Bring and Brag

IMG_0659Beaumont recently held it’s first Bring and Brag as part of a Teaching and Learning INSET. The idea is simple; every member of staff brought along an idea that could be easily explained in one minute, and the room was set up as a speed dating activity. In all, staff swapped ideas with around 10 other people and took away loads of new ideas! It was great to see everyone talking so enthusiastically about their own ideas, as well as making notes on what everyone else had to offer.

In between the two speed dating sessions, there was also a chance to have a lookIMG_3858 at the work that the Teaching and Learning team has been up to so far. Focussing on marking, two display boards were set up based on examples of great marking and ideas for reducing marking workload, and staff could also have a look at the numerous books laid out around the room. Andy Gray also set up a station demonstrating some of the new ideas for using technology in classrooms that will hopefully be adopted.

As an exit pass for the INSET all staff filled in a slip asking them two questions about what ideas they will take away from the session, and if there are any strategies for marking not already featured. Look out for a blog post on these ideas in the future.



Meet the T&L Team – How you can get involved this year

Today, in a special Teaching and Learning briefing, the members of the Teaching and Learning Team introduced themselves and their roles for the year. Read on to find out more about the various foci of the team, and how Beaumont staff can get more involved with T&L.

Bring Your Own Device and New Technologies

Andy Gray


To share and demonstrate ideas on how mobile devices and ‘new technologies’ can be used to enhance and extend Teaching and Learning at Beaumont.

Aims for 2015 – 2016

  1. Create a document/booklet containing examples of apps, websites and platforms, categorised according to the following key areas of Teaching and Learning: feedback, assessment, revision, differentiation and collaboration and communication. Ideas have been (and hopefully will continue to be) submitted by a wide range of Beaumont staff.
  2. Seek feedback from departments with regards to which apps, websites and platforms they wish to utilise/learn more about. Find time in department meetings and/or INSET to demonstrate and provided training.
  3. Explore the use of Google Apps for Education, including Google Classroom (with James Goddard). Google Classroom serves as a platform for teachers to create and organise assignments quickly, provide feedback efficiently and easily communicate with their classes. Works alongside Google’s popular suite of productivity and storage applications.
  4. Set up a working group to test and feedback on the effectiveness of Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom. This is currently in its early stages of testing – more details will follow on how and why to get involved.

New Ideas for Everyday Teaching

Nat Moody


  1. To form a working party to experiment with new ideas, and then share their experience with colleagues and the wider teaching community. The group will draw on various resources e.g. T&L library, colleagues to get new ideas, and use them within lesson where appropriate once every term.
  2. Following the trial of the new ideas, members of staff will be asked to write a review (in which they should provide some context of the lesson and group) which can be shared via the T&L blog, Bring and Buys, resource board and possibly through Heads of Subject.

Higher-Level Thinking and Challenge 

Fiona Pinkerton


Development and research of new strategies to encourage students’ higher-level thinking, and to challenge them in the classroom. To provide resources, ideas and support for Beaumont teachers to allow them to implement new strategies in the classroom and in lesson planning, with the main aim being to support students in gaining a better understanding of how they learn.

Aims for 2015-2016

  1. Meet with a group of teachers, across a range of subjects, to introduce ideas and feedback from students so far, with the aim for Beaumont teachers to then trial their preferred ideas in the classroom. Meeting: 5/10/15 in Lab 42.
  2. During the course of the year I will email those teachers who attended the above meeting with resources, new things to trial out and to check in and see how things are going.
  3. During the year there will be a following two meetings in the Spring term and Two in the summer term. This will provide an opportunity for the group to discuss and share successes and failures.
  4. There will also be opportunities during the year for the group to observe one another; this will allow teachers to see how strategies are implemented differently in different classrooms.
  5. I hope that collectively during the course of the year we will collate resources and ideas, and make improvements to these strategies in order to share them with the rest of the staff.

What students are saying so far

“When Miss Pinkerton showed us some of these learning methods it helped me to understand what is going on. It is not all in the teachers’ hands. It’s given me a sense of control over my own learning.” Niamh (Year 12 Chemist St Michaels Garston)

“Using the hexagons helped me to understand how to link the ideas together. It enabled me to answer the harder question and get full marks.” Will Mattin  (Year 10 Chemist Beaumont)

“The hardest questions in the exams are the ones that seem to have nothing to do with what we have learnt. When Miss used the cause and effect map to break down what I needed to put in my answer, I started to make the links and finally understood what the question wanted me to answer.” Amy Cowan (Year 9 Beaumont)

Smarter Marking and Assessment

Fiona Rosler


To examine and apply various time-saving marking strategies to try and reduce workload of marking, whilst still providing enough feedback for students to progress.

