Supporting School Improvement

Like most schools, this half term we have been thinking a great deal about our school improvement priorities and how the research evidence can support us with this. The EEF do a great job of distilling evidence on key themes into guidance reports, which we (Durrington Research School) use to shape our training programmes.

Below are some of the EEF documents that have shaped our approach to school improvement. They also shape the training programmes we lead as a Research School. We will be using a blended delivery approach for all of our programmes:

  • Day 1 – 10.30am-3.30pm, face to face at Durrington High School
  • 3 x 2hr online modules
  • Day 2 – 10.30am-3.30pm, face to face at Durrington High School

Throughout the programmes we will focus on supporting school leaders to:

  • Clarify the problem they are trying to solve, linked to their school improvement priorities.
  • Understand how the research evidence might help to address this.
  • Produce an effective implementation plan, aimed at mobilising the evidence back at their school.
  • Think carefully how they will evaluate the impact of the new approaches they implement

Below you can find links to download the guidance report/review and the associated training programme.

Guidance Report

Training Programme

Guidance Report

Training Programme

Guidance Report

Training

Evidence Review

Training Programme

Curriculum Training Programme

Guidance Report

Training Programme

Have a great rest this half term and we look forward to working with many of you over the coming year.

Shaun Allison

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Reflections on Cold- Calling

Before returning to school in September, I listened to a podcast between Craig Barton and Doug Lemov which encouraged me to reflect on my use of cold-calling in lessons. Barton began to describe how he had misinterpreted Cold-Calling and believed there was more to be gained from this popular teaching technique than first meets the eye. Upon further discussion, Barton and Lemov linked cold-calling together with “hunting not fishing” and described how teachers could hunt for excellent responses before cold-calling the class. 

Another document that drew my attention to this topic was a study from America on the “Impact of Cold-Calling on Student Voluntary Participation” by Dallimore et al. (2013). The study indicated that “the percentage of students who participate in class discussions increases quite dramatically… in high cold-calling sections”. Furthermore, “students in high cold-calling sections are more comfortable participating [than in low cold-calling sections]… high cold-calling is associated with increased frequency of participation, especially voluntary participation”. The results from the study can be seen in the table below. 

The positive impact of cold-calling is evident and a high level of cold-calling makes students more likely to offer to put their hands up and get involved in future class discussions.  I therefore wanted to think about how I could speed up this process and get the maximum impact from the technique as possible.  

Observations that led me to change my practice 

  • I noticed a lack of confidence in responses from my students when I cold-called them; often their tone of voice indicated they were unsure if they were correct
  • Many students didn’t put their hands up voluntarily and I relied heavily on cold-calling to get them involved. 
  • Some students would say they “didn’t know” the answer and I would have to do a lot of work to lead them to a response

I have been adapting my use of cold-calling based on the discussion between Barton and Lemov and have made the following changes to my practice:

Before cold-calling

  • Ask students to discuss the task in pairs/groups 
  • Walk around the classroom and observe the students’ work, be it written or verbal
  • Look/listen out for good examples to later share with the class

During cold-calling: 

  • Choose a student that you have seen a good response from and cold-call them
  • Ask the class “did anyone get the same answer as [name]”.
  • If appropriate, make use of the visualiser to show the students’ work to further encourage and praise them.  

During my observations, it may be that I notice an excellent response from a student who doesn’t usually offer to answer questions in front of the class. Depending on the confidence of the student, I decide whether or not to speak to them and let them know that I am going to ask them to share their answer with the class. I have found this to be an effective way to increase the confidence of students and help them to feel “seen” by the teacher. I have also found that the responses have been more confidently expressed as I have already reassured them that they are correct so there isn’t the same element of uncertainty when they answer. 

I think it is really important that teachers take a genuine interest in their students’ ideas and “allow them to shine” as Barton puts it. My aim is that by having  1:1 conversations  with students before I cold-call them, I will increase their confidence in their own ability and hopefully they will be more likely to voluntarily participate in future class discussions. 

