to reference particular areas within a subject that they had done well on and also knew very clearly the areas that they needed to develop.
Students studying practical subjects were very clear on their progress in the different elements within the GCSE and could clearly state whether it was theory or practical that they were stronger at and why. At times they were very specific about the practical skills they needed to develop.

2. What do you need to achieve/what does your aspirational target say that you have to achieve? Is there a difference between 1 and 2-if there is what do you need to do about it? How can your teacher help you? If there is no difference or you beat no 1-how will you ensure that you do it again in summer?
All students were very clear on the gap, if any, between their current performance and their aspirational target. Again, as with question number one they could give clear evidence as to why the gap existed and were able to identify strategies that they could do develop as well as areas that their teachers were helping them with. Many of them referred to the need to “practice” and the role of interleaving in helping them to revisit work. There was a real appreciation of the value of completing past paper questions.
Students were very clear on where they could go for help and support and made specific reference to where individual teachers had supported them.

4. Interleaving, interleaving, interleaving! How have you got the knowledge to stick? What are the best tactics in this subject to memorise the facts that you need to help you achieve your very best in this subject?
Students were able to identify a wealth of strategies being used that was helping their memory recall and this was evident across all subjects. A selection are listed below:
• Question templates to help answer exam questions
• Focusing on the layout of the exam and how to approach each question in turn
• Time for practical rehearsal (where applicable)
• Breaking down the GCSE content into what we must learn each week
• “Formulas” and mnemonics for approaching different exam question styles
• Reviewing topics from earlier in the year regularly
• Flash cards
• Having access to lots of past papers
• Glossaries
• Revision booklets which contain key information the exam questions that go with them
• 5 a day questions
• Weekly facts tests
• Being able to access apps and revision websites in lessons as well as at home
• Breaking down mark schemes so that you understand all of the “jargon”
• Using example answers of what good work look likes
• Getting the revision guide at the start of the year so we can annotate as we go through each topic
• Revision O’clock
• Visual strategies like making causal webs on the table or Venn diagrams with hula hoops
• Making models of important processes as part of revision
• Hints and tips for how to answer each question
• Mind mapping
• Access to revision materials on the VLE

KS3 Learning walk/Student voice

Learning Walk – March 2016 – Years 7-9
1. We have added an extra growth mind-set grade to the progress reports this year. What do you need to work on in this subject to achieve GOLD in this area?
Students across KS3 were confident in their understanding of growth mindset and could both talk and write about what they thought growth mindset meant in the subjects they had come from. For example, in PE students referred to leadership and teamwork as well as persevering with skills they found difficult. A number of students talked about the role of motivation in their growth mindset and how it was easier to be resilient in subjects that they enjoyed. Many students discussed the way in which their teachers are constantly challenging them to improve and putting them in situations that take them out of their comfort zone. In Maths Year 8 students talked about challenging themselves with problem solving questions and learning from mistakes. Some students also commented on the fact that they needed to use other resources to support their progress before instantly going to their teacher.
Many students also commented on the need to “aim high” and to “ask for feedback” from their teacher so they know how to improve. In Spanish students referenced the fact that they need to practice their weakest of the four areas; speaking, reading, listening and writing so that they come out of their comfort zone as well as ensuring that they spend quality time revising their vocabulary for the weekly recall tests. In English some students made references to the way they approach tasks; “I need to work on the way I think about the work, instead of going in and thinking I can’t do this I should go in and think I might struggle but I should still try,” as well as stating that they “should keep calm and not get cross” when they can’t do a task. In DT students were able to recall specific skills they need to work on and not shy away from. For example, “if I am good at isometric drawing I should challenge myself to do it in 2D design.”
For those science students who have been using the iPads they commented on how they find it easier to persevere and show resilience when completing a task on the iPad as further support is readily available and you are able to pick up tasks much more easily at home through the showbie app. They also commented on the immediacy of the feedback which allows them to address mistakes quickly.
Few students could differentiate what a gold growth mindset would look like compared to a silver or a bronze. As this is a new aspect of the reporting system it is something that as a school we need to address and raise the profile of the growth mindset grade to ensure that all students are “going fo gold” with this. In order to address this we need to work on visually raising the profile of the gold growth mindset with posters that can be displayed in classrooms for students to refer to and for teachers to integrate into their lesson delivery. In addition to this there is scope to unpick the characteristics of a gold growth mindset in tutor time.

2. Which bit of the GM criteria do you find the toughest barrier to consistently achieve in this subject? Is there anything your teacher can do to support you?
With regards to barriers the students showed that they could identify the areas that they felt prevented them from always having a growth mindset attitude. At times they were quite specific about the areas within certain subjects, for example in PE they talked about how growth mindset becomes particularly difficult in bad weather! A number of students showed some really maturity in discussing how they find it difficult to always stay positive when they find something challenging. Similarly, several students also commented on how hard it is to “constantly have a desire to conquer the toughest parts of your learning.”
Students across the subjects were able to pinpoint a specific topic or skill that they were struggling with from bearings in Maths to vocabulary in MFL to SPaG in English. There was a real clear sense that they were very aware of their own strengths and weaknesses.
Some suggestions that came across in terms of teacher support:
• Challenge time
• Continuing to break down questions into small chunks
• There was even a call for “random tests” to “keep me on my toes”
• Personalised homeworks
• Spelling books for subjects with lots of key terms to remember
• More training in using dictionaries and thesaurus

3. Which areas of literacy do you have the most difficulty with in this subject? Which of your teacher’s literacy strategies have helped you most? Can you provide me with evidence to prove that their help was successful?
Across all responses students referenced focus on the learning of key terms and SPaG as their areas of difficulty. Students all appreciated the way in which their work is tightly marked for SPaG and the codes that are used within subjects. Many students made references to spelling tests for key terms, for example in History and in English and they said that they felt this helped them to focus more on spelling key terms correctly in all work. History students also made reference to the use of stickers for literacy errors so that they know there is a spelling or grammar error within a paragraph and they then have to find this for themselves. Similarly, French students referenced the dot marking as a way for them to pick out their own mistakes.

Strategies that the students liked for helping them with literacy:
• Visual aids to remember key terms
• Repetition of key terms so they “stick”
• Breaking the questions down to unpick what each word means
• The use of mnemonics to break down components of a piece of work, for example ACCESS FM in DT
• Key term bookmarks
• A running glossary within exercise books to add key terms to as they come up
• Highlighting all key terms within a piece of work
• Highlighting command words, names of people and places within an exam question

Literacy is an area we will continue to work on and with three learning hubs focusing on this there are a number of things being trialled. Perhaps a consistent set of codes used across all departments for SPaG could be an area to explore?

