Monthly Archives: December 2013

Can we ever praise too much?

For parents and visitors reading our blog this is a version of our staff sharing and discussion document looking at marking and feedback. We are in the midst of lesson observations and book monitoring season and as we haven’t shared our marking ideas for a year-this is an opportunity to do so. Hope you enjoy it and that it makes sense!

Can we ever praise too much?

It’s always a lovely evening in November when Meols Cop descends on the Southport Theatre Complex to celebrate our annual Reward’s Evening. This year’s crop of exceptional students danced, sang, acted and banged their drums to the rhythm of joyous community applause and approval. The award winners, with their ties up to their top button and shirts firmly tucked in, marched proudly onto the stage to receive their certificates and the plaudits of the audience, especially from their own family representatives and friends. The year 11 leavers, more sophisticatedly and elegantly attired [in most cases!] were equally delighted with their prizes and the exuberance of the packed auditorium. Well done to all of them and my wish, no doubt echoing many colleagues and friends of the school would be to see even more students awarded for their determination and great attitude to their learning.

Everybody, I think, probably likes to be praised, perhaps not always publicly but most of you would probably associate praise with feeling good about yourselves. It might make you happy and more valued and depending on who gave the praise, a few words may mean the world to you.


I haven’t embarrassed any student by singling an individual out in the above Progress Stars but I bet that when names appear on the bulletin, on a post-card home or on the school corridors, the student or class receiving them and the parents, who receive them, feel a positive glow. How often, in the words of a hymn I remember, are people “swift to chide and slow to bless” and how many times is Thumper flashed on the screen in school assemblies to remind us that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”

Praise, like gold and diamonds, owes its value only to its scarcity. Samuel Johnson

The problem is that just by saying something nice doesn’t actually help our students with their learning. The Progress Stars add some feedback about what it is specifically that made the learning positive and in Hattie and Yate’s recent book, ‘Visible Learning and the Science of How We Learn’ they point out that no research has ever proved that just receiving praise itself can assist a student to learn or to increase their knowledge and understanding. It might help to make you want to stick with something a bit longer or make you happier but it doesn’t make you learn. Teachers [and parents] often go way over top with praise and I’ve observed praise for getting pens out or a simple question requiring little thought met with absolute rapture. The two authors point out “if we want to produce people who lack persistence and self –control, who are accustomed to immediate gratification as their default position, then rewarding them on every single opportunity is one known techniques.” Students want honest feedback not just praise which is informing the students what the teacher likes but not supporting their learning needs.

Carol Dweck in her studies found out that if children are constantly praised for being clever and intelligent, they lack resilience later and give up more easily. [They can’t stand the idea of failing] I mentioned Dweck’s work in an earlier blog and her notion of developing a growth mind-set has been pushed across our school.

The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism. Norman Vincent Peale

Hattie and Yates tell us that what the students really need is feedback that provides them with information from their teacher or peers as to how to achieve their goals’ and where to move to next. How can they close the learning gap between where they are now and where they need to be? The gap has to bridgeable and not too a huge chasm. A criticism of many schools from Ofsted is that they don’t give specific feedback to the students when they mark their books that would help them understand how to ‘close the learning gap’ and that they then don’t include the student in a dialogue about their own learning. I’ve written about feedback and dialogue before but you may be interested to see what we look for when the senior staff and line-managers monitor your child’s books. Our monitoring occurs twice a year and books are also scrutinised when we observe lessons and when we interview students to chat about their learning. The teachers submit books/folders from a range of students and self-assess their marking/feedback on the sheet below before handing it to their line-manager who completes a separate feedback form before passing it on to me and Miss Heaton. Feedback teacher to teacher has to be very specific too to close any gaps in professional performance and the senior staff that see all of the marking in the school are able to point colleagues to areas of great practice to share from. When we introduced this format last year, we used our Learning Walks to interview students with their books to find out their perceptions of marking and which bits they found the most useful. Their answers went back to individual teachers, subject leaders and all of the students and staff, so that we could have a clearer picture of the system in action and learn from what our students were telling us. They are pretty good judges!
Book Monitoring Autumn 2013                           Name                                                       Department

There is a slight change in format to fit in with some of our key initiatives so we can measure the impact of them and set priorities for next year. Please select a cross section of books from different abilities and cohorts and please highlight on your sheet, specific areas in the books where your line-manager should look to be guided towards finding good evidence to support your self-evaluation.

