Monthly Archives: November 2013

To Me To You


Ofsted very kindly commented last year that, “A vibrant culture of continuous improvement has been established which is shared by all members of the school community” and that “teachers are self-critical and keen to learn from each other as to how to improve their lessons further”- Ideas are shared by our meeting system and formal and informal observations as I explained quite briefly in the last blog. We have a rota for all teachers, TAs and mentors to share ideas each week [no volunteers!] and they go out electronically with all of the attachments [resources] and photos attached. If we used volunteers to share we would only get the same people each week and as our notion of exceptional learning involves EVERYBODY making a valued contribution- it’s a case of “all for one and one for all!” I shared some of the TA ideas earlier in the term-here are some of our teacher ideas. This is just a small sample of the whole collaboration but it lets mums, dads and carers see some of the strategies that we are thinking about at present. I did promise a short blog this week but I get excited about the wonderful learning that is going on in our classrooms-humour your favourite old teacher-and just have to let you know about it! When our observations have been completed I’ll tell you more about how we have been having some really deep discussions about LEARNING rather than teaching!

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far


I had been struggling to get 10 set 5 to use a three paragraph structure to answer evaluative questions. I had tried to get them to use DAM- Disagree, Agree and My view. I also wanted the students to use PEE within the disagree and agree paragraphs and was particularly finding it difficult to get them to include evidence. The penny dropping moment for this group was when I got them to set and mark work for another class (10 set 2).


How did you make it happen?

I got the class to set questions based around some evidence we had been exploring. We chose 1 evaluative 8 mark question and I set it for 10 set 2. 10 set 2 completed the question – a side benefit was that they seemed to find the idea that the question had been set and would be marked by set 5 quite motivating.


I photocopied a selection of 10 set 2’s answers so that 10 set 5 did not know individual names or have access to their exercise books.


I simplified the mark scheme and asked 10 set 5 to give 1 mark for each of the three paragraphs and 1 mark for each PEE. This proved, surprisingly, to give a relatively accurate grade. We used highlighters to pick out the evidence and we used the visualizer to share some of the marked work and to discuss the accuracy of marking.

Then I set a similar question for 10 set 5 which they answered on computers. We then peer marked by moving round the room and writing marks on post it notes. There was a huge improvement in the structure of their answers and in their use of evidence.

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far

Students in year 11 have really taken to us providing revision sessions in class. They proved extremely successful with last year’s year 11. By completing the coursework area, it means that we can focus on particular areas of weakness each lesson.

In year 9 the students all created a rock band towards the end of last year that drew on all of the skills that they had required throughout the year. They had the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning and used their listening, notation and performance skills to create a final performance

This term I have been tracking more information with regards to progress with my key stage 4 students. At the end of each unit in Catering we have completed a series of GCSE Mock Questions on that unit and named it the ‘Exam Café’ to give students a less formal look at mock questions. Suiting those students who tend to panic about exams and revision, it also allows students to reflect on their answers as we will do so by discussing as a group and then use the marking schemes and examiners tips- which can be found in the WJEC Catering book.

I feel like this really suits the students as they are using the GCSE questions but do not feel too pressured. This also gets them used to the marking and layout of questions and how to answer them.

I have tracked all progress with the mock questions and any intervention needed.

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

I constantly try new things because I see myself as a teacher with 30 years’ experience, not 1 years’ experience 30 times. From this I have been continuing to experiment with simplified mark schemes for use in peer assessments.

Although I have given up making them for the time being, I am ‘borrowing’ some prezis and I have been developing oracy skills in line with ‘communication’ this half term (also because I enjoyed no pens day!) and questioning more with KS3.

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…

10 set 7 – I asked Year 10 to complete a draft of a piece of extended writing on Spoken English in preparation for their Controlled Assessment. The first drafts were okay but lacking detail and development. By adding connectives and key words every student was able to raise their original grade to at least a C grade.

How did you make it happen?

I showed the class an exemplar piece (created by another student) and asked them to identify structural features such as sentence openers and language which aided explanation. I found this was more successful than giving them a scaffold frame to begin with as they could see the difference between a well organised response and one which lacked direction. They identified the reasons it was difficult to navigate a text lacking signposts rather than me showing them!

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

 I have been focusing on developing dialogue across all Key stages especially, year 9, KS4 as they begin GCSE. We began the year by looking specifically at the command words within questions and the total marks and we have progressed by using the same technique as we use with year 8 by breaking down the questions and providing example answers. The pupils have been shown how to successfully feedback by posing questions and then remark their peer feedback when completed. Pupils enjoy this process and are becoming little experts at it.

 Any measureable impact as yet?

Yes, pupils are beginning to identify their errors more clearly when self-assessing rather than waiting on their peers to identify it for them. In the long term this will hopefully encourage them to check their answer in exams before finishing.

Have you any resources/ideas to share that have worked really well for you? Please attach or explain.

I have tried the game pairs to help 8.7 learn the coastal formations caves, arches, stacks, spits etc and they have really loved it. Each week I have added a new formation to the pack which they have to learn within the lesson. As it’s a small class they all take their turn and when they get a pair they have to identify what the coastal formation is or it goes back. Each week they reflect on the previous week’s key terms so it’s a good reflective yet progressive game.

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…

How did you make it happen?

The best penny dropping moment for me was with a year 7 class, they had created a presentation and they were to peer assess and this was to be verified by others as they moved around the room.  This class struggled with giving clear specific feedback and I had been trying to move their praises from “good information” and even better ifs away from “more information” to something more constructive.  During the lesson I had been drawing their attention to possible sentence starters for their praises and even better ifs but a lot of them were staying the same.  So I asked for everyone to go back to their presentations and improve on what the targets said.  This is where many of them became stuck asking, how am I meant to improve? More information on what? … etc. It was at this point the students then realised their feedback needed to be more specific to be constructive, resulting in pupil discussions on what they really wanted to see in the improvement.

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

Really thinking about how lesson objectives come across to the students ‘to structure a letter of complaint’ – following this up with why? – one day you may overpay your electric bill, or your boss may ask you to create a letter to a company. E.g. Lesson objective- to practise exam timing- why? Because a C grade will open doors in your career and will give you choices.

Also- If a student is off task, it has been very beneficial to have a small discussion about what they will be doing this time next year. I think this really helps to develop focus and we are being instrumental in encouraging high aspirations.  I really believe that if you think you can do something, then you can.

Any measureable impact as yet?

Yes- the four students I have really focused this towards have progressed by two grades or more in their exam work since September.

Are there any issues that you would like to canvas the ideas of others on or seek advice about?

I would be interested in hearing about another department to have a go at focusing their objectives/ discussions/ resources on future aspirations and see how it goes for them. I think Colin has given me a really valuable tool with this and although it seems simple; it is massively effective.

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

  • MONSIEUR peer assessment sheet.


How did you make it happen?

I planned a consequence wheel which Geography has been using for a few years. In the past students have struggled as these can get very messy so I limited each pair to one specific failure of the League of nations and ED gave me a little advice. They have to complete the consequence wheel in pairs on their desk using marker pens. The novelty of writing on a desk ensured that all students were engaged and focused on their learning. They had to use their recap on their learning this term and had to collect the best resources to help them.


They then used a colour code to show how this may have contributed to another failure of the LON which challenged their learning further.

After this the three failure desks were joined and students have to make specific links between the three main failings while highlighting other failures that the League made.

Students said it was load of fun even though we do very similar activities normally on sugar paper or in their books.


Where did Penny Dropping happen? – As we evaluated our learning at tail end of lesson I asked

 ”What have we discovered today?” – The answers blew me away.

I expected to be told about “new techniques” or “following instructions” but I got-

“You can show how people have many different parts to their personalities”

 And “you should try and draw what you feel, not just what you see”

“You can show what people are really like, not just what they look like”

The students had grasped on to some big ideas that we may not always think young minds

to be capable of.