4. It is always difficult trying to remember all of the knowledge that you have to for your assessments and exams. Your teachers have been trying lots of different strategies to make your learning stick in your memory. In this subject which tactics have worked best for you-prove it with evidence please
Students were able to identify a wealth of strategies being used that was helping their memory recall and this was evident across all subjects. A selection are listed below:
• 5 a day
• Repetition of key terms
• Personalised homework
• Mini tests –
• Annotating model answers
• STAR questions
• Rally coach
• Mind mapping
• DIDY 5 a day
• Weekly recall tests
• DIRT questions
• 20 word vocab tests
• You tube videos linked to the VLE
• Flash cards
• Re-drafting work
• Revision O’clock

Book Look Part Four – Carmel’s Guest Blog

The Science department, as previously blogged about have been working with a class set of iPads this year and developing strategies to maximising learning and progress using digital technology. Carmel, our head of Science has been developing the use of “Showbie” with all her classes. This blog represents a summary of the work that has been done so far in terms of feedback to students on completed work.

A new way of working – A new way of marking and feedback
This is in response to several issues:
• New GCSE science is more demanding and contains more content.
• Our curriculum time has been reduced and content has increased.
• Pupils are not responding to revision classes, either not turning up or not focusing when they do.
• Homework is an issue we have not yet cracked – some do it, some don’t and the VLE has become an excuse not to.
• The collection and marking of this homework was not efficient and the feedback time too long to benefit pupils.
Our new way (on trial):
Make use of range of devices to let pupils carry out work in their preferred way.
Re-invent the concept of homework so pupils don’t see it as a weekly task that could be missed, but an requirement of the course that has to be completed.
The work pupils were asked to do had to have real purpose and value and not be just a box ticking exercise.
A culture of independence that was proven to lead to better results that you were missing out if you didn’t participate.
What we did/are doing:
I have created/sourced an extensive range of questions / worksheets and mark schemes.
I have uploaded them in manageable chunks onto Showbie – showbie is primarily an iPad app but files can be accessed and viewed through any device. Whatever format pupils work in, completed work can be uploaded back to showbie and mangaged there.
Pupils always have access to the questions on their phones, pc or tablets.
Pupils can answer questions directly on the iPad by typing or writing directly on the screen. They can work on their PC e.g. word etc and upload the answers into the showbie folder. They can work on paper and photograph the sheet and upload it onto showbie. This gathers everything together in one place and in my opinion is the strength of the process. All work is checked and signed off by the teacher, it must have been completed in a certain way to get signed off. If pupils need support they ask for very specific help via showbie comments. I have been developing this workflow over several months now and think we have got the balance about right now.
Reviewing work (marking):
As the volume of work is very high it is impossible to mark every piece of work and if pupils are working in the right way this should be unnecessary. We wanted to encourage a culture of independence and pride in hard work and perseverance. We also recognised that
pupils often did work to please the teacher and need someone to take and interest in what they are doing and give them a pat on the back for doing it. By giving the pupils the mark scheme at the same time as the questions we moved the ‘pat of the back’ focus from ‘getting the answer right’ to ‘completing the work’. The next crucial part was to initiate and maintain high standards of working that, if slip,are pulled up straight away. This takes a great deal of effort at the start but less to maintain but is essential to the whole process being effective.


Everything is tracked in a simple excel spreadsheet. When a piece of work is signed off the colour of the cell is changed from red to green. Amber is for pieces of work started but not completed.  At first (Phase1), I allowed pupils to select which topics they wanted to work on but i have now changed this as some topics/questions were being avoided! Restarting the trackers again at this point (Phase2) also proved important as a number of pupils who had got behind became committed to keeping up to date.

I upload lots of assignments so pupils can work at their own pace. There often seems a number of pupils that go ahead and this spurs the others into action when they see they are lagging behind.I show the tracker at the beginning of every lesson just to keep it in pupils minds. The element of competition seems to prove very important.

Next phase (started this term) is to blend this in with lesson expectations and interleaving.

How much work has been done?

An incredible amount by the pupils. We have never had success on this scale with homework. Classes who have been taking part:

Last term… this format

Y11 Triples Physics – now moved to all three sciences

Y10 Triple Physics – now moved to all three sciences

Last term…. in a different format that was too difficult to track and manage but has now moved to this workflow

Y9 set 1 dabbled with extra homework and worksheets in lessons, moved to new workflow this week

Y8 set 4 used for oracy and recall – moved to this workflow this week

Y7 set 2 same as 9.1 and moved to new workflow just before xmas

Y7 set 6 used for recall and practical lessons, will follow to this workflow in a few weeks.

The images below show the screen that students see when they logon to complete the work as well as the way that teacher and student can interact through the submission of work.

CM 1  CM 3

CM 4This image shows some of the work being submitted by students, scanned and uploaded to the showbie folder.

The images below show the development of the feedback dialogue between teacher and student.

CM 9  CM 8

CM 7  CM 6

This is a trial that is evolving all the time and there are sure to be future blogs about our progress!

Book Look Part Three – Science and ICT

Book Look Part Three – Science and ICT

The third book look in this four part series looks at the science and ICT departments. I have previously blogged about all the great work going on in the Science departments with the use of iPads and for some staff this has become an integral part of their marking and feedback also. Tim, our head of ICT, is also leading a Learning Hub on the different ways that ICT can facilitate feedback to students and I will blog about this in the coming weeks.

People have said to me that some of the most useful aspects of the book look blogs have been the details on the fast feedback trials departments are undertaking and the way in which DIRT is becoming more and more embedded. This blog will focus specifically on this.

As part of a DIRT trial across the department Lucy has been looking at whether students need to redraft a whole piece of work or just make additions or amendments without re-drafting the whole piece. With 10.2 Lucy has found that the students are far more engaged with DIRT if they are given the chance to add and amend rather than re-draft a whole piece. Lucy has also been developing her DIRT time with peer assessment and students feeding back to each other, allowing the pupil’s time to look at their errors and decide how to overcome them.LH literacy

Phil has taken a slightly different approach to DIRT and will ask open ended questions that are then peer assessed. He also uses lessons for students to write reflections on what they have learnt, with clear examples, within a particularly learning cycle. This will the lead to a “prove it” action and response.





Unlike Lucy, Rachael has been experimenting with the “perfect” answer box with year 10 triple scientists, in which they will re-draft a whole answer and then put it in a perfect answer box. This is allowing them to build up a bank of perfect answers for 6 mark questions to use in revision. Rachael has also been using her lead learners to circle the room and peer assess work of other students. Rachael sees this developing in such a way that any student in the class can become a lead learner.

perfect box marking 1

Holly has been trialling some of the strategies picked up in the learning hubs. She is developing student questioning by focusing on the development of questions using specific command words. Holly has also been developing her use of “dashit” marking – a strategy from another one of our scientists, Wendy. This involves students reviewing their work, particularly tests and assessments and identifying areas where they could have got more marks if they had the confidence to put down something they weren’t sure on or if a key word in the question is explained to them allowing them to fully grasp the meaning. This often gives a very different picture in terms of outcomes for students and can really boost the confidence of some of the less able.