Dialogue devpt Self/peer assessment Questions posed Literacy/numeracy New ideas
Specific feedback the students can understand Self/peer assessment related to a specific criteria Questions are set by the teacher as part of the assessment process and the students answer them Literacy /numeracy checked. Literacy marking scheme used-monthly literacy advice followed Any ideas trialled from learning hubs, peer observations, courses
Evidence that the students have checked the feedback Self/peer assessment with an explanation/example The questions are specifically aimed at levels/grades/skills/misconceptions Students respond to literacy/numeracy advice Impact of your innovations
Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedback The self/peer assessor checks that their feedback has been successfully met Questions are raised by self or peers and answered Any impact noted? How will you develop them further?
The process is verified Questions are written into schemes of learning Ideas you have shared. Any feedback?

You can see that we encourage the teachers to give subject specific feedback that will help our students to improve their learning. They then need time to read and reflect on the advice and to incorporate it into their next pieces of learning. [If appropriate] The teacher must then check that their advice has been successfully met. The same process occurs when the students assess each other’s learning and they then have to ask another student to verify that their assessment and feedback is correct. Students may be inaccurate and we provide clear guidelines to help them. I have explained previously that the self and peer assessment skills that we teach are crucial in developing learners who can evaluate their learning strengths and weaknesses and who begin to see that receiving critical advice is a positive aspect of being a great learner. We don’t allow them to be insensitive of course! Feedback becomes powerful, Hattie and Yates say when success criteria is shared with the learner and so that they know exactly what they have to do to be successful and when it challenges them at or just above their current level of learning. They have to push themselves hard to succeed. [The whole process of peer feedback done well is challenging!]

We borrowed the FISH idea from Lisa Jane Ashes adapted it and then added subject specific scaffolds to help our students give specific and informative feedback advice that will really help the learner to ‘close the gap’. We would hope that as the students develop their own feedback skills, then the support scaffolds could lessen in their detail. What would lead to disaster is just saying to them-“comment on student A’s work” or “say 2 things you like about student A’s work and 1 thing they can improve on” without at first, offering a criteria to work with. These are taught skills-they have to be-one piece of research suggested that 80% of peer assessors get it wrong-so they need our help to get it right!





The quality of feedback given may have more impact on student achievement than any other factor [Hattie ‘Visible Learning’] so it is imperative that we get it right as teachers and if we use peer assessors, they need to be supported to get it right too. The development of peer assessment is interesting but of course the majority of the feedback given comes from the teachers and it may be oral or written.


Dialogue is evidenced in books and students are confident in discussing their learning.

Students answer differentiated questions left by staff to tackle misconceptions./subject specific feedback-questions may develop misconceptions or extend the students to cover areas not possible in lesson time/or aim the students towards their target grades and beyond

Students take on board targets and try & tackle them in time provided by teachers.

Students peer assess and leave specific subject feedback with constructive advice with an example to secure progress. As above FISH and scaffolds to support-peer assessors given time to check their feedback has been met

Students discuss marks awarded to establish moderation at GCSE.  Students may prepare exam marks schemes and peer assess based on them [inset day] or learn to tackle the hardest questions they may face in an exam by constructing questions on a ‘hard’ topic with a suitable mark scheme.

Students are not scared of getting their book marked; they enjoy improving and making further progress. The language of learning is observed and celebrated!