Zofia Reeves

Zofia is a maths teacher and Research Associate for Durrington Research School.

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Weekly Round Up: 17th October 2021

Blog of the week

‘Teaching Behaviour in Small Steps’ by Dan Hudson

In this blog Dan explores how some of the Lemov behaviour strategies can be implemented in the classroom.

Classteaching

‘Reflecting on Professional Development’ by Fahim Rahman

In his first blog, Fahim thinks about professional development and how the new EEF report might help to make this more effective.

Research School blog

‘Effective Professional Development’ by Mark Enser

Staying on the theme of the new EEF guidance report, Mark shares why he thinks it’s so important.

Other useful links

Webinar

Date: 2nd November

Time: 3.30-4.00pm

Title: Cognitive Load Theory

Led by: Andy Tharby 

Registration here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSfQg0Fex-Bh_88Q6Nt7RwWcQs9vKttRgWDurr7jJ5FlBY7blw/viewform 

You can view the recordings from last year here:

https://researchschool.org.uk/durrington/events/videos

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Reflecting on Professional Development

I have a funny relationship with professional development (PD). I have been told by many of my colleagues that I am extremely critical (to the point of self-loathing) when it comes to my own teaching.  Often at times I am too harsh on how a lesson went, or too sceptical about my own teaching ability. I guess this is not unusual for someone like me, who is only in their third year of teaching.  As a result, I find myself always searching for the next way to tweak or improve my practice.  But teaching is a busy job, and as a consequence, finding the time for effective professional development can be challenging.

As teachers we understand the importance of professional development, especially within the culture of our school. We will often we find ourselves sat in PD sessions ready to engage and find new tools for our utility belt.  However, due to the various levels of experience in the room, more experienced colleges may not always find themselves with as much to gain as newer colleges.  It can be hard to tailor PD to all colleagues. I myself have felt the anxiety of trying to help train my science department on how to teach physics topics effectively – my specialism.  This will include teachers that not only trained me how to teach, but also teachers that have been teaching for longer than I’ve been an adult – quite a daunting prospect for someone who is only in their third year of teaching.  For this reason, we find the need for a greater quality of PD training, not only to ensure that new colleagues find a means to improve and develop, but also so that the seasoned veteran can also find themselves a means to sharpen their tools ready for the next opportunity to flaunt their expertise. With this objective in mind, the EEF have recently released a guidance report on effective professional development. The report aims to give more support to schools in not only knowing how to select quality external PD, but also to help design and deliver their own. The guidance report does this by focusing on three main approaches.

When designing and selecting professional development, focus on the mechanisms.

Ensure that professional development effectively builds knowledge, motivates staff, develops teaching techniques, and embeds practice.

Implement professional development programmes with care, taking into consideration the context and needs of the school.

The report identifies 14 ‘mechanisms’ that drive an effective PD programme and describes them as ​“the core building blocks of professional development. They are observable, can be replicated, and could not be removed without making PD less effective.” These mechanisms help us to understand the fundamental value of what should be incorporated into PD sessions and thinking about the tools to ensure they’re done most effectively. The report outlines numerous mechanisms, and by incorporating multiple ones into a PD suggest the best outcomes for teachers and, inevitably, pupils. 

The report further sub divides these mechanisms into four categories outlined in recommendation 2 which should be considered when designing PD:

Building knowledge

Motivating staff

Developing teaching technique

 Embedding practice

By categorising these mechanisms, it can help PD planners structure and tailor their programmes to ensure they cover each of the main criteria of valuable PD. Ensuring that the support is there to not only ensure the knowledge is delivered, but also ensure that staff understand why they are being told to adopt changes to their practice as well as to understand how they can integrate these new practices into their teaching to ensure that we can embed these principals for the best possible outcomes. This includes often incorporating ideas that we know works with the students, for example managing cognitive load, revisiting prior learning, modelling, and feedback. As evidence supports that these concepts can be very effective in our classroom, it seems almost absurd we if we do not consider incorporating them into our development as professionals.

