Monthly Archives: July 2014

Feedback on feedback!

Very long sharing of some of our current marking/feedback tactics for our own staff to skim through, to guide our new September teachers and to share generally via our blog [for anyone who finds the time to read!]. It’s a theme we will be returning to on our inset days but a health warning before I begin-marking, feedback and ensuing dialogue at their best are one of the strongest forms of personalised intervention there is-period! You don’t have to read lots of research to inform your practice of this-ask the students-Helen Rose did-great marking and feedback, of which there are lots of examples shared below, makes a huge impact on learning. We’ve discussed previously what great marking and feedback is BUT as a teacher you have to decide how much time you are going to give to your marking and planning. 1 lesson may be supported by 3 hours of marking/planning-can you do this for every lesson AND teach well, throw in some extra-curricular and actually have some of your own life too? Using peer assessment, if it’s done well, can be a big help and I can offer advice based on years of teaching BUT it’s a long time since I taught a full timetable and led the Humanities faculty. Talk to one another and follow up any shared ideas to find out more, read the blogs I send out from elsewhere with great ideas to deliver ‘best value’ marking-your well-being is crucial and it is for all of us to ensure that ALL colleagues are happy, healthy and working to their full potential. If you feel you are drowning under marking-I spent the summer of 79 as a lifeguard-no big deal to whiz the old speedos on and I’ll dive in for you! This article by Andy Tharby may interest and help those colleagues too

Note for Inspectors

Ofsted have moved to looking for evidence of learning over time-student books are one way of checking learning has happened and is developing and progressing-I doubt that any of us would have an issue with this and it’s one of the factors that contribute to great teaching in our professional portfolio. The debate surrounding what constitutes good and useful feedback/marking has new additions every day-how quickly should feedback be given, how detailed should it be, feedback that tells them the answers isn’t as useful as feedback that encourages thinking, feedback should be very different for different abilities, subjects, learning activities and so on. I’m not sure how many countries have teachers who provided the length of written feedback that many of our teachers often provide-should this be expected, is it useful to write so much-mmm big questions and I don’t have a ready-made answer! When I spot good examples and articles on the web, I grab them and share with our staff-our first big feedback sharing from last December blog mixes ideas from our staff with external ideas

Quick Jonesy rant!

One of the interesting aspects of keeping up to date with innovative and exciting educational ideas is seeing or hearing an idea that sounds absolutely wonderful e.g. a great marking strategy or inspirational leadership tactic-I automatically [naively] use to think that the person or school involved must be part of a great development sweeping across their school, having a great impact on all that it touched. A quick look at their data/external reports sometimes revealed a different truth-the reality was probably that a few people [or just 1!] were producing good ideas that they were proud of, but that the practice wasn’t universally adopted or accepted, possibly because the methods of collaboration or monitoring failed to include everybody [including support staff] Leadership has to be nitty gritty as well as inspirational-even though I may think that some of my mad ideas are amazing and non-negotiable and that colleagues on hearing them will just immediately implement them into their classroom practice-dream on! Trying to get all colleagues to agree with a new idea or change in policy that is crucial for the school to move forward is virtually impossible-ensuring that they all follow the policy once implemented takes the combined characteristics and skills of Sir Alex Ferguson, Mother Teresa and Michael Gove! [perhaps not!] All schools must have some great markers, feedbackers and DIRTy dialoguers-I’ve read the Ofsted reports that say so BUT usually it is one of the areas that is found to be inconsistent-will you be the one that is spotted not marking well and lets your school down in the Ofsted report-how many SLT have spitefully said this! From my experience, when inconsistency is found, leaders haven’t shared examples of ‘good’ marking, haven’t created an environment where the value of marking and feedback has been discussed openly [what is the point of spending ages on it?], haven’t researched and shared good practice/methods having the most impact, haven’t tried to support the work-load of colleagues by thinking of time efficient methods of marking [RE not marking every book every week etc.], haven’t included marking and monitoring as one of the key success criteria for individual quality of teaching and one evaluative measure of learning over time, haven’t allowed a flexibility in the system to cater for individuals and subjects and haven’t having said that marking is important, haven’t bothered at every level of leadership to monitor it rigorously and haven’t included the parents and students in discussions and debate about it. AND even if you think you have covered all of those areas-you still find books unmarked, policy not adhered too and so on-not sure any school ever gets it totally right at one given time and I certainly wouldn’t pretend to.

Summer 2014 shared examples

I’ve shared quite a few of our current ideas in our blogs and internally in collaborative meetings and via emails when I’ve spotted great marking on my tours around the classrooms. I don’t impose a uniform approach in terms of everybody marking in green/the students responding in purple pens of progress or everybody having to give 2 stars and a wish or WWW, EBI and so on. I can fully understand schools, especially if Ofsted or internal monitoring has found an issue, usually inconsistency of rigour, with marking across the school and need staff and students to follow clear guidelines that all can clearly understand, follow and monitor. I do prefer to let individuals and faculties follow their own professional research and evaluations to find the marking and feedback which works best for them in terms of impact on learning and best use of their time. I’m not sure that one size fits all is the best approach with marking and feedback given the initial differences in subject specific needs, individual students [ages/abilities/motivation], teacher workloads-teachers spend a lot of time marking-as professionals they should be trusted to work within our overall school/faculty structure to get it right for themselves and their students. This isn’t a soft option-it can’t be because the learning over time observed in student books is one the main criteria in our individual teacher portfolio ‘quality of teaching’ evidence files. Books give us a much clearer piece of evidence about learning and teaching than 1 off lesson observations-they absolutely do matter to both teachers and students! They are a veritable treasure trove of learning! A basic version of our marking policy as shared with parents in our handbook is here;

Marking and feedback

We use a range of marking strategies in school depending on the subject, age and ability of the students.  However, there are some key basic principles that underpin our approach, to which staff and students should adhere:

  • Marking and feedback must be prompt.  The books must be taken in for marking and returned with feedback at agreed regular intervals dependant on the amount of curriculum time the subject has.
  • Subject specific feedback and feed forward advice and targets must be given to inform the students about what has successfully been achieved and how the learning can be further improved.
  • Questions addressed to the students may be used to support this strategy aimed at emphasising misconceptions and incomplete knowledge.
  • Whichever strategy is used, the students must:
  1. Be given time to read the advice and respond;
  2. Have future learning checked to see that the feedback has been  successfully employed;
  • Some teachers may use the term DIRT (Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time) to carry out these activities.
  • SPAG (Spelling Punctuation and Grammar) will also be checked for general and subject specific accuracy.
  • Our students will be involved in evaluating their own and each other’s learning.  Teachers will check the accuracy of student self and peer marking but the thought process involved strengthens student learning and helps them become more effective learners.  For them to be successful we might use the acronym FISH:
  • Friendly comments must be based on the learning, not the person!
  • Informative advice that suggests improvement, with supportive examples provided.
  • Specific feedback, based on the subject knowledge and skills that are need for mastery of the subject.
  • Honest feedback – don’t hide from what needs to be said.  Constructive criticism is useful and all mistakes can be learned from.
  • To enable student marking to be successful, the criteria for marking must be in student friendly language and have a clear structure, e.g. Bronze, Silver and Gold.
  • Peer assessment on its own is often inaccurate.  Another student should check the peer assessor’s comments and verify their accuracy before a compromise discussion with the owner of the work, the peer assessor and verifier. Further verification by using more peer assessors e.g. gallery critique further supports more accurate peer assessment.

The reality goes much deeper with a variety of nuances as you will see from the different examples.

It goes without saying that books should be graffiti free and kept with pride. They are a log of individual learning and progress for each student, often with their own flight path and self-assessed personal views in-they are important-and we should encourage that presentation matters-basic use of rulers writing in pen, drawing in pencil-do matter. Work presented for marking should be as perfect as possible and re-drafting encouraged [a difficult and sometimes un-popular skill] but students should be encouraged to highlight work, add feedback in each other’s books, use different coloured pens for different tasks-[re-drafting may be better at the back of a book!]-a mixture of the old and new! It is sometimes easier to have 2 books-rough, best-sometimes one for if the students have an ITT teacher and so on-your choice.

We monitor books twice a year formally and re-visit them during observations and learning walks and bring examples to cross-curricular meetings, as well as sharing good practice via our internal sharing lines of communication [the blogs show shorter versions!!] It is the responsibility of all colleagues to support the development of each other and to celebrate successful impacting strategies [and steal them!] Our summer book monitoring form is here;

Book Monitoring Summer 2014 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 DIRT/re-drafting
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 How have you built DIRT/time for the students to check and reflect into your lessons
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 How has this impacted on learning?
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? How have you tried to get them to give you ‘nearly perfect’ work in for marking/used re-drafting?
The process is verified Questions are written into schemes of learning Ideas you have shared. Any feedback? How has this impacted on learning?

Line manager feedback-please keep copies for your professional portfolio and pass a copy on to Alison

Areas of strength

Biggest impact on learning your marking has had this year?

Agreed priorities for next term to support personal, department and whole school marking development [to return to in the autumn book monitoring]


Teacher                                                                                                                     Line manager

The teachers presenting their books for monitoring choose their own examples and highlight examples of the criteria that they wish to draw to the monitor’s attention. Helen H made it easy for me by using different coloured stickers on certain pages in the books to match her self-evaluation form.