HW 1    HW 5

This is something that Hannah has also been trialling along with dot marking to identify literacy errors. As part of her work with the learning hubs Hannah has also developed a range of stickers to use as part of DIRT as well as identifying growth mindset and flagging this up in feedback.

HS 1HS teweetHS text an alien

HS 4  weekly facts

All of the science department are working with the weekly facts to improve recall and aid memory retention. This involves ten key facts to be learnt each week and then a weekly test. This is interleaved week by week to incorporate facts from previous weeks.

In ICT labels are being used to track students’ progress and comment on anything extra they can do to progress further. In this instance Tim has given the student a 2 for effort, they have used most of the techniques to create a working slideshow but have not completed the work with the annotations to explain what they have done.

ICT peer assessment 2  edmodo 5Students are able to post to “the wall” their work electronically. From there all students in the class are able to comment on the work. Therefore 30 students could post work at the same time and the entire group can give mass feedback on all of the work at the same time. Tim and Claud have also been using the AB Tutor software to exhibit students work to their peers in lesson time this has proved very popular when students critique their peers work. It is also a great way of getting instantaneous feedback.

Edmodo is being used in ICT in a number of ways. It can be used to give feedback from teacher to student and from student to student. Edmodo is something that Tim has been trying to roll out to other staff and in leading a hub on the use of digital technology to develop feedback he can compare the qualities of Edmodo against other software technologies such as blendspace and class dojo. The use of Edmodo has also promoted the use of numeracy skills as it allows percentage calculations related to feedback. In addition numeracy is also being developed through spreadsheets and algorithms.

Edmodo 4  edmodo 5

This third book look will be followed up by another guest blog from Carmel, our Head of Science, who has written about her marking trial using the iPads.

Book Look Part Two

Book Look Part 2 – Humanities and MFL
As I begin my second “book look” I am yet again bowled over by the quality and depth of the marking, this time in Humanities and MFL, the departments which form the second focus of the “book look series”.

I have started by taking an example from each self assessment which focuses on something the line manager emphasised as a particular strength within the marking:

Helen told Marion that her “challenge questions” were effectively extending pupils learning and that she liked Eddie’s trialling of the “5 a day” taken from the hubs. Bronagh told Chelsea that she was really encouraged by the way her marking was developing pupil’s writing skills and she noted that Helen has really extended the variety of DIRT activities she is using.

Emma told Toni that her marking and feedback showed great development of with lots of dialogue, new ideas and questioning skills shown at various levels. Greg felt that Charlotte’s EBI questions were really extending learning and that Martin’s development of literacy stickers was something that all the department had benefitted from.

I was really impressed with the depth of marking of both Emma and Greg and their willingness to model and trial new ideas.  I loved Bronagh’s idea of the “golden phrase” for students to peer assess and pick out something they felt their peer had excelled in and Helen’s structured peer assessment framework, MONSEIUR was a great way to scaffold student’s to give constructive feedback.
The 4 D’s – Dialogue Development, DIRT and Drafting
 ED GCSe re-daraftsAcross Humanities and MFL the level of dialogue by teachers with students is being developed and effective use is being made of DIRT time. Both departments have noted that DIRT is most effective when a whole lesson is given for students to fully re-draft work and make corrections. There are a number of different strategies being trialled which is helping to promote a culture of reflection and improvement. In Humanities, extensive use is being made of stickers to develop dialogue; marking stickers show level/grade criteria and teachers and students can use these easily to mark work anED GM languaged show WWW/EBI for students to then improve on. Questions are posed in both Humanities and MFL to develop dialogue and students extend, consolidate or showcase their learning by answering these questiED basic Qs for low abilityons.





In lower ability classes the questions are often closed with specific knowledge development being focused on and more able students are extended through more open questioning.

The student’s responses to questions are also being verified, either by the teacher through further marking or by a peer. Emma uses the lesson time to verify it as students are working, circulating with a green pen and highlighter. The development of dialogue also links in to peer assessment with student’s completing each other’s questions and responding to their feedback, opening up a dialogue with their peers. GT peer marking

Martin is developing his tracking to demonstrate where students have levelled up as a result of feedback and responding to dialogue. Across Humanities and MFL there is a feeling that dialogue development is helping to tackle misconceptions and develop progress. Helen (French) noted that she is receiving written work of a much higher quality and students are able to use their work for revision for speaking and writing assessments. Helen (Spanish) said that it has improved the accuracy of work, particularly in year ten as it has made them more aware of grammar, with them using the grammar garden display to promote grammar improvements. Bronagh feels the greatest impact has been to reduce the number of silly mistakes. Marion has been developing questioning in her marking by giving students challenge questions to extend their learning. Greg has already tweeted quite extensively about his sticker development, using extension stickers for fast marking and finding that the students are taking greater pride in their work through tweet tweets and polaroid moments.

extension stickersGT extension tweet
Peer and Self Assessment
History have been using peer and self assessment to develop student understanding of mark schemes and BSG criteria. Students can highlight where they think their peer is on a grid showing the criteria for an examination question or a KS3 assessment. BD sa BD SA 2








Greg, Martin and Charlotte noted that students are becoming better at giving constructive comments to their peers. With lower ability students they are often given sentence starters or prompts to help them. Emma and Toni both talked about how students confidence is improving with peer assessment, particularly in KS4 where there is more time available to devote to it. Emma was really pleased with the way her lower ability students, particularly in year 11 have developed with peer assessment, becoming much better at assessing each other’s work.ED GCSe re-darafts She is using the STEAL idea to help them to learn from each other and to share their ideas. Martin has been developing three way dialogue following on from some work he has done previously in a hub. He is also trialling GM ideas by getting students to moderate a set of work to try and draw out misconceptions and themes.

Greg has been trialling ABC feedback, and has also encouraged Charlotte to do the same. This is not only developing peer feedback and dialogue with a clear scaffold but is also teaching the valuable historical skills of challenging and arguing effectively. Helen (Spanish) has developed a self-assessment checklist to allow students to fully check their work before a peer or the teacher and Helen (French) and Marion are using MONSEIUR peer assessment sheets for feed forward advice. HH peer assessment 2Bronagh has been using peer and self-assessment to further develop fast feedback by getting pupils to rate themselves or their peers BSG against the learning outcomes at the end of each lesson. The SENORITA checklist is used widely across Spanish by Bronagh, Chelsea and Helen to ensure students thoroughly check their work. In peer assessment students must highlight their peers work to give justification for their feedback.
 Martin 3Literacy has been a big focus across the school and the Humanities faculty have looked for a variety of ways to try and improve pupil literacy. Martin and Greg have developed stickers to promote further independence and to ensure students are checking their work for spag errors. The sticker is placed next to a particular paragraph and the student must then find their error. Martin feels that he now needs to work on developing numeracy in DIRT.

martin 2







Toni has been trialling dot marking for literacy errors, much like the dot marking used for correcting target language errors in MFL.