Assessment is outstanding because it focuses relentlessly on the quality and depth of pupils understanding. Levels and grades are considered thoughtfully over extended periods of time across a wide range of activities. Audio and video recordings are used extensively to appraise pupils work, identify accurately how their musical/dramatic responses could develop further and consistently realise these improvements. High level questions are pre planned and push students to access the deeper meaning of drama/music subject matter.Specific answers are expected in order to supply evidence that supports understanding. Peer assessment is used to further develop student answers.Recordings are taken for moderation purposes and referred back to at later dates when assessment is documented.Targets are set and a dialogue between teacher and pupil is evident. Targets from previous topics are checked and achievement is verified by both teachers and pupils. Clear criteria provided for both self/peer assessment and  for peer assessors/verifiers the opportunity to discuss with the original student and compromise if necessary-peer assessor provided with the chance to check their advice/feedback has been met

The two extracts above are from the history and music department’s agreed ‘great learning and teaching’ documents produced on our September inset when all of our teachers, for some of the time, produced a document outlining what they thought that great learning and teaching should look like in their lessons. This then formed the criteria for any lesson observations and an agreed approach to day in day out learning and teaching.  Different subjects have different priorities and we allow them to try out their own innovations and trials re marking and feedback. Some subjects have more lessons than others, so may mark more frequently, some have far more books to mark e.g. RE so a marking every book approach  may need re-thinking, some having less lesson time may use specific questions in their feedback to cover gaps in knowledge and skills and so on. However, whatever the method used the minimum marking/feedback requirement for every teacher in the school to ensure that feedback is effective [and this follows the guidelines in the excellent Robert Powell, ‘Feedback and Marking’ book], these conditions must be met;

  1. Students need to recognise the need for it.
  2. They need to receive it in a way that is meaningful in their present state of understanding.
  3. The need time to make sense of it and then act upon it

We would insist that the ‘acting on it’ was monitored and that there was a ‘dialogue’ between the teacher and the student to support the process. If the feedback is a written part of marking books, again Powell suggestions are as good as any;

  1. Focused task related phrases and not vague generalisations.
  2. Feedback must relate to the success criteria that are accessible and clearly understood by the students.
  3. Feedback mustn’t overwhelm the students. It must be ’focused, specific and clear.’ Too much will confuse and demoralize.
  4. Feedback should be spearet5d from the praise-more discussion on this needed!
  5. Must be an expectation that the written ‘next steps’ must be put into action by the student.

What constitutes good written feedback began to be discussed using external suggestions and then quickly by sharing our own examples of good practice [as is happening here]

I’ll share more of our ideas at the end of the document and our own teachers will borrows ideas from their colleagues and if other schools are reading this, they are free to share our ideas too. Ofsted liked our marking and I have shared lots of photocopied examples and previous book monitoring forms with other schools.  Every school will have teachers who mark fantastically well and feedback in inventive and engaging ways and am sure they will look at our ideas and think theirs may be better! Send them here then and share back! Seriously, the key to great marking and feedback which benefits every student in the school is the rigour of the monitoring and sharing of agreed and modelled practice. All teachers, not just a few dedicated ones need to mark and feedback well-it really does and will make a huge difference to their learning. I’m really sold on Zoe Elder’s book, ‘Full on Learning’ approach and in her feedback section she says,” to ignore feedback is to overlook the most integral part of the learning process and miss out on the opportunity to draw out the capacity to enquire in every learner. We can pour all our energy into designing fantastic, compelling learning opportunities, we can stand back, let the learning happen and be delighted at the achievements of our learners, but unless we take deliberate steps to actively seek out how well the learning is ‘sticking’ in the minds of our learners, we will never really know how effective our strategies are”

If we could develop learners and teachers along the ‘Full on Learning’ lines of;

Learners who Teaching that
Deliberately practice their expertise within and beyond school. Offers a varied diet that develops specific skills in different contexts, with different team members at different times.
Believe that they get better through hard work, not luck. Set their own targets and believe that they can always improve. Praises effort within a task, rather than the individual attainment of the leaner, ‘Clever is what clever does’
Use focused feedback from teachers and peers to develop their own expertise.