And how had I achieved this – by improvisation and reacting instinctively to the responses of the students. I gave the students enough space to develop their own thoughts and reactions to the lesson, a lesson based mainly on practical creative tasks. Planning is vital obviously, but it emphasised, for me, the need to have the freedom to improvise and to follow the direction set by the students

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far

I think the one moment that has stood out for me this year is an attitude change in my year 9 class, with particular students that have been reluctant to join in. A few students I noticed straight away when I first met this class in September had a negative view towards maths and in the last week before half term these students started to join in class discussion and contribute in class. I know one particular student has started to change their attitude towards the subject and I’m thrilled to bits by this.


How did you make it happen?

In the first few lessons I noticed the student reluctant to get going with class work and a very distinct look of ‘I have no idea what to do’. The class attitude to be reluctant to answer questions really inhibited this student from answering questions further. I worked hard explaining to the class that it was my job to get them talking and to feel comfortable to get things wrong. I had to earn their trust and feel relaxed to volunteer answers but at the same time set boundaries that I expect in a classroom. I spoke to the student one to in the first couple of lessons and explained that it was my main target to help to change her attitude towards maths and that EVERYBODY can do it all you need to do is practice a little and don’t be scared to get it wrong once in a while. For the next few lessons I made sure when helping students around the class that I visited the students and explained that ‘yes that’s right! See you can do it’

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

Following the teachmeet at Calderstones, I have been trialling the idea of using a roll of wallpaper with my year 11s as a way of summarising the lesson.  They have been adding information as post-it notes and images.  By the end of the module, the students will have a visual representation of the topics that we have covered.


I have also been reintroducing Socrative as a way of assessing progress. The quizzes are prepared beforehand and can be shared amongst teachers. The students answer questions and you receive instant feedback. 

Have you any resources/ideas to share that have worked really well for you? Please attach or explain.

Student evolved spelling tests – they choose the words and they earn points from everyone else’s spelling as well as their own. I get an opportunity to talk about spelling rules which inevitably come up; they get to learn higher levels of vocabulary; I try to take the stigma out of poor spelling by making it fun and making the parameters so great that the poorest speller feels successful (at the same time I’m noting who really struggles so that I can offer some follow up if necessary). I did them with years 8 and 9 recently and asked the question ‘who would have thanked me for a spelling test beforehand?’ and the answer was ‘nobody’ but after experiencing this kind of spelling test they were all looking forward to the next one. I have a record of the words they choose and I add some of my own when there have been some repeated errors in their work. You can use it with any type of question and answer scenario the key is giving the students control and maintaining that sense of wellbeing.


How did you make it happen?

              I have used cakes to engage the students with equivalent fractions, through visually seeing that the cake was a whole it was the same as two halves (and so on) has enabled the students to break down the barriers they had when seeing the fractions written on the page.

What measureable impact did it have on the learning?

              Several of the students have retained the information and can apply this when faced with equivalent fractions during the ‘five a day’ start to my lessons. They are also willing to take the role of the teacher and explain their maths to the rest of the group, which is working really well not only for their maths but also for their confidence.

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…

Having taught 8.4 for the first time I could tell what type of learning suited them and have been able to create more visual and practical lessons that help them engage in tricky subject matter, to the extent that they could answer a GCSE Geography question


How did you make it happen?

I marked their books after a first lesson and liaised with the TA (Mandy) about how the class had been getting on so far. We both identified individuals who would need support with the subject matter and how to enhance their understanding. I delivered a lesson on long-shore drift in which the class became the sea, beach, wind and pebbles- Although it was a risk it paid dividends as students were engaged and able to produce an accurate diagram to prove their learning.


What measureable impact did it have on the learning?

Students were able to answer a GCSE question in which they described the process of long shore drift and many improved the quality of their answers compared to the previous work we had done on caves, arches and stacks.


Which new ideas have you been trying out?

Introducing spelling, punctuation and grammar into GCSE History as students struggled with this in their GCSE exams last year. Our peer verification grids now include SPAG. I have also been experimenting with group work- using a variety of techniques such as home/away teams, lead learners and literacy “secret agents” as well as spying tasks.


Any measureable impact as yet?

Year 11 have trialled SPAG for the first time in a 12 mark question and this will be compared to a second answer to be completed in a week’s time to show any impact/ areas of concern that our new strategies have raised.



Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…

My best teaching moment so far was with 8.1. They were struggling to understand the process of digestion via a PowerPoint so we made our own model of one to show it in action. The students were really engaged throughout the demonstration and found some of the trickier concepts easier to understand e.g. the way food travels down the oesophagus by peristalsis. Once they saw this as the crushed up food travelled down the balloon they have remembered it since!

How did you make it happen?

I made it happen by creating a model with the other science teachers to show how digestion works.

What measureable impact did it have on the learning?

Students were able to carry out the assessment questions on Socrative (see attached). The first question I was trialling a short answer question however if they did not put word for word what I wrote then it was marked wrong even though it was actually correct.

Which new ideas have you been trying out? I have been trying out Socrative and am finding this very useful. It is extremely easy to use and set up and gives instant feedback. I can see what areas students are struggling on the most and adapt the lesson for this. For instance I was teaching 7.4 elements and gave them a quiz using Socrative. I quickly found out that students were putting capital letters for the symbols LI or CO and was able to correct them and inform them of the importance on writing them exactly how they see them on the periodic table.

Which new ideas have you been trying out?


I have been developing my motivational strategies for the theory lessons; through focusing on praise and encouragement.

  • Positive letter home at the start of the course indicating how pleased I am with their effort and dedication to the course; highlighting the importance of both practical and theory elements.
  • After all tests students complete- letter home to parents with results and comments.
  • Dance star of the month- new award which can be achieved by any dancer from any year group.
  • Progress stars.


Another strategy used to teach the theory was the use of flipped learning MCHS style]. I gave the students a task to take charge of 2 different technical skills in dance in pairs. Each pair had to research their technical skills to be able to teach their group the about their technical skill and give a practical example of how you could improve it. This task seemed to motivate the students and once again the competitive side of the students came out when planning how they were going to teach the rest of the group.


Which new ideas have you been trying out?

Using the 5 a day starter which CB produces, with my 9, 10 and 11 classes.

With 7 set 5 I do 10 quick questions at the start of most lessons to improve their mental maths.   They like to do these as they get an extra praise if they get 10 out of 10.


Any measureable impact as yet?

As a class they are identifying their weak areas and we are working on them.

7 set 5 are improving, we have reduced the amount of time allowed to answer each question


Have you any resources/ideas to share that have worked really well for you? Please attach or explain.

I produced the Numeracy resource for forms this half term and I found that my year 7 set 1 love the Chris Moyles Maths questions, he has popular artists mainly rapping a song, that is a maths puzzle.  (Sent to every form and In the maths area under Numeracy)

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…


My best penny dropping moment was when delivering visual basic to the students and they were creating working applications using events procedures and string variables. As they were writing the code for their events procedures the students quickly worked out how to correctly verify their code and create their own string variables. This way they were able to create their own programmes independently. At this point I realised that it was viable to deliver complex programming to KS3 students.     


How did you make it happen?


Initially I had created resources to guide the students through a seven lesson series of programming code using visual basic. The students need to start from no skill base in visual basic coding. They are then guided step by step through events procedures, string variables, defining constants, and setting the properties of command buttons and forms in visual basic. From this the students are able to independently develop their skills to come up with their own working programmes. 


What measureable impact did it have on the learning?


The students went from not being able to code at all using visual basic to being able to create at least 7 separate working applications. Many were able to create more as they independently developed their coding skills. 

My best student learning moment of the year so far was when students from 10.7 were able to answer 6 mark questions successfully for the first time in science. As part of the NTEN programme, Joe Ford and I created a format for helping students to structure their extended answers in their exam. We identified this as the biggest weakness of a lot of our students after analysing their mock exam papers.

The format we created is the BUM FISH method of answering extended questions. The BUM stands for Box, Underline, Make a Plan. The plan is then written using the fish bone structure. Students use this to write six key words/points that they need to include in their answer. They can then use the connectives to help structure their answers. This can be seen in the example below.  The learning mat also outlines exam command words, as we have found that students really struggle to decipher what the question actually requires from them.

We used this format in the NTEN lessons and it had a measurable impact on nearly all the students’ progress. Students were asked to answer an exam question at the start of the lesson, and then again at the end of the lesson after learning the BUM FISH method. All students showed some improvement in the marks achieved. We also included an activity on exam command words, and the student’s showed improvement in their understanding of the difference between high and low level questions.

