#TLT14 – Feedback Matters

feedbacktlt1This weekend I attended the brilliant TLT14 event, organised by the equally brilliant Dave Fawcett & Jenn Ludgate.  It may have been at the end of a busy half term…and on a Saturday…but that didn’t stop hundreds of teachers turning up to share ideas.  What a great spirit.  This is a summary of my presentation.

feedbacktlt2Yes, feedback does matter!  This was a piece of feedback I received as an NQT (back in 1993) that I certainly acted on – I made a vow that I would never be that useless again!  Similarly, I used feedback to great effect over a decade ago in 2001 (following a massive defeat by the then world number 1 player, Eric Verhagen) to become Worthing’s number 1 Subbuteo player – knocking the reigning champion (fellow science teacher Craig Heward) off his heady perch!

feedbacktlt3So feedback certainly does matter!

hattie feedback

In his paper ‘The Power of Feedback’ John Hattie describes feedback as ‘information provided by an agent (e.g. teacher, parent, book, peer, self) regarding aspects of one’s performance or understanding‘.  Whilst there has been a great deal of discussion recently about the validity of effect sizes, Hattie sees feedback as highly significant to achievement, with an effect size of 0.73 – well within the ‘zone of desired effects’.  He makes some interesting points about feedback:

  • Increasing the amount of feedback in order to have a positive effect on student achievement requires a change in the conception of what it means to be a teacher.  It is the the feedback to the teacher about what the students can and can’t do that is more powerful than feedback to the student, and it necessitates a different way of interacting and respecting students.
  • 80% of feedback a student receives about his or her work in primary school is from other students.  But 80% of this student provided feedback is incorrect!
  • It is critical to have appropriately challenging goals as then the amount and directedness of feedback is is maximised.  Simply applying a recipe e.g. provide more feedback, will not work in our busy, multifacetd, culturally invested and changing classrooms.

The second bullet point about peer feedback is well worth noting!

So what have others said about feedback?  OFSTED inspector, Mary Myatt, has said this:


Full article here.

David Didau:


Full article here.

Phil Beadle:


Full article here.



Full document here.

So, to summarise, this is what I think about feedback:

  • Feedback that just tells students what to do is not helpful – compounds dependency.
  • Feedback should make students think about their work and how they could develop it – develops autonomy.
  • Feedback should make students do something.
  • Feedback should keep students in the ‘struggle zone’:


This has led to the development of our feedback policy, instead of a marking policy.  A group of DHS teachers decided that the following principle should drive this:


As a result, subjects have come up with their own feedback guidance. This outlines what feedback they think is useful for them and when it should be used.

When considering feedback, it’s important to see it as a two way process:

feedbackloopWe talk a great deal about the teacher giving feedback to the student (and some strategies of how to do that effectively will follow), but as important is how the teacher responds to feedback on how the students are performing.  As David Didau says, ‘marking is planning’.  This should be thought about on a number of levels:

  • During the lesson – at an individual level, pose questions to develop and deepen their thinking.  At a class level, if they are struggling with something, stop and go over it again.
  • In between lessons – if they didn’t get something, don’t just carry on with the scheme of work regardless. Go back and do it again.
  • In between units of work – if there was a skill that they struggled with in the previous topic, make it a priority in the next topic.
  • Reviewing the curriculum – don’t just do the same thing year in, year out.  Do mor of what worked and change what didn’t!

It’s worth thinking about 3 types of feedback question:

1. Where am I going?   How have they performed against a specific learning goal?

2. How am I going? How have they done with working on a particular task?

3. Where to next? – How can we deepen/extend their learning?

All too often we focus too narrowly during lessons on 1 & 2.  We have an idea of what we want them to achieve in that lesson, so we tend to focus our feedback on getting them there. We should think more widely that that – and use feedback to really deepen and extend their thinking – the ‘where to next’ feedback.

So, a collection of strategies that I have magpied in recent months….

1. Verbal feedback stamps – I’ve always hated stamps, but I quite like these.  More here.



This is a really important idea.  If feedback is going to be useful, we need to give students the time to respond to our feedback questions.  So, having marked their books, the next lesson (or part of it) should be put aside for students to respond to your marking.  More on this from Andy Tharby here.

3. Live marking

marking science

This is at the heart of effective feedback.  Whilst students are working, look at their work – write a question in their book to develop their thinking and then move away.  Come back in a few minutes to check they have responded.  This is so powerful – it’s in the context of the work they are doing, it makes them think and it requires them to do something.  You probably won’t be able to do this with every student, every lesson – but do as many as you can.

marking history3

So much more useful than just taking piles of books home and commenting on work that they did 2, 3 or 4 weeks ago.