Encourages quality learning conversations, developing a reflective-centric classroom focused on learning.

Even I might relax, enjoy Christmas and look forward to 2014!

Interesting external ideas;

Internal ideas

Dialogue Marking  Home Assessment   Peer Assessment Dialogue Progress Check Stickers

The art and design technology faculty ideas to support teacher feedback and student response [and checking] help the students to structure their peer assessment and learning thoughts in lessons and at the end of a module of learning. How we measure learning is very much an ongoing discussion- schools, for obvious reasons, are often driven by what Ofsted seems to demand and they had a spell of wanting to see progress in their 20 minute visits [they may deny this!] and we would probably rather talk in terms of developing both knowledge and skills in short bursts and reflecting upon where we are up to in our learning, where we have come from and where we want to get to [and how can the teacher can help and how the student can help themselves]and measuring learning at regular intervals over a period of time. It would be daft to talk in terms of great learning progress after 1 lesson or part of it, if they had then forgotten what they had been learning by the time the next lesson came round –and the next, and the next and so on.

Peer Assessment Stickers


Lots of teachers will use stickers to help them mark lots of books, especially when it is a common theme that they are marking with common misconceptions. Provided that they aren’t used all of the time and that they aren’t on every page so that the students don’t get the time to reflect on each feedback point and are overwhelmed by them-they can work well and the students always say that they like them and find them useful.

Peer Assessment  My Place to Live  Choosing a Site  L4 to 5

Some examples from geography equipping the students with friendly criteria they can base both their own piece of learning and their self or peer assessment on. The stickers can be discussed before use in terms of what does ‘detailed’ actually mean and look like and what could ’further responses include’


History peer assessment with some specific advice and feed-forward-we would expect the peer assessor to have the chance to check that their advice has been met and the work should be verified by another peer assessor. I’ve explained why peer assessment is a great way to help learning ‘stick’ but can often be inaccurate.[ Easy to understand criteria and verification help] A great peer assessor would be expected to write an example of a ‘balanced judgement’ to model what was needed. Below you can see the student responding to questions set by Miss to clarify points not explained clearly on the previous page.



Give me examples-no generalisations!


Many feedback comments are made by the teacher as they either work with individuals or sprint around the room to support the learning-the stamper just gives the student the chance to jot the thoughts down and each subject has stampers of varying designs to help them.


The English faculty tend to use their national assessment grids with their students [on the left]-the students do understand them! Next to the criteria are the peer-assessment guidelines covering specific peer feedback and verification. Below is an example of the peer assessment in action!



Interestingly you can see here a new development from English [already used in ICT and business studies and trialled in history] of responding to student’s home –learning via a drop box messaging system on the VLE.


We have lots of stickers and stampers to encourage the students to respond to their feedback and to peer-assess well –well worth the money and time creating them! Couple of the more sane ones below!


Vocab Mats  Face Peer Assessment  Self Eval NTEN  Spokesperson Peer Ass  Evaluation Prompts

Two of our music and drama teachers have been working together on the NTEN project to develop key stage 3 peer assessment strategies. When peer assessment was first used the teacher would ask something like ‘what did you like about the play/music? What could be improved?’ The students struggled to articulate their view, lacking the specific vocabulary and never being sure which bit of the performance to focus on. Above are their latest ideas-a drama one using the acronym FBSV and lots of words that they can use in their specific feedback. Each group will concentrate on one aspect of the performance at a time. Similarly the music prompt will help the students to feedback on musical performances using the correct terminology and musical literacy to support their specific comments.

Peer Assessment Feedback  Sports Leaders Feedback

PE colleagues adapted a similar PAR one to the one art and design use and you can see the spaces for the teacher to write their comments and ones for the students to respond. The peer assessment version demands the same skills as the teacher one. We may need to change the word ‘praise’ for ‘feedback’ to make FAR!