I would like to continue to work on the theme of extended answers, and I would like to collaborate with other departments to see if we could share ideas on how to get the most out of students in their extended answers. I would also like to continue to work on students’ ability to work out what the question is actually asking them – in science we are working on this by asking students to write their own exam questions and mark schemes for each other.

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

I have been trying out a new peer assessment strategy this term using the acronym SENORITA and the pupils learning mats. When peer assessing pupils need to think like Senorita and use it as a checklist it has really helped them focus on what is important in written work and they now have a set structure to follow when assessing. All pupils also have access to a learning mat which has all the key vocabulary and structures needed, with the help of this less able pupils are still able to peer assess as they use this as a guide.

Have you any resources/ideas to share that have worked really well for you? Please attach or explain.

A little idea that I have been using a lot more this year (which I’m sure many people do) is to time my activities by songs. In my older classes especially, I let the hardest workers pick the songs and depending on the activity tell them how long they have got in terms of songs. E.g. 2 songs to complete the reading activity or 4 songs to complete the written piece. I have found it helps focus the louder pupils more as they don’t have the temptation to break the silence and it acts as a good guide for them to time their work rather than watch a clock. I’ve been keen to use this in my lessons to train the pupils how to multitask by listening, reading and writing at the same time as this an area they struggle with when doing our listening exam. They think they are getting a treat when they are actually practicing exam skills- so everyone is happy!

Your best student learning moment [s]/penny dropping moments of the term so far…

Teaching Year 9 Set 6 about Angles in Parallel Lines. They appeared to have pretty good recall on their angle facts from Year 8, so when I pulled out the parallel lines questions, I didn’t think much of it. Until I was faced with a class full of confused and baffled students, claiming they had never seen anything like it before, and had definitely never heard of the word ‘corresponding’. They looked terrified! So we slowly tried to work our way through three of the main points, copying definitions into exercise books for reference only to be forgotten at every new question we looked at. By the end of the lesson, there was a basic understanding of the parallel lines properties but the terminology appeared the be freaking everyone out!


So the next lesson, I tried to change tactic a little. I needed them to feel more confident about learning a new topic that at first hand appeared to be so difficult to them, so I removed the terminology for the moment and used an activity that required them to identify which angle rule to use quickly. The ‘race-like’ lesson seemed to do the job as they were finding it much easier to answer the questions quickly. Allowing me to add the terminology back in at the end, ready for the ‘lightbulb moment’ when they compared what they understood that lesson to the previous one.

I have been providing students with many more opportunities to self-differentiate, allowing them to choose a challenge level that suits them. (Obviously, I keep an eye on the more lethargic pupils and encourage them to a suitable level). For the most part, I have found that more students like to challenge themselves when they are given the choice, then simply when I tell them to. I might provide them with 3 different sets of loop cards based around one topic, and they can choose where to start. If there is time for them to move on to the next difficulty level, they know that suggests they chose something a little too easy for them and they need to complete the next one up. I do the same with simple collections of questions on the board, providing them with the sense that they are controlling their own progress, and they are extremely keen to provide answers and explanations for everyone as they feel proud of themselves, whichever difficulty they have chosen.


Any measureable impact as yet?

I have noticed a lot more students displaying higher level thinking skills during feedback discussions since I have been doing this. I think it is possibly engaging the students a little more with the topics, and therefore they feel more open to ideas and concepts. I have yet to identify any quantifiable impacts, other than to compare their chosen level of difficulty in class with the level/grade results they obtain through assessments. I find the students who really push themselves are achieving higher levels on assessments, when compared with the rest of the class.


Your best student penny dropping moments of the term so far…

Best penny dropping moment has been using the post module assessment sheets to get students to evaluate their performance on past GCSE papers in upper school and module tests in lower school.

How did you make it happen?

All students sit a module exam every 4 weeks, which is marked by staff, then evaluated by students, who analyse their progress question by question. As a department, we wanted to get away from the subject content and try to address exam technique and make “marginal gains” by changing the students approach to answering exam questions. After going through the exam, the students then choose an appropriate target, which is skills driven as their focus for the next assessment, where they can then evaluate the impact and either keep working on the same target or introduce a different one as their focus. (See Skills Sheet attachment KS3 and KS4)

Which new ideas have you been trying out?

I have been stressing the importance of marginal gains. This is particularly pertinent with the 11-4 science group as 3 students missed the Grade C GCSE by 1 mark and as a consequence have had to take the whole year again. Also, students have been 1 or 2 marks off their target grade in the module tests. Not through lack of effort or revision, but through poor exam strategy.

Any measureable impact as yet?

The impact is being measured quantitatively in a very clear way after each module where science staff complete a post assessment review sheet, including student performance, with residuals collated for each cohort group, to maintain an awareness of these students. (see post assessment review sheets). Students have responded very positively and are very open to the idea of dissecting the technique rather than just trying to “revise more”.


England 3 Hungary 6

It is 60 years since the much vaunted [by us!] English soccer team were crushed at Wembley by a Hungarian team who few had heard of or taken seriously before. They came with new tactics and the score-line flattered the English who had fallen behind with their coaching and tactics and mistakenly believed that they were far better than they actually were. Sadly the same can be seen in our education system where there are alarming gaps between schools, in subjects within schools and therefore to the learning opportunities afforded students. Is the gap widening between the best performing and lowest performing schools, how do you measure performance fairly any way and do students get equal learning opportunities and as a consequence, life opportunities across the nation and internationally? I’m not sure! BUT what I do know is that we cannot afford to ever think, like England that we are better than we are and must continue to seek the best tactics and coaching possible for our teachers to support our student learning with. I explained over the last couple of blogs that we have joined the National Teacher Enquiry Network to help us to consider our CPD options and to participate in a lesson study project that really interested us and gave some of our teachers the chance to build on the shared developmental lesson observation process that I alluded to in the first blog of the term. We have only just begun our NTEN project, but I thought you may like to know how it works and how it will help us to consider and reflect on our current practice.

Many schools still insist on awarding grades for lessons based on Ofsted criteria-1 being outstanding and 4 meaning you need support pretty quickly! Some would then have additional support for the teachers who received a 3 or a 4 and for some teachers this may see the beginning of a competency issue which may end in dismissal. Often those who achieved a 2 may have some form of CPD which aims to move them to a 1. I have explained before that an Ofsted observation lesson or indeed internal lesson observations are very stressful and can make or break teaching careers. Our Super Teacher idea in September was to allow our teachers to see that one lesson out of the hundreds that they teach is a tiny aspect of their contribution to great learning and teaching in this school. They all observe each other both informally and formally and grades are not discussed-in fact it is the observer who really gains from the process by being able to see great teaching in action and borrow ideas. I make up the triad of observers and this gives me the opportunity to model new ideas with the class for the teachers to see me [fail!] and to support the feedback process [teachers worry about what they should say to their colleagues!] The NTEN process which we are trialling with 12 colleagues is shown here;


We began with our 2 NQT plus 1 science teachers Joe and Rachael and they have been concerned that their G.C.S.E. students haven’t been scoring highly enough in their 6 mark questions. They planned their lessons together to see if they could use a different tactic which would raise the quality of written answers. Their idea was to use a method of encouraging the students to think about the wording of the question and what it required more than they had done in a prior assessment.



Of real interest to me as co-observer [the teachers planned together and then taught a lesson and observed a lesson] was that they had to anticipate how their different teaching tactics would impact on student learning and the observer, and ensuing feedback would focus on whether or not the anticipated outcome was accurate or not! 3 students were selected to consider so that it was easier to manage the observation process. This made the observers really focus on the learning rather than the teaching and the discussion afterwards was able to dig deeply into the learning that was happening. In the old style lesson observation feedback sessions, once the grade was given, the advice was often ignored or not heard [as Black and Wiliam proved happens with students in their seminal ‘Black Box’ work] You can see Joe’s predictions with the actual responses below. In the other lessons the teachers having seen Joe and Rachael’s lesson study, began to differentiate between the students in terms of predicted outcomes.