Dialogue devpt
Specific feedback the students can understandOliver Brookfiled –blueMia – blueCharlie Ball -blue
Evidence that the students have checked the feedbackMia – yellowTom L – redJames R – redCharlie B – yellow
Evidence that the students have successfully responded to the feedbackDeclan B – pinkOliver B – orangeTom L – purpleCharlie B – yellowSammy H – pink

I’m grateful to colleagues who have shared their marking so openly-sometimes it can be a closely guarded secret and sometimes colleagues are worried that they will be found wanting in front of a larger audience-I hope we have dispelled fears like these and can value individual contributions in the true spirit of collaboration and British values of volunteering!

Before I begin a quick warning that sometimes the spelling of peer assessors isn’t always as accurate as it might be! Hopefully our SPaG will be ok! What I wanted to do was to share ‘real life’ examples rather than blank teacher copies

Specific feedback-English

The amount of feedback given is for the teachers to decide-if everybody provided very detailed feedback for every piece of learning given in-they wouldn’t have enough time to plan lessons, prepare resources and have a life outside of school-they would be exhausted and their teaching in the classroom would suffer. Teachers of subjects like RE with the amount of classes they teach would simply go under and so the amount of detail, the use of different strategies [that may save time but still be appropriate and have an impact] and the use of self and peer assessment all have their part to play at a time when the teacher feels that is the optimum time to use that tactic. For instance science may decide that their assessments for a half-term take priority and that detailed feedback and DIRT need planning and preparation time devoted to this-book marking and feedback may then require less detailed teacher assessment and more emphasis on quality peer critique.

You can see from Lisa’s English marking below that she has commented on learning that went well and has offered very specific advice-in the first piece she would then give the students time to read the advice and would check that the feedback has been achieved at the next appropriate opportunity. In the second piece you can see her use questions to reinforce what she spotted as errors and then verify that the student has successfully met her feedback.

Her 3rd piece shows the use of a peer assessor who also has been encouraged to give as specific feedback as they can with examples to show the ‘assessed’ student what they need to do to improve.

01 02 03

Maths STAR and other self/peer critique

The maths faculty have been trialling STAR marking and when I tweeted Zoe’s STAR around the world, it proved to be very popular! You can see teachers, self and peer comments and a worked example set to check that the feedback has been met and verified.


This was from a more able student and examples from Jen show some different abilities and slightly different differentiated tactic based on the same principle. Sometimes STAR and the questions set begin initially with the teacher setting them before building up student confidence so they can set them. Miss gives her feedback and sets a question for the students to answer in DIRT in the next lesson. Stickers and stampers engage and motivate and I buy hundreds of them, design our own and encourage everybody to do the same. They work- even for year 11!

05 06 07 08

It takes time for the students to learn how to self and peer assess accurately-done badly it’s simply a waste of time so strict guidelines, constant modelling of WAGOLLS for the class using the visualisers and confidence begins to grow. When time is such an issue, great student marking is a massive help and more important develops their learning and understanding too and encourages the use of subject specific literacy.

09 10

Alex has used her NTEN lesson study with Claire to look at developing responses of our lowest ability students to functional skills type questions and has also being trialling ideas to engage the students in entering in to a maths dialogue. This is at a basic level to begin with but the more we can help the students to become involved with specific feedback by being patient and offering them structured and developmental support-the better maths learners they will become.


Beginning to peer assess, set questions and challenges!


Encouraging them from year 7 to always learn from and focus on what they can’t do.


Taking responsibility for your own learning and progress as much as you can.


Not getting any wrong! Extension task on its way!

Below-joint action-talking and arguing about maths- scribbling out and re-drafting until you agree that you have an answer to offer to Miss.

It wouldn’t be maths marking without their ladder of glory-moving up the rungs of success to differentiate and progress sum by sum!

15 16



You have 5 – 10 minutes to read through your teacher’s comments in your exercise books and to respond to any challenges your teacher has set.

If you are not sure of something and want to write a question to your teacher, you can!

Helen offering some dedicated improvement and reflection time- for the students to check her feedback and respond in MFL. For years we spent ages marking our books and rarely gave the students any opportunity to read and respond, apart from writing out spelling mistakes! DIRT activities can include so many different chances to reinforce learning and allow the students to plan and prepare only their very best work to offer for marking. A few ideas here for DIRT/FLIRT!

18 19 20 21 22 23

If you are going to peer critique/assess-do it the MCHS way!


The uses of DIRT and peer critique have developed rapidly and have gathered a fair amount of interest from elsewhere. Katie and Lisa’s slides have been tweeted out, as has Katie’s book mark.

25 26 27

Year 7 beginning to peer -Critique using Katie and Hannah’s modelled guidelines.

By attempting to follow the guidelines, they will grow in confidence and the idea will bring high level evaluation skills, connecting nicely to G.C.S.E. skills-we have to have the highest of expectations and keep encouraging FISHy evaluations.

28 29

I wasn’t able to observe Hannah with Katie due to the interviews so Leon took my place and was delighted to see Hannah analysing poetry with 7 set 3 and developing their peer critique skills [and as a consequence their own analysis] Hannah told me that she used the visualiser to model the process of gradually improving peer critique for her class as you can see below. Showing them the different stages of a developing skill is really interesting piece of teaching and her bronze, silver, gold simple criteria gives the students criteria that they can work with and understand.

30 31 32

Katie mixes teacher feedback, questioning and peer critique below to good effect-a variety of marking methods-each suitable to very different groups and abilities is best and down to the professional instincts of the teacher-not an overall school policy or rule!

33 34 35

Hannah shared her examples on a ppt-here are some of her key slides. Please note the BSG approach!

36 37 38 39History peer verification and peer provider

Helen R liked my peer verification original idea [historians stick together!] aimed at promoting discussion and compromise-2 great life-skills and has adapted them for her own classes.

40 41 42

Helen has devised her own peer provider idea and although the slide looks basic and simple [often works best!] the idea works really well and has produced some pleasing critique.

43 44

Helen mixes her development of peer critique with questions to focus on areas of weaker knowledge or to probe deeper.

45 46

Or a mixture of self, peer and teacher-the peer is weaker advice here-ITT student marking and perhaps letting the peers off without providing sufficient evidence and examples. Hence the need to constantly model exemplar peer critique and provide high challenge-it’s a difficult skill and they need to be taught how to do it properly [can’t emphasise enough!]

The need for peer verification was brought about by my concerns over the inaccuracy of peer assessment-our verifier or verifiers not only re-check the original peer critique but discuss with the original person and compromise. As many counts of verification as possible are fine; the more the merrier depending on time and the amount of feedback given and expected. Subjects like art have always used the ‘gallery critique’ method of laying out work and touring around adding comments/feedback and taking your own. Lots of colleagues use similar tactics and a simple version would be one I used with year 7 with the laptops and lots of post-its [and a history essay]-get round as many laptops as you can and leave a pink post it-with a couple of positive things that you liked and want to pinch and 1 piece of advice with an example to support the advice. On a green post-it jot down ideas you like and want to take back with you and use on your own piece. Time needs then to be given [DIRT] to allow the students to read their comments and act on them by adding the advice and examples-this can be highlighted on the screens so that the teacher can see the process unfolding in front of their eyes. Bronagh used a slightly different tactic with some high flying Spanish students that Helen and I had the pleasure of observing. Bronagh has trialled different peer assessment ideas in lessons and developmental dialogue scaffolds with her marking and feedback. The lesson I observed with her subject leader was in the context of the students having described and compared where they live and she was hoping that their learning would progress to extending and developing their basic descriptions by using connectives and high level phrases. She began by the students forming a human sentence where they each in turn added a word and then set them off with post-its to construct a sentence on their tables.


The success criterion was;

Bien-must give a structured sentence

Muy bien should add opinions to their description

Excellente could use justified opinions and another tense

The sentence was then peer assessed according to shared criteria and the peer assessors had to leave their feedback on the table on a different coloured post-it [it had to have two specific examples that could be used on it] and also take away [on a different coloured post-it!] a couple of ideas that they could use to enhance their own sentence. The pairs went back to their own table and read the feedback the peer assessors had given and then amended their sentence accordingly. Bronagh then sent the peer assessors back again to verify that their advice had been taken and used. As her class mascot is Pablo [who gets chucked around in questioning] she can ask the students to PABLO it-Peer Assess Borrow [2or 3 ideas to take back] so you can Learn [from the peer assessment process] and use your learning to improve your Own.

PABLOING it! The peer assessors highlighting where their advice has been used successfully!


A learning conversation followed based on the grade success criteria and I asked where the students felt that their learning should go next to achieve the B and A grades [they are year 9 students]-they were able to work out what was needed next, although Miss would be needed at this point to expand!

Science DIRT/peer critique

Rachael and Joe in science joined us as NQTS and have constantly trialled different marking strategies, led a peer assessment hub and worked together on lesson study. Rachael used a new overlay in her lesson observation to support her peer assessors and give them a structure to assess each other’s work on.


