Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment

This year, the Durrington Research School Team have been working on producing a new ‘Curriculum, Teaching and Assessment Policy’.  The aim of this policy is to ensure that through curriculum, teaching and assessment all students, especially those in at-risk sub-groups, will:

  1. Make significant academic progress over their 11 years at school.
  2. Develop and retain the knowledge (declarative i.e. knowledge you can think about and say and procedural i.e. knowledge you can do) and cultural capital (including relevant tier two and tier three vocabulary) that will enrich their experience and empower them to access, the next stage of their education, find suitable employment and participate in a democratic society.
  3. Value learning for its own sake and develop a range of skills, aptitudes and personal qualities to take into life. These will include non-cognitive skills (such as resilience, working with others, acceptance of feedback and kindness), metacognitive skills (such as planning, monitoring and evaluation) and study skills (such as retrieval practice, spaced practice and dual coding).

We have invested our time and effort into this, because we feel there is a moral imperative for decisions about curriculum, teaching and assessment to be informed by the best available evidence and the practical wisdom of the most effective teachers.  This has framed our policy.

Curriculum, teaching and assessment are inextricably linked. When all three are aligned and of the highest quality, they should facilitate effective learning for all students, irrespective of their starting points.  In turn, this should translate into all students making good progress and achieving strong academic outcomes.  This matters, because it gives them the best possible life chances.

The curriculum outlines the key knowledge that students need to learn over their time with us in order to be successful; this will then drive what and how we teach. A challenging curriculum will require students to think deeply about subject and lesson content.  In other words, the level of challenge in the curriculum sets the level of challenge in our classrooms.  Tom Sherrington has written an excellent blog talking about what we mean by a knowledge rich curriculum. He suggests four components:

  • Knowledge provides a driving, underpinning philosophy;
  • The knowledge content is specified in detail;
  • Knowledge is taught to be remembered, not merely encountered;
  • Knowledge is sequenced and mapped deliberately and coherently.

Next, we need to consider how to enable effective learning. When we talk about learning, we mean the retention and recall of knowledge so that it can be applied in different contexts.  It should be durable and flexible. For this to happen, a deep understanding of the ‘active ingredients’ of teaching based on the best available research evidence is required. This is what our six pedagogical principles aim to do; however, these must be contextualised to different curriculum areas.

Assessment can be seen as the bridge between teaching and learning. Dylan Wiliam describes this well:

“It is only through assessment that we can find out whether what has happened in the classroom has produced the learning we intended.”

Valid and reliable assessment should inform our planning as teachers and leaders.  For example, if assessment reveals students have not fully learnt a particular topic, then it would seem sensible for a class teacher to re-teach that topic or relevant aspects of that topic.  On a wider scale, it would also be worth reviewing the curriculum to see how that particular topic is being covered – e.g. is the level of challenge too high or too low?  Is it in the right sequence relative to other topics that are needed to understand it?

Another aspect of assessment that should be considered is the balance between formative and summative assessment.  In this blog post, Chris Runeckles explores the importance of a two layered approach to assessment:

Layer 1: Formative – on-going, ungraded and focused on smaller chunks of the curriculum.
Layer 2: Summative – At set points in the year.  Knowledge included will build cumulatively through the year.

Professor Rob Coe claims that all too often data production that is claimed to be assessment, is not actually an assessment.  He claims that assessment must be:

  • Informative
  • Accurate
  • Independent
  • Generalisable
  • Replicable

Rob makes the point that data should not be a dirty word.  However, we probably need to work a bit harder to make it more useful.  You can read more on this here.

Implementing this policy will be a key focus of our work within school over the coming years.  As a starting point, Curriculum Leaders have been reviewing their current practice in each of the three areas, and setting themselves development foci for next year and beyond.

Keep an eye out for future blogs on the progress of this work.

Posted by Shaun Allison

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Year 7 and the joy of learning new subjects

By Andy Tharby

When we are not daydreaming of sun-kissed vacations in La Rochelle and Tuscany, June and July is the time that we begin turning our attention towards the next academic year. This time around, I am aiming to place more attention than ever before on my opening lessons with Year 7. The start of secondary school is a critical time and it is important that our new recruits get off to a flying start.