Success Criteria

Pupil A


Pupil B


Pupil C


1.       Student will show improvement to mark in exam question during lesson. 

2.       Student will have more confidence in answering extended answer questions. 

3.       Student will perform better on exam on Friday 8th November.

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target  B

EoY 11 Target A

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target A

EoY 11 Target  A*

2 grades below target

EoY 10 Target B

EoY 11 Target A


Predicted Response

Actual Response

1 Starter – Exam Words

Students will be able to name some simple exam words.

Listed over 8 different examples.

Listed 7 different examples.

Listed 4 simple words.

2 Six mark exam question

Students will write a low level answer, scoring between 0-2marks. 

Scored 1/6

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

Slow to start, scored 2/6.

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

Scored 2/6.

Didn’t read the exam question properly. 

3 Exam words – which is higher level pyramid activity

Students will have different ideas as to which command word requires more detail in their answer.

Worked in a pair, discussed the command words.  Identified which words were high level. 

Placed words in different arrangements.

Identified low level command words.  Discussed with peers meanings of other words.

I was interested to see how the students didn’t consider the 6 mark questions in science in a similar way to methods used in other subjects and was able to remind them [and our teachers] of how useful it was to use their prior learning in every subject when faced with similar problems. When I asked them what they knew they had to answer to achieve 6 marks in RE, they knew from their learning experience in RE to compare a Christian explained example with an explained example from another religion and to add their own conclusion. So when asked to compare an oil fuelled central heating system with a water fuelled one, a similar style of response would gain them full marks in science too [and in in history, geography or any other subject!] As adults we often struggle to make the relationship between different subjects and we have a whole school push on ‘meta-cogs’


By the 2nd lesson, the use of the support tactic began to see better quality answers for the students and they were asked to contribute their own ideas as to how their learning had gone.

Post Lesson Questionnaire

What was the point of this lesson?
What did you learn?
What can you do now that you couldn’t do before?
What worked in this lesson?
What did you enjoy most about the lesson?
What didn’t work in this lesson?
What didn’t you like about the lesson?
What would you recommend is changed about this lesson if it is taught again next year to another group?

Two more experienced maths teachers then planned their lessons to focus on some youngsters who find it difficult to access the functional skills maths types of questions in year 7.  A functional skills question might be;


Clair and Alex used the strategy below to try to support the students in the anticipated difficulty with the reading and understanding of the question. When the students just have sums and numbers to work out-they are fine-throw in the words and they struggle.


This began to make a difference in the 2 planned lessons and the students began to access the functional aspects of maths with more confidence than they had in the previous assessment lesson. Even on Children in Need Day when given some fun functional maths-If Pudsey had 10 lollipops etc.-the class asked if they could use the underlining method to help them. One of the chosen 3 students was absent and interestingly, the student who was previously slightly stronger with their maths wasn’t as confident in their group and with their answers and the anticipated responses were the wrong way round! When Clair and Alex were telling me this I asked if they had checked the reading ages of the two-was there a difference that might explain why the functional style questions may prove to be more difficult for the stronger mathematician. Literacy matters in every subject-even maths! It is an important message for colleagues and we shall report back to all of the staff on our research findings.

Rachel and Josie, our art teachers, focused on their shared G.C.S.E. class and they were concerned that their chosen students, for different reasons weren’t always presenting their sketch-book as creatively as they might. They chose a different whole school push –marginal gains- to help the students prioritise on their weaker areas of their learning to date. After DIRT [dedicated improvement and reflection time and a look at PINTEREST [an interactive message board for artists] they borrowed an idea from Huntingenglish blog, to help the students design their own marginal gains wheel.  The students could then focus on a red priority.


The anticipated and actual responses to the different phases of the teaching created a super feedback and discussion document ready for the post lesson learning debate.


Predicted Response

Actual Response

3 Students select a sketchbook page that needs improvement. Use a limited amount of materials to make improvements using marginal gains statements and Pinterest sketchbooks as  a guide  (25 mins) It is likely that A will select a page more easily than the other two. B and C lack confidence so they will probably look to others for inspiration. They are seated to enable this to happen. All three will make tentative progress at first, needing frequent reassurance and help. As the task continues, and examples are shown to the class, they will gain confidence and begin to work more independently. I would hope that, given visual sources and written prompts there should be a noticeable difference in the quality of the presentation of their sketchbook pages, based on their chosen success criteria/ marginal gains. A has made vast improvements to their page- the page was basically blank to begin with and they added texture and collage, used a range of materials (Various papers, watercolours, fineliner, pastels) to create some interesting effects. A has been influenced in their decisions by the Pinterest sketchbooks and has clearly achieved their Marginal gains objectives.A would need to go on from here to refine their ideas and further layer their use of collage. A did need some reassurance, but worked much more confidently than I expected. B has probably made the least progress out of the three, which surprises me. I think they found the pace of the lesson a little too fast, and struggled to process all of the information at once. B has however begun to make decisions and plan alterations to their page which will improve creativity. Using collage is a creative risk for B as they have not used this before.Their next step would be to stick their collage down and work into it with other media such as pastels and watercolours. I think the process will be a longer one for B than the others- again this surprises me, particularly in light of their higher target. C has made the most progress during the lesson. They have a greater natural skill than the other two students and this is reflected in their more immediate understanding of the process. C did need reassurance throughout the lesson that they were doing the right thing, but this lessened throughout the task. Their collage work is excellent and they have thought carefully about its placement, beginning to work into it with other media. I am confident that this process will allow C to reach their potential with frequent enough reminders/ encouragement.

Josie’s lesson introduced the students to two new techniques and  as I observed the enjoyment and creativity the students were experiencing  as they experimented with their learning, I did wonder what sort of curriculum we would be offering students if art wasn’t offered. There is a different intellectual challenge involved in art in comparison to other subjects but it is a centuries old one and, for me, still valid and relevant today.

Our final pair for this week linked Jen [maths] and Hannah [English] who both teach some of the same year 11 students for G.C.S.E. Jen was also looking at functional skills maths at a higher level –relating Pythagoras [measuring triangles-I think! ] to real life mathematical questions.


She wanted to find out if the students by using another school initative FISH would help them to understand the maths involved a little better.


Miss modelled some answers for the students-some of which had both correct and incorrect bits and they in pairs had to FISH their response. By giving friendly, informative, specific and honest peer assessment/critique of the answers, it was hoped that the detailed thought and written information needed to FISH would help the students to really understand the mathematical thought needed to build up a thorough answer. Hannah used the same kind of tactic in the English lesson with the same students and I’ll share their feedback sessions later in the year. The difference was that the students were FISHing each other’s accounts of Mr Birling [An Inspector Calls]. Hannah’s enquiry questions was, ‘Can students provide Friendly, Informative, Specific and Honest feedback to make further progress’

Success Criteria Pupil A Pupil B Pupil C
1-Develop skills in providing explanations of textual evidence.2]-Improve G.C.S.E. responses, using detailed explanations3-Provide FISH feedback/critique A will write plenty in English but tends to ‘get lost’ in a task and will lose sight of how to achieve the next goal. A tends to ignore specific instructions and focuses on completing the task and writing a huge quantity. B wants to constantly ‘please’ in English. B needs to develop their explanations and move through a task at a quicker pace to move forwards C tries really hard, but has difficulty understanding deeper layers of meaning in literature. Explaining their answers in depth is a real challenge.

We have 2 formal observations a year and plenty of informal ones. All teachers have a choice of the class they want to be observed with and the autumn formal observation is with the line manager [and usually me] whilst the summer observation is observed by a colleague from another subject. [with myself/coach.]  Informal observations usually lead in from our hubs and focus on whatever pedagogy the two teachers decide on. The feedback for the formal observations this year is based on criteria that each faculty has developed separately based on subject specific Ofsted guidelines, whole school initiatives, faculty priorities and individual preferences and needs. You can see that the discussion afterwards is based on the pedagogy that the teacher has chosen and the NTEN style feedback points give the teacher opportunity to reflect on their skills [flexibility and adaptability mid lesson win lots of Brownie points!] whilst the observer has the fantastic CPD chance of taking away far more than the teacher! I always say that it is an absolute privilege for me and any colleague to be allowed into a fellow professional’s classroom and we have to make the most of this wonderful opportunity to talk about deep learning and its impact on our students.