BD literacy

Toni has found this particularly successful with lower ability students. Emma and Toni have also been developing extensive resources to promote understanding of key GCSE command words. They have created a booklet for year 11 students to use to ensure that they know how to approach different types of command words. Emma noted that the impact of this was really evident in the year 11 mocks. Helen (Spanish) has been using a highlighter to draw student’s attention to spelling and syntax errors for correction. Helen (French) notes that all literacy errors are corrected in the target language and Eddie continues to use dot marking for literacy.
New Ideas
This is an area where both departments have been working hard, looking at ways to develop fast feedback and ultimately reduce workload without losing impact. Following in the footsteps of English, History have been trialling marking codes and Geography, following on from the January INSET have also been trialling marking codes.

GT code marking          GT codes

Both of them note that it is too early to really comment on impact but are certainly finding it quicker and engaging students in their feedback more. History have been refining and developing their use of stickers in all areas as well as ABC marking to enhance peer assessment and polaroid moments and tweets to grow confidence and pride. Emma has been literacy fast marking, circulating the room with a highlighter and a pen as students work so as feedback can be immediate and corrected there and then. martin 1Martin has been adopting the purple pen of progress for students to make corrections so it is easy for him to see where they have made changes.

Charlotte has been trialling highlighter marking and peer verification and adopting a number of strategies from Greg to help develop her marking and to find strategies that work for her and her students. BD checklist for SA

In Spanish Helen has been using feedback grids for extended work with a simple tick box system for students to check off as they have completed aspects of a piece of work.

Bronagh has been encouraging students to annotate questions to develop their approach to the exams, getting them to think of possible questions and related vocab prior to a listening exercise. In French Helen has been trialling a number of help mats that she has adapted from Katrina in the questioning hubs. She has been using these to break down questions so the students find it easier to approach them.

CC interleaving vocab

Chelsea has been trialling dashit marking with year 11 students to try and boost confidence and resilience and build a growth mindset, she has also been interleaving vocab tests to try and reinforce memory and recall. Marion has also been trialling some of her work from the hubs and the Breakfast Jams, looking at the development of questioning and modelling – she has taken the Disney film “Frozen” and developed some work around the theme “Do you want to build a snowman?”

CC dash it markingOverall the feedback that the students are receiving in Humanities and MFL is excellent and it is great to see so many new ideas and strategies being trialled and shared.

Book Look Part One

Since taking on my role at MCHS I have not failed to be surprised by some of the ways in which things that are done in schools nationwide are done here…Book “scrutiny” is no exception. I have, in the past, seen book “scrutiny” or “monitoring” as something done to me and one in which I have very little part to play. However, monitoring of pupil’s exercise books/work here at MCHS allows the teacher to showcase the best of their marking and to really show off the things that they are proud of, sharing the ideas they are trialling. Over the course of the next few weeks there will be a number of blog posts related to this, collating some of the amazing work related to marking and feedback that is taking place here at MCHS. “Book monitoring” is based upon a series of key questions, with staff being given the opportunity to explain where necessary and to photograph examples of their best practice, really demonstrating where their feedback has had a real impact on pupil progress.
The first two departments that I will start with are maths an English and one of the nicest things about reading the book monitoring is that staff have the chance to really show where they think their feedback has had the biggest impact, and the quotes below are just a few taken from the English departments:
“Students respond to feedback more independently.” – Jordan
“Students correct SPaG errors automatically or with little prompting and they help themselves to dictionaries in order to do this.” – Katie
“Spelling is improving and students are becoming better with proof reading.” – Marie
“The use of model answers to allow students to set their own targets.” – Sarah
“Students are becoming more independent learners as they are able to identify their own mistakes through self-assessment.” – Laura
“The use of DIRT sheets for self-reflection and improvement is really helping to move students forward.” – Rachael
“Students are engaging with set targets from a previous piece of work.” – Hannah
“The use of modelling is really supporting progress in year 8 – ideas taken from Katie’s Breakfast Jam.” – Lisa
The maths department, whose marking is entirely different to that of English have also shared the areas that they feel have had the greatest impact on learning and these extracts demonstrate not only their opinions but those of their colleagues:
“Prior knowledge tests are already making teachers think about their planning and the range of students. The development of schemes of learning to include LAT’s style questions will prepare students well for the final exam. I really liked the experiment with the yellow square as this could have a massive impact if the students then follow up with their own improvements.”
“Regular use of challenge questions is encouraging further resilience amongst the students and helping to develop their learning in maths.”
Clair’s comments on Beth’s books…”It is obvious from your planning and marking that your students really care about their progress. You are doing everything in your power to help your students become more resilient learners, with the Miss K’s challenge questions and GCSE reasoning questions.”
Jen commented on a number of areas she liked in Clair’s books…”chapter check-up, the marking between STAR stickers, the negative numbers LATS and the prior skills tests.”
“The use of the A and E arrows are really making the students think about their growth mindset and how they tackle their work in lessons.”
Clair commented on Zoe’s contribution to the whole department’s marking…”Your idea of the A and E arrows has helped the whole department manage their marking and the students really like having immediate feedback. This year you have also bought in DIRT worksheets that have helped the students reflect/revise what they have learnt so far. Many students mentioned in their books that they feel these have really helped. “
Jen loved Fran’s… “Effective use of the A and E arrows and the fact that the students take real pride in their books.”
All of the English department have identified within their self-assessment of their marking that students are not making as many basic errors as they had been doing, as they are spending more time drafting work and proof reading, with the aid of a dictionary and thesaurus to develop spelling and vocabulary use. With the increasing impetus on SPaG in not only GCSE English, but across all subjects, this has been a huge focus for the department since September. Hannah has devised homework which is linked to SPaG tasks and it has become a common starter in all English lessons. All members of the team noted in their self-assessment that the number of basic errors that students are making is decreasing as a result of the constant reinforcement of SPaG and the increasing onus being put onto the students to proof read as well as peer assessment to check for errors. It was lovely to read that students are becoming increasingly confident to develop their vocabulary through the use of a thesaurus and this was evident in the feedback being given. Highlighters have also been used across the department to identify certain errors so they become even more familiar to students, making them really stand out. Both Katie and Jordan noted the impact that this has had. Laura has also been developing SPaG flags to enhance pupil understanding and reduce errors.
One of the real strengths of the department is the consistently high expectations set for all students reinforced through both modelling and feedback. Students in lower band sets are being exposed to what an A* response looks like and this is important in terms of the development of aspiration and growth mindset. Across the department there are many examples of where this has had an extremely positive impact, with students achieving consistently above their expected target.
In line with the development of independent learning students are also tracking their own bronze, silver and gold levels linked to assessment feedback in order that they are clear on what they need to do to progress. Evident in all books is the intrinsic link between feedback and BSG/GCSE criteria and the extensive use of modelling to develop student responses. It was great to see Katie share all of the great modelling work taking place in English in one of our Breakfast Jams and then going on to try out an idea shared by Greg in the same session. Katie referenced the positive outcome from using rotation squares for modelling in her book monitoring.
Peer Assessment is also a real strength of the department and is being trialled in a number of different ways by the team. Katie notes that she felt her student’s use of peer assessment had really developed, with year 10 set 2 identifying a quote for their peer to analyse and then setting a task to be answered to further develop a piece of work related to a text. Growth mindset is a constant priority across school and it is great to see staff using the language of GM in their feedback to students. EBI comments in English are often posed as a question to complete so that students can push themselves even further. Jordan has been developing her “killer challenge” questions as part of this, raising the aspirations of all.
One of the biggest areas, with regards to feedback, being trialled by the English team is fast marking using marking codes. This consists of a series of codes which are used to abbreviate WWW/EBI comments. For example, ‘P’ as WWW feedback would mean that the student had written for purpose or ‘A’ would mean that they had considered the audience. Students use their DIRT time to look up the codes on a grid in their exercise books and then fill in the WWW/EBI comment in full.

