Monthly Archives: March 2014

‘Up to the highest height’

“Winds in the east / Mist coming in / Like something is brewing / About to begin / Can’t put me finger / On what lies in store / But I feel what’s to happen / All happened before.”

How to be ‘practically perfect’

My advice would be to make sure that we all have a week’s break but if you do need to catch up with your marking the second week is the time to do this.


Please remember that we are committed to using the yellow stickers, www and ebi comments and the whole school literacy annotations. This is not an option.


We should also be using green pens for student responses to feedback.

Bic crystal green penThis is still an area that requires improvement. I am confident that our feedback is improving but not so confident that students are acting on feedback effectively.

One question from the inspection which keeps coming back to haunt me “If your teacher’s feedback is so good why aren’t you making more progress?”

Remember when marking to resist the temptation of over correcting work. The students need to work problems out for themselves. Our present Year 8 will be the first year to sit the new GCSE exams where 20% of their mark will come from SPAG.

To be blunt there is little point in spending hours on marking books if students are not using the feedback to improve and make progress. We must show evidence of interaction. If you pose a question how do you ensure that it has been answered?

Remember to provide time in lessons and check their responses. I have started using a star stamp every time there is a particularly good example.

We must ensure that our books and folders provide evidence of progress over time. This cannot be achieved if we are not marking regularly over time. I aim to look at books fortnightly – this does not mean that I write lengthy comments every fortnight!


Many of us have split classes. I have found that regular feedback with these classes has really helped my relationships. The tricky issue is whether we share books or have separate books. I think that it should be easier to demonstrate progress with one book but this creates problems when needing to collect in books to mark. Perhaps those of us with split classes need to take time to self/peer assess each other’s marking so that the students are not receiving mixed and confusing messages.

Specific Guidance from EEF (Education Endowment Foundation) on Feedback

  • Be specific, accurate and clear
  • Compare what a student is doing right now with what they were doing wrong before
  • Encourage and support further effort
  • Give sparingly – too much stops students from working out what they need to do for themselves
  • Provide specific guidance on how to improve.












Snigger Oat Post

Helping students – and dragons – spot success.
Guest post by SLo.

Seven detentions, for one class? Really? Seven, out of 25 erstwhile stellar handers-in of homework? What on earth gave, last Friday?

My students’ homework task had been to write a limerick. This was something we’d peered at together under a step by inching-step microscope, carefully examining curious, didactic rhymes and rhythms. Then I’d modelled how to do it, by mutual consent avoiding experimenting with the funniest-scanning names in class; then small groups had tried piecing one together and, finally, individuals had almost all successfully written their own first version during lesson time, with much peer and teacher critique and support: thus, writing an improved version at home hadn’t seemed an impossible task. I’d also given them a pretty leisurely five days to do their darndest and even suggested specific poetic subjects for those who needed it.

So, why the poor return? Worried that my instructions hadn’t been clear enough, I conducted a hurried straw poll: it turned out that half of the culprits thought their work “wasn’t good enough” to hand in. One told me: “I spent ages on it and I was trying so hard to make it swag (year 7 parlance for ‘excellent’), but it just turned out looking terrible”.

I am letting students down if they think they need to turn in perfection, first time, every week, if they mistakenly think that their best efforts aren’t good enough pieces of homework, if they don’t twig that one of the raison d’êtres of homework is to receive constructive criticism on their work from different, trusted sources, to self-evaluate their success so far (yes, of course, complete with EBIs of varying urgency) and then, triumphantly, to improve on the original.

As a class, we had a chat. I pointed out that although we all strive to improve our skills and increase knowledge, their completed homework is a bona fide success, whatever level is gained or comment garnered on what needs to be done next. Handing in work-in-progress, which even summative-style homework surely is, is an act of bravery: ‘look’, say the displays of newly-acquired persuasive techniques or skills of comparison, ‘I have been listening. In every sense, Mrs. L, Mark My Words’.

I shared thoughts on my detention epidemic with an SBL colleague … and she told me the same has been happening with her class; further, that some students have struggled to take formative advice for improvement as the positive guidance it certainly is. She told me: “They seem to think that what they hand in has to be perfect”.

Here’s a simile and a half: SBL students are like Smaug (complete with searing, dragony glare every time you ask them to do anything that doesn’t involve iPads), balancing on a hoard of unused, as-yet unpolished treasure but with with an undercarriage unwittingly studded with diamonds….the point is this: our most challenging students all have untapped potential they’re sitting on without realising it. It’s my job to point out the diamonds they have already absorbed and how these just need a wee bit of polishing – in other words, improving on the great success that is laboured-over, handed-in-on-time homework.


World Book Day is this Thursday.

Image 1Here’s a Slocombe shelfie which I am going to share with 8E and encourage them to bring in photos of their own book shelves from home.


I am also looking forward to the live Muchamore (T’s absolute literary hero – you may have been lucky enough to meet him when he came to SBL)

Do remember to give out the book tokens and take part in the book clue competition being run by the OLC. I may wear a shark fin badge and drink from this…

Image 3


Perhaps not.

There is also a book swap table being set up in the Staff Room. I have a pile waiting at the bottom of the stairs.

Finally – this is not new and has nothing to do with WBD. It is very, very, clever.

Image 4