Appraisal Observation Feedback     Teacher                                       Class         Observers

Subject chosen pedagogy Observer feedback comments to support development.How did each chosen strategy impact on learning? Anything you spotted for future devpt advice? Teacher view-did your teaching of each priority meet your predicted outcome and impact on student learning? Did you have to change tactics?

For the observer

3 bits of great teaching that inspired and that you are definitely going to use tomorrow! Your favourite piece of student learning-best penny dropping moment-what and with whom! What did you learn most as a teacher from today’s observation?

For the observed!

What would you like to develop next with either subject or general pedagogy? How can we [or others] help? How did today help your appraisal targets? Where next with this particular target?

As a staff we need to consider, again, the purpose of our observations. I enjoyed Chris Moyse’s recent blog where he explained that at his school in Somerset that;

‘The purpose of lesson observation at BCA is to……accurately portray what is happening in the classroom.…stimulate professional reflection and dialogue.…inform the coaching process and future developments at the academy.…help us deepen our understanding of teaching and learning.…make us even better teachers.’

I don’t think that we would radically disagree apart from perhaps mentioning the impact this should have on student learning and if schools are serious about teachers being ‘learners’ too then any notion of unannounced lesson observations and ‘plan all of your lessons on Monday [and in great detail] and you will be observed but we are not telling you when and with whom; should be banished! Just because Ofsted may do this doesn’t mean that it is the best way to use observations and develop outstanding learning and teaching. In fact if teachers are given the opportunity to participate in lesson study, peer-observations and are able to plan together and take risks together-they will perform far better when an inspector calls and will be secure in their own self-confidence of what great teaching actually looks and feels like. We know our teachers best and have a variety of ways based on a myriad of information and data to decide how well they are performing-a couple of performances a year tells us they can perform a couple of times a year!

60 years ago England didn’t learn their lesson too quickly-a year later the Hungarians drubbed them 7-1 and it would be a further 22 years before we were to win the World Cup. The education of our children is far too precious to wait 22 years before we react to innovative tactics and superior coaching.  There is an important debate surrounding the use of observations both informally and formally at present and it is important that we share our ideas and look to others for inspiration. For instance, I read about Wroxham School’s ideas in a magazine this morning [David Weston article], enjoyed and agreed with school based practical ideas on blogs by Chris Moyse and Paul Banks and followed all of the comments being made to a David Didau blog. Our staff book club read Zoe Elder’s ideas on observations and from an US perspective, Leverage Leadership offers really interesting ways of helping to mentor and coach via observations. There is an appetite for sharing and talking to each other in education now at a grassroots level and as always any comments and sharing of ideas would be greatly appreciated by all at Meols Cop.


CPD-The finest that Woolworths could sell

There’s a famous seaside place called Blackpool
That’s noted for fresh air and fun.
And Mr Jones and Bridget, went there to get t’ NTEN audit done
A grand little school was St Mary’s,
With glass classrooms and a bleeper instead of a bell.
We met Mr Tierney, his teachers and governors,
The finest that Woolworth’s could sell!

I recited the lovely old monologue Albert and the Lion at a Boy’s Brigade show nearly 50 years ago. It evokes a picture of a Lancashire family perhaps in Wakes week visiting 1930’s Blackpool and not being too impressed with the somnolent lion in the zoo and the ocean where the ‘waves was fiddlin’ and small’ Albert, their son livened things up for them by shoving his stick, with the ‘orses ‘ead ‘andle, purchased at Woolworth’s into Wallace the lion’s ear. Having watched their son eaten by the lion, Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom saw the opportunity to cash in their insurance of him before, sadly for them, being deprived of their windfall when the lion, feeling sorry for the lad, spat him out again!

I drove past the zoo this week as I visited 2013 Blackpool to meet Stephen Tierney, the executive head-teacher of St Mary’s Catholic College and some of his colleagues. Both schools are members of the National Teacher Enquiry Network which has a requirement that member schools audit each other with regards to CPD and it is a great opportunity to learn from best practice across England and, of course to visit other schools. Unlike Sefton, Blackpool was awarded some BSF [Building Schools for the Future money] and St Mary’s were fortunate enough to have been able to benefit from the government funded project. I last visited the school before building work began and missed out on the difficulties teaching and learning on a building-site must bring, to appear again when it has been almost completed! The school really did look great and there were many features that I would love to see at Meols Cop to support our learning. Interestingly some of the classrooms were almost like glass boxes where you could see the next class through the sound-proof glass and the staff-room had a huge working area for teacher planning and preparation. The old ‘heart’ of the school, the beautiful chapel still remains with a new area for reflection and contemplation looking down on it. This is always an interesting aspect of a faith school that makes me wonder where a non-faith school such as ourselves would call the ‘heart’ of our school. Perhaps it isn’t a physical thing but a moment in time, such as Children in Need Day, when the community pulls together, teachers giving up their planning to cover lessons for colleagues attending personal events, supporting each other as students or adults when support is needed-what do you think?

NTEN asks that as many staff as possible complete an audit about CPD before the visit and on the day the NTEN representative [Bridget] and visiting senior leader have to interview a cross-section of staff which must include NQTs, experienced teachers and governors. Strangely there were no questions expected of support staff and we both expressed a desire for this to be included. We sent our recent TA development work to NTEN to share with other schools. The staff interviewed were all enthusiastic about the great training opportunities they are offered at St Mary’s and told us about their Thursday early finish, which allows 2 hours of collaboration and their volunteer meetings and roles which include teachmeets and fellows; 4 colleagues who teach for 4 days and then have a day to research/support other colleagues. All talked excitedly about both informal and informal discussion of teaching, which is perhaps one of the best ways of continuing professional development.

Stephen himself is an old CTK boy and his parents are church friends of Helen Hallmark so it was a nice opportunity for him to visit our school on the day after for the first time since he had played soccer against us as a teenager. He openly shares many of his ideas on his popular personal blog and is currently sharing his SEF-his evaluation document of the areas of school that the Ofsted inspectors like to see! Sadly many schools, and often the ones who should be looking at best practice, don’t look at the wonderful ideas the world-wide net offers. BUT many do and there is a growing collaborative approach from many involved in education, which can only be a good thing ultimately for the children whom we teach. We have been actively responding, especially in Random Acts of Kindness Week, to schools which have been very open with their ideas by thanking them and responding in their comment sections and sending some of our ideas. Our correspondence has included Passmores school in Essex, Bridgewater College in Somerset, Chew Valley in Bristol and Huntington in York-they may have liked our stuff and may have found it useful [or not!] but it’s our way of trying to support the open flow of ideas.

The questions on the audit [I’ll tell you the results when they arrive] may interest parents and hopefully they will agree that well trained professionally developed teachers should be our key priority here. We were asked if parents were aware of and involved if staff development-hope this blog is communicating this aspect-and about the role students have in evaluating teaching-see last week’s blog. I know that parents will expect us to regularly discuss learning and teaching and to be aware of the best methods, proven by research, of teaching their children-this was the focus of a key section of the audit. One of the key descriptors for the gold standard for me was the notion that “Every teacher is a leader and ‘change agent’-i.e. they feel able to make a difference to the quality of learning in the organisation.” I would actually widen this to include all students and staff-Super Teachers, Super TAs, Super Learners-and my definition of CPD, suggested to our staff when I reflected on my views to them is;

CPD 2013-I believe-do you agree?
Think not what my CPD can do for me; think what my CPD can do for our students!
Adults directly involved in student learning are responsible for analysing and evaluating their own skill needs so that they can continually seek marginal gains in their own performance –result exceptional learning and professional satisfaction and pride. Meols Cop co-educators never stop learning and we are all ‘agents of change’ and lead learners.
Leaders and managers must support and celebrate the process with focused advice, time and constantly model and demonstrate exceptional learning characteristics themselves.
Collaboration and sharing of ideas and pedagogy must include ALL and the opportunities to do so must be created and time to plan and show impact on learning must be given and modelled.
The students need CPD too-key learning characteristics and mind-sets must be encouraged and actively taught.

