Research and Development


The Blue Flag R&D group had a very focused meeting this term to review the impact of our team.  There is stimulating work going on in our partner primary and secondary schools under the umbrella theme of :

What makes good pedagogy? Do ‘boy only’ writing groups improve attainment and attitudes of reluctant writers?

We started with boys only writing booster groups in Years 6, 5 and 4. We involved pupils in exploring what helps them with their writing and what is happening when they are enjoying their writing.  We then deployed a range of strategies over the past 12months and are delighted with the outcomes.   School data shows that many of the boys in the writing groups exceed their expected progress for writing.  Recent lesson observations commented on an improvement in the quality of lesson planning and on the improved standard of work being produced.   We were pleased to notice an improvement in attitude of our students, as evidenced by the questionnaires.

As a result of a successful pilot study, the project has broadened across the school.  More staff have volunteered to investigate the approach.  Ideas are shared and support offered to staff in planning and delivering their own boy writing groups.   Plans are now in progress to involve all of our Learning Support Assistants in the effective delivery our model.

We found that through the co-operation of our pupils and staff this project was highly successful at Bishop Tufnell Junior School.  If you would like to know more about what we did, please email us at  Sasha Cremor & Gill Renny, Bishop Tuufnell Junior School

Self Assessment of pupils’ work and its impact on their learning


When I started this work, I thought that it would be quite straightforward to explore my students’ self-assessment, but this slowly evolved into a question “What are the most effective forms of self-assessment for different age groups?  I grew more interested in the impact self-assessment completed by my students.

To begin, I researched different ways of completing ‘self-assessment’ and then grouped them loosely into age appropriate categories. By this I mean that I put all the ones I thought would be suitable for Year 2 together, the ones for Year 6 together etc. What I found interesting was that Year 6 teachers from 3 different schools all did the same 4 or 5 self-assessment tasks with the children. The same was true of Y3 teachers.

I then did a survey with the children in my class – and then with selected students in Yr3, as my target group.  Over time and a lot of experimentation, pupils’ understanding of self-assessment improved and was reflected in the quality of meaningful comments.  This, in turn, led to the children taking time over their self-assessment as it was leading to a more positive impact on their work. they are unsure how to start – or indeed write – their feedback, then they have ideas to help them. I have spent some time with my class looking at targets and linking these into self-assessment.

The progress so far has been positive and the awareness and involvement of pupils in their learning has certainly improved.  I have shared this with other colleagues who are now trialling the strategies with their classes.

The next step would be to invite secondary colleagues into primary school – so that we can see an overlap of strategies and the same support is strengthened for pupils throughout their journey.

If you have an interest or any questions regarding my research work with self-assessment, please contact me at  Paul Neaves, Jessie Younghusband Primary School

Investigating metacognition – how does how children learn impact on their achievement?


Although our investigation was to explore ‘how does how children learn impact on their achievement?’ we realised that the key to its success would depend significantly on staffs’ understanding of how we learn or think or even improve our skills over time.  The objective was to help staff and pupils understand how our brain processes information and how our memory works and then introduce strategies to develop thinking and learning skills.

After a pilot research with a small group of Yr6 pupils in the summer of 2013, we were prepared to take this forward with all of our Yr6 in September 2013. There were some unplanned changes in circumstance that impacted on the progress made, never the less , the outcomes of the research work has been pleasing. Our SATs result will confirm our predictions but there is soft evidence to suggest a change in pupils’ behaviour and attitude towards learning.  Students are set a ‘Brain Mission’ to complete at home and we are grateful to the parents for their support in completing these with the pupils.  Recently a group of pupils discussed the work of this project with our Governing Body.

As our next step, the school is in the process of building metacognition into our everyday practice.  It is beginning to have strong links as we develop the new curriculum, ready for September.  Our current Yr5 pupils are keen and excited to participate in the project next year and we look forward to expanding it wider at West Dean. If you would like to know more please contact  us office@westdean.w-sussex.sch.ukSue Goacher and Merrill Shears West Dean Primary

Does self-assessment support pupil progress?


My focus area is to add value to and impact to teaching and learning through peer and self-assessment. The process is reminding me that as a teacher, you never stop learning! Working as part of this group engenders cross-curricular conversations where good practice is shared and also provides a forum for myself and other teachers to be reflective about our own classroom practice. The impact of all of this is a heightened quality of experience for my students, for whom I hope innovation becomes common place. This research has served asa means of injecting innovatory approaches into my classroom for the learners.   It has also allowed for a very positive dialogue to be opened between my students and their parents and the teacher. Because students feel involved in the process, they are encouraged to take a more active role and indeed take ownership of their learning.

Both, my students & I have built a team of “critical friends” who trust each other and the value of our work.  Students’ attitudes and motivation in Spanish are very positive and attainment, as evidenced by the interim analysis this year, has been impressive. Uptake for GCSE Spanish has significantly gone up from only 5 students initially considering to take up Spanish to GCSE in my year 9 group (September 2013), to now 22 out of a group the 24 students (January 2014) There is soft evidence gathered from questionnaires (taken in September 2013 then April 2014), where students articulate why they feel they are progressing and gaining confidence in Spanish. Lesson Observations also noted and commented on the positive impact AfL strategies have on progress within a lesson. Most of all, standard of students’ work produced has improved immensely as pupils take time and care in their written tasks.

The successful strategies have been shared with a wider audience and I hope to build on this success next year. We will aim to make this a cross phase opportunity and I would welcome the opportunity to work with my colleagues in the primary schools. To know more about my work with self/peer-assessment, please contact me at  Stella Richi, Bishop Luffa School.

Download – AFL Strategies Download – What makes good pedagogy