Stickers Summary  Making CPD Intro Slides  Stickers Template Mix  Grade A * Descriptors

Our maths colleagues have been trying out different stickers, changing slightly from before, as they develop peer assessment and verification processes. Their STAR stickers encourage the incorporation of real life examples into the feedback-an issue big in the maths Ofsted world and maths teaching generally. The students have clear guidelines for each G.C.S.E. criteria so that they can self and peer assess as accurately as possible before verifying.


I explained our NTEN lesson study early day’s work  a few weeks ago and showed how the art teachers were using a marginal gains wheel -adapted from  This allowed the students to self-assess their own art-work and gave clear guidelines what to look for. The feedback from this self-marking obviously tells the student that they need to work on the red areas to make maximum improvements to the overall quality of, in this case, their art folder layout. This approach doesn’t overwhelm and takes key learning bits at a time to build up an overall higher quality end product. Below is something I’m playing with and thinking about for year 11 assembly to help the students to self-assess their own revision skills and to then feedback to let the teachers know the areas of revision that may need most attention and focus. Again the mind-set of the students must be to look at their weaknesses first and to address them-this is what great learners do and feedback whether it is from yourself, a peer or a teacher- might not be exactly what you wanted to hear-get over it, take it and learn from it!


As it is Xmas, I’ll end appropriately with RE! They have the biggest load of individual marking and have the least lessons in KS4 to get their students great exam grades. They have altered their marking radically and sensibly place a huge emphasis on different tactics and self/peer assessment to help them with their huge load. A couple of ideas below;

Teacher assessment  Self assessment  Peer Assessment

They came up with their ‘bubble and speak’ method of teacher, self and peer assessment which asks the marker for their specific feedback advice, lets them respond with some dialogue and then allows verification of the feedback being met. Both teacher and student use the same principle and this has been praised by the students in their Learning Walk feedback and by Jennie and Anne-“a life-saver!” -who find that it makes marking a tad easier and enables all concerned to ‘cut to the chase’ and focus on appropriate individual learning needs. It does rely on students ‘buying’ in to the relevance of the system which is exactly what great marking and feedback at Melos Cop should do. The old saying of ‘to damn with faint praise’ was sometimes the case when I was at school-‘to damn with faint feedback’ is perhaps a modern version which just isn’t acceptable considering the importance of feedback to learning and the wealth of ideas to support both teachers and students get it right.

The original blog was written just before Xmas and since then there have been some interesting developments within school-DIRT [FLIRT] has continued to develop and there are some ideas here in Magic Moments 2; at the beginning of the shared ideas and student views on feedback that helps their learning here;

Individual descriptions and sharing of feedback/marking ideas can be seen in the following blogs; MFL peer critique in the second half of this blog-

Using Edmodo in ICT and PE assessment-

Humanities peer verification and critique-

English and maths ideas-

MFL and performing arts marking and feedback-

Science DIRT, peer critique and more!-

Externally there have been some great examples and discussions that we have been sharing as ‘learning Thoughts’ with our staff-noticeably David Didau’s excellent series and Dylan William response http://.co/ftBCWpj2dv

Hayley Thompson’s lovely collection of marking ideas

Andy Tharby’s smarter way to mark-  supported by his Guardian article- and gallery critique-

7 things to remember about feedback-

Blending content with assessment-Tom Sherrington-

DIRT-examples from everywhere-

Fast feedback from the North East-

RAG/DIRT all the way from Wales! –

Just a few examples to consider!  Enjoy!