Stephen and Bridget interviewed our staff representatives Joe Ford, Rachael Moreau, Colin Lee, Phil Johnson, Joanne McDevitt and Jen Filson as well as Adele Wills, one of our governors and Principal of KGV. I could have chosen any of our teaching staff to talk about their own and the school’s CPD philosophy in action but as the interviews were only 20 minutes long, certain colleagues may have simply overwhelmed our visitors with a torrent of ideas [and thrown in a progress check!] Seriously though, colleagues in both schools have been given the chance to develop as professionals to be the best that they can. My first blog ages ago, began with the now well quoted statement from Dylan Wiliam

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better!”

Parents, carers, teachers and all concerned with education have to believe this and make it so! Individual teachers and support staff do have an individual responsibility to constantly analyse their own skills and to want to develop them [both sets of teachers included colleagues using their own time for MAs, their own blogs, reading of research etc.] and we as senior leaders have to encourage and create the best opportunities for this to happen. Great teachers reflect on their own practice, they innovate, they research and check out best practice internally and externally and they take risks and are encouraged to do so! We had a great chat with our St Mary’s colleagues about this and what it actually means. You may not have to be an Albert Ramsbottom and go shoving your horse’s head handle stick in to some un-expecting lion’s ear, but it makes for great learning and an engaged and interested set of students!

Our student voice

Our first student survey of the year and as I know parents and carers enjoy reading the views of our young people, quite a long set of thoughts from them. I tend to add comments which have been made a couple of times and slip in any funny or profound statements. This survey asked 4 questions for individual students to consider before they discussed their answers with the rest of their form. Every form in the school received the questions and they followed up the questions the staff have been raising and discussing in our inset sessions as to how to sustain and move ‘Beyond Outstanding’ [Super… explained in previous blogs]

The process encourages thoughtful speaking and listening before having to prioritise and justify the form final responses. The answers are disseminated to all students and staff and the research helps me to see if some of the teaching ideas we have been trialling are having an impact on those who matter most-the students-and I can also clearly observe from question 4 answers how their language of learning and understanding of key learning ‘great’ features is developing. Is our emphasis on growth mind set and independent learning skills impacting on their perception of appropriate skills great learners should possess?

After Xmas, I’ll dig much deeper with visits to the lessons of every teacher to ask the students about one of the learning priorities we have this year and follow this up with anonymous surveys. They will provide evidence of the impact certain teaching strategies are having on their learning. They are very truthful and opinionated! For instance last year I asked them about literacy across the curriculum and the use of feedback and dialogue [conversations between them and their teachers after marking.] The research was able to tell me where literacy was being used explicitly, gaps that needed filling and provided a picture of developing feedback and dialogue across the whole school. I could then feedback to individual teachers and subject leaders to show them where their teaching of literacy and use of feedback stood in relationship to the rest of the school and our development plans. Everybody could then use the information to plan accordingly for the next round of monitoring and to re-adjust their action plans. The truth is that we often think as teachers that we are getting across the learning points that we want to-the students may confirm that our strategies are working or may not-we need to know either way and they must be involved in the discussion.

1] What are the best things about our school? Can you as a tutor group prioritise the 3 outstanding features that you think that we should all be the most proud of?
1) Enrichment activities- lunch time and after school clubs
2) Achievement of all pupils
3) How safe everyone feels- very little bullying, lots of people to help (pals, prefects)
Facilities- particularly in PE/ Library
Staff- always enthusiastic and willing to help & support from peers (peer mentors, lead learners etc.)
Going for gold system- encourages us to be our best
Good Education, Good Support, Approachable friendly staff, Good facilities, Good food
The library, the field, the boy’s gym.
Food/clubs/sports/helpful teachers/seating plans.
We feel well supported, have fantastic classrooms [and food] and our teachers are good at their jobs.
Support for students from teachers, base, mentors.
Quality of learning – resources, results, ‘mix it up a bit’, learning games in lessons, practical lesson.
Teachers – never give up, rewards and praise, meetings to decide how to make lessons better
Friendships they have developed and the different approaches to learning they have experienced
11ST feel that the teachers are one of the best things about Meols Cop High School! We also like the new classrooms that have been built with new ICT facilities. We like the extra support and guidance that is given to us at Meols Cop High School. We feel safe in our school environment.
Performing Arts department, New Library, P.E Department
Facilities, ICt, the Gym. Extra-curricular clubs. Friendly atmosphere.
The staff, PE, after school clubs, Pals and Prefects, Art , Music
All the teachers and TAs go out of their way to help and support everyone. Teachers always try their best to make lessons fun so we can learn.
Outstanding Ofsted
Good grades
After school clubs
Display boards
Teaching staff
Extra-curricular activities We love the new library and facilities
Extra-curricular, in particular sports
Different types of students that are all included
Going for Gold
It is an anti-bullying school
Has good sporting facilities that we often get use of through classes, after school activities and lunchtime clubs.
Teacher dedication allows us to have a fun-filled, exciting experience inside and out of lessons
The quality of the teaching, creative lessons, the canteen food.
Art Department, Mentors, Dance/PE
The main area the students all agreed on was the fantastic pastoral care everyone received. They mentioned the mentors, the tutors and progress managers as being particularly supportive.
They nearly all said that teaching is very good and think that they are given lots of support with their learning both in class and out (after school classes and study groups).
Most of the students think we have great facilities (sports, drama and dance were quoted as being really good).

2] We would be even better if……As a group can you agree on 2 major factors/changes that would make us even better if….AND sell your point by explaining HOW your suggestions would help the LEARNING of everyone.
1) Trips- more opportunities for educational visits in different subjects
2) Smaller class sizes so teachers have more time with different groups.
If we were able to use local facilities e.g. swimming and gyms during P.E lessons. This would encourage all students to take part in activities out of school grounds and help them become more aware of their local surrounding.
Better technology e.g. iPads and recording devices for the use of making podcasts and moving around the school freely so we could do more activities such as filming and making notes. This will help us as it gives us more access to world around us and outside. We could also download educational apps and games to help us revise and it will make lessons more fun and intriguing.
Lessons more engaging, more practical lessons
More rewards for doing well in lessons
We don’t think much needs to be changed here at MCHS
Once a month were our own clothes to raise money for charity/ as an award system
More TA’s within the lesson so they can work one to one with more students
Lower food prices & more TAs.
1 Canteen – It is too small. Lower prices.
2 Uniform – be more flexible in choices. To hot in summer/cold in winter
3 Improve the field
Better sports facilities (pitches)
Come in at 9.30 finish at 3.30
Allowed phones/ipads (use smart phone software in lessons)
More TA’s to support big classes
If teachers gave more time to revision in lesson rather than just on the VLE as it helps it stick more and gives us the opportunity to ask immediate questions. If we were more aware of how to move up levels, we know the basic idea of what is needed in each level but if we had a clear guide or modelled example to use it would be much easier.
Bigger dining room. Build a sports hall.
Expand the car-park – it’s dangerous for pupils
If we had free drinks in lessons so that we could refresh our minds. Longer lunch times so that we have time to settle ready for lessons
11ST do not think much needs to change. We would like a sports hall which would benefit all students and enhance OSHL.
Half the form felt we would benefit from a two week timetable. More sports facilities
We would learn better if we had more choice about what we learn and we were more involved in the planning of lessons
More form time activities
More one to one support so that all students are able to access all lessons.
More visits out of school and visitors coming in so we get more real life experiences
Get a sixth form, Improve waterproofing of school, More wider corridors around school, Covered walkway out to the mobiles
More interaction between teacher/student. Rewards – Sweets etc. More interesting/fun lessons
We learnt HOW to revise, not just WHAT.
We had more extra-curricular opportunities for trips, exchanges, unusual learning experiences.
Rewards for good answers, Extra praises for good answers, Major credits should count for more praises or a discount off food in the dining room
The class felt that things could be even better if any students disrupted the learning that they were dealt with quicker and isolated from the rest of the class.
Many of the students would like enrichment days
Other suggestions were:
– A more varied menu in the canteen
– An indoor netball court
– Improvements in IT ( Microsoft visual studio to be installed and LINUX to be taught)