Finally, the last recommendation is that PD planners should ensure they take measures to ensure the PD is implemented well into the new target school by providing guidance on how participants can adapt what they’ve learnt to their own educational environments. Programme developers should identify to those selecting and delivering PD programmes where adaptations can be made, ensuring that the mechanisms are protected and prioritised, but more appropriately tailoring the situation to the individual needs.

It appears with the onset of this new guidance, that more consideration is being make to ensure that each aspect of PD is being met with the same levels of care and scaffolding that we would expect to give to students. It would be absurd of us to teach a topic once and expect students to come away in their assessments with mastery. Similarly, we as teachers need to ensure those participating in our PD programmes are met with the same level of support our students are met with. We would struggle to find success with our students if we just showed them the answer to an exam question and expected students to achieve the same levels of success with every exam question. Students needs to understand why they are doing this exam question, what techniques do they need to implement, what slight changes need to be made to their current practices, in order to give themselves the tools to be able to achieve similar amounts of success in all their exam questions. The same goes for the participants of our PD sessions. With support from the new report we can hope the culture around PD development shifts from general housekeeping and a tick-box exercise, to a means of ensuring that we as teachers seek to always improve and ensure that we are providing the best possible outcomes for our students.

Fahim Rahman

Science Teacher – Durrington High School

Research School Associate

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Weekly Round Up: 10th October 2021

Blog of the week

‘What if we are the hope and we fail?’ by Dan Nicholls

In this powerful post, Dan explores the issues around tackling educational disadvantage, how we often get it wrong and how we might get better at getting it right.

Classteaching

‘Disciplinary literacy in maths’ by Deb Friis

A great example of why literacy matters for all subjects.

Research School Blog

‘Reading comprehension: What, why and how?’ by Fran Haynes

Why is reading comprehension so important and how can we get better at implementing it in our classrooms?

Other useful links

Next Twilight CPD Webinar:

Date: 2nd November

Time: 3.30-4.00pm

Title: Cognitive Load Theory

Led by: Andy Tharby 

Registration here: Coming soon

You can view the recordings from last year here:

https://researchschool.org.uk/durrington/events/videos

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Disciplinary Literacy in Maths

The week after next on Saturday 16th October I will be presenting at ResearchEd Surrey for the first time and I’m really looking forward to being back at a face to face conference again. My presentation will be on Disciplinary Literacy in Maths – with the words “literacy” and “maths” not usually being mentioned in the same sentence, I thought it would be interesting to look into what disciplinary literacy actually means for my subject.

I have seen many whole-school literacy drives over the years which have had varying levels of success (and relevance). I am a lover of words, and of books – I have an A Level in English Literature and I love reading anything I can to my own children, but at Durrington I have particularly loved reading to my year 9 tutor group, I always tell them it is my favourite session of the week. I can really see the importance of reading and how it helps with all sorts of other things, such as general knowledge and being able to communicate effectively, as well as the benefits of being whisked into your own world for a while. However, my subject is just not a very wordy one – we use a lot of diagrams, symbols, and shorthand, in fact as maths teachers we are often trying to stop students from writing down things in full sentences, we either want an equation, or just the relevant information. Reading the EEF Guidance Report on Improving Literacy in Secondary Schools helped me to reach an epiphany – all of these aspects of maths are not “anti-literacy”, they are just the particular (and peculiar) literacy of the discipline of maths. As the report says: “each subject has its own unique language, ways of knowing, doing and communicating” so we are not so concerned with literacy within maths, as the literacy of maths.

Once I had watched Fran Haynes’s excellent video on disciplinary reading and after doing a bit of reading around (for example ReLeah Lent’s (2017) Disciplinary Literacy: A Shift That Makes Sense) I began to think in a lot more detail about how we communicate in maths, and how important it is that we make the differences in our subject really explicit to the students we teach. My presentation next week will break this down into four areas: vocabulary and language, comprehension and understanding, talking and writing mathematically.