There is a well-described dip in performance and progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3. This dip is not fully understood. It is probably caused by a number of interlinked factors: changes in social groupings; changes in routines; the switch from a single teacher to discrete subjects; the differing emphasises of primary school and secondary school; and the onset of adolescence and the cognitive and emotional changes that come with it.

The subject matter, ideas and tasks of the opening lessons with Year 7 set the tone for the rest of the year and beyond. They allow us to take the students by the hand (metaphorically, of course!) and lead them over the threshold into the new and mysterious world of the subject discipline. It is important to remember that Year 7 students will not necessarily arrive with a pre-defined understanding of each subject. It is up to us, therefore, to define the shape, limits and story of our subjects.

The following ideas are useful for helping to induct Year 7 students into your subject discipline.

Define the subject. Find out what students already know about the subject and then find ways of widening this understanding. They will probably arrive with a host of misconceptions and simplified generalisations: geography is about maps; mathematics is boring; English is all story writing. Take the time to explain how your subject is different from other subjects, and why we study it in school. Focus on the intrinsic or aesthetic purpose of the subject and its relationship with truth and the never-ceasing conversation of mankind. For instance, we study history to understand our place in the world, and we study science to understand the natural phenomena around and within us.

Generate interest. Start the year with a particularly interesting topic, not an easy one. As well as teaching the knowledge set out on the curriculum, teach your students how to debate about and question this knowledge. Another useful tip is to begin by explaining your personal interest in your subject: why you are passionate about the subject, the things you are still learning, the obstacles you have surpassed to be where you are today.

Prioritise knowledge. Even though generating initial interest is important, Year 7 students must recognise the fundamental difference between spending time with new knowledge and retaining it for good. The beginning of Year 7 is the perfect time to form new habits and a new outlook on learning. It is a great time to introduce and explain the effectiveness of retrieval practice and regular low-stakes testing. Knowledge is for life, not just for Christmas!

Scaffold the discourse. Think of each subject as having its own grammar, its own language world. This is a set of language conventions – involving phraseology, syntax, vocabulary and idiomatic expressions – that reflect the kind of thought processes that are inherent to the discipline and used with ease by subject experts. Consider the importance of conditional clauses – if … then clauses – to scientific thinking: if you freeze water, then it becomes a solid. Or the way that English literature relies on tentative and exploratory language: the poet seems to hint that power dissipates and fades with time. We should aim to make these language worlds explicit and use this to scaffold students’ thinking, speaking and writing. A simple way to do this is through the use of sentence stems. Remember: many Year 7 students will have had limited access to these language worlds before – at home or school – and so they will need a thorough induction that starts in their first lesson with you.

Define excellence. Children need to start the year by setting goals for themselves. To help them to do this, we should define the features of excellent work right from the beginning. You could start by showing the class the work of successful students from last year. Another option is to create ‘a benchmark of brilliance’ in the first few weeks of term – a piece of work that sets the standard for the year to come. Alternatively, you might ask primary school teachers to send over the best work the child completed in Year 6; this helps both teacher and student to track real progress and helps to prevent the child from slipping off course.

Tell the story. A well-designed curriculum is a story and a journey. Create anticipation by dropping hints about what is to come over the next year (or even five years). Discuss some of the problems, obstacles and thorny questions to be faced along the way. Make the curriculum seem like a puzzle to be solved– one that is not too easy, but not too hard.


For a student new to secondary school, the beginning of year 7 is a time to reassess your goals and reinvent your interests and passions. The start of Year 7 should not be about ‘easing them in’ or ‘making it fun’. Instead it should be about helping a child to understand the value and role of the subject in the great and evolving narrative of humankind.

Good luck.

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Bright Spots

There was a great deal of effective and engaging teaching occurring during P3 today at Durrington. In particular, it is increasingly evident that our classrooms are rapidly becoming vocabulary-rich environments. This explicit pedagogical approach will be invaluable for the learning and outcomes of all students, especially our disadvantaged cohorts. It is powerful to see a teaching staff working collaboratively, and therefore successfully, on our main literacy objective.

In textiles, Steve Bloomer’s classroom was a hive of industrious and focused activity. The Year 10 students were working on their sea-inspired projects, and the pieces that are emerging are spectacular. Furthermore, the students in this mixed-ability group were all willing and able to talk about their work with clarity and pride. Earlier in the lesson, Steve had shared some rich tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary with the class, for example distressed surfaces and crystallised, and asked the students to use this vocabulary to talk about their work. This is an excellent way of using concrete examples (in this instance the students’ own work) to help consolidate understanding of more conceptual vocabulary.