Some of her questions and the dialogue in her books was excellent-stronger than Even Better If-which needs an extra E for example or evidence as does 2 stars and a wish or 2 medals and a mission. Highlighting point, explanation, evidence works well for self/peer marking and encourages thorough reading-as long as everything isn’t highlighted!

50 51

For the lower ability students picking out key words in peer assessment helps them to offer subject specific oral or written feedback. Joe shared different approaches to providing initial scaffolds to support the student’s early attempts at PA. No levels anymore but you can see how he was trying to develop their responses.

52 54 53

After using the overlay, Rachael used DIRT to allow peer assessment feedback [black] and self-response [blue] to decide which BSG was reached and how they could improve further.

55 56

Basic self-DIRT with year 7 low ability and please don’t be afraid to let the students highlight and write in each other’s books [yes I know presentation is back in Ofsted fashion-just do it!]

Below you can see Joe using DIRT to allow the peer assessors to offer advice/raise questions, student responses, peer verifier checking that the feedback has been met and the teacher offering positive feedback on what has gone well and then leaving another question to for the student to answer in the next DIRT session.

57 58

Hannah S sent me some examples of her year 7’s, beginning to develop their peer critique skills and her explanation; “Basically, I gave them questions to answer, which they did in black.  Then I gave them a general mark scheme to self-assess (red pen)their work without giving them the answer and then an opportunity to improve in blue pen.  The work was checked by a peer (red pen) who checked their self-assessment and improvement and add to the feedback using PEER (praise, EBI, example, respond).  The students then with a very general levelling researched the topic, while I looked over their books and gave some feedback to add to the peer.  They then came back and improved their answer again to try to get more marks where I gave them a specific mark scheme to give a real mark, they then commented on what they did to improve.”

I’ve attached the PowerPoint I used.  “The only thing I didn’t do was get the peer to check their feedback had been met.  It was a revision lesson a couple of weeks after we completed the topic.  They enjoyed it though and where very happy when they went from 1 / 2 marks to 5/6.”


Then the same in blue for improvement and red again for peer checking of the answer.


60 61 62 63

Art-creative and imaginative marking!

Rachel Y with her artistic touch has trialled different strategies with different classes. She led our marginal gains hub and used her lesson study with Josie to use the approach with her year 10. This is an example from year 7 of Rachel using her MG wheel to support self-assessment marking along with WWW/EBI and more.

64 65

PAR is used mainly in technology and PE and works well when sufficient time is given to complete the boxes and to check/verify that the feedback has been achieved. When too many PARs are attempted or time isn’t given-it doesn’t work-this is similar to the use of stickers with guidelines/advice on. When colleagues first used them, they appeared on each page and the students couldn’t possibly respond to all of the action points. For busy teachers they offered a quick way of marking-for deputies in charge of learning and teaching, they were no better than what had gone before and I despaired! Used well; they can work but you need an awful lots of stickers to personalise them in enough detail. Did I ever encourage them and make them-I forget due to age!!


Rachel likes to add a touch of literacy to most of her marking and I liked her crayons too! The students told me that they enjoyed assessing using these.


Acronyms amuse me if they are used to support learning and not jargon for new initiatives! Helen and Bronagh, being linguists are creative and imaginative [they told me to say this!] and they came up with MONSIEUR aand SENORITA when one of our learning walks revealed that the students felt that MFL wasn’t using or developing peer critique as much as other areas. It isn’t always easy using the target language to discuss/critique in the detail you might in other subjects and they’ve devised some cunning plans!

68 69

It looks great on paper but what is the impact on learning and what does it look like in practise?

70 71

I really like to see the students asking questions of their teacher-it shows a thirst for knowledge and a desire for subject mastery-traits of great MFL scholars.

72 73

Supporting lower ability students to recall learning with a simple recap at the start of the lesson.


And supporting more able students to aspire to higher levels and highlighting when they have used the feedback in the next piece of learning. G.C.S.E peer critique-advice, feed-forward-peer sets question and check it

75 76

For the more able- teacher questions to recap prior learning at the start of the next lesson as a bell activity and I also like MFL challenges set by Helen in French.


Colin works predominantly with the PCs in business studies and his own marking/assessment/feedback and the ensuing dialogue and self/peer critique is all based on google docs and the VLE. I’ve observed the system in action and always have a suggestion for further refinement as we discuss the lesson afterwards-sorry Colin! Colin has explained his ideas in the attached document –quite big to put in the ordinary flow of the blog-and added student views. You can see their spelling mistakes so know they are genuine!

New Business Buddy

Although not everybody will have the same access to ICT as Colin does-some of the ideas can be adapted for aspects of any subject and it really does represent an exciting and innovative way to feedback.

Oral feedback

Some of the best feedback I’ve seen may have been given orally-marking/feedback doesn’t always have to be written down copiously. There is always the option of using the ‘teacher said’ or ‘oral feedback’ stampers to record words of wisdom but often they are said in the heat of the learning moment to offer advice or model e.g. in PE during gymnastics during a somersault-“you need to alter your approach to….” [You may have filmed the session and can use the film as evidence to feed-back or encourage peer/self-critique] or in cricket, “you need to grip the bat handle higher up to give greater power”-teacher takes the bat and models. Oral feedback doesn’t have to be the sole domain of practical subjects-you all give oral feedback-and great for you when you see the student has listened or observed and made a learning gain or the learning penny has dropped. Both PE and drama lesson study have explored student oral feedback and improving it to support better and more accurate self and peer critique, especially with our lower ability students. It’s one of the keys to helping them make learning progress by facilitating the development of subject specific literacy. A couple of mats they have developed [explained in previous blogs] made an impressive short term impact and need to be developed further.

78 79

Marking codes

Some teachers do use marking codes which take a while to produce but then can be used rather than to write lots of feedback. The students check the codes given and then write the definitions/respond to them. I wrote a couple for my own subjects and one for Ric Dance in science because marking was weighing heavy on his joint role-teacher/progress manager-didn’t really take off. [although Ric did!] It’s 4 years old now and I was using it pre Ebac and pre the demise of NC levels-is there any mileage in this approach still based on the new BSG?

80 81 82

It’s difficult to mark all of your books and give you detailed feedback, because I teach so many classes! I will continue to read your books and give rewards but will use the code below to assess your work. When you get your work back, you will need to check the codes I have given you e.g. C3, P2, M5 and write down ‘I have successfully……then add the sentences for C3, P2, M5; with a piece of evidence for each code. The second code will be advice as to how to improve, so you write, ‘I need to…..and add the sentence that matches the code……..easy and a short description of how you will actually achieve this improvement!

I could then check that their feedback was achieved or they or a peer could. It does save time and it does make the students think about interpreting the code and explaining the feedback and setting a new target. It might have lacked the personal touch that comment marking provides but I raise it as a possibility and some in other schools use various styles of code marking and report the success of them.

If you have time, I’ve attached some of David Didau’s blogs where he summarises different approaches and adds some reasons why we should feedback-great for policy writing and discussion. A couple of snippets that I like;


  1. Time savers – despite all the juice I try to squeeze out of my marking, there’s always scope to save more time. I love Lisa Ashes’ idea of using + – = to mark. Here’s my spin on it:



and Joe Kirby has also written about how using symbols can save precious time. He says,

Don’t write out comments. You end up writing such similar comments across the class, and they won’t read them anyway.

Instead, get them to write them out. Choose three to five targets or questions before you start marking, then scan their answer, choose the best fit between the student’s work and the group target, and draw an icon. One minute per book maximum. At the start of the next lesson, you write the targets on the board, students write their targets in their books. They get instant feedback and can take action on their target straight away.

Other external ideas that I like and I attach for those thinking of looking at new ideas, especially time saving ideas-you might want to have a quick look at Andy Tharby’s ideas [or just ask and I’ll find exactly what you need in my favourites folder!]

Science has used RAG marking/feedback inspired by external articles shared in school-check these out. Provided that evidence is given to justify the choice of RAG in subject specific terms-go for it-oral feedback/explanations are fine if you wish-you choose the appropriate form of response for that particular lesson and situation.


The North Oxfordshire Academy has their FAR burger to summarise their policy whilst some of our staff like Katie’s PEACE burgers to aid their students with evaluations/peer critique and.

86 87 88

DOT marking

I also like the idea of dot marking and will be trying this out

The teacher or peer assessor puts a dot on a page to indicate there is a mistake-the student then searches for the error themselves without any clues putting the emphasis on them to find and correct. Variations could be to put the dot in the margin close to the mistake to make finding easier or to use different coloured dots for different types of errors-SPaG, lack of evidence, misconception, different aspects of SPaG and so on.

Icon marking

RE marking using forward/backwards symbols like you have on a remote control-can be used in any subject-check it out!

Daily marking

Depending on your subject [how many times a week you have your classes] you might like to try daily marking, nicely explained here. My partner has had a go and you might find that shorter daily marking, rather than waiting a week to mark a bigger quantity, may suit.

Loads of ideas in this blog!

Final external sharing comes from Chris Hildrew-some of his own but references to so many others here and a must read!

Our final internal sharing is from Emma in geography where she has given some different examples of her marking beginning with basic questions being used to check knowledge/misconceptions to begin the lesson with in DIRT. SPaG check on key words shown too and the feedback achieved sticker.