BL 1


These marking codes are also being used for peer and self-assessment and the team noted that the students had found these useful in helping to focus their feedback.

BL 2 BL 3

This has also fed into the tracking process as the codes can be easily recorded and tracked within an excel spreadsheet. This allows Sarah to see where the issues are across a whole year group and to target interventions accordingly.

January Inset 10

The maths department are trialling a number of new ideas at the moment and you will have read about this in previous blogs. With regards to marking Zoe’s “A and E” arrows are now being used across the department as a method of fast feedback.
The “A&E arrows”
BL 5BL 6







Alex’s example here shows how it can also be used as a way for students to self-assess and for this to be verified by the teacher. Jen’s example shows how it has also become part of STAR marking, used across the maths department. These codes are also a valuable part of our GM drive and Jen noted in her book monitoring that this is an area that they wish to develop further. The arrows have become a valuable part of instant feedback to the students and they articulate well the meaning of the arrows.
Alongside the arrows the department are trying out a number of new ways of marking and Beth, who has shared many of her ideas over the last term, has developed the use of stickers from her work in the learning hubs. This is something that the rest of the department are also trialling and Clair commented that she feels this is a priority for the department. Beth has also been working on adapting the 5 a day to include command words and also a DIY 5 a day for students to write their own questions for each other. She shared these at a recent Breakfast Jam.

BL 8  BL 7

All of the department have been trialling the use of LATs as part of their interleaving research and there were some fabulous examples of this in the book monitoring. This is something that the department feel is really moving the students forward as they learn to deal with the greater demands of the new GCSE.

BL 10 BL 9

In addition to this the department have really been developing their use of STAR marking with questions set for students to reflect the level of challenge and hints and tips given where necessary. The questions set as part of the action are all checked after the response, which gives a real sense of dialogue between student and teacher within the book. The fortnightly use of DIRT time for reflecting on homework and completing the STAR tasks is really showing progress in books and having a big impact on learning.
Bl 12There is clear evidence of self and peer assessment across the department and Jen showed off the way they are giving students set key words to use in their peer assessment so they can target their feedback most effectively. It was great to see some more examples of Sheila’s rally coach in books, after seeing it in action during a lesson. The STAR marking is not confined to teacher feedback as students are also given the task of self assessing using STAR.
Fran showed off the way students have set themselves their own questions as part of this process. Clair shared her use of peer verification when students checked answers to questions against their peers, leading to discussion and debate around their working out and problem solving. It was great to see Beth’s book showing students setting questions for each other, answering them step by step and then the peer checking each step.
It is always great to see literacy in action in maths books and Beth, through her DIY 5 a day, based around command words, has really pushed this. All the team showed how they are exposing students to longer, more problem based questions which require them to extract information and apply method. Marking codes are being used by Zoe to highlight literacy errors and students are then reflecting upon these and making corrections.

The maths and English departments have also been using the student’s exercise books to gain feedback from parents at the end of a term. Alex shared with me the examples below from some very proud parents.

AW parent comments 5  AW parent comments 8

Overall my first taste of book monitoring here at MCHS has been a wholly lovely one, with an opportunity to see the impact that feedback is really having on learning in maths and English….other departments coming soon.

Jen’s first guest appearance – shuffling in maths.

Last year I was sent an email by my line manager about a little bit of research called ‘The shuffling of mathematics problems improves learning,’ by Rohrer and Taylor, that took place in America. The two different theories in this research really hit home with me as it challenged the idea of teaching maths in neat, topic based sequences.  I would strongly recommend this to all teachers across all curriculum areas, not just maths. Having spent today on an SSAT course I have had the chance to reflect upon how important the context of a school is and I am fortunate enough to work in a supportive school that is driven by research, making the implementation of and enquiry driven by my Rohrer & Taylor reading all the more feasible.

Sharing my vision
To undertake the research I wanted to take two classes and make completely parallel sets and was particularly keen to focus on middle attainers, this being a focus of our departmental improvement plan.

How would it all work?
One class would learn in the traditional blocks of learning that takes place in our education system, e.g. A block of learning on Pythagoras’ theorem, then straight line graphs etc.
The other class would take the first 3 topics of learning in a scheme of work and split these up lesson by lesson in a week. In this way lesson 1 of the week would be topic 1 – Number, lesson 2 in the week would be topic 2 – Fractions and decimals and so on. We’re fortunate to have 4 hours of maths with our year 9 students each week and so the final lesson of the week was dedicated to DIRT (dedicated improvement and reflection time) and homework. The department responded brilliantly; eager and keen to see what impact this might have. One concern was raised and this was how some of the ‘weaker’ students in the group would cope, something I am now reflecting upon after the first term. Luckily SLT were fully on board with my ideas and helped to facilitate the enquiry.