Along the corridor in maths, Kathy Hughes was giving superb whole-class feedback to her Year 8 group with regards to their homework. Kathy spent time carefully going over mistakes that students had made in their homework and then modelled the correct method required to complete the tasks. What made this feedback particularly effective was that Kathy knew exactly what areas the class needed to work on, and then gave two or three examples and explanations of how to improve their accuracy in these areas, for example by reminding students to label what they are plotting on graphs.

Jack Griffiths was delivering a high-challenge lesson in his computing class. Jack was using clear metacognitive strategies as he modelled annotating code, talking aloud about his thinking as he did so. This moved on to some targeted and high-level questioning through which Jack could assess how much of their written work the students really understood. At one point, a student was struggling to understand a particularly complex sequence in the coding, and so Jack made excellent use of a sporting analogy to scaffold the student’s learning.

Downstairs, Ray Burns’s Year 10 class were midway through producing some very eye catching animal figures using a cut and slot method. Ray explained that he had encouraged the students to reflect on any mistakes they made as they went about the process of producing their pieces and adjust their plans accordingly. This kind of metacognitive thinking and self regulation is precisely what we are hoping to develop further in our students at Durrington over the coming year.

In science, Phoebe Bence was introducing a new topic to her Year 9 class. There was very methodical instruction taking place with the aid of a well-selected diagram in which the text was part of the image. Through her approach and resources, Phoebe was avoiding overloading her students’ working memories as they grappled with this new and complex information. Phoebe also demonstrated her awareness of the importance of literacy when she asked a student to use the more sophisticated ‘stomach’ instead of the student’s original, and more colloquial, word choice.

Kelly Heane’s Year 7 class were engrossed in their reading of a whole-class shared novel. They were at a gripping point in the narrative, and the enjoyment from the whole class was palpable. It was a great to see young people sharing in the pleasure of reading. However, what also made this lesson very effective in terms of learning was Kelly’s clear modelling of the essential reading strategies. For example, Kelly asked questions about the text to show her class what she as thinking as she read to help her comprehend. Additionally, Kelly had previously asked the class to make predictions about what might happen and now referred back to these in order to clarify the section just read. Finally, Kelly stopped to check what they might not have understood very well, and went back to the text to clear up any confusion. It is the explicit modelling of these strategies that can open up the world of reading to those who find it more challenging, and therefore helps to create inclusive classrooms.

Sarah Dedman’s Year 8 history class were busy tackling an extended writing piece in silent conditions. However, Sarah was not resting easy and took the opportunity to challenge her students on an individual basis. What was particularly impressive in this lesson was Sarah’s use of elaborative questioning as she pushed a student to keep developing his response using tier 2 and 3 terminology, for example alliance. The student showed many signs of reluctance to continue (he was in the struggle zone) but Sarah’s persistence and support paid off and enabled him to produce a very complex verbal response which he was then able to put into writing.

Finally, in geography Hannah Townsend was tackling misconceptions with potentially very serious outcomes not just in the classroom but far beyond. Hannah had used a graph to demonstrate the effect of immigration into the UK, and was openly challenging the perception that immigrant groups contribute less than they gain from UK systems. This was a very high-challenge and potentially contentious lesson, but Hannah’s approach using geographical methods to explain the facts meant that the students had a secure and valid basis from which to form their ideas. Hannah also exemplified Durrington’s literacy focus on using tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary during a questioning sequence. A student gave an answer using the word ‘make’ and Hannah asked them to upgrade to another word they had been practising – manufacture. This instantly lifted the response to a more geographically accurate explanation, and enabled to class to better understand the word by using it in a different context.

It is clear that Durrington students continue to enjoy and benefit from the diligence, expertise and care of a fantastic teaching team.

Fran Haynes.






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Guest Blog from Jack Tavassoly-Marsh, Senior Assistant Headteacher at Farnham Heath End School.

Guest Blog from Jack Tavassoly-Marsh, Senior Assistant Headteacher at Farnham Heath End School.

As a Research School, we are very keen to work with colleagues from other schools and share ideas about effective teaching and learning. Last term, we had the pleasure of welcoming Jack and a team of Heads of Departments from Farnham Heath School to Durrington. The aim of the visit was to discuss our subject-based CPD programme (SPDs), as this is an area that Jack is looking to develop at his own school.