89 90 91

Her other examples show peer critique giving advice and setting questions that need to be answered to achieve better mastery of the topic. Green for Miss, red and black for peer, blue for student.

92 93

Stickers used to motivate, engage and comment on the quality of peer feedback.

This is the 56th page on my PC and still I can’t really get close to doing justice to the ideas, time spent and impact on learning that good marking and feedback has on our students. The examples here represent a tiny sample of reality and for all of the excellence of some of these; if other teachers aren’t marking well and other students aren’t receiving the feedback and engaging in the oral or written communication about their learning that they should be and is their right here-I haven’t been rigorous enough in my leadership.

Thank you to all who have shared and I hope that you have been inspired to try out some of the ideas in this blog or in any of our others. Have a wonderful holiday and well-earned rest.



Summer Lesson Study

When I first saw David Weston’s description of the NTEN CPD audit and lesson study, I was immediately interested in the possibilities that both offered to develop key areas of our school. Other schools are now increasing the numbers of NTEN membership and there have been numerous national discussions at conferences, in educational literature and social media re what good CPD should look like and how lesson study can enhance the process of lesson observations. Culceth and Grange have visited us to speak about lesson study and Rachael Moreau spoke about her experiences at the Sefton Head’s Conference on Friday. We don’t slavishly stick to the suggested routes and planning, [at anything!] adapting and changing to fit our needs and cover/time issues but all of the staff involved have reported back positively and by next summer all of our teachers should have been involved-some filmed by the new Iris cameras-in lesson study.

Our summer lesson study has now begun in earnest and an interesting variety of enquiry questions has been raised by our volunteer participants. We will feedback in more detail once the reciprocal observations have occurred and colleagues have had chance to enjoy an in-depth discussion of the learning they observed. This just to whet the appetite and because I’ve been excited by what I’ve observed and can’t wait to share ideas so colleagues can borrow them NOW! Most of the studies will carry on into the autumn term and then more colleagues will be invited to participate.

Tim and Claudio [@meolscopgeeks] have been concerned that marks have been lost in G.C.S.E. ICT when the students haven’t annotated their work well enough to always convince the moderator of the quality of their screenshot. Their enquiry question was [for year 10] ‘Can students produce better annotated screen shots to relate to the work they have produced?’

1.       Students will show an improvement to the type of screenshot they produce.

2.       Students will be able to write a grammatically correct annotation that will explain what they are doing.

3.       Students should be able to relate what they are doing to a specific part of the exam revision guide.

Inspired by Adele and Katrina’s lesson study market-place selling of their literacy/peer critique mats they have developed a couple of mats to support annotation using subject specific literacy. Using internal ideas is RESEARCH! Evidence informed practice as Joes Picardo argues here Although Claudio introduced the mat with his year 10 class they decided that they would also introduce their ideas into year 7 to prepare the students for KS4 computer science and equip them with the language necessary to enhance their ICT knowledge and skills. The year 10 students told me that they felt the mat had helped to make an immediate impact on their annotation and that they could see that its use would build up their confidence to ensure that top quality screenshots would now have much clearer and evaluative annotation.


Claudio’s predicted learning outcomes were.

AI expect A to be able to select the correct part of a screenshot without too much help, he will struggle with the way he annotates his work but may be able to progress by adding in some context. I am not expecting him to be able to relate this to a specific place in the revision guide.End of year 11Target: C B I expect B to be able to select the correct part of a screen shot without too much help. He should be able to annotate his work with some context and relate it to a specific section of the revision guide.  End of year 11Target: C CI expect C to be able to do a screenshot and write an annotation that says what he is doing but he may need some help from the TA to produce a readable one.  End of year 11Target: B


Tim’s new baby rudely interrupted the process at this point-congratulations to Mr and Mrs Roberts-we will feedback on the next ICT instalment after summer.

Emma [geography] and Bronagh [Spanish] paired up and their enquiry question was;–

‘Is flipped learning an effective teaching method compared to teacher-led activities for low ability students?’


I have explained before that we have a generous interpretation of what we mean by flipped learning Meols Cop style [a mix of flipped learning and co-construction]-the US flipped original was basically the students working at home on videos made by the teacher and following up the learning back at school whilst co-construction usually means the students being involved in the planning and delivery of the lesson. The names don’t matter to me-the learning that I observe does!  In Emma’s lesson the students had produced information themselves about different biomes and the class moved around the stations of information to gather key information from the resources and games produced by their peers rather than Miss. At the end of each rotation, the students wrote the key facts of their research onto a tweet.


Repeat the process.

Emma predicted that;

Students will be able to tweet a lot about the biome they have researched however as they rotate the level of information recorded will decrease as they will not be as familiar with the biome;

A will scan the info and pick simple facts whereas B and C should be able to extract more complex information. Verbally they will be able to tell you this however what they write down may be limited.

This is what actually happened;

A was able to recall a lot of work on her own specific biome but as expected her level of content was limited with the others and she struggled to retain any information.

B recorded a lot of information which was more than expected. He thrived from the extra attention and praise and this aided the progress he was able to make. Also encouraging him to remember certain point helped him when writing his tweets.

C tried very hard to memorise some of the key points however focused on the shorter points and tasks rather than the more complex information. She was verbally a lot stronger and needed prompting to write anything down.


  1. 1.       Activity

Retweet that tweet!!


Pupils will share their tweets with another member of the class and they will post a question to ask about the information on their page and then will answer this question – encourages 

Thinking skills between peers.

All students will enjoy this activity however A may struggle with composing questions due to limited knowledge.  B and C should be able to do this successfully with limited support.  Really struggled to form a question and required support from DJ. She was working independently out of the way therefore had no support from peers which is something she will do in lessons. B created a great challenging question for his peers. He was really engaged and preceded to finding the answer to the question himself. Followed the lead of her partner and relied heavily on their ideas. Struggled to think for herself.  The question she composed was the same as her partners and not relevant to the work she was providing feedback on.



Emma tested the retention of knowledge and sought feedback at the end of the lesson.


Year 7 Quiz

Emma’s thoughts after the lesson in readiness for her discussion with Bronagh and myself;

What where they able to do? What progress they made and how do you know?     




All students were able to describe the biomes and were aware of the differences between each location. This is evident from their tweets information showing progress through the lesson.   However when asked to reflect on their learning the pupils struggled with this.  A could recall basic information but only when given support and prompt to do so, B worked really well and responded a lot better than expected. B was enthusiastic and thrived the attention to help him progress. C on the other hand did not make the progress that was expected. C s is bright however lacks confidence when completing written tasks. Verbally C performs well.
Initial thoughts      



I do not believe flipped learning has benefitted all students. A requires a firm structure and a lot of guidance and support in lesson, by allowing her to take responsibility of this she has missed key points and has been reluctant in retaining more complex information. B on the other hand thrived on the experience as he was able to see his booklet develop during previous lesson time and then share his work whilst teaching others in lesson. By letting the class take part in this activity there was more time for one to one support which benefitted B. C  on the other hand was a mixture as if the tasks had been verbal she would have excelled within the lesson but with written tasks she lacked the confidence needed which has slowed her progress.   This lesson will be completed again with a teacher led focus to compare results for the final analysis. From this I would expect A to be more responsive and show clear progression throughout the lesson.


Bronagh had made a slight amendment to her enquiry question-‘Is independent learning  an effective teaching method compared to teacher led actvities with low ability students?’ The students were quizzed on their knowledge of families [in Spanish] at the start of the lesson and their memory of family members check after each learning activity. They loved the teacher slide!

The class begin with a search for key family words which were hidden in secret places all around the classroom and added them to a mind map before trying to help each other learn the keywords. It was interesting to see them helping each other to make the words stick in their memories and take responsibility for helping each other.  Bronagh used a range of activities from tarsia to her envelope match up to try to support the students in reinforcing each other’s learning.

05 06

After reflection, Bronagh felt that;

What where they able to do? What progress they made and how do you know?     At the end of the lesson A was able to recall 6 family members on her own. At the end of the lesson B appeared to move back from knowing ten family members to only recalling four. This may be due to the fact he had achieved full marks the first time and got slightly over confident when completing the second task and so lost focus. C still struggled with recalling the vocabulary she has been studying but was also able to recall four family members. 
Initial thoughts  At the end of the lesson all students agreed they did not enjoy the independent element of the lesson and preferred it to be more teacher led. A enjoys working in a group and is really good at motivating and encouraging other students due to her competitive nature. However as A has such low confidence in Spanish she does begin to lose her engagement and effort when she has to complete a task unsupported.  It appears that A prefers to have a more structured lesson which she can rely on the teacher if needed. This will be tested in the next lesson to see how much progress she will actually make in this way. As expected B really enjoyed the independent nature of the lesson and thrived at playing the role of the teacher, helping his fellow peers and encouraging them all. B did try really hard but when he began to struggle and didn’t get the results he usually achieves B lost all confidence in himself.  He agreed with everyone else that he prefers the lessons to be teacher led. This could be due to the fact he needs constant praise and encouragement to keep him on track. As well as this he would make more steady progress in a teacher led lesson through the use of scaffolding therefore he wouldn’t experience the disappointment like today. C really struggled with this lesson as she has difficulty working with her peers and independently. C is a really low ability student who needs to be guided through every step of the lesson and being left alone to complete tasks simply did not work for her. Although C did make progress I believe she would make more progress in a teacher led lesson. This will be tested next lesson.