For each section I will explore what we want our ideal student to be like – what is it that we do as mathematicians that we need to convey to our classes? Then I will look at the difficulties that students often experience. This has been the most interesting aspect of my learning: really having to break down what we do on a daily basic in every lesson we teach to find the micro-rules that we need to be telling our students. I live and breathe maths most of the time, and although I am aware that we have a lot of subject-specific vocabulary, and even more words that mean different things just in maths, I really had to take a step back and try and think like an outsider. During discussions with my department we were trying to clarify the difference between an “unknown” and a “variable” and also to really define a “factor” – and then my own year 7 child comes home with some Science homework which says “A variable is something that can change. It is sometimes called a factor”. We had not even considered that these words are related. This really threw into sharp relief how complicated this all is for our students moving between difference lessons all of the time, and this is just the vocabulary! Understanding and comprehension is also tricky. During a revision lesson where my year 11s and I were going through an exam paper under a visualiser I noticed how reluctant many of them were to write anything on the diagrams, yet I when I am answering a question with a diagram my eyes are constantly flicking between the words and the picture, and also I don’t necessarily read a question left to right, or top to bottom, but jump around all over the place. I am now making an extra effort to explain this to my students. Writing in maths is also very different – for a start we tend to work down the page rather than from left to right which some students are very reluctant to do. And then of course there is the cardinal sin of the misuse of the equals sign which every maths teacher hates (but probably doesn’t pick up upon enough):

6 x 5 = 30 + 12 = 42

In my presentation I will go on to explore what we can do to help students in each of the four areas above and also look at some useful takeaway resources. Thankfully lots of the elements of teaching for mastery, (and also many of Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction) deal directly with aiming for students to have a deep understanding of what they are learning and hence lend themselves well to improving disciplinary literacy in maths – find out more here.

Please do come and see me at ResearchEd Surrey on October 16th if you are in the area.

Deb Friis

Deb is a maths teacher at Durrington High School. She is also a Maths Research Associate for Durrington Research School and Sussex Maths Hub Secondary Co-Lead and will be delivering our training on the EEF Guidelines for KS2 and 3 Maths.

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Weekly Round Up: 3rd October 2021

Blog of the week

‘Two Simple ‘Add ons’ to Get More Out of Formative Assessment’Blake Harvard

Blake shares two really simple approaches that will make students think that little bit more.

Classteaching

Homework: Getting the Wrap Around Support Right’ by Ben Crockett

Ben shares some of the strategies our curriculum leaders are using to support students with their homework. 

‘Training with the Durington Research School’

Take a look at the training we are offering this year.

Research School Blog

‘The EEF Teaching & learning Toolkit revamp’ by Chris Runeckles

Chris talks about how to get the most out of the EEF toolkit.

‘Writing Your Pupil Premium Strategy’ by Marc Rowland

Marc outlines the main features of an effective pupil premium strategy.

Other useful links

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Homework: Getting the Wrap Around Support Right

Homework has to be one of the most contentious and hotly debated topics in education. While most students (perhaps reluctantly) accept that it will form part of their educational experience, educators, decision makers, parents and celebrities routinely take sides on the issue. These debates can range from how we maximise the impact of homework and increase student engagement to whether or not we should set it in the first place.

In the recent revision of their toolkits the EEF accept that the evidence base behind the impact of setting homework is limited, however, they still indicate that homework (especially at secondary schools) has a positive impact – an average 5 months additional progress. Perhaps more importantly studies suggest a high level of variation in regards to this impact dependent on the quality of homework set, the support in place for students to complete it (including homework clubs) and the feedback student receive on their homework.

Based on this evidence and analysis of our student homework engagement data from the summer term of last year I have been talking to and working with our curriculum leaders at Durrington about how we can improve the quality of the homework we set, thus maximising the potential impact it can have and also increasing the accessibility of our homework for all students. From analysing the homework that was set last year, what became abundantly clear was that teachers and subjects with high student engagement and completion of homework were those that had clearly taken note of what strategies had worked during remote learning and applied this when setting homework. I like to refer to these as “wrap around support strategies”, and the intention of these should be to make homework as accessible, and yet challenging, as possible for all students.

