Teacher Thresholds

“A threshold concept can be considered as akin to a portal, opening up a new and previously inaccessible way of thinking about something. It represents a transformed way of understanding, or interpreting, or viewing something without which the learner cannot progress. As a consequence of comprehending a threshold concept there may thus be a transformed internal view of subject matter, subject landscape, or even world view.” (Meyer and Land, 2003)

Both as people and professionals we will have encountered threshold concepts. Be it how to interpret the London tube map or teaching students phonics. There is no going back once learnt and they are transformative in nature.

This year (2019-20) at Durrington we have framed our teaching and learning priorities around what we consider to be the key threshold concepts for teachers working in our context.  Our rationale is that we believe that once teachers truly and deeply understand these concepts, their teaching will be tranformed for the better and will never be the same.
As a Research School our threshold concepts are based on areas of strength in terms of research-evidence together with what we consider to be essential for our staff.  They are:

This year, our teachers will be framing their inquiry questions (read about this here) around these threshold concepts.  This page will provide useful links to each of these threshold concepts.

Formative Assessment

To me ‘formative assessment’ describes all those processes by which teachers and learners use information about student achievement to make adjustments to the students learning that improve their achievement.”

Dylan Wiliam

What is formative assessment, why hasn’t it worked in schools and how can we make it better in the classroom – Nikki Booth

Interpreting formative assessment – Chris Runeckles

Revisiting Dylan William’s five brilliant formative assessment strategies – Tom Sherrington


“On a very basic level, it’s about pupils’ ability to monitor, direct, and review their learning. Effective metacognitive strategies get learners to think about their own learning more explicitly, usually by teaching them to set goals, and monitor and evaluate their own academic progress.”

Sir Kevan Collins

The EEF Metacognition Guidance Report

Making Sense of Metacognition – Alex Quigley & Eleanor Stringer

Metacognition: Making it happen in the classroom – Fran Haynes

Vocabulary Deficit

“We must give our students the necessary tools to develop their vocabulary independently. If we want a school-leaver to have something like 50,000 words, it’s a daunting task. But we can close the gap: by explicitly teaching a mere few hundred words well in the classroom, children grow their vocabulary exponentially by learning the related word families and having more tools to read independently with success. “

Alex Quigley

Explicit vocabulary strategy as a whole school literacy strategy – Fran Haynes

5 Vocabulary teaching myths – Alex Quigley

EEF Improving literacy in secondary schools guidance report

Cognive Load Theory & Memory

“Since working memory has a limited capacity, instructional methods should avoid overloading it with additional activities that don’t directly contribute to learning.”

John Sweller

Cognitive Load Theory: Research that teachers need to understand – New South Wales Education.

Cognitive Load Theory in Practice – New South Wales Education

Cognitive load theory and what it means for classroom teachers – Andy Tharby