I know that some reading this may be thinking that of course teacher led activities will be far better for helping the students [especially very low ability ones] than trendy progressive ideas of letting them teach each other/prepare resources that they can learn from. At this point my colleagues would probably expect me to grab my Hattie or to scour the web looking for research evidence to prove any point I wanted to make-sorry to disappoint-it ain’t going to happen! Of course we use research as evidence to inform our practice, if we get the chance to read it, BUT this is our school and our students-research doesn’t always fit all and our teachers may find that something that others find doesn’t work for them or for the majority, may work here.  So what did happen in the more teacher led lessons that followed?

I missed Emma’s lesson due to the SSAT conference and returned to Bronagh’s high energy teacher led lesson-I’m taking these little lovelies for history and geography next year and will be shattered if they expect me to sing and dance for them every lesson! We begin with the industrial revolution so they can all be my mill hands! One of the students was absent but the other two scored more than last time on the memory aspects of the lesson-I’ll let Bronagh summarise their learning, written after her feedback session with Emma.

“Overall I would say the teacher led lesson was a lot more successful than the independent learning.

As expected A did progress more in the teacher led lesson. However when it came to more independent tasks such as the memory train, she began to struggle. I do not think this is always caused by a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of confidence. When A feels she is supported she is a lot more willing to push herself and this is when she makes most progress.

B was very enthusiastic in the previous lesson but was even more so this time due to the extra reassurance and guidance he was given. As the lesson was more structured this time he could see the progress he was making clearly and was keen to continue.

Unfortunately C was absent from this lesson however I do believe she would have been more successful in this lesson than previously.

Overall I do not think independent learning is an effective teaching method compared to teacher led activities. As the students are of a low ability they need a lot more structure and guidance to their lesson which is not always possible when they are learning independently. Many of these students suffer from low confidence which is not always obvious until they are asked to do an activity like this. Due to this they need extra encouragement and praise to keep them motivated otherwise they get disheartened and disengaged from the task.

I still feel lessons need to have an independent element however this must be done in a structured manner. Students must be guided to the task and feel confident enough to complete it. I think low ability learners need to be taught how to work independently and so should complete short, similar independent tasks often to build up this skill so they are not daunted or intimidated when left to work independently”

Helen and Marion in MFL were concerned that some of their students had underperformed in the reading aspect of their assessments and devised a 6 steps to success ladder approach to support the development of improved reading skills. They planned for the following success criteria with each student;

Student will engage in the 6 steps to success strategy.

Student will show an improvement in their ability to analyse text.

Student will achieve an increased level in their reading score.

Helen found that the tactics used began to increase the student’s reading scores and will continue the trial to see if learning is retained over a period of time.

What were that they able to do?What have progress they made and how do you know? A improved his score from 3/16 to 11/16 level 4- B improved his score from 7/16 to 13/16 level 4 C got 10/16 and a level 4-

Initial Thoughts

A was really delighted with his own progress. He was almost jumping up and down whilst telling me this week’s score.  Although he did not always do every task this lesson, he was obviously listening and doing the tasks sub-consciously. The 6 steps to success worked really well with B.  He focused well during the tasks and made good progress.  He was a little nonchalant about his success this week! C contributed really well and engaged in the lesson.  He probably could have got 15/16 but ran out of steam at the end of the lesson.

Marion found pretty much the same in terms of a positive result and the success ladder can now be discussed at the faculty meetings and adapted for use by colleagues. It will need to be used by more classes and over a period of time to give a sound measure of the impact on learning.

What were that they able to do?What progress have they made and how do you know? A stayed on task better this week.  He was more focused and a little more willing to show the observer his work.  He did some of the tasks independently.  He showed progress in the reading task gaining a higher level than the previous week. B contributed quite well to class discussions today.  He remained focused on the work and helped his partner out.  He did some of the tasks independently.  He also showed progress in the reading task, gaining a higher level than the previous week. C was very engaged in the lesson and made many contributions to class discussion.  He stayed on task and worked well independently, showing a really good ability to analyse the text.  He made a massive improvement from the previous week jumping from a level 3- to 4+.

Initial Thoughts

The 6 steps to success strategy made A focus a little more in the lesson because it broke down the lesson into more engaging and manageable chunks. The 6 steps to success strategy made B focus a little more in the lesson because it broke down the lesson into more engaging and manageable chunks. The 6 steps to success strategy worked really well with C and gave him confidence in his own ability.

Fran, Sheila  and Zoe worked together with year 7 mathematicians to consider [Sheila used a mixed threesome];

Improving conceptual understanding of the four mathematical operations with quiet, low attaining girls.

Success Criteria Pupil A Pupil B Pupil C
  1. 1.       All students should be able to describe each operation using at least a keyword.
  2. 2.       Students will begin to identify the required operations for worded questions, with reasons.
  3. 3.       Students will show appropriate methods to carry out such operations.
Weak calculating skills. Poor understanding of operations. Easily distracted and loses focus. Will try to avoid answering questions she is unsure of, but will guess if necessary.EOY7 Target Level 4 Confident in answering questions and not reluctant to get answers wrong. Will often guess the correct operation to use. Has satisfactory calculation skills.EOY7 Target Level 4- Very weak understanding of operations and when/where to use them. Struggles with worded questions, will avoid questioning if possible. If unsure, will try to guess the correct operation. Poor calculation skills.EOY7 Target Level 4

The success criteria were the same for all of the lessons and you can see Fran’s pre-lesson predictions. An interesting tactic used in the lessons was the newly designed overlay.


Rather than explaining to the students how it could be used, the teachers gave it out and asked the students how they thought it could be used to help their learning. This is an excellent questioning and thinking strategy and coupled with an emphasis on literacy and explaining what the 4 key words meant, each teacher felt that their planned strategy had possibilities in helping them to achieve a successful enquiry question.  One of the questions from Fran is below and Zoe’s predicted and actual response sheet shows confidence in the overlay tactic growing throughout the lesson.


1) Starter4 Quick Questions using each operation to assess confidence in methods. All 3 girls will know how to attempt each operation using a method, but may make calculation mistakes. C may look to others’ work for a correct method of division or multiplication if she is not confident she remembers. Confident using column addition. Difficulty using written methods of division, subtraction and multiplication. Confident using column addition and Chinese method of multiplication. Struggled with division and subtraction. Confident using column addition. Difficulty using written methods of division, subtraction and multiplication.
2) Describe operationsStudents will try to describe each operation using a sentence. All 3 girls will be able to think of some keywords relating to ‘add’, but will struggle with the other 3 operations. B will be most confident in her attempts. A and C may wait for answers from others. All 3 girls approached these descriptions in similar ways. The first operation was ‘Multiply’. Having been told not to use the word multiply, they immediately described this operation as ‘times-ing’, and followed this with an example question and answer. They also used an example to ‘describe’ Addition and Subtraction. They didn’t get around to attempting Division. It was clear they were restricted by their vocabulary relating to these operations.
3) Identify required operations.Suggestions will be taken on how to use the overlay provided. Each table will have a worded question to complete using the overlay.I will demonstrate its use with 1 question. The pupils will then move around the room to attempt 10 questions themselves, filling their answers in on the sheet provided.*Extension sheet involving more complex questions will be able available if they complete this task. All 3 girls will recognise some keywords on the overlay. B will find most questions can be related to keywords, but may not read the questions carefully enough to identify the correct operations. A and C will be able to recognise some add and subtract questions using keywords, but will struggle more with multiplication and division questions. 4 Questions completed.Successfully chose the keyword, operation and performed the calculation correctly. 4 Questions completed. Successfully chose the keyword and operation for each question. Made mistakes in the calculation of a subtraction question. 4 Questions completed.Successfully chose the keyword, operation and performed the calculation correctly.
4) Describe operationsStudents will be asked to attempt their descriptions of each operation again, and compare this to their first attempt. All 3 girls will be able to think of keywords relating to each operation, perhaps with the help of the overlay. All 3 girls referred to a particular keyword from the overlay in their second attempt at describing operations. They didn’t get around to describing every operation, however they understood that their vocabulary had widened in relation to each operation, and could use these keywords instead of relying on example questions.

Zoe explained to our visitors from Culceth that there was a real ‘light bulb’ moment for her as a result of the more detailed analysis of student responses and learning that lesson study offers; “What I assumed was wrong and why the students were struggling was inaccurate-I thought that they were guessing and that the problem of learning access was that they couldn’t understand the literacy aspect of the question. They were in fact ‘sensing’ the correct method but couldn’t execute it/articulate why.”

Hannah S and Holly’s initial concern was with the issue of poor understanding of command words in G.C.S.E science and they decided to begin to trial ideas to circumvent this in year 7 onwards.

Question: How can we improve the understanding of the command words describe and explain  [and the use of correct connectives]to allow middle achieving year 7 boys to improve the quality of their answers and peer critique?

