Forestdale Primary School

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School Projects

We believe that future success is built upon current success. Therefore we utilise internal expertise, with colleagues from other schools, external facilitators, subject specialists, researchers and other strategic partners. These all provide support, specialist knowledge and skills, which enables us to take significant steps in improving and raising standards in school.

Lesson Study

What is The Ascend Project?

Ascend focuses on closing the gap between pupil premium and non-pupil premium students through 'quality first' teaching. Lesson Study is the vehicle for achieving this by researching what impacts upon student learning as well as improving the quality of teachers' subject knowledge and classroom pedagogy.

Lesson study as an approach is a very different way of teachers working in collaboration and observing each other in the classroom.

The success and sustainability of Ascend is founded upon developing a Best Practice Model, embodying the Institute of Education's approach to impact evaluation of improvement, to support schools in:

  • identifying baseline and impact data to improve teachers' subject knowledge, raise attainment and accelerate progress for pupils with FSM and underachieving pupils.
  • developing school systems and capacity to support and embed the Best Practice Model.
  • using Lesson Study as a key driver of school improvement.
  • access to high quality CPD e.g. through IOE, NCETM Star Lesson etc.


  • High standards in core academic subjects
  • Teachers committed to self-learning within wide professional communities, confident and competent to teach core academic subjects.
  • Highly educated and qualified workforce.


  • Increased progress and attainment of targeted groups in English and Maths, e.g. FSM making above expected progress and above national attainment, Y6 able pupils achieving L6 in Maths and English.
  • High level of teacher competency in subject specific teaching within and beyond the phase in which they teach.

How does it work?

Three teachers make up a lesson study team. The teachers alternate each week to become the ‘focus teacher’ of a lesson study. The focus teacher films two of their lessons, which are then analysed in a collaborative discussion, examining the impact of the teaching upon the learning and explores what leads to successful learning. Following the discussions the focus teacher then plans and implements any agreed changes into their practice. Once all the teachers have been a ‘focus teacher’, a full cycle will have been completed. The staff at Forestdale completed two cycles in the academic year 2014/2015.

Key principle

“Alone in their classroom, a teacher may see only five per cent of pupil interactions. Lending our ‘eyes’ and ‘ears’ to each other enables us to collaboratively see more and work together in developing next steps.”

The Ascend project teachers joined the other 27 schools involved in the project at 3 different conferences held across the year. The initial meeting in September 2014 was to lunch the project and the latter meetings were for practitioners to network and share findings.

The Launch in September 2014

Cycle 1 - The process

In January, the trio of Ascend teachers began the first cycle of the project. Recording equipment was set up in the ‘focus teachers’ classrooms to film the lesson, focussing on what the children were learning. The remaining two teachers joined this lesson to make their own observations on three chosen pupils.

Day 1


A pre-lesson observation discussion meeting took place. The focus teacher shared:

  1. the initial lesson plan
  2. the context of the lesson
  3. the nature of the group
  4. their focus for Lesson Study – the nature of the focus students and reasons for them being selected.

Collaboratively the Lesson Study Group discussed the plan. The facilitator chaired