Aims for 2015-2016

  1. Trial various marking and assessment strategies with my own classes to examine any advantages or disadvantages.
  2. Look at examples of marking from other departments to examine what works best for specific subjects. Departments will be contacted about this in the coming weeks.
  3. Provide ideas and advice at the November INSET to help staff to find a system that will work for them and which fits around their schedule.
  4. Collect feedback and opinions from a variety of staff and subjects to help advance these ideas throughout the year.

Developing Numeracy Skills

Fiona Rosler

Aims for 2015-2016

For all students to be able to understand and work with numbers in any subject. They should recognise when it is necessary or appropriate to use their numeracy skills and be able to apply these skills in various contexts outside of the Maths classroom.

This will be achieved by:

  1. Working initially with the Science, Geography and PE departments. Heads of Department have already been contacted.
  2. Looking at areas on SOWs which already involve numeracy and examining how/when these topics are taught – are they consistent with maths lessons?
  3. Attending department meetings for these subjects to discuss teaching methods and consistency with methods and keywords.
  4. Running Maths Week activities as last year.

To get involved, please speak to the member of the team responsible for each focus.

Spreading our wings

By Jo Cavanagh

comments postitOn the 23rd September Zoe, Nat and I had the privilege of being asked to deliver an INSET  on marking and feedback to the teaching staff at the Hemel Hempstead School. Our presentation revolved around our journey in terms of marking of students work, creating a dialogue with students and our OFSTED experience. The important aspect of the session however, was to encourage Hemel staff to discuss and share their own best practice. We asked teachers to write on a post-it note one top tip for speeding up marking, encouraging dialogue, their best stamp – basically something to do with marking. Below are the ideas they came up with.

Teacher/student Dialogue ideas (in no particular order)

  • Set a specific task that must be completed;
  • Use a pre-prepared feedback sheet and get students to stick it in before taking books in;
  • ‘Fix it’ – a section of work to rewrite;
  • Set a clear and specific target with an example;
  • Create half a dozen follow up questions that you project on the board at start of the next lesson and tell students which ones they need to look at when you write a comment; circulate, mark and put a sticker on;
  • Verbal feedback and flag this with a stamp. Students write date, the feedback give and action they need to take;
  • Essays have cover sheet which invites student comments;
  • Assessment feedback; target grade; current grade; 2 positive comments and one target for improvement;
  • Literacy support e.g. good x 3 means write 3 new words you can use;
  • Don’t state the exact issue, give them a clue, get them to think about it e.g. what is wrong with the layout of this document?
  • Use a ‘check your spellings’, ‘Capital letters’ and ‘full stop’ stamp to highlight errors.
  • Ask a question to check student understanding;
  • Encourage peer target setting using a mark scheme – to be checked by the teacher;
  • Ask students how they could improve;
  • Highlight effective work with a highlighter pen;
  • Top Tip stickers;
  • Pose a question with a timescale for the answer;
  • Ask pupil to re-write the weakest paragraph of an essay. Explain how they could improve it;
  • Star Task to extend student’s work if they have produced accurate work and everything is correct. Student then answers the question;
  • Students write their own targets;
  • Assessment cards for coursework that have rows for each accessible section and columns to show feedback and response for each deadline;
  • Question that can be answered in one sentence;
  • Sections in workbooks at key points for evaluation;
  • Medal and a mission (medal =positive feedback; mission=how to improve);
  • Students to copy questions they got wrong from mymaths HWK into their books – then have another go;
  • Give a specific area for improvement linked to a grade/mark development;
  • Make sure students get TIME to correct/develop work;
  • Next step targets;
  • Set a specific topic area as a target. Student then has to copy an exam question related to particular topic and complete in marking feedback time in class;
  • Get students to write and comment on their progress in the lesson. What we have achieved.

