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4 ways to ensure progress for every secondary student

More ideas from David Spendlove to help you ensure great learning happens for every student...

  • 4 ways to ensure progress for every secondary student

1 | Sit down

‘Assessment’ comes from the Latin word assidere which means to ‘sit by’ or to ‘sit beside’ – it has its roots in sitting with someone and engaging in dialogue about a planned outcome.

Keep a note in your register to ensure you take the time to sit next to each student at least once during each half term, project or scheme of work.

Symbolically, the act of sitting next to the pupil signifies a partnership, with the teacher’s role to encourage reflection and self-sufficiency on the part of the learner.

2 | Name role models

Give pupils examples of successful people who have learnt from negative feedback. If Michael Jordan had focused on how many times he had missed the basket, he would never have become the world’s greatest basketball player.

If James Dyson had focused on the failed prototypes he made when developing his revolutionary vacuum cleaner, he would never have become one of the world’s best-known designers. And if JK Rowling had focused on the rejection letters then we wouldn’t have Harry Potter.

3 | Encourage questions

As well as marking books with questions, encourage pupils to ask questions of you in their books – this is particularly useful for those young people who may be shy or unwilling to be seen asking questions in a lesson.

Instead of marking in the normal way, you will be responding to pupils’ questions and thus engaging them more in their learning.

4 | Little and often

Plenaries provide valuable two-way feedback opportunities. However, they are often misused or misunderstood. If used effectively, they will take place not just once, but throughout the lesson.

For example, if you are adding layers of complexity throughout the lesson, use a mini plenary prior to each new layer to gain feedback about how much pupils will be challenged by the next target.

Of course, an end-of-lesson plenary is still valuable for monitoring how well the objectives of the lesson have been achieved.


David Spendlove is professor of education and director of teaching and learning at the University of Manchester and an expert in AfL, research and teaching methods. These suggestions are taken from his book, 100 Ideas for Secondary Teachers: Assessment for Learning (Bloomsbury Education, £14.99). Follow him on Twitter at @David_Spendlove.

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