Success Criteria

Pupil A


Pupil B


Pupil C


  1. 1.       Student will be able to demonstrate understanding of exam command words.    
  2. 2.       Students will be able to correctly identify the appropriate ways to answer describe/explain questions.
  3. 3.       Student will improve marks in the general describe / explain question.
Misconstrues the meaning of questions during tests. Target:  5+Spring: 5 Does not revise for tests, marks could be picked up if he understood what is being asked on the application questions. Ever6Target: 4+Spring: 4- Doesn’t answer application questions in tests, only recall questions. Target: 5+Spring: 5-

 They both used an interesting starting approach;


The same exercise was repeated at the end to see if after the lesson on describe/explain [and the science bit!] different responses were produced-they certainly were-many students really struggled to produce an explanation that was different to their description. They then introduced a card sort [see below] that could be easily adapted to other subjects with the same issue [all of them!] to help the students understand the command words-this was also made into a laminated mat for constant use [once the cards had been sorted!]-before the class attempted a recap question and peer assessed. Interestingly the mark scheme given was very general-without the answers-to make the peer assessors think harder. [Older students/year 7 with practise could write their own]

Activity:2.25-2.36Students will answer questions based on experimental data retrieved the previous lesson. The structure is as follows: identify, describe, explain, compare and contrast.  NB not all students will be expected to reach the compare and contrast question. Self assess

2.36 – 2.40

Students will have the opportunity to check SPaG and identify connectives and key words they have used.

A: will use the mat to refer to answer the question, but will miss out suitable connectives. B: will struggle to answer the explain question at first. C: will answer all questions using the mat to refer to but detail will be limited and won’t use the hints and tips. A used the mat to get the correct connectives however he did not use the correct science until prompted.  He understood the science when questioned verbally but without that questioning would not have written the answer down. B tried to explain the trend in the first question which was to identify. C used the correct command words for the correct questions but he did not include the correct scientific explanation.

How well could the 3 students peer assess-throughout the blogs there is a concurrent theme-they can’t unless they are taught how to and even then they need verification from more than 1 other student. Using blue and red pens the process developed and the responses can be seen below.

Peer assess2.40 – 2.48Students will then use a generalised mark scheme to peer assess, this will be to test if the 3 chosen students can identify the difference between describe and explain when marking somebodies answer.  They mark scheme makes it clear what is expected without giving answers.  This also allows these students to see other students work for ideas on how to improve their own. A: Will mark accurately but feedback can sometimes be limited, from this point in the lesson I expect the penny to drop for Aaron of what is expected from the describe/explain questions. B: will be slow to start and will focus on SPaG marking. He will need encouragement to complete the marking.  He will realise at this point exactly what he had been doing incorrectly beforehand. C: will give detailed feedback of what was done well but limited feedback on what needs to be done to improve.  Encouragement/ guidance may be needed. A marked his partner’s work well and spotted that his peer needed to include more scientific key words, but when giving an example of those key words he used a connective. B identified that his partner had not described the trend correctly but he was unable to give an example of how to improve. C The feedback he gave was limited.  The praise was accurate but in the EBI and example he confused key words for being connectives.
Improve:2.48 – 2.54Students will then improve their answer using blue pen to increase the number of marks. All students will manage to improve to gain marks at this stage but this may not be enough for full marks. A improved his work massively at this point.  However he missed the scientific key words until he was prompted.  His peer assessor had not mentioned key words in the feedback they gave him. B worked slowly to improve.  He used the correct science verbally to explain but he worked to slow to write his explain answer down. C improved but with no use of scientific key words even after prompting, through verbally dialogue he displayed an understanding of the science however.

 11 12

Command Words Card Sort

Calculate   Answers should be written in the space provided, eg on a diagram, in spaces in a sentence or in a table.   Use comparative such as ’however’, ‘whereas’ ‘but’ and ’on the other hand’.
Compare   Describe the similarities and/or differences   Suitable linking words could be ‘so’, ‘therefore’, ‘because’, ‘due to’, ‘since’, ‘this means’ or ‘meaning that’.
Complete   Describe the advantages and disadvantages. A more detailed version of compare.   Make sure you use the correct scientific keywords.
Describe   State the reasons why something happens scientifically.   Use comparative words such as ‘better, ‘more than’, ‘less than’, ‘quicker’, ‘more expensive’, ‘on the other hand.’
Evaluate   The answer must be based on the information given in the question.     Sometimes the words need to be picked from a list. It will say if they can be used more than once.
Explain   State facts, events, a trend in results or a process.   Include units in your answer.Show your working.
State, give, name, write down   You need to apply your knowledge and understanding to a new situation.      Useful words to use are ‘may’, ‘might’, ‘could’, and ‘I think that’.
Suggest   Use numbers given in the question to work out the answer.   Unless you are specifically asked to, use only the information in the question.
Use the information in the passage /diagram /graph/table to…     Only a short answer is required, not a detailed explanation. Often only one or two words are required.   If the question asks you to state, give, or write down one example, you should write down only the specified number of answers or you may lose marks.


13 14 15

It’s a beginning and I view the peer critique in process here as a great opportunity for the learning of all involved to be improved via reflection and thought.  How far can peer critique be developed and how much time we should spend on it-what impact does it really have on learning, which types have the biggest effect size and so on, are perhaps for a much bigger piece of research! For individual teachers and students, crucial learning marginal gains may be made-can we measure and prove this to be the case in your classroom?

I’ll feedback again on our lesson study after summer-although a couple of lessons aren’t enough and I firmly reject any notion of lesson study as a ‘quick fix’ for any aspect of learning and teaching- the ideas I’ve seen raised as enquiry questions are important ones that we need to return to, need to find out more about from internal and external sources and need to find time to plan and feedback in pairs [and as teams/whole staff] during next term-the directed time meetings and lesson observation schedules will reflect this need. I’ve signed up for NTEN again and will be inviting colleagues to go to their meetings and visit participating schools [and the EG schools network and Leading Edge too] The power and enthusiasm of the talk about lesson study and its impact on their learning and teaching, after such a short time, from Hannah, Jen, Zoe and Holly to our Culceth colleagues; left Alison and myself, full of pride and inspired us to vow to keep this CPD development going and of course, as two old pro’s, to think that the future of our school and quality of teaching within it, is in wonderful hands!

Rachael’s presentation to the Sefton Head teachers is attached below.

Slide1 Slide2 Slide3 Slide4 Slide5 Slide6 Slide7 Slide8 Slide9 Slide10 Slide11 Slide12 Slide13 Slide14 Slide15 Slide16 Slide17 Slide18 Slide19 Slide20 Slide21 Slide22 Slide23 Slide24 Slide25 Slide26 Slide27 Slide28 Slide29 Slide30 Slide31 Slide32 Slide33 Slide34 Slide35 Slide36 Slide37 Slide38 Slide39 Slide40 Slide41 Slide42 Slide43 Slide44 Slide45

Great Learners should….

I shared my beliefs in which skills teachers at MCHS should be developing in last week’s blog as a response to developments that our school has embraced and as part of our constantly evolving journey to be simply the best teachers and school that we can.


Without the interaction of our students in our development of learning and teaching, their support and their own clear understanding of their role as great learners whatever we try would simply fail. I’m absolutely convinced that the time and effort we have put into involving the students in discussions, surveys and decisions about THEIR learning has paid dividends in terms of progress, exam results, Ofsted grades and their own increasing aspirations, attitudes towards learning and self and peer evaluative skills.  Not everything we have tried has worked-we learn from our failures [my failures!!] and move on and for all of the collaborative team building and learning opportunities we have provided-the behaviour for learning policy and pursuit of attendance, uniform and punctuality  has also helped to support great learning [plus a couple of million quid on lovely resources!]

We really began to work on developing the learning skills of our students to reinforce subject specific skills at the same time as L2L, Claxton’s R’s, PLTS, RSA Opening Minds and SEAL were doing the rounds and I read them all and digested what I liked before, as usual, saving lots of money by writing our own competencies that fitted in exactly with what our students and staff needed. I saw a school at a RATL conference talking about their Cs-they didn’t share much more than the names in a short presentation-and by the time my train had pulled into Southport, I’d thought of C’s the Day and COMMITMENT, CONCENTRATION, COLLABORATION, CREATIVE, CONSIDER [ATE] and COMMUNICATION-6 vital skills which our students often lacked and which would support their classroom learning and development as young adults. I wrote and compiled a set of resources and ideas for each C and launched it with year 7 parents and students at parent’s evening and year 7 learning tutors had a set of resources to work through in tutor time. There was a different C each half-term and I led an off timetable session of activities based on the relevant C for the year group. To ensure that the Cs were used by teachers, our 3rd or 4th learning objective became a C on lesson plans for observations and student received certificates, stickers and medals to support the idea. Interestingly we knew the ideas were sticking in their memories when our surveys asking the students which qualities great learners should have often repeated the Cs back at us!

This doesn’t mean that they were having an impact though and we used Sport’s Week and other methods in lessons to use the BSG criteria to allow explicit progress/development to be made in each C.  The COLLABORATION and CONSIDERATE C’s are below with some of the activities I wrote for tutors to use if form to consolidate the understanding of the skill. [There are 100’s of slides!-should have sold the idea!]

I like to work in a group or with a partner but can’t resist having a quick chat!

