Monthly Archives: November 2014



‘…only perfect practice makes perfect.’ (Vince Lombardi)

Revisiting feedback.

If you look through the short term targets from our review you will see that one is to ‘Achieve consistency in: marking / feedback and pupils’ responses/ expectations of presentation / use of seating plans’. This post revisits feedback.

Please scrutinise your books:

  1. Is there a target sheet in the front of the book?
  2. Have the students written in at least 2 EBIs?
  3. Have the students written in the level for their assessments? Yr 9 should have completed 2 assessments if following the WW1 scheme in Term 1 or 1 assessment if studying Shakespeare in Term 1.
  4. What has been written in the spelling column? How are you assessing SP&G? How would you like to assess SP&G?
  5. How many times have you marked their books? School policy is that books are marked fortnightly or every 6 lessons.
  6. Have you given enough time to students to respond to your feedback? There must be evidence of a developing learning conversation and the students must respond using green pens. Students should spend more time on their responses than you have spent marking them!
  7. Our protocols state that we need to use the marking policy. It isn’t enough to write the symbols in the margin you should check that your students have corrected and improved their work.


  1. These (see above) help to highlight where students need to direct their attention. Although of course we should be aiming for students to do this actively, for themselves.
  2. If you took a sample of your exercise books would differentiation be evident? Or would you see the same tasks/objectives repeated throughout the class?
  3. How are you guiding your students so that they understand how to respond? Is your feedback feeding forward?

Some examples:

  • Underline the verbs in this piece. Change the tense to the present.
  • Find examples of 3 persuasive techniques that you used and highlight them in red. Name the technique. Explain the effect of the technique on the reader.
  • Why have I underlined a elephant?
  • Underline the punctuation marks that you have used. How many different punctuation marks have you used? Aim for 5.
  • Select a word that deliberately chose for its effect on the reader. Write the word below and explain the effect you intended on the reader.
  • Rewrite the section that I have bracketed making sure that you have used a range of sentence lengths.
  • Underline the openings of your sentences – what did you notice?




Thank you for Term 1 – let’s make Term 2 a time to push forward with the many exciting changes that are coming our way.
We have now experienced the first new style Subject Review/Quality Assurance at SBL. You can find the full final report above but I have copied our targets below for easy referral.

Short Term (To Dec ’14)
• Year 11 progress
• Identifying “skills” and where pupils should use them
• Achieve consistency in: marking / feedback and pupils’ responses/ expectations of presentation / use of seating plans
• Embed regular, rigorous standardisation and moderation – including of Key Stage 3 levelling
• Secure opportunities to discuss and agree strategies to address pupils’ learning deficits
• Review lesson observations summary and student voice report as a department

Medium Term (To July ’15)
• Focus on Progress
• Develop understanding of what 3 LoP and 4 LoP look like at KS3 and KS4 (Flightpaths)
• Learn how this feeds back into planning and teaching cycles
• Improve learning outcomes from the teaching of writing and structuring responses to gain marks
• Develop differentiation practice, including by the diverse methods suggested above for higher attainers
• Contextualise learning outcomes in terms of exam questions and grade descriptors
• Address student voice concerns about skills acquisition to address exam questions and particularly those of the written papers

• Review what happens as a result of tracking – ensure impact is effective
• Interventions: focus and appropriate addressing of learning deficits
• Roles and responsibilities need clarification and job descriptions formalised and written
• Review staff feedback, discuss with the English team and identify the priorities that can be addressed / funded
• Review PBL structure and non-specialist delivery of English
• Clarify a shared vision for the teaching of English at Sir Bernard Lovell School

We need to be more consistent and develop more strategies for enabling students to talk about their learning and for them to be able to articulate their next steps for improvement. I think we sometimes expect students to be able to do this naturally when in reality it is a skill that needs revisiting again and again. We know from performance management meetings that we find it difficult to put into words what we need to work on and we are meant to be the experts!

A key area is standardisation and moderation. We need to change the focus of our work scrutinies so that they are more about standardisation – please feel free to join us every other Tuesday after school for extra time to moderate work and join in our conversations about assessment. This Tuesday the focus is Yr 11’s coursework.

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We have come a long way in our approaches towards feedback but we still need to develop how students respond to our feedback. This is another skill that needs revisiting again and again. It is essential that it is built into your lesson plans and our schemes of learning.

An area in the leadership column that we have not addressed recently is our shared vision for the English department at SBL. The Hub is gradually becoming more of our space – what are our next steps? What do we want our students to experience and learn? How do we want them to feel in our classrooms and on leaving our classrooms? How can we put our vision into words?
As you know this website is entitled ‘A Bigger Boat’ – I wanted a title that expressed my feelings that we are always moving forward despite knowing that we will always need more time and more resources. I don’t mean this in a negative way but that we should approach the future as an exciting if terrifying challenge that we can meet successfully if we work together. Perhaps we need a fleet of bigger boats…?
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