3] Can your tutor group come up with the 5 best strategies teachers use that have the biggest impact on your learning-can you offer evidence to support your claims?
1)Use of video clips that explain topics e.g. animations
2)Use models to create features e.g. DNA strands, rivers models etc
3)Quiz at end of lesson to recap
4)Practical activities – dissecting organs, data collection
5) Teachers doing what they currently do
Mini whiteboards- helps us practice answers without fear of being ‘wrong’.
Video clips- real learning
Interactive whiteboard games
Specific feedback- cited Maths feedback as clear and easy to understand, especially Ms….. STEPS (Self, Teacher, Evidence, Peer, Situation)
Group/ peer work- enjoy hearing others ideas and co-operating.
Show us different methods of teaching. Bribery and corruption!! Revision sessions after school. Nice and friendly. Constant reminders as to what we should be doing.
Group activities – learning from others
Educational videos- seeing things visual sometimes makes an idea clearer
Practical activities- hands on
Sit off lessons every 3 weeks for a break- recharge our batteries
A safe environment where you feel comfortable expressing yourself
ARK-in RE/HEROES/form PALS /science Power Points/science anagrams.
Speaking and listening, interactive games, computer work, 1-1 time with us and paired work
Smaller class sizes, interactive work – group work, practice, feedback from teachers, note making in lessons, working with peers/friends regularly
We like to work in groups, we like to see how we can progress, we like peer and self-assessment to see how we can improve and we like the teachers to make their subject interesting
Practical work, music on in the background while working, clear feedback from the teachers, explain it clearly, targets
Praise system, Raffle tickets for correct answers in lessons (HH), Merits system, Target given that you can strive towards, Group work, (PSD, PE)
Different ways of teaching the same thing
Rewards for learning
Different examples of work
Checks work whilst working
Interactive and fun lessons using games etc. to get everyone involved and help you remember better.
Working in pairs help us share ideas and support each other to solve the problem ourselves rather than asking miss.
Use of prizes and rewards makes lessons more competitive and helps motivate us to get involved.
When lessons cross over each other like using drama in another subject it makes learning so much more interesting and helps build on both sets of skills.
When teachers give us 1 to 1 support it helps answer any problems I have rather than giving just a general answer to everyone.
– Revision classes
– Paired work
– Verbal feedback
– Practical work
– Games (learning related)
– Peer assessment
– 1 – 1
– Drop in sessions
Staff are positive and do not shout much, are friendly & don’t tolerate bad behaviour!
PEE, ACCESSFM, VIP learning, Practicals & Theory
• Going on the laptops
• Group work
• Interactive activities
• Discusssions/ debates
• Using videos- e.g. maths video
We like group work and self-assessments
One to one support
Fun activities help your learning
Peer-assessment more fun- perhaps introduce speaking and listening
Lollipops as rewards
Mark work in detail Practical lessons e.g. science using Bunsen burners
Games to enforce learning – Trading trainers game in geography
Use of laptops to produce lessons and information via PowerPoint and prezi etc
Group work – debating, research
Literacy in form – spelling tests and key words
Activities to engage students and help them learn
Using laptops and computers
More teachers/TA s in classes
Students teaching the class
Music in the background to help us focus and relax
Ask all students questions and not just the same one
Differentiation within the lesson
Have more patience
More peer assessment
Science use of humour, songs, role play (acting things out) PEE and repetition
Good balance between letting pupils talk and working in silence. Make lessons funny so it sticks in your head. Repetition. Songs

4] Can you come up with 5 fantastic strategies that your group would recommend that our learners should always use to make the most possible individual progress in every subject?1)Revision on a regular basis (many say they learn more in school during revision classes as they are easily distracted at home)
2)Make sure to get plenty of rest
3)Complete all work as directed e.g. listening to instructions and following it to the tee for better results
Make sure you attend all lesson and be on time
Listen carefully when in lesson and make notes
Complete all homework’s on time
Be co-operative in lessons
Don’t copy the teacher all the time- put things into your own words.
Group work, Peer assessment, Self-assessment, Debating & Discussion
Be determined
Positive attitude
Always listen and concentrate. Complete homework. Get involved in clubs. Ask the teacher if you need help.
Complete homework
Use planners to remind you of what to do
Go to lunch time or after school clubs
Ask the teacher if you don’t understand
Interactive tasks, group work, listen carefully to feedback, peer assessment and targets, rewards for doing good work
We think that we should be dedicated, strive to succeed, attend extra classes that are available to us and to keep focussed
Careful listening, using HWK to help us learn, reading for pleasure, involved in all lessons and approach teachers when we don’t understand
6C’S/flightpath/power points/vocab books-French/practical activities like in music
Ask the teacher for help if you are stuck
Use dividers in exercise books to help with revision, particularly in Science/ maths
Practice questions
Checking assessment criteria
Responding to written feedback in detail (not just “OK” or “I Will”)

Quick conclusion

There was some confusion and repetition with questions 3 and 4 so some forms told me teacher tactics instead of student learning tactics for no 4-my question must have confused. It was quite early in the year to begin to see the impact of our new ideas and I would hope to see greater mention of the mind-set and marginal gains learning focus over the year and mention of the flight-path as students complete it. The 6Cs didn’t get as much of a mention as they did in a previous survey-are we pushing them enough and the year 7 comment may be due to it being early days for them with not much opportunity to learn how to open a dialogue. We will take some to consider the responses and I’ll feedback again after our more detailed individual research.

Comments from parents and carers [or visitors to the site] would be great and questions about any aspect of our student voice work would be appreciated.

Same price-different values

Before I write the blog I cycle around the prom and sea-front, thinking and linking ideas, jot notes down when I get back, sleep on it, wake up and get writing. The thinking and linking bit seems to get harder with age so I hope the blogs are making sense and achieving an extra form of communication with parents and carers and helping you to make more sense of our learning, teaching and professional development. Data shows a pleasing number of readers-please do raise questions in the comments section if you wish to and if you want me to explain or share ideas on anything in particular to do with school-add a comment or email me at school []

I’ve got 3 very different articles on my mind this week. The first article to share news of with you, is that over half-term our article on ‘Making the most of our TAs’ appeared in a national teacher’s magazine and we have shared the ideas with schools nationally via the NTEN organisation of schools I mentioned last week and with other people we work with. If mums, dads or carers would like to read the article, especially if your child is supported by one of our marvellous TAs; get in touch with me. Sadly the article didn’t include one of our photos and had the usual model reading to a child on her knee! I had sent different pictures of TAs [far more glamorous than their model!!] face painting and charity raising deliberately to show that TAs and support staff play a far wider social and emotional role and develop a far deeper professional relationship with the students than listening to them read.

I read the TES every week to look for research and resources that may benefit our school-it isn’t always the most thrilling read for a Friday night but a couple of articles interested me this week. A teacher from a grammar school wrote “competition is good, but free market thinking damages schools’ ability to cooperate.” He used a lovely quote from a Russian anarchist Kropotkin who on observing different species on earth considered; “Who are the fittest? Those who are continually at war with each other, or those who support one another? We at once see that the animals which acquire habits of mutual aid are undoubtedly the fittest” I’m not sure on the science here [I thought adaptability was crucial] but I can see the parallels with schools. Working within our own school, collaboration and sharing of ideas and the inclusion of all staff, not just teachers, does begin to have an impact on student learning [especially if the students and their parents are included in the collaboration and vision] but some of the blogs have explained that we feel that we should look beyond our own gates-as teachers should our responsibility be to the education of our own students or should we altruistically consider our role as educators to all children [in every nation] and be prepared to support all schools?