Skills for Success Marking

S4S stickersBy Andy Gray (RE)

Whilst I appreciate the importance of giving time for pupils to respond to feedback after their books have been marked, I have often found it challenging to ensure that the “book polishing” completed by students is sufficiently detailed and meaningful. In order to increase both the amount and the quality of teacher-pupil dialogue, I have started using some newly created marking stickers. These stickers have been developed over a period of time with the entire RE department working on the project to ensure that the stickers met the needs of all.

We wanted to create stickers which linked to our Skills for Success programme. All pupils are familiar with what is meant by a ‘Quality Question’; they recognise that they need to ‘Take Ownership’ in all their work and studies;  and they understand how to ‘Use Information’ appropriately to help develop their skills and understanding. By making clear references to skills that students are already familiar with, we felt that there would be an increase in the quality of student responses. Additionally, we decided to incorporate the new area of focus in ‘Phase 2’ of the S4S programme: ‘Be Persistent’.

As a result of using the stickers, the teacher-student dialogue  has become more meaningful and of a higher quality. Pupil are taking more of an active role in the dialogue, asking their own questions and personally reflecting on how their work could be improved. Below are some examples of the stickers in action and the pupil responses that they have generated.

Sticker examples

Magic Marking

marking and feedbackWith reports of teachers spending 60 hours a week working, there is always a need to consider how we can make life just a little bit easier. However many teachers quite  rightly feel that time  marking pupils’ work is simply one area which cannot be eaten in to – there is just no substitute for the feedback which pupils receive from properly marked work.

Our Teaching & Learning INSET focused on ideas that might help staff find ways to reduce the time spent marking, but without losing the quality of feedback which pupils receive. We wanted to look at how  we could help students progress with effective and timely feedback and think about whether we are giving pupils the information and time they need to reflect and understand how they can improve in the future. As usual, in our small working groups, staff discussed what they currently do, their concerns and problems, and we shared ideas and tried to support each other in finding ways to reduce time but increase the impact of our marking strategies. We started by marking a piece of work individually and then looking at the ways we had approached this.  Did we take the same amount of time?  Did we find the criteria for marking helpful? What are we looking for when we mark?  how long did it take and could we reduce the time taken?

RAG123Thanks to @Listerkev, Helen Wilson and Sarah Lofthouse have been trialling a system known as RAG123, where books are marked much more often (every lesson in an ideal world) and pupils take part in the marking by assessing both their effort and understanding. This powerpoint was discussed in the INSET, but there is lots more detail in this blog post (and the related links within it) from @ListerKev and on twitter using the hashtag #RAG123. The powerpoint used in our INSET also includes quotes from our own pupils when feedback was discussed by the student voice group. Some staff (eg Fiona Pinkerton in Science) use the idea of “Praises and Raises” codes – pupils receive a code in their book which they can then relate to a list of strengths and targets and find their specific feedback. There was a great deal of discussion about how the different ideas could be applied to various subjects and many staff thought about particular adaptions that they would make to a variety of ideas raised.

Moving onto the feedback we give to pupils, staff were asked to brainstorm about what would be totally ineffective and unhelpful feedback.  We then looked at how we could address these issues.  Examples included making feedback in a timely fashion and allowing pupils sufficient time to act on targets given. Through our student voice group, we also had thought from pupils about what was helpful to them when receiving feedback through marking – these ideas can be seen on the Power point.magic marking stars

A sheet of ideas about reducing marking workload was given to staff before they were asked to give some feedback to the T&L team on the INSETs run this year and also add their own ideas to some “Magic Marking” stars (some of these are already on the staff noticeboard, others will appear on the blog in a later post, in the T&L newsletter and on more cards for the black boxes).

Marking and feedback are a continual source of discussion among teachers, and there no real “right” answers. There are other ideas to read from Belmont Teach in this article. Hopefully you will find something in all of this to try for yourself – if you do, and you want to share you adaptations with us, please get in contact via twitter or email.

2014 – Spring into Action

If the Autumn term in 2013 was full of T&L treats and surprises (see The End of the Term), the Spring term promises to be even better. There is so much on offer this term that you are really spoiled for choice in terms of things to keep your enthusiasm for teaching bubbling  away.