I work hard when I collaborate but I don’t like to be the leader or spokesperson.

I will take on any collaborative role and like my group to be successful.

I enjoy group work but tend to sit back and let others         organise and wait until they tell me what to do.

I try to join in group discussions/work but get     frustrated when I don’t get my own way.

I try to get everyone to stay on task and to compromise when need be.

I can gather information and say what I think but am not confident in    using the                    information to present a case.

I like to help to present a case and enjoy discussions but sometimes I realise that my         evidence isn’t persuasive enough.

I think really hard about what is needed to persuade the class to agree with our case. I try to think of what others may argue and propose in order to counter them.


I do what I am asked in class but don’t usually ask questions about it unless I am stuck.

If something interests me I like to ask my teacher to tell me more about it.

When we are studying something new or interesting I go and find out more about it for myself.

I like to present lots of information about events and issues, if they interest me.

I like to find out why events/issues happen and gather evidence about it. I like to give my opinion about it too.

I am interested in finding out about all sides of a story,explaining the views and adding my thoughts based on the evidence.

I don’t feel too comfortable when we have to peer assess, especially if I don’t agree with what is said about my work.

I enjoy self and peer assessing but sometimes I am too nice and don’t offer honest advice.

I try to be honest and use the guidelines to be constructive and offer specific advice to help my partner reach their potential.

I prefer to keep my feelings to myself and I don’t like to discuss ‘me’. I do try to be kind to other people who I like.

I can express my feelings to people I trust and try to make sure that no one gets left out in class. I am a good friend.

I am honest with my feelings and accept the views of others. I can work with other people who are not my specific friends and will be supportive of their learning.

02 03 04 05


The big sessions with me involved lots of running around the hall and hopefully some relevant discussions of key issues too! I was also modelling some different teaching strategies for the teachers who watched the sessions.

06 07 08  We still use the Cs, and they are still relevant 6 years after I first trialled them-a student who displays GOLD level Cs will undoubtedly be an asset to every classroom in our school BUT my attention has really turned to a much more specific focus on some general great learning attributes and, of late, much more subject specific skills. When, before our last Ofsted we discussed what great learning and teaching should look like at Meols Cop; teachers, for the first time, wanted the students to be involved and to decide, as the teachers had, which were the skills that learners should bring to every lesson. This was our ‘Learning and Teaching Policy’ and adorned the walls so that everybody could see what had been agreed. Much is still relevant; although we would probably add more recent initiatives.

Learning and Teaching the Meols Cop Way

 Your teachers want all of the students in their lessons to enjoy and be engaged with their learning, to make outstanding progress and to feel valued, respected and safe.  By learning together we can help you to reach your aspirations, achieve academic success and acquire skills that will support your development as a global citizen after school.

Teachers at Meols Cop will always try to be the best that they can by: Students at Meols Cop will always try to be the best that they can by:
  • ·     Having an excellent subject knowledge which inspires students.
  • ·     Developing and encourage positive relationships are established where students feel safe and valued.
  • ·     Sharing with the class at an appropriate time, clear learning objectives and success criteria.
  • ·     Welcoming you to the lesson and begin learning immediately with a motivating starter.
  • ·     Involving YOU interactively with YOUR learning for the majority of the lesson.
  • ·     Differentiating your tasks so that they are inclusive to all of YOUR needs.
  • ·     Ensuring that the pace and challenge of lessons carefully matches YOUR learning needs.
  • ·     Planning and teaching lessons with a variety of activities and resources.
  • ·     Using mini plenaries/reviews/ to continually challenge you to check your learning progress and offer support and oral feedback when needed.
  • ·     Encouraging you and guiding you to self and peer assess your own learning and to set yourselves subject specific targets to move YOUR learning onwards.
  • ·     Assessing your class-learning and home-learning a.s.a.p. and sustaining a high level of questioning dialogue / specific subject feedback between YOU and your teacher.
  • ·     Providing scaffolds and guidelines to explain clearly what YOU need to do to be successful with individual pieces of learning.
  • ·     Giving you the opportunity to learn and develop life-long skills such as literacy, numeracy and the 6Cs.
  • ·     Grabbing your creative imaginations and making you be good problem solvers, reflective thinkers and always motivated to challenge yourselves.
  • ·     Interactively using the IWB.
  • ·     Offering the correct advice and support in option pathways and future educational and employment opportunities.

  • ·    Being organised and fully equipped for each day and each lesson.
  • ·    Arriving for each lesson punctually and ready to learn.
  • ·    Participating as much as possible in each lesson by being active learners.
  • ·    Realising that it doesn’t matter if you get a question wrong-at Meols Cop we use mistakes positively to learn from.
  • ·    Taking every chance you can to teach others-it is the best way to become an outstanding learner.
  • ·    Giving 100% to every activity and seeking to continually challenge yourself to improve.
  • ·    Staying on task throughout the lesson and aiming to Go for Gold.
  • ·    Working out YOUR best learning style but making sure that you are proficient at different ones.
  • ·    Aiming at aspirational targets in every subject and never settling for second best or the easy option.
  • ·    Checking your progress at regular intervals in the lessons and asking questions of your OWN learning.
  • ·    Supporting the learning of others with honest positive peer assessment.
  • ·    Trying your best to be enthusiastic and engaged.
  • ·    Sometimes realising that learning isn’t always fun but the end result has massive rewards!
  • ·    Motivating yourselves when the going gets tough and being resilient learners.
  • ·    Ensuring home-learning is completed on time.
  • ·    Reading your feedback carefully and responding with subject specific responses to achieve your set targets.
  • ·    Developing your literacy, numeracy and 6Cs skills by following the bronze, silver, gold criteria.
  • ·    Asking questions of YOUR own learning and evaluating your learning.
  • ·    Collaborating with other students and supporting their needs as well as your own.



At the beginning of this academic year, I took this generic document further and asked all faculties to produce their own faculty version-what should great learning and teaching look like in your faculty? As the teachers completed their own quiz-Super Teachers-highlighting the skills I believed our teachers should have and contribute towards great teaching, so the students had their own quiz in form time, to highlight the skills, super learners should have. This began a series of surveys, learning walks and discussions with them to help them develop the literacy [learnish!] to discuss and evaluate their own and other’s learning at a whole school level permeating into subjects with the constant focus on peer critique, marginal gains and growth mind-set. Subliminal messages were deliberately being given!

11 12 13 14

Super Student-Super Learning! Key Stage 3


Your learning really matters! Are you at full learning power all of the time? Use the quiz to help you have a good think about how well you are learning and set yourself some achievable learning targets that can energise and fuel your learning this school year.

Give yourself the suggested mark if you think that you have achieved the skill or demonstrate it for most of your lessons and learning

Learning skill


Learning in classAre you ready to learn every lesson? 5Do you always have the correct equipment? 5Are you always on time every lesson? 5Do you listen carefully to instructions? 5

Do you begin your learning straightaway? 5

Do you try to think positively about lessons and not moan too much! 5

Do you try your best to be an interactive learner and contribute as much as you can 5

Do you collaborate well with others and play an active part on group work? 5

Do you know the 6Cs are and think about them when you are learning? 5

You always treat everyone  [and their ideas]with respect 5


How tough is your learning mind set?When the learning gets tough-you try to tackle it on your own to begin with 5You think where have I met this before-how did I solve it before 5You might ask a partner for specific help and be ready to help someone who asks you 5You enjoy a good learning challenge and like to be pushed hard 5

You won’t give up easily and accept that getting things wrong sometimes is part of learning 5

You can accept useful criticism and use it positively 5


Taking responsibility for your own learning progressYou check the criteria for successful task completion or the learning objectives to make sure that you are on the right track 5You are always ready to prove to the teacher how well your learning is going 5You keep thinking in your head how you can get to the next stage of learning 5You know specifically which areas of each subject you find the most difficult and actively seek to do something to improve your weakness 5

You work on small areas of learning to improve and not a huge area –you get the gist of marginal gains!  5

Progress grades and marks really matter to you 5

You are on target or above in the majority of your subjects 5

If you aren’t on target, you know or have asked how to get back on target 5


Thinking about learningDo you use skills you have learned in some lessons in other lessons? 5When you have to use your literacy skills in lessons other than English, do you stop and recall how to make the best use of them and use them to make your learning better? 5Same for numeracy-do you use the skills you learn in maths equally as well in other subjects? 5Do you always answer the written feedback in your books in detail and remember to use the advice given? 5

When peer assessing, do you always FISH and give specific advice? 5

Do you take self and peer assessment seriously and want your classmates to achieve well in their learning? 5

Do you use DIRT well AND actually seek out further challenge if the feedback is too easy for you! 5


Communicating about your learning and developing the ‘language of learning’Do you always try to use subject specific language 5Are you confident enough to explain a difficult concept using the correct subject terminology? 5If you can’t remember some of the key words-do you try not to give up and explain in your words to begin with before checking? 5Do you want to re-draft your work so it is nearly perfect and only needs a few tweaks to make it superb before you hand it in? 5


BFLYou have no MCs 5You have lost of praises 5You have received Progress Star nominations 5The above things matter to you 5


Home LearningIs handed in on time on every lesson 5Is completed well to the success criteria in every lesson 5You enjoy producing the best home learning that you possibly can 5


You and schoolIs your attendance and punctuality 100%? 5Do you take part in extra-curricular activities? 5Do you eat and drink properly? 5Do you exercise physically at least once a day? 5

When another student is unhappy-do you help them? 5

Are you always as kind and nice as you can be to other people? 5

You can think why the above questions help learning 5


Add up your scoresIf you got above 70 you should be really proud of our contribution to your own learning and everybody else’s!