So, what “wrap around support” can have our departments at Durrington been providing to support our students in regularly completing high quality homework

  • Lesson time: If we are all honest with ourselves we have probably all said at some point “grab a homework sheet on your own way out”. But it has been great to drop in on lessons over the last 3 or so weeks and see staff spending a portion of lesson time clearly explaining the homework task, modelling how to complete certain sections of it, checking the class understand the homework and then checking in on individual students they know may struggle.
  • Clear and Concise Online Instructions: lets be honest if we haven’t done the “grab a sheet and go”, we are probably all guilty of uploading the homework to whatever online system we use with the detailed instructions of “complete the sheet given to you in lessons”. What made remote learning so challenging was the emphasis it put on clear, concise and step by step explanations from staff – where this was done correctly students were much more likely to be successful. It stands to reason then that we need to provide similar high-quality explanations when setting homeworks. This is something our Geography team have been working on this year, with Sam Atkins (Curriculum Leader) using our fortnightly SPDS to share examples of good practice via our connect system.
Examples of the instructions provided on the Connect Homework system shared by Sam Atkins at Geography department meeting
  • Worked Examples: with the reduced opportunity to live model in the remote classroom (particularly for those using recorded lessons) the use of deconstructed worked examples became ever more common. Worked examples provide a great way to demonstrate to students how to complete a task and also the expected standard that they should aim for. Our maths department often include these into their homework booklets, and many other departments are beginning to follow suit.
  • Attaching Supporting Resources: when setting homework, I think it is important we consider where will students go if they become stuck. Their options may include a sibling, parent or friend, their teacher or perhaps most likely “Google”. Unfortunately, Google may not always be as helpful as they expect, often giving them a vast array of information that they cannot filter for their needs, while in many cases (even where they are willing) parents may not have the knowledge to support. As a result, it is important that we offer both the students (and willing parents) supporting resources such as knowledge organisers, links to vetted websites or videos etc so that they may be able to “unstick” themselves. It is also important that we model to students how we as subject experts would refer to these resources if we became stuck, thus demonstrating the self-regulation skills necessary for successful learning.
  • The Power of Loom: I suspect that most of us had never heard of loom before remote learning, but now the software tool that allows users to voice record over on-screen resources such as PowerPoints, can perhaps continue to prove useful beyond just the remote classroom. Our English and Geography departments have been working on creating a series of loom videos to go alongside their homework setting. These videos, created by the staff, may model how to complete tasks within the homework or review the core knowledge students will need to be successful in completing the homework. The English team have taken this one step further and have turned the links to the videos into QR codes which are included on the homework sheets enabling students to access these videos instantly with their phones. While it is too early to judge if these videos are having an impact on homework completion and quality, it was great to speak with Andy Tharby (Co-Leader of English) earlier this week, who informed me that the most recent Year11 homework video had been viewed over 150 times suggesting that students were accessing it to support their homework completion.
Year 11 English Homework with QR code to loom video

Homework will always be contentious, but in the majority of schools it a part of the every day norm. For a number of our students homework is easily accessed and completed with minimal fuss, but it is important that we continue looking for ways to support all our students in completing high quality homework. If we can do this then everyone wins: students will make good progress, staff will receive higher quality work and less homework sanctions should need to be set. What is there not to like!

by Ben Crockett

Ben is an Acting Assistant Head Teacher and Research School Associate at Durrington and will be leading training programs this year on “Secondary Curriculum” and “Using Cognitive Science in the Classroom”. Follow the links to find out more about these courses and how to reserve your place.

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Training with the Durrington Research School

This year the Durrington Research School team are leading a variety of training programmes, covering a range of themes.  We will be using a blended delivery approach for all of our programmes:

  • Day 1 – 10.30am-3.30pm, face to face at Durrington High School
  • 3 x 2hr online modules
  • Day 2 – 10.30am-3.30pm, face to face at Durrington High School

Throughout the programmes we will focus on supporting school leaders to:

  • Clarify the problem they are trying to solve, linked to their school improvement priorities.
  • Understand how the research evidence might help to address this.
  • Produce an effective implementation plan, aimed at mobilising the evidence back at their school.
  • Think carefully how they will evaluate the impact of the new approaches they implement.