At Farnham Heath End School our aim is to become more research aware and evidence-informed. Historically, we have ran CPD sessions that relate to the needs of our staff and the school, and most of these sessions were in the main hall. It wasn’t until a meeting with Chris Moyse that we realised that we were actually offering occasional professional development and not continuing professional development for our staff.

Earlier this academic year, we went to a route-path CPD system that focused on specific areas of pedagogy across the academic year, and staff were provided with a choice of which route to follow. Feedback from staff was more positive, but certainly not glowing, and there was a sense that whilst the sessions were planned, delivered and evaluated, the impact that they were having was still rather minimal and certainly not matching the effort and time that was going into planning and delivery.

Therefore, we decided to look further afield at different strategies to allow staff to put their own subject knowledge and subject pedagogy at the centre of their continuing professional development. This led us to Durrington Research School and their use of Subject Planning and Development Sessions (SPDS). We were specifically intrigued by the focus on the subject-led model for CPD and allowing staff time in their subject teams to actively plan to make learning great over the next two weeks (each SPDS is done fortnightly)

At Farnham Heath End School, we decided to stop the route-path CPD model mid-year and move towards the SPDS model to allow department teams time to plan for improving their subject knowledge and pedagogy. Using the guidance questions from DHS, our subject leaders ploughed into leading the first two SPDS. Several early attempts failed, with subject leaders reporting that the outcome of the session wasn’t what they were looking for, with too much discussion taking place and not enough concrete subject development. However, like with effective classroom practice, the issue was a lack of modelling. We hadn’t modelled what an effective SPDS looks like and, therefore, we felt it hugely important that we needed to see a SPDS in the flesh.

Hence I decided, along with six subject leaders, that we needed to see the SPDS in action at Durrington Research School. Fran Haynes, part of the Research School, offered for us to come down and see a SPDS as well as providing a one-hour session for us on the rationale behind the SPDS at Durrington Research School, discussing the potential pitfalls and how the SPDS link into the line management structure of the school. A few questions were answered immediately, such as:

  • How do you plan for years 7 – 11 in one hour?
  • How the SPDS are best led?
  • How do they link in to the school’s development plan and subject aims?

Firstly, at Farnham Heath End School, we are in the very early stages of moving towards SPDS as a CPD model, and at the start our subject leaders were trying to cover all years in one hour. This was impossible, and it was good to hear that at DHS they focus on one year group, or a particular topic that is being taught over the next two weeks. This immediately made more sense, and as long as there was a strategy behind which year group to focus on and which topic/s to cover our subject leaders had a greater idea from where to start.

Secondly, it is clear that the SPDS are not always led by one person, but the areas that focus on subject knowledge tend to be led by one person who is the expert in that area/topic. Lastly, it was also clear that agendas are sent out prior to the meetings and these were decided on through the line management structure of the department, allowing for a clear strategy for the SPDS for each department area.

It was then the moment of truth, we were all off to watch a SPDS in action. Three of us headed to PE and the other four headed off to science. In the PE SPDS, we listened to one of the teachers going through the topic of ‘levers’, with a focus on how the department will teach this to the students. A focus was on the examples being used for each lever, the acronyms being used to remember them and what the specification focuses on in terms of content. The rationale for this section of the SPDS was clear. All PE students will be taught levers in the same way, with the same examples and the same acronyms. The expert was effectively teaching the department how to teach this topic, a new topic that has dropped down from the A-level specifications. The benefit would be consistency for all students. Whatever class they are in, they will get the same enacted curriculum as the desired curriculum. This demonstrated subject knowledge development and great planning for the team.

In the science session, it was split into chemistry and physics sessions, with staff then going through a recent mock exam. This was different, with the focus being on the difference between the new specification’s content and mark scheme, versus the legacy specification’s content and mark scheme. Teachers were asked to complete answers to the exam questions. The leader of the session then went through the mark scheme and the staff were able to mark their own answers, focusing on whether they had met the criteria on the new mark scheme for the new specification. Again, there was a focus on consistency across the department, putting subject knowledge first, with all the department aware of what is and isn’t required from the new exams.