Ready, set …Go!
So at the start of the year two class sets had been created to run parallel. We chose year 9 as the second cohort to run through the new 1-9 curriculum. We assessed students at the end of their previous year and from one assessment ranked the students and paired them up.
The first issue we had was convincing students they were all now 9 set 3 (how we ‘name’ sets is another blog altogether!) and we changed their class code. For this blog we’ll call the shuffled class ‘Alpha’ and the other ‘Beta’ and the only way I felt I would be able to evaluate/share/promote this idea was if I took on the shuffled class.
And so it began… in their first week I was amazed how students just accepted a different topic each lesson! I briefly described what we were trying but I didn’t want them to panic or have predetermined ideas of how it would work. The biggest challenge was for me, I had to stay on top of how the class were progressing and write a weekly plan for the following week of where the students had got up to, ensuring I looked at feedback and AFL. I did also hit some speed bumps when students missed a lesson for absence, this would sometimes mean it would be 2 weeks before they looked back on a topic.
Beta lesson structure
Monday: Number,
Wednesday: Fractions and Decimals
Thursday: Angles

Pausing to reflect
As I’m writing this we have now completed our first shuffled term. The mathematician in me has bullet pointed keys aspects that we have found in carrying out the trial:
Student voice – In the early stages I asked students for verbal feedback of how they felt the shuffled teaching was going and two points stood out for me ‘it’s not boring, if you don’t like a topic you can change next lesson’ and ‘just when you start to get the hang of it the lesson finishes and you don’t get chance until the next week’. This is not a fair questionnaire as mathematicians will know. I was the one asking the questions but I’m confident students felt able to be honest. We’ll definitely conduct a student’s survey with anonymity.
Time to align – to ensure we are conducting as fair a research  as possible time to align between two staff has been vital and has sometimes taken up more time in an already time conscious job. We use the same starters, lessons and homework so as to ensure equipoise as far as possible.
Speed and time to teach – strangely and something I didn’t anticipate was how quickly I moved through the curriculum compared to the other class. The other teacher said ‘I know I’ve allowed time for the students to ‘get it” and I felt that possibly I’d rushed through a few things in order to get things done in a lesson. Of course with the traditional teaching you’re able to adapt your lesson for the following day depending on how the students responded but one thing that concerns me is whether the shuffled class have the same amount of time.
• One thought we did have was ‘we’re bringing up the middle students, but are we pushing the high flyers in the groups?’

Where’s the evidence?
At this point I know so many of you will be eager to hear the data!!! We have created our own assessments from an exam boards GCSE bank of questions and used common GCSE questions from the first 3 topics we’ve taught. This is new in itself as we move away from ‘topic test’ to interleaved assessments.
With regards to hard evidence to say which way is best, I don’t actually think we’ll get this (I hope that we do) until the end of the year. It might be that within our experiment we have no impact! And that the parallel sets stay parallel as it were. This is just a trial! I’ve bullet pointed some findings from our first assessment. We ranked out students in order of score and this is what we found:
• Top 25% – 8 students Alpha, 4 Students Beta
• Middle 50% – 11 students Alpha, 11 students Beta.
• Bottom 25% – 5 students Alpha, 6 students Beta
(Some students were absent and unable to take the assessment)

Where to now?
Well, we’re going to carry on in the same way with the same structure and hope that the next round of results reflect any further changes. I also think student voice here is key, how do they feel about this? Can they see an improvement? We’ll wait and see.

Bottom up CPD at its best!


Over the last couple of weeks we have had a number of bottom up CPD events and meetings here at MCHS. It has been great to see staff working together, sharing ideas, co-planning and collaborating over the learning & teaching priorities that really matter to them.

Our “Breakfast Jams” got underway with the first session being led by Jen, our Maths subject leader, on the theme of interleaving.  Interleaving is something the Maths department have been leading the way on and other departments are following suit embedding revision alongside the teaching of new content and making links between topics, all with the purpose of making it easier for the students to be fully prepared for the increased rigour of the new GCSEs. Jen shared the Maths approach through “5 a day” and “LATs” (Link a topic). Greg and Martin shared some of the ideas from History that are being trialled; looking at the process of revision and the effects that interleaving revision in small chunks alongside new content versus revision in larger blocks at the end of a topic can have.  Bronagh and Eddie from MFL have also been trialling interleaved practice, looking at alternating revision with new content on a weekly basis, with a systematic approach to learning key words. Similarly, Carmel and Rachel shared the impact of the “total recall” facts from Science and the increasing expectation on students to remember not just their weekly ten facts but also those from previous weeks. It was great to see staff from across departments sharing their current practice and collaborating with each other over some pastries and a cup of coffee. Our Breakfast Jams are scheduled fortnightly at the moment, with the next one being led by Katie, on the topic of modelling…however, I have a long list of volunteers to lead them, so much so that we might go weekly in the New Year!

The first Breakfast Jam fitted in nicely with our “interleaving week”; aimed at raising the profile of the idea of interleaving across school. Staff were asked to make their use of interleaving strategies more explicit to students during this week and I went into assemblies to explain a little bit to all our year groups about the workings of the brain and the power of interleaved practice. Interleaving slideThe result for me was an invitation into a number of different lessons to see interleaving in action.  Beth was continuing the use of her “DIY 5 a day” and 8.1 were creating their own questions on five different topics.  The level of challenge and expectation was infectious and some students let their imaginations run wild coming up with their own fabulous questions which their peers then answered. Beth and I talked about the possibility of developing this even further by getting the students to put their questions in scenarios that they might see in an examination… cue Hannah’s sweets!

DIY 5 a day

LATsAlex invited me in to see 10.1 complete a LATs style activity in which they created their own questions based around a set of points and then completed questions set by Alex that covered a number of different topics.  The pupils told me how much they enjoyed this style of activity as it made them feel prepared for any type of question that could be thrown at them.


Carmel invited me in to see year 7 interleaving 14 different facts from their total recall; there are 8 groups on the periodic table; metals are on the left and non-metals on the right and rows are called periods to name but a few. What is interesting with the science facts is that the students are learning the facts, in some cases, before they have got to grips with the understanding in class. For Carmel and her team this is proving to be an interesting approach, where normally students would cover the learning/understanding for a topic in class and then remember/recall/learn by heart. It will be interesting to see how the results of this evolve.

Alongside this the last week has also seen us host our first Bring, Show & Share event for Maths…a great “bottom up” CPD opportunity for Maths teachers from across the NW. Armed with a few spring rolls, chicken dippers and sausage rolls our Maths team set about sharing some of their current work and areas they are trialling. They were joined by colleagues from other local schools, eager to collaborate and forge links to work together in the future. Jen kicked proceedings off by talking about the trial that she and Alex are taking part in as part of the RISE research project – interleaving vs. blocked practice with year 9.  As a non-maths Specialist it was great to stand by and see conversation between Maths teacher’s flow, keen to hear that they are all facing the same challenges with the new curriculum and to discuss ways of tackling it.  In a time where subject specific mastery is becoming more and more important it is crucial that we facilitate the sharing of good practice by subject specialists as a form of bottom up CPD. Our Science, English and Humanities staff will also be leading their own Bring, Show and Share events in the coming weeks and months.

Our learning hubs were in full flow in last Thursday’s twilight and it was fantastic to be party to some of the deep conversations taking place about a whole variety of issues. Greg and Beth had their feedback hub working on creating a bank of DIRT stickers – this is an idea that has been trialled in History over the last few weeks and has seen some tremendous success, especially with some of our lower ability students who can extend or summarise their learning by “texting an alien” or creating some “scrabble words.”

