Posted in Learning

I just gotta finish this set of books…….

How many of us utter these words only to traipse up to bed 2 hours later?


Can Marking ever be Manageable?

Does it ever end?

There’s a strange realisation that dawns on you as a teacher when you complete the amazing lesson about Earthquake Case Studies with pupils demonstrate to varying degrees learning and application of how to use a case study effectively, that you are going to have to feed forward mark this work. Impact marking. Marking that actually mean something, that is more than the marking policy of the establishment, more than that box being ticked.

Should I mark everything?

Should I just focus on the P.E.E.L elements?

We have very clear Marking and Assessment guidelines at the Acadamy;

  • Marking must be done as soon as possible after the completion of the task set, so that the pupils feel that their work is valued


  • The marking code, agreed by staff, should be used and be visible to pupils when they are reflecting on their marking


  • Marking and assessment of pupils learning should be positive and celebrate successes, as well as challenging and constructive in its feedback.

These are the first 3 of 9 points, which end with the pupil response aspect, (for us it is mark I red respond in green), and for me the most important. Marking is not about value for the teacher, yes it does allow us to develop and add to the rich learning tapestry that are our pupils, but it should never be(as it was when I was an NQT), something I have to get through this evening.

Nothing better when pupils appreciate the marking and feedforward comments to improve

Nothing worse when they bypass these comments and go straight for the grade.

We use the effort RAG rating, (see Attainment, Assessment and Learning page for examples), and encourage pupils to look more at how they can use the skills they have learnt to improve rather than follow a scale and list of generic improvements, and the marking ladders developed by our literacy department have been ideal for this.

flooding marking ladder

film review marking ladder

It is about delivering maximum impact for the pupils achievement, demonstrating to them that they do make progress over time, and that their book/folder is something to be celebrated and consistently used by themselves. A great starter is to set the pupils a challenge of locating an element of learning that they now would like to change, and an element that they might still not understand. A great source of peer assessment then, and engages those learners in the lesson with their own work.

Headguruteacher’s blog has a lovely post about ‘Effective and Reflective marking’, well worth a peruse.

Posted in Learning, Teaching

Learning from the other side….

I love this analogy of what a school’s purpose is, and how as educators, we are responsible for providing that sense of purpose that emanates across the school and resonates with the pupils. We need to demonstrate that we are building our own cathedrals across our own establishments, no matter what the pupil’s backgrounds or abilities.


Combining a variety of methods and skill sets to achieve this can be tricky in schools, especially when we all have different ideologies about what and how pupils learn. Some may look at the cognitive science attached to learning, a great paper about the Science of Learning by the Deans for Impact, (, The_Science_of_Learning is ideal for those who look towards the more measured and empirical approach to learning.

For some, its all about that feeling, knowing that this is the correct ideology for this school. For me, a combination can only ever lead to a larger and more well rounded delivery which is how I would like the pupils in my school to be, well rounded, resilient and most of all happy.

Posted in Learning

My Future Self

I’ve read and delivered Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset collection a number of times in the last 2 years, planning a series of lessons for each year group that focus on the aspect of challenge, determination and resilience. I always though, come back to one single caveat, if the teacher delivering the material has not bought into it, we then have just another PSHE lesson that is cluttering up the timetable.

Making it compulsory, as the news delivered this week postulates, does not mean that we will have a company of teachers who believe in a strong PSHE curriculum. I know that this 1 hour can be used in establishments as revision time, skills planning and generally time filling, but if it does become compulsory, (whether you believe it should or shouldn’t, we will all have to do something about the delivery/planning of this subject soon), this is a chance to allow our pupils to self-reflect on how they personally feel towards challenge, and allowing them the chance to build up and augment their skills of resilience and determination. How many times have we seen a PSHE curriculum that follows the general trend of;




Undeniably these are essential topics that pupils must cover in some element of their pastoral time, but could there be, inextricably linked, a theme of ‘mindset’ running through them?

One of our lessons looks at My Future Self ‘(My Future Learning lesson 5)’, a letter to their future self dictating a regaling them of a time when they needed to show resilience, when giving up was not an option. We asked our Y8s to really think of times they would need to demonstrate this ‘Growth Mindset’, and the results were extremely interesting, a wide range of topics, not at all centred on school. All areas that they would need to show high levels of determination, patience, and above all, common sense. Preparing these pupils for the world beyond the classroom should be the goal for PSHE lessons and the 3 topics mentioned do represent this preparation, ensuring that they have an explicit link and full staff by-in is the challenge leadership face in encouraging planning and delivery.

Letter themes

Posted in Learning

Learning Evaluations

So we know Ofsted will not formally grade the level of teaching and learning in lessons; which amazingly can lead to more anxiety about their impending visits! But really, this should not be how we look at teaching and learning in our classrooms, how we measure quality. A collaborative approach can be taken; it just depends on how much collaboration there is in creating this new method of qualitative lesson evaluation.

We decided to discuss and workshop with our heads of departments, and asked just one question

What does great learning look like in your classroom?’

We also discussed this with our pupils. Pupil voice is an important and I believe, underused method of informing and enhancing classroom practice, a great read is Engaging Pupil Voice to Ensure that Every Child Matters: A Practical Guide by Rita Cheminais (2013), which talks of making a commitment to using the data obtained from pupil voice to help with classroom evaluations, measuring the levels of learning across the school.

Trial after trial, (trial lesson observation form that range from just looking at a graphical analysis and proximal movement of the teacher to evaluating over time), led to an Lesson evaluation form 2016 that’s goal is to initiate academic discussion and focus on next steps, positive and improvements.

But what is brilliant about teaching is what one idea can lead you to. Just like when you find yourself watching a live performance of Everlong by the Foo Fighters on YouTube, having started with the bets of intentions by watching a short TED video on the Assessment for learning, the idea of ‘lesson evaluations’ got us thinking about how pupils surmise theirs and others learning in lessons. How do they perceive the tasks, the atmosphere, the methods used for assessment? We were mindful not to adapt a sheet that allowed the pupils to make judgement based on the lesson and the learning, but rather summarise their own learning  and impact on the lesson. Pupil lesson summary sheets

We will be using it as an extension task in humanities for pupils initially, and reflecting on the impact if the task in our next dept meeting, which I will of course, post here.

That Foo’s video is great.