The Farnham Heath End School subject leaders were enthused, motivated and could now see how the SPDS will start to work here. As mentioned, we are in the early stages, with a full launch from September 2018. However, we have already seen the geography department focus on how they will provide knowledge retrieval practice in a consistent manner at the start of lessons from years 7-11. The maths department have focused on specific ways that they will teacher certain concepts, so that all staff are teaching with the same method. We started off trying to plan for the next two weeks for each year group, and now have a much clearer notion of what SPDS will actually look like in practice.

Our next steps are to evaluate how the SPDS run at Farnham Heath End School through the summer term, with regular discussions with the subject leader team to share effective practice and the successes and pitfalls through the process. The rationale is now even clearer, providing teachers will time to put their own subject knowledge and subject pedagogy at the centre of their CPD, with a focus on ensuring that the enacted curriculum for all students is the same as the desired curriculum. A challenge, but one that we are very much up for!

The greater challenge is to ensure that the content being covered and the subject pedagogy being discussed is evidence-informed as well as the strategy behind it.

Fran Haynes

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Formative feedback in art

The eternal quest to find the perfect feedback balance is something teachers at all levels wrestle with both at a strategic and day-to-day level.  In this week’s teaching forum head of art and technology Gail Christie shares an insight into how teachers use formative feedback in her department.

Art feedback 1

The research evidence behind the power of feedback, and particularly formative feedback, is extremely strong, and comes from several sources, be that John Hattie’s meta-analysis, the EEF toolkit, Daisy Christodoulou, or Dylan Wiliam.  However, the devil lies in the detail and the positive effects only relate to good feedback, in fact when it goes wrong the positive effects can quickly be reserved.  This problem is supported by a meta-analysis by Kluger and DeNisi which found that 38% of feedback studies included actually had negative effects.

When picking through the feedback minefield I always find it useful to keep this particular Dylan Wiliam quote in mind:

“The first fundamental of effective classroom feedback is that feedback should be more work for the recipient than the donor.

Gail’s approach to formative feedback certainly abides to this principle.  The art and technology departments create a reciprocal feedback loop with their students through which precise feedback from the teacher allows students to make specific improvements to develop their work, and deepen their knowledge, skill and understanding.

The department use a variety of feedback mediums, which include:

  • Post-its stuck into sketch books giving formative comments (several examples included in this blog).
  • Back-of-sketchbook checklists in which a few formative targets are included for self-regulation (also included below).
  • Constant verbal feedback during lessons.
  • Whole class feedback using worked examples.
  • Peer verbal feedback.

Art feedback 3

All of these strategies have the potential to go wrong, so the way Gail’s team ensures effectiveness is through explicit teaching of the strategies and modelling of the processes.  For example, in most lessons an excellent example will be shared with the class.  Students will gather round and critique the work.  The teacher will lead the students through this initially but as time goes on the students will take a greater and greater role in the feedback being given.  This then allows them to give more useful and accurate feedback when working with their peers.

Art feedback 2

Ultimately, the success of the formative feedback relies on a strong culture, like so much of what works in the department.  The processes are used from year 7 so that by the time students are in GCSE classes they are familiar with the expectations and procedures.  Similarly, the comments in the sketchbooks work due to the pride and care students take with these books, and with the constant additions and revisions they make to them.

Art feedback 4

The message here then is a fairly simple one.  If formative feedback is to have the positive effect we all know it can we need to ensure a few key principles exemplified by the art and technology department:

  • Make it precise.
  • Use a variety of different mediums to transmit it.
  • Explicitly teach how to provide and use it.
  • Ensure students value and use it.


Posted by Chris Runeckles

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Improving our subject knowledge

In the Sutton Trust research review (2014) ‘What makes great teaching?’ (extract above) the subject content knowledge of a teacher is at the top of the six components of great teaching.

‘Teachers cannot help children learn things they themselves do not understand’

Deborah Ball, 1991

Despite the strong evidence base that sits behind this statement, very few teachers have access to CPD that keeps their subject knowledge up to date.  Here at Durrington, we have been addressing this to an extent with our fortnightly ‘Subject Planning & Development Sessions’ (SPDS).  During these sessions subject teams meet to discuss what they are teaching over the next fortnight and how to teach it well – more on this here.  Whilst this inevitably includes some input on subject knowledge, it is not quite the same as explicit subject knowledge development for teachers.