4.  Marking Codes

Rather than writing out the same improvement target over and over – use a code.  Then show these to students the next lesson, and get them to identify their specific improvement target/task:


5.  Get them into good habits – so at the beginning of lessons, get them into the habit of doing some ‘Gritty Editing’


6. The Post Homework Lesson – Homework is a great opportunity for feedback – to students about how they have done and to teachers too.  All too often though, this opportunity is not fully exploited.  Our maths department are doing some great work on this – read more here.

7. CamScanner is a brilliant tool – it’s an app that will take a photo of a piece of work, clean it up, enhance it and then email it to you.  So, when you see a great piece of student work, you can take a photo of it and then share it with the rest of the class, by projecting it on the screen.  You can then deconstruct it together.

8.  Post Assessment Feedback


Once students have completed a test and you have marked it, they should analyse their performance on each question, using a grid like the one above.  They can then attempt questions, based on their weak areas:


9. Supported Redraft – get students to answer a question that requires an extended response.  Then go through this process:


10. Layered Writing – provide students with a ‘Writer’s Palette’ to develop and improve their writing –  read more on this here.

11. Repeat after me

1. Give the student the verbal feedback: ‘As well as describing the changes in velocity of a falling object, you need to explain it using forces.’

2. Get the student to repeat the feedback back to you in their own words.

3. Ask the student ‘So what is the first thing you are going to do?’, and wait for them to tell you.

4. Return to the student in 5 minutes and check that they have completed the improvement.

12. Pre-Flight Checklist


A nice one from Dan Brinton.  Develop autonomy by providing students with a checklist of key assessment criteria to ‘tick off’ as they are doing their work.

13. Gallery Critique – share student work and get the class to move around, read it and give useful feedback.  In this blog, Andy Tharby describes how he supports this process by modelling with students how to give kind, specific and helpful feedback.



14. Positive Self-Verbalisation – get students to think about why they have been successful by asking them these questions:

  • How did you get to that answer?
  • Why did you do it like that?
  • Did you use any other unsuccessful methods before coming up with this successful one?
  • What was difficult about it?
  • What makes it a good answer?
  • What advice would you give to anyone else who is struggling?

15.  Highlighter Action

Inspired by Doug Lemov, whilst students are working, prowl the room with a highlighter.  When you spot a piece of work that could be developed further, highlight it and move away.  tell the class beforehand, that if you do this, it means that they have to improve that piece of their work.  The nice thing about this, is that it gets them thinking about how to improve their work.  Come back in 5 minutes to see how they have got on – they might need to be supported with a ‘prodding question’.

16. The Struggle Plenary

Ditch the pointless plenary where you tell them what you think they have learnt that lesson – and instead ask them what they have struggled with.  Then use this to plan your next lesson.

17.  Find 5

  • Jess: Oh please read it, sir. I’ve tried my hardest. I want to know how to improve.
  • Teacher: OK, Jess, just quickly.

Perhaps this might be better if:

  • Jess: Oh please read it, sir. I’ve tried my hardest. I want to know how to improve.
  • Teacher: I would like you to re-read it, Jess, and make five improvements. When you show me you have done that, I will read your work.

17. Reteach it – the best way to respond to feedback from students, when they haven’t got it – is to reteach it!  So obvious, but so often overlooked.

18. Subject Exhibitions


Display high quality student work (as above) and expect students to look at it and critique it – and then use this to inform their own work.

Some questions to reflect on

1. Is feedback a 2 way process?

2. Does feedback encourage them to think about their work, or just tell them what to do?

3.  Are students expected to respond and do something as a result of your feedback?

4. Does the teacher reshape and adapt instruction in response to student feedback?

5. Is our teaching (within and between lessons) and curriculum planning responsive, based on the performance of students?

6. Do we use a good variety of feedback that encourages students to consider – Where am I going? How am I going? Where to next?

7. Do we focus our feedback on – the task, the process and encouraging self-regulation?

8. Is personal feedback focused on the effort and hard work that students put in to their work?

9. Is there a good mix of verbal and written feedback?

10. Are students encouraged to critique the work of their peers? Are there opportunities provided for students to do this e.g. through ‘gallery critique’?

11. Are there opportunities for the ‘public presentation’ of work?

12. Is feedback kind, specific and helpful?

13. Is feedback timed right i.e. are students given enough ‘struggle time’?

14. Are students given DIRT – Directed Improvement & Reflection Time?

15. Are self-assessment strategies such as proof-reading, editing and redrafting employed to aid metacognition?

16. Do students get useful feedback on their homework, as well as their classwork?

17. Are you allowing students to struggle and take risks through the tactful withholding of feedback

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15 Responses to #TLT14 – Feedback Matters

  1. Marooney, Sue says:

    Great stuff Shaun Thanks Sue

    Sent from my iPad

  2. whatonomy says:

    An extremely well-researched post! After years of teaching, I’ve returned to “see me”!!!

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