The Long Walk

The Long Walk

I’ve been at the SSAT conference in Manchester for the last two days and it provides an opportunity to listen to a variety of speakers from other schools and some well established academics from universities. The conference attracts hundreds of schools from the UK and from other countries and it enables us to bring back to Meols Cop some of the current best practice and research ideas. This is absolutely vital in helping us to provide the best learning and teaching for our students and the blog today would normally just go to colleagues at school to tell them about some of the ideas I think either we could use for the first time or that we are already using and could be enhanced. I thought that some of our parents/carers who follow the blog may also be interested to hear what ‘The New Professionalism’, as the conference was called, may look like in action for your sons and daughters. Some of the themes will be well known to regular blog readers [I hope] and that in its self should show that we have been selective in our choice of innovation and CPD discussions-please judge for yourselves!

The sad passing of Nelson Mandela last night was naturally and rightly the headlines news on the Metro I was reading on the train this morning. An extract from Mandela’s ‘Long Walk’ speech caught my attention. He was talking about his walk along the long road to freedom but there was a parallel, I felt, to be drawn with our school situation [and life in general] when he said, ‘I have discovered the secret that, after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment….’ So it is with Meols Cop….we are in quite a nice place at the moment but we must keep walking, seeking greater hills of learning to climb to provide exceptional learning for our students and exceptional CPD for our staff. Mandela went on to say that ‘for with freedom [for us education of your children] comes responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended’ …neither must ours.

The conference began by trying to define the new professionalism and Michael Fullan and Andy
Hargreaves, the authors of ‘Professional Capital’ explained some of their views. Teaching staff may know the key parts of their argument as I circulated extracts when the book was first published and I’ll be honest and tell you that I did find the arguments and evidence in the book compelling and since reading it have tried to model the staff developmental theme with both teachers and support staff. Both authors are not high school teachers and are well known professors working mainly in the USA, Canada and here. They try to use the good practice they see to turn into theory, rather than the other way round-a methodology which is more likely to engage with teachers. Hargreaves described how he was concerned that excessive accountability often forced teachers to ‘squirrel their talents’ and hide away, rather than sharing, their best practice. School should push their teachers to be successful but in a supportive developmental way and hopefully this will resonate with colleagues and blog readers who will know how we collaborate and share. Why do this, because the social capital of collaboration will raise the human capital [individual teachers] to higher performance. Data is important in helping us to measure progress and learning and teaching quality but there are many other elements to cover and we should value aspects that can’t always be measured [our Super Teacher idea perhaps] Interestingly he talked about ‘systemness’ and the need to consider contributions greater than individual ones and the notion of ‘our students’ rather than my students.

Bay House school very kindly provided some handouts that summarised the ‘Professional Capital’ book and I’ll give the full versions out at school to remind colleagues but just a brief summary of some of the salient points.
Teaching like a pro-It takes a good 10,000 hours [8 years] to learn teaching skills and become a pro BUT it isn’t just about the hours but more about what you do with those hours e.g. teaching like a pro means connecting with the latest research, inquiring into your own practice, with other colleagues in Meols Cop, other schools and across the world [To you…, hubs etc.]
Start with yourself-Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world” You must start with yourself and examine your own experience-are you teaching like a pro?
Be a mindful teacher-We can become very rushed; deadlines, emails, instant results-immediacy! Consider your own and other colleagues development so that the students benefit.
Build your human capital through social capital-Do you appraise yourself frequently analysing your strengths and areas for development-do you work with colleagues to achieve this-co-planning, peer observations, coaching, mentoring?
Push and pull your peers-Are you brave in initiating a conversation about teaching like a pro? Do you draw people in and nudge them along with your relentless commitment to being better and doing better for your students?
Connect everything back to your students-Do you relate all your professional learning to the impact on your students? The purpose of teaching like a pro is to improve what you can do for your students. This needs to be kept at front and centre all of the time.

What do parents and carers think? Is this a model of teacher development that you would value and want for teachers of your children? I hope so and I hope that you can begin to see something of the Meols Cop philosophy here.