Deputy Leader of Geography, Sam Atkins, has been looking to address this.  Once a half term, geography teachers will be issued with a geographical article that links to what students will be taught in the next half term.  So, for example, in the autumn term, Y7 will study a unit of work called ‘Impossible Places’ which examines how humans inhabit inhospitable habitats.  To support this, this week Sam has shared this article from the New York Times – ‘China’s Last cave Dwellers Fight to Keep  Their Underground Homes’.

The geography team will then read this article and at the next SPDS discuss points such as:

  • What was the key new learning from this article?
  • How does this link to and enhance the knowledge that students have?
  • How can it be explained effectively to students?
  • What are the challenging aspects of the article?
  • What misconceptions could there be?

To an extent, this is a formalisation of what the department have been doing in recent years anyway. They are a team of passionate geographers, who often email each other with interesting articles, news clips and videos – so the culture within the team was right for this kind of approach.  However, there was no guarantee that this would go any further than the email inbox.  By structuring it in this way, there is a real likelihood that through discussion and collaborative planning, it will enhance the subject knowledge of the geography team.  In terms of making sure this is a manageable undertaking, there is a schedule for who is responsible for finding a piece of ‘required reading’ for each key stage 3 unit of work, each half term.

So, what does Sam hope will be the benefits of this approach?

  • An enhanced and up to date subject knowledge across the team of geography teachers.
  • Expands your subject hinterland as a teacher, so that you can respond and adapt flexibly to classroom questions and discussions.
  • Maintains an academic interest in your subject and so re-professionalises teachers.
  • Sharpens your appetite to find out more about your subject.
  • Models a love of your subject to students.
  • Contextualises the geographical knowledge of students, using contemporary examples.
  • Facilitate better explanation as many of the articles lend themselves to storytelling.

Posted by Shaun Allison

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Making tutor time count

Tutor time is a feature of most secondary schools, yet despite the amount of time students typically spend with their tutor every week (95 minutes at our school) it is not always used effectively. At busy times of the school year, tutor time too often gets pushed to the bottom of the agenda by teachers and school leaders whose priorities lie elsewhere.


This week’s blog, therefore, centres on the work of Laura Freeman, an NQT at our school whose exemplary work with her Year 7 tutor group has helped them to make a smooth transition to life at secondary school. Here is Laura’s recipe for success …

Teach tutor time as if it is a lesson. Laura takes tutor time as seriously as an ordinary lesson. She plans the sessions carefully and uses them as an opportunity to improve her students’ knowledge and understanding. At Durrington, all tutor groups watch and discuss a series of weekly news videos which cover complicated and sensitive news items – for instance, the recent talks between North Korea and South Korea, and the Parkland High School shootings in Florida. Laura uses her skill as a teacher to break these topics down and field questions from the class. When she does not know an answer, she helps the class develop strategies for finding out.

She also makes it her mission to use these regular news discussions as an opportunity to get to know her students individually. The question ‘How do we feel about this?’ has proved especially powerful when working with her group.

Make links between lessons and tutor time. In her work as a citizenship and social and moral education teacher, Laura makes deliberate references to content and activities that she knows her classes have covered in tutor time. This way, she helps students to form connections across the curriculum. For instance, in one form time activity on ‘dual-coding’ Year 7s were shown how to organise their knowledge into visual-spatial organisers. In later lessons, Laura took the time to show her classes how they could transfer this new study skill into their lessons with her.

She also feels that referring to tutor time activities in lessons helps to improve her status as a new teacher at the school which, in turn, supports behaviour and engagement. The fact that she knows what’s happening in their tutor time means that children see her as a credible member of staff.

Support organisation skills. One of the hardest aspects of joining secondary school is keeping on top of homework. Laura helps her form to embed excellent homework habits in a number of ways: by giving them a daily opportunity to remind each other when the homework is due; by discussing the content of homework tasks; and by promoting pro-social skills – e.g. prompting students to go and see teachers to apologise if they have not completed their homework.

Create competitions. Laura constantly supports academic learning through vocabulary, note-making and word competitions. She makes it fun – but keeps it focussed on school.

Devise seating plans with care. Laura is strict with her tutor time seating plan. She uses it not only to foster exemplary behaviour, but also to ensure that the pairings are designed to encourage and support quieter and less confident students in the group.

In all, Laura’s approach to being a form tutor hinges on three things: knowing the students individually; making links between tutor time and the wider academic curriculum; and combining care with high challenge.

By Andy Tharby

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