Active learning hubLisa and Fran are leading our active learning hub, and over the last few weeks staff have trialled a number of strategies.  They used the hub time to share their results and to look for further areas to trial and evaluate before the next meeting of the hubs.


Colin’s hub on engaging delivery focused on questioning and he had guest appearances from Beth, sharing her student led questioning and Helen, sharing her approach to questioning to increase engagement. Colin had set his hub session up like a KS4 business studies lesson to model for staff his question generator. Colin has worked really hard on developing an approach to questioning in which students are able to not only answer but also create their own questions. The hub gave him the chance to showcase this and for others to refine and develop for use in their own subject areas.

Question generator final  hints and tips final

differentiation 1The differentiation hub saw Katie, Zoe and Katy  discussing what is meant by differentiation as well as some different methods for implementing it within the classroom.  Katie shared an example of differentiation by outcome in the form of a persuasive writing task and the group also discussed the need to involve the students in shaping what differentiation works for them, with plans to launch a student questionnaire for evaluation before the next hub.

differentiation 2

The promoting independence hub, led by Sarah, used the time for all staff to share a strategy they have been trialling to promote independence amongst the students. Wendy’s building resilience hub were looking at marking exams and tests and giving constructive feedback to students whose effort levels are high but attainment lower. There was a huge crossover with all of the MSHC mind-set work here. Our final group, the IRIS hub, were looking at the various different ways to use IRIS for sharing and reflecting and how a video might be created for one purpose but can lead to discussions around a whole host of topics. Jen shared a clip she had done of her 5 a day with year 10. She had previously shared this at a department meeting and had told me about the whole host of discussion points it raised from punctuality, to BFL to timing, all before the discussion around the 5 a day itself. Showing it to the IRIS hub raised the same questions and discussion points; showing the power of IRIS. The team are keen to further develop the role of IRIS and will be presenting their views and findings in the coming months. As a group they are actively sharing clips and videos and reflecting on each other’s work.

It is great to see staff in control of their own CPD, working in hubs they have chosen to be a part of derived from their own discussions about what makes great teaching. I am trying to ensure that I am exposing them to the latest thinking to ensure their discussions are as relevant and current as they can be and are firmly rooted in an evidenced, research based culture. As we approach lesson study and lesson observation time I am keen to ensure that staff are trialling their ideas and taking risks in a culture in which they can receive constructive and developmental feedback.





The Revolution will not be televised

The revolution will not be televised!

There is a lot of discussion out there at the moment about the advantages of using the latest digital technologies in the classroom. We can’t ignore the huge part that devices such as mobile phones and tablets play in the everyday life of not only ourselves but our students. The reaction you get when you confiscate a mobile phone is quite unbelievable, and seemingly students find it difficult to contemplate the thought of having to deal with not having it. As social media has revolutionised learning & teaching in the UK and put CPD at all our fingertips it is surely only right that we explore the ways in which all sorts of digital technology, including social media can indeed transform the learning experience of our students. This is an issue which has been discussed in school a great deal lately, not least of all in the Science department, who are trialling the use of class sets of iPads; “Speaking Science”. Their first aim was to increase the pace of lessons for ‘reluctant writers’ and improve engagement when these pupils work independently, using videos, photos and voice recordings to provide evidence of their practical work. The hope is that this will allow pupils to develop more sophisticated investigative skills, and then move on to the questioning aspects of lessons, where a higher level of thinking is required. The science department have acknowledged the instinctive nature of technology for students and are keen to see whether by being in the ‘instinctive zone’ pupils would extend that habit to their problem solving and analytical skills and become much more independent. The department have gone into “Speaking Science” “eyes wide open”, aware of the potential pitfalls of this kind of technology; from the need to ensure that lessons provide the same level of progress as they would traditionally to potential classroom management issues, to dealing with the dip in enthusiasm when the initial novelty wears off to the inevitable technological issues they will face.

The iPads have been installed with safari (web browser), video and photograph recording and editing, showbie (for e – document flow), pages (word processer), keynote (presentations/slides) and a spreadsheet app.

There are groups from across years 7-11 and a spread of abilities taking part in “Speaking Science” as well as three different classroom teachers. Therefore the iPads are being shared between a number of different classes, meaning that students are not able to save their own work locally.

The department are using the app ‘showbie’ to manage workflow as well as converting lesson PowerPoints to pdfs so that students can make use of these during lessons. The same has been done with worksheets and quizzes. To develop further student independence in the new practical science lessons students have had the practical instructions made available as pdfs so they can work through them at their own rate. There continue to be teething problems with a number of the installed applications which Carmel and her team are endeavouring to work through. For example, Siri has not proved useful as a voice dictation tool as too many mistakes were being made.

annotated work ipadIpad experiment


At present a typical iPad lesson looks like this:

  1. Pupils enter the classroom and collect their allocated iPad.
  2. Students log onto showbie and select that day’s assignment, which contains all the lesson resources needed for that session.
  3. The lesson then proceeds as normal with pupils working on the activities placed in the assignment folder (no annotations on documents are available outside ‘showbie’ if exported – a problem more for the teacher than the students – an issue Carmel is exploring with other apps).

In a year 8 lesson I watched recently the lesson began quickly as each student came in and took their allocated iPad, using the first few minutes of the lesson to work on their factual recall for their weekly test. They then moved onto a practical experiment and it was here that the iPad really came into its own. Students could view the experiment instructions on their iPads and in pairs they were able to record the experiment as a video or a series of photos. Many students completed voice overs to their recordings to show what was happening in their experiment. As the experiment came to an end they then completed a set of questions on the experiment either as notes or voice recordings on the iPad. When I asked the students about the iPads they told me that they preferred them to the more traditional methods as there were more varied methods of completing their work and that they were much quicker. They said that they enjoyed using the iPads and it was making them less reliant on their teacher, as they have all the lesson materials at their fingertips as well the internet.

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The team have noted that the marking of work is quite quick but depends upon the tool the students have used to complete it – for example, 20 videos of practicals might mean that they can’t all be viewed in their entirety. Carmel shared with me some of the voice recordings she has been marking in relation to a practical and students are articulating their findings well in short clips of around 10 seconds. However, through the duration of a practical this might mean that Carmel would receive in excess of ten recordings per student, making verifying all their findings much more time consuming than marking them in a book. However, from a personal perspective Carmel did note that she finds it far easier to mark using the iPad, as somehow it is less daunting than a large pile of exercise books! One of the areas we are now exploring is the development of a pupil portfolio outside of showbie where summaries of each unit of work can be stored.