Cramlington school have received 4 Ofsted outstanding inspections and they are a school who we must look to for inspiration-we want to be the best and we have to find out what the very best are doing that makes them such wonderful places for both staff and students. They are also part of the NTEN group, I explained about in a previous blog, and they are the only secondary school to receive gold for their CPD inspection. What are they doing that is so special and how can we learn from them? They began with a quote, “Imagine a school in which you taught better simply by being virtue of being in that school. What would such a school be like” [Judith Warren Little] Cramlington, I guess! But wouldn’t it be an achievement for our learning community if that was Meols Cop-why shouldn’t it be!

Their deputy explained that their NQTs did come to them for the reasons mentioned in the quote and mentioned that an NQT had said of their NQT experience that they had been “CPD’d to within an inch of their life!” Training and developing so effectively that it leads to consistently great pedagogy is an ideal for us too. Interestingly, he made a great deal of their use of videoing lessons to enable deep discussions on learning [expensive but we are seeking a deal!] and asked the question, “Is CPD done with staff or to the staff?” I’ll explain our bottom up approach with learning hubs next week. Of equal interest, considering our moves into the NTEN and other research led teaching, he said that the staff was expected to measure the effect size of any of their enquiries [what impact trialled ideas have] and this was the hardest part for them. This is the same for us and an area where Edge Hill may be able to help.

Before CPD begins they expect the teachers to ask, “What will be the effect on the learning outcomes for the students?” and, “what behaviours [learning skills] do teachers need to have?” These are similar to what we have been asking in our autumn research discussions and our NTEN lessons and they wanted to develop an evidence based profession that critically questions the research behind theories which prompt changes we are expected to do. Lesson planning asks from day 1-“how will you evaluate the impact of your planning and teaching on student learning?” Great, to hear all of this from this top school – am I right to think that we are well on our way and committed to considering our learning and teaching in a similar way?

The national curriculum is changing, levels are going and a conversation has begun in every school to consider what next and what is important for our students to study. Different opinions were given and we will begin to design our response when we have sufficient evidence. Mixtures of content and skills and at some point a more detailed discussion with parents? Guy Claxton asked, “What do we want an educated 16 year old to be like?” What do you think? Bits of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values-not just grades but valuable life skills or is resilience the key? Dealing with the pressures of modern life and being kind, honest and possessing the qualities of humility and moral courage-should this be part of our curriculum? Is how we teach more important than what we teach? I did enjoy Landau Forte College’s session on their ‘turbo’ charged curriculum which was based around developing flexible growth mind-sets and beginning learning blocks with enquiry questions to get the students thinking and collaborating. They wanted their students in lessons to ask questions, notice details, listen actively, image possibilities in their heads and to plan their ideas first and I liked their mention of a common language for their students to use when talking about their learning and their lesson dual objectives of, “what are we going to learn?” and “how are you going to learn?” Not dissimilar to our way but well worth finding out more from the Derby school.

Finally, I really enjoyed the guests from Vancouver who shared their 7 Gs vision that many of the schools in British Columbia follow. Many are familiar to our staff and blog readers-but perhaps with slightly Canadianised names!
1] Growth mind-set-there again!
2] Goals for students, teachers and schools
H Heartfelt>
A Animated [real life]
R Required
D Difficult [challenging]
3] Grit-resilience, effort and perseverance
4] Grounded-evidence informed and not data driven-learning at the centre of everything
5] Grind and group-a grinder is the mad person in ice hockey who puts their body on the line diving into the rink corners to get the puck out! Total commitment.
6] Generating inquiry frameworks-what’s going on for our learners, how do we know, why does this matter?
7] Generosity-“you increase your influence by what you give away” We have helped over 40 other schools since our Ofsted and within school all colleagues have been generous with their ideas and resources-thank you to them all.

Nelson Mandela’s long walk finally reached its end, ours goes on. His walk followed the road for freedom for his people, ours is to continually ensure that our students always come first in everything that we do, to provide equitable opportunities for all and to never forget our moral purpose.