Many of our programmes are delivered as a part of a partnership programme with West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent and Brighton & Hove local authorities.  However, individual schools or Multi-Academy Trusts are more than welcome to register.

Below is a summary of each of the training programmes, including a link to the programme page, to find out more about the programme and how to register a place.

Tackling Educational Disadvantage

This programme will look at the issues associated with educational disadvantage and help school leaders identify the specific challenges faced by their pupils. We will then explore how the research evidence can be used to produce a high impact Pupil Premium strategy, aimed at closing the attainment gap.

Training & Retaining Great Teachers

This programme looks at the evidence around teacher development and how this can be used to implement a cohesive and effective CPD strategy across a schools.

Using cognitive science in the classroom.

This programmes will explore the research evidence around cognitive science and how this helps us to understand how pupils learn. We will then look at how this can be used to shape an evidence-informed approach to teaching.

Using metacognition and self-regulation in the classroom.

This programme will explore the research evidence around metacognition and how this can be mobilised in schools, to help our pupils to become better at self-regulating their learning.

An evidence informed approach to developing a secondary curriculum.

This training programme will explore how what we know from the research evidence about how we learn, can be used to shape the secondary curriculum.

An evidence informed approach to developing a primary curriculum

This programme explores the best bets for developing a coherent and diverse curriculum for long-term learning.

An evidence informed approach to improving literacy in primary schools.

This programme will explore the recommendations from the EEF primary Literacy Guidance Reports and how they can be successfully implemented across a school.

An evidence informed approach to improving literacy in secondary schools.

This programme will explore the recommendations from the EEF secondary Literacy Guidance Reports and how they can be successfully implemented across a school.

Improving behaviour and attendance

This programme will look at the research evidence around improving behaviour and attendance in schools, and how this can be used to address the challenges that this presents to schools.

Improving maths in KS2 and KS3

This programme will explore all eight recommendations from the EEF Guidance report for KS2/3 Mathematics and look at how they can be implemented in the classroom.

Alongside these full training programmes, this year we also have a number of short training programmes on offer.  These short programmes have a number of features that make them highly attractive to schools:

  • They are online, making them convenient for teachers and leaders – no travelling!
  • They are after school, so reducing the cover pressures on school.
  • They are time manageable – each session is only two hours long.
  • They are only £95 – so great value.
  • For every paid place, you can get two free places for colleagues at your school.
  • The three sessions for each programme are spaced throughout the year, giving delegates reflection time in between the sessions.

This year we have a number of short programmes on offer.  Use the links below to find out more and register a place.

Becoming a Research Lead

Making Every Lesson Count

Using Feedback to Support Pupil Learning

Getting Started with Instructional Coaching

An Evidence Informed Approach to Improving Teaching in English

An Evidence Informed Approach to Improving Teaching in Geography

An Evidence Informed Approach to Improving Teaching in History

An Evidence Informed Approach to Improving Teaching in Physical Education

An Evidence Informed Approach to Improving Teaching in Science

If you have any questions, please email us – research@durring.com 

Shaun Allison

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Weekly Round Up: 26th September 2021

Blog of the week

Curricular thinking has made me a better teacher’ by Helen Skelton

In this blog Helen explores how curricular thinking has made her a better teacher.  A great read.

Classteaching

‘It’s all talk’ by Fran Haynes

In this blog Fran discusses how we can improve the quality of talk in our classrooms.

Research School Blog

‘Our training programmes 2021-22’ by Shaun Allison

Find out about the training programmes on offer by the Durrington Research School this year.

Other useful links

Next twilight CPD webinar

Date: 2nd November

Time: 3.30-4.00pm

Title: Cognitive Load Theory

Led by: Andy Tharby 

Registration here: Coming soon

You can view the recordings from last year here:

https://researchschool.org.uk/durrington/events/videos

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