The pressure of league tables and continual articles in papers and on television naming top achieving schools or naming and shaming others does make local cooperation very difficult, although Mr Gove expects it. Can you really keep using the words competition and cooperation in the same breath-I am waiting for the day when a politician currently sitting in a safe seat, goes to their opposition party HQ and shares all of their wonderful ideas with their opponents-so much so that they take all of his ideas, win the next election and they and their own part workers are out of a job! It won’t happen but it is expected of schools and guess what; some schools do rise above the notion of competition and you can fully understand why others are reluctant to work with the school next door who they ‘compete’ with for children and ultimately local recognition as the school to send your children to [jobs depend on this] How many people do you know who when buying a house consider the school catchment area the house is in-lots! If schools are encouraged to become part of ‘free market thinking’ can you imagine them employing agencies to plan advertising campaigns for them to woo potential students and their parents [thus leaving some schools without students], could you see schools being prepared to ruthlessly select only students who would bring them examination success in the league tables and avoid taking others on roll [perhaps special needs students or EAL students who may find examinations difficult], do you wonder if schools will adapt industry tactics of headhunting another school’s teachers and seducing them with offers of more money-thus leaving the other school’s students without a teacher, is it possible in the free market that the government will give huge grants to its favoured schools whilst ignoring the needs of others? Rhetorical questions all! All of these things are happening now and whilst nobody could deny that schools should all aim for the best quality possible teaching and support for their students, should education follow ‘free market thinking’ and its competition-will this produce the best educational system for our future generations? Let me know what you think-how should Meols Cop respond to the changing aggressive tactics employed and encouraged by league tables, inspection pressure, government diktat and competition for students? Do great and outstanding schools behave in a different way to others-what is it that sets them apart? Do they and should they show a higher moral purpose? Where do the needs of the most vulnerable children with parents who care little about schooling come in ‘free market thinking’? What actually is the purpose of education?

As we have been developing as a school over the last few years, it would be lovely to think that we have been appreciative of the support we have received and that we have been equally supportive of others. The old saying of ‘be nice to people on the way up, because you meet the same people on the way down’ rings true for me-have we been nice enough as adults, students, governors and parents-do we all represent our school in the true spirit of [‘doing to others as you would like to be done to’-my Water Babies memory might have slightly misquoted!] Before I took my Dad to watch the football yesterday, I was reading his paper and saw a Sainsbury’s advert-‘Same price-different values’-where they were comparing the same product with the Tesco equivalent e.g. tea and pointing out that although the price was the same the free-trade nature of their tea gave it different values and left a very different taste in the mouth. Perhaps schools are becoming the same-should we begin to think ‘Same type of school-different values’? What do our parents and carers think? What taste should we leave friends of our community, other schools and all in the world of education with?

The second article which I felt would interest readers of the blog, ‘Teaching Kids to be Kind’, was explaining how many schools feel that it is their duty to teach children how to be kind to each other. Although kindness may be innate to all children some children find it difficult to empathise with others if they lack the skills because their parents themselves lack them. Children who are abusive, may have been abused themselves and then grow to become possibly abusive adults. If at home children are use to anti-social behaviour and aggression, they will react aggressively to others-nothing new in these ideas but it leads to an interesting discussion for schools to consider their responsibility in this key life-skill. If you read the school bulletin this week, you will see a whole host of nominations for student and adult heroes and the display of names on our corridors and lunch-time singing, dancing and performing of student heroes has caught the imagination of many of our community. I’m not going to choose my favourite ones-they are all equally meritorious and moving but many choices are based on acts of kindness and the random acts of kindness that the staff have been sharing with each other [notes and chocolates saying thank you to adult individuals] this week show the power of being kind, empathising with others and displaying altruism. Values, as I mentioned above, do and should matter. ‘Can you teach kids to be kind’, the TES asked. Where do poor parenting skills and the need for school intervention begin and end? What is the moral purpose of Meols Cop? You know what I think-what do others think?

We hosted a school leadership training event this week and welcomed teaching colleagues from the Wirral to West Lancashire. They were all middle leaders in their own schools and interested in becoming senior leaders. There is a shortage of teachers wishing to make the move to headship [I wonder why!] and the move into senior leadership is a route that some, but not all want to consider. It wasn’t a move that I made [for personal reasons] until after 20 years of classroom teaching and I will admit that until recently I made a clear distinction in my head of my wonderful vocational time as a ‘teacher’ and regarded my leadership days as a job, that I certainly didn’t always enjoy and don’t consider myself much good at-I think I was an alright teacher!. It’s a very necessary job but vocational; and enjoyable-mmm! I always try to be truthful when I’m asked about leadership and you can discuss as many of the skills needed and the inspirational leaders you have met, but the reality is that it can be a lonely and trying place to be. You are under intense pressure from external agencies and every action and word you say, is scrutinised and dissected by colleagues at school. Conversations can stop when you enter the staff-room and it is difficult to be socially interactive with colleagues [you can’t afford to ever be seen to have favourites] and you have to develop a very thick skin whilst at the same time supposedly being sensitive and approachable-a friendly alligator! It must be the same for anyone in a leadership/management role. Does the extra money make it worthwhile!

Interesting questions were raised-‘is it harder work being a senior leader than a middle leader [or teacher]?’ Physically not always; I don’t have the stack of marking and lesson planning that I use to take home every weekend and holiday but I have to think much more and about bigger issues. Is thinking hard work? It is when the answer and decision made will affect 100 staff and 720 students. We agonise as a senior team over crucial decisions and as a subject leader for humanities the decisions I had to make didn’t cause sleepless nights. Sometimes the paper work is heavy and demanding-bids etc but the growing demands on teachers re better marking, use of data, reflecting and reviewing asks for a far more intellectual approach than when I began teaching.

‘Should leaders be outstanding teachers?’ Senior leaders constantly get a bad press in national blogs and comments-I’ve given up trying to defend them and saying that school leaders can be good. The usual complaint is based around they don’t teach, they have forgotten the pressures of teaching etc I know them all because I used to say them when I pontificated in the staff-room to whoever would listen. I’ve come to realise a few different points though;
1] Good leaders are like gold dust-without them schools can fail [or businesses/NHS, banks etc.], fall into special measures, lose children, lose jobs, and lose the trust of their local community. Leaders are paid to lead and not to teach!
2] Not all great teachers make great leaders [or footballers, managers etc.] The skills and demands expected of middle leaders and senior leaders isn’t always an easy transition for everyone. It would be great to reward and develop each teacher in a way that made the most of their skills-e.g. keep outstanding teachers in the classroom and pay them well for their skills and develop those with leadership skills and aptitudes [I’m not convinced the skills difference between teaching and leaders is a difference!] Schools need both but the often imposed pay structure makes it difficult at times to not see leaders [financial reward] move away from classroom teaching. ASTs, lead practitioners, coaches, lead learners etc. are all attempts to bridge the financial gap and say that teaching well should be rewarded-have we gone as far as we should and do teachers themselves recognise the different skills that their colleagues may have [not necessarily being the best teacher or best disciplinarian]

The participants worried that they would meet opposition or awkward colleagues far more when dealing with the whole staff than with a small number of department or year colleagues. Every job must have the characters who sit at the back moaning and remembering back to the halcyon days [which probably exist only in their own minds] and refusing to change-‘it’s working ok for me’ It is difficult when you know that you have to persuade the staff to change things, often driven by external requirements e.g. Ofsted, when you personally don’t agree. It is equally difficult to see colleagues whom your school has developed, leaving to join another school and leaving us with a huge gap to fill. Professionally we should develop all of our staff to be ready to make the next step in their career [hopefully with us] and we do have to think of the values and needs of education as a whole. We are a small school and a selling one-we are proud to have developed teachers that have gone on to be senior leaders at other schools and we will continue to develop our staff to be ready for the challenge of leadership.

Leadership does bring its rewards on a personal and school level. I have begun to think that like teaching perhaps leadership is a vocation too. I can think of so many times when I have felt so proud to be associated with Meols Cop and hope that during both my teaching days and leadership time I have been able to contribute just a little bit of learning magic to the lives of staff and students. The participants asked if they could be taken on a tour of the school and when I was explaining that we have lots of requests as we toured around, one colleague asked if the students and teachers didn’t get fed up with the intrusion. Why would they? They are proud of our openness and sharing-the notion of ‘same school-different values’ permeates everything that we do and everything that I hope and believe that our teachers, support staff, students, governors and parents want us to proudly announce to the world-this is a school with a moral purpose, we might not get it right every time, none of us are saints but we must always strive to ‘do the right thing.’ It matters.