Next week (Monday 3 February) we have our first T&L INSET of the year. Postponed for good reason after the sad news earlier in the term, the session will be on Questioning for Assessment, and promises to be a winner with lots of ideas to try out during the session as usual. The next INSET (Monday 3 March) will be on Marking – ways to cut down on your marking workload, whilst making it more effective – can’t wait!beat the clock

The first Learning Lunch of 2014 will be on Wednesday 12 February. Called “Beat the Clock”, the idea is that staff come along and either get help with preparing a shiny new resource for some lessons, or chat with members of the T&L team to talk through ideas for jazzing up a lesson that is falling a bit flat. There will be another learning lunch in the second half of the term, run by Jo Cavanagh on Revision Games – perfect timing for those year 11 lessons in the run up to study leave.library-card-catalogs

This term will see the introduction of the Teaching & Learning Library. Sarah Lofthouse is looking forward to being the “lady with the stamp” and will issue books to interested staff. Books have been recommended by the T&L team and a full list of those available will appear in a later post. Of course, reviews of any books read will be gratefully received for later posting.


Towards the end of the term, on Wednesday 26 March (4.30 – 6.30pm), Beaumont are hosting an Alban Teaching School Alliance (TSA) event called the T&L Takeaway. The Teaching and Learning Team will be on hand, sharing ideas and talking about some of the ideas we have been working on and developing. On Thursday 13 March, a Specialist School event is being held at Beaumont from 9am to 2pm, again with members of Team T&L. Details of both these last two events will be added as they are finalised, including how to sign up to attend.

Finally, Governors are visiting the school on Wednesday 12 February, shadowing a pupil for a few lessons, and will hopefully be able to see first hand some of the fantastic teaching ideas which we have been gathering on this blog.

It’s going to be a great term, even if a bit short. Looking forward to seeing you at one or more of the events.

Reviewing a Test

By Helen Wilson

One type of lesson which necessarily has to take place, but which deep down, until recently, I would dread, is the “Here is the test/exam paper you recently sat, and your results” lesson. It seemed that no matter what I  tried, these lessons always seemed to go one of two ways – either I would spend a great deal of time talking at the front of the class, trying to highlight where mistakes had been made and what ideal solutions for questions would look like; or the lesson would result in me feeling dragged from pillar to post, as student after student wanted me to look through a particular question with them and discuss what they needed to do to improve their score. Invariably, there would always be a number of pupils who would use the lesson to check and double check and, yes often, triple check my allocation of marks and adding up, in the hope that they would find an extra mark and feel good because they had done so. This seemed to serve no sensible purpose at all, and I would leave the lessons wondering how I could make them actually look at the paper to find areas where they needed to practise their skills further, or even better, start coaching each other in how to improve their scores on the test.

Luckily, through my trusty twitter feed, I came across this fabulous article by @TheMathsMagpie which explained a great collaborative activity for reviewing exam papers, called Ask the Expert. I have used the activity 3 times now, and each time have been astonished by the amazing amount of intense activity generated – pupils genuinely trying to coach each other in how to improve their score in order to reach their target grade.

I’ll leave you to read the details of the activity yourself, @TheMathsMagpie explains it far better than I could, but I will just note a couple of changes I made to fit with my classes:photo

1. I did give pupils the grade boundaries and asked them to calculate how many marks they would need in order to reach their target grade – for those who were already there, they had to calculate how many more marks they would need to exceed their target.

2. I didn’t give pupils a long grid to complete, simply 3 pieces of post-it notes on which they had to write down their name and a question on which they achieved full marks.

3. They then had to use the chart created at the front of the room to find an expert to ask to help them get closer towards their target. I emphasised the need to coach each other – it should not be just one pupil teaching the other but a collaborative effort to increase the marks of all pupils in the class.

Although the system seems complicated on first reading, it really does run like a dream, even engaging the pupils usually most reluctant to work with their peers in seeking support.

I’ve thought a lot about why it works and I think there are a number of factors:

  • Everyone is an expert somewhere – and the fact that their name is up on the wall as such, encourages everyone to talk to others to share their knowledge;
  • It fits in with our whole school approach to Skills for Success (which Nat Moody spoke about at the November TeachMeet) and uses all the skills which pupils are becoming more and more adept in using on a day to day basis;
  • It gives a very specific task to do – getting the marks to reach (or exceed) your target.

Each time I have run the lesson, I have had time to focus on pupils who perhaps needed some specific guidance or support, and yet have seen all pupils completely engaged and not spending a lesson surreptitously checking the adding up of marks for a fourth time.

Thank you to @TheMathsMagpie for another winner idea – saving me from dreading test paper return days.