The Science department are also working hard this year on improving students recall skills. Each student is given a set of 10 facts to learn on a weekly basis and is tested on them each week. Each week there will also be some facts from the previous week and this inevitably means that students are having to recall facts from further in the past. This has become a standardised homework across the department across all classes. Carmel has been keeping a record of the average score in each of her classes each week and has found the results to be quite mixed. For example, in one group the average score in the previous two weeks has been 23% and 39% respectively. As part of “Speaking Science” Carmel has completed the most recent test for this group following a period of revision using the iPads, where all students made voice recordings of the facts. The average score rose to 85%.

In year 11 the response to using the iPads has been mixed and thus Carmel has put a comparative trial in palace, allowing some students to use more traditional methods Vs. those with iPads.

I am intrigued to see how “Speaking Science” progresses and look forward to seeing how Carmel, Hannah and Phil get on trialling new apps as well as investigating ways to develop peer/self-assessment and responses to feedback. Carmel has already made a plea for further technology; headphones with microphones as well as a stylus to go with each iPad. I am particularly interested to see how we can develop oracy through the iPads.

It is encouraging to see other departments looking at the development of technology. At our first NAML session Aaron shared his plans for the use of his iPad in PE, as well as looking at the development of application technology to support the development of skills in practical PE. Similarly, Rosie has begun the social technology revolution by looking at the use of twitter to support her GCSE dance students. Greg, a self-proclaimed “iPad in the classroom sceptic” even got thinking about their potential use in History after discussing their use in Science. It was not long before he had started tweeting @iPadchampions to explore their use in the History classroom.



Reflections on the first month in the job!

After spending hours over the last few months reading David’s Learning & Teaching blogs I feel slightly overwhelmed by the thought of contributing! They are genuinely funny, incredibly open and provide great examples of the fantastic work being done at MCHS. I am going to try my hardest to cover at least two of these characteristics (I am not renowned for being funny!).
What I have loved about my first few weeks at MCHS, apart from the friendly atmosphere, love of learning and brilliant children, is the willingness of staff to share and the desire they have to continuously make themselves the best teachers they can be. Having decided upon what great teaching at Meols Cop looks like they are now doing all they can to make this an everyday reality. I have been welcomed into classrooms on a daily basis and staff genuinely want to “show off” the learning taking place in their subject areas. This was so evident on Open Evening, when hundreds of people flocked through the doors to see the school alive, showcasing the great work that goes on every day. Pupils were an integral part of this and it was fabulous to see teachers stand back and let their students run the show, from dissecting hearts and eyes in science, to code breaking in Maths, to performing Shakespeare in drama the list goes on of the wonderful activities they were leading during the evening. The feedback from future MCHS students and parents has been overwhelmingly positive.

As someone who spends an inordinate amount of time using social media for CPD I was keen to ensure that I shared the best bits of these with staff. Through a weekly teaching & learning newsletter, based around a specific theme,Newsletter 1 I am sharing links to blogs and websites as well as providing staff with paper resources to read, taken from some of the latest pedagogical books (I am keen to develop an educational reading group, but that will come soon). The newsletter has also become a place for staff to share with others things that have gone well or that they have tried out during the week. I have  been inundated with photos, emails and PowerPoint slides from staff willing to share their great teaching and learning moments. It is a true privilege to be on the receiving end of these and for staff to feel truly comfortable to share their great work. I even had a video recording shared with me last week, through our IRIS technology. It is lovely that people feel comfortable to share these with me, even after only being at MCHS for such a short while.

History are used to sharing ideas though twitter but were keen to get themselves into the first L&T newsletter with the example of using “hexagons” to demonstrate the causes of the American Boom as well as their “purple pen of progress” to get students to act upon feedback. GT has set himself the aim of making it into every L&T newsletter and continued the trend in week two with tarsia for revision.

BK MindsetMaths are another department used to sharing, with BK also an active twitter user and frequenter of #pedagoofriday, but again it was nice to see staff re-visiting the growth mindset from day one and asking their forms about their hopes for the school year.

rivers 2TM in Geography has been getting creative with students making models to show the processes of a river. Something that was continued on open evening, when the Geography department got year 5 and 6 pupils making masks!


The Languages department have been hot on the heels of History with their contributions to the L&T newsletter, with Marion showcasing her work with year 7, aiming to embed questioning and also to challenge them to understand direct and indirect articles. HH has also been trying out some new questioning techniques to teach Year 11 the future tense, linked to her work in the learning hubs.








JD in RE is renowned for her, some might say, out there ideas, and within a few days of being at MCHS I had the pleasure of hearing all about the “waves” project, including JD herself in a wetsuit delivering RE revision! You will have seen from previous blogs that she is not one to rest on her laurels and the results speak for the success of these innovative ideas. This year she has chosen the theme of diamonds and has already set about changing the displays in her classroom to reflect this.

What I have been marvelled by in my first few weeks, is that besides all of the amazing things going on from day to day, so many staff are involved in helping to support colleagues from other schools, national research projects and in trialling new systems and processes within their own departments.

Maths, a fabulous department, full of innovative staff are working hard to embed interleaving into their schemes of learning across all year groups.  The passion of subject leader Jen to ensure that no student says that old line “I can’t do Maths” is inspiring – she is trying to change the mindset of not only the students but also their parents! A very difficult task in itself – I expect many of us have heard our own parents say things such as “Oh I was never very good at Maths”, and on both the year 7 and 11 parents’ information evenings Jen made it very clear that this was not going to be acceptable practice!

Interleaving is something I was keen to hear more about, and look at how we can develop this further not only in my own department, History, but also across the school. Jen kindly agreed to talk me through a presentation she had made (of which you can see some slides here) to deliver to staff at Range High School about the great interleaving work going on in Maths. Interleaving 1The use of 5 a day seems to be widely embedded across the department and if you walk down the Maths corridor at the start of a lesson you will undoubtedly see a 5 a day on every classroom IWB. This allows interleaving of topics and revision and BK has been developing this further with students writing their own 5 a day and then answering each other’s questions. As part of the RISE research Jen and Alex are really putting interleaving to the test. Both have year 9 classes and have “mixed” sets 3 and 4 together to create somewhat mixed ability groupings. Alex is teaching her group in a traditional way of one topic which, when completed, is then followed by the next. Whereas Jen is teaching a topic for a lesson at a time and then moving on to a new topic, revisiting the previous one later on. Interleaving 2I have spent a bit of time is Jen’s lessons and students have said to me that they are enjoying the quick movement between topics, as they don’t get “bored of it.” For Jen there are some clear frustrations with the method, as at times she feels she is leaving something at a pivotal point, unable to go back to it until a week or two weeks later! Something which will no doubt appear in her evaluation. This is something that will continue to feature in future blogs.

It is great to have the opportunity to continue to work with NQTS, something I have always enjoyed. Charlotte, our new History NQT has keenly signed up to twitter and is already sharing her highlights proudly.

LIZ MAs the terms gets in to full swing I look forward to writing about our upcoming “Breakfast Jams” and our “Bring, Show and Share” – opportunities to build great CPD by teachers for teachers.