You might think that some other things should have been mentioned/your form might have come up with others-give yourself extra marks  As you were doing the quiz, you may have begun to realise that you need to work on some areas of your learning-give yourself marks for each skill you realised you need to work on BUT only if you have thought of a plan to help you improve.



Our winter 2014 Learning Walk raised questions with the students I interviewed to find out how some of the new ideas were impacting on their learning and pushed them to explain and evaluate their own responses to different teaching and assessment strategies in the subject I had ‘borrowed’ them from.


I also asked questions about the marking in the subject, looked at their books with them, asked them which marking helped them best that subject and across the school and asked them to explain their answers and provide evidence to support their answer. The answers were shared with their subject teachers and written up for staff and students [and anyone else] to read in our blog and on the bulletin. I then asked the teachers to delve further into their student’s minds and views about the teaching they were receiving-we need to ask because ‘great’ learners should have an opinion! Quick ideas for further discussions with students are below and focused on explaining to the teachers why such questions were useful for them. In the context of this blog, the questions raise questions that great learners should ask and know the answers to and was again aimed at developing their ‘learnish’

“To delve further into new initiatives/areas that may have been weak before

1] How has our marking changed? Is it better or worse? How effective is it in supporting your learning-please provide evidence of when our feedback has helped you improve your subject learning.

2] Is there anything else that we could do to improve our feedback [you see marking across the school-what could we borrow?]

3] Which of our teaching tactics really help you the most-can you prove it to us?

4] Is there anything that you are worried about regarding any aspect of the course or feel that you need help with-please be honest and let us know?”

In depth research

Some of our teachers are prepared to be brave and ask searching questions of the students that may result in answers that suggest a weakness in aspects of their teaching. Great teachers [and leaders] actively seek out weaknesses so they can remedy them.  If we really are interested in promoting a ‘growth mind set’ and’ purposeful practice’ with our students, encouraging them to be resilient, accept honest criticism and learn from mistakes-surely as professionals we have to have the same mind-set and be prepared to use evidence gleaned from students and our whole monitoring process to make our own ‘marginal gains’ The information is a valid for use in our new portfolio of evidence to self-evaluate each teacher’s contribution to whole school quality of teaching including lesson study, peer observations, exam residuals, book monitoring and collaborative support.

Really focused questions like these can provide us with the evidence we need to shift our practice to be the best it can e.g.

Am I giving you enough time to check your feedback and respond to it/plan how you will use it and show me that you have successfully achieved my feedback?

Am I giving you the opportunity to check that you have successfully met my feedback-am I verifying it and celebrating your learning success?

Do I give you the chance to give me your best learning to assess? Do I let you re-draft/highlight key areas of learning [best bits/bits you need checking]?

Do you get the chance to record my verbal feedback-respond to it, check that I have successfully achieved it, have it verified and celebrated?

Are you confident that the self/peer critique we are using is accurate enough to give you confidence in it? Is the criteria friendly enough, is there chance to discuss, compromise and verify?”

Our NTEN lesson study always asks the students for their opinions and advice after the lesson;

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?  


The students do need help to access the language that filling in forms like these needs-specific subject advice, explain the words you use-not great, rubbish etc.-tell us why. This in itself needs time and patience, if we are to develop the ‘talk’ about learning that will make a difference. Lots of teachers ask the students to fill in forms about their teaching-be honest and admit that most are done in the last 5 minutes without any explanation or support-we can do better-it is important!

Next term sees the introduction of our new schemes of learning and assessment/reporting system that takes us beyond national curriculum levels. As teachers we have discussed as a whole team and as faculties what are the desirable skills and knowledge that we believe our students should be taught. We are dictated to by the national curriculum, examination syllabuses and other external forces to a much larger extent than we would like BUT supporting the development of great learner attributes is ours to develop, with the consent and agreement of our students and parents. My proposals are here and although I think, and hopefully staff will agree, that I’ve got it right-I’ll ask for student opinions in autumn.


Great Learning at Meols Cop High School

Being a great learner doesn’t just happen or come easily-it requires hard work and the development over time of many skills and attributes to complement and support your subject specific knowledge and skills learning. Each subject has its own learning mastery for you to evaluate your progress against BUT without your Meols Cop ‘Great Learning’ development, you will find subject mastery difficult to achieve.




You are aware of the 6Cs and always aim for the gold standard You are working at the gold criteria in every 6C You are able to motivate yourself, perhaps aiming towards a target that you have set yourself beyond school. You know how success in this subject will support your future opportunities
You are aware of the key reading, writing, speaking and listening skills that are needed in this subject to be a successful learner and achieve subject mastery You always stop and recall how literacy/numeracy skills can help your learning in this subject and use them!You know the subject specific knowledge and skills off by heart that will achieve your subject mastery You are aware of the key questions, command words and mark scheme requirements in this subject that will bring you examination success.
You recognise that some skills you use in and learned about in a different subject, can be used in this subject too to help your learning You spin your ‘metacogs’ without your teacher reminding you and are able to evaluate the impact of your chosen strategy You develop a set of your own learning questions that you ask about your own learning and that you will raise in class with your teacher and others so that you are pushing your learning to the limits
You try your best to be positive about your learning in this subject and try to participate enthusiastically. You think; “I can do it” and are developing into a resilient learner. You enjoy the success of others in your class too-you help them if they are struggling and know that teaching others helps your own learning You want to work with students who are stronger than you to push yourself-not to copy but to engage with them and challenge your own learning-you know that there is always going to be someone cleverer, faster, and stronger!
You are prepared to look for any small piece of learning that you have found tricky and challenging and conquer it! You focus on your weaknesses and know that you might need to spend a long time perfecting them. You will try to use your prior knowledge to help but will actively seek advice if you need to You can plan time-tables, set your own targets and STICK to them! You have a life outside of school but know there are times when learning has to happen and you can make yourself do it!
You always have the right equipment and are ready to learn from the moment you enter the classroom in this subject You know the importance of certain lessons e.g. assessment, revision, controlled assessment and are absolutely ‘up’ for them. You attend any extra support that is offered willingly and positively! You might need to contribute to additional materials and resources to support your revision/learning. You keep your parents involved and talk to them/use them for revision along with revision partners
Your behaviour is supportive of great individual and class learning and you have no MCs. You are respectful and helpful to other students and adults in your class You will lead learning and take responsibility for ‘flipped learning’, ‘co-construction’, take leadership roles You lead other classes and students, as well as your own class. When asked in surveys and ‘student voice’ activities you respond honestly and thoughtfully so that your comments and feedback are valuable, valued and help to ensure the most effective learning and teaching for all
You take responsibility for your own self critique as much as possible and know what you have to improve on and work on to achieve subject mastery. You check that you have successfully met feedback advice and that the learning you give in for marking, is as near to perfect as it can be!Get very DIRTY! You use teacher or peer supportive criticism to improve your own learning, respond in detail to dialogue and feedback and can evaluate the impact of the advice on your learningYou are skilled at re-drafting and are prepared to make mistakes until you get the quality you want and know will achieve subject masteryUse DIRT effectively and put up with repetition and ‘going over’ stuff again. If you have successfully achieved your own feedback-you actively seek out a further challenge. If the feedback is too easy-you say so and push yourself upwards and onwards. If you don’t understand the feedback advice-you say so and don’t pretend that you do!
You try to think FISH when peer assessing and provide as much helpful and specific feedback to your classmates as you can You enjoy the verification process and can compromise and are able to adapt advice and prioritise peer advice, deciding what will support your learning the mostYou always provide detailed examples to support others You push peer verifiers to be critical and to provide examples of their suggestions-you know that peer critique can be inaccurate and soft-demand your rights as a Meols Cop ‘GREAT’ learner!
You revise as hard as you can, following guidelines and complete your flight path thoughtfully You are honest about the interventions on the flight path and use the process to work out and tell others, what works best for you.You try to ‘learn as you go’ throughout the year, not waiting until an assessment and the RAG session You can use your flight path to explain your progress to anyone at any time and can explain by using data pf your choice, which intervention [self, peer and teacher] works best for you.
Your home-learning is handed in on time every time it is set and follows the success criteria You don’t need reminders or messages home to want to achieve the best you can every time with home-learning You seek out extra learning when appropriate and begin to find out more about the subject on books/TV/internet to develop your love  for this subject
Your attendance for this subject is above 95% Your attendance is above 97% Your attendance is 100% You are a fit and healthy learner.


The skills on here provide an over-arching BSG for each teacher to complete on the progress reports-as with the original Cs, they are designed to complement subject mastery skills and knowledge. Without the right attitude towards learning; progress and learning in any subject will be minimal. We have to help our learners evaluate their own learning needs and support them as they try, fail and eventually make the right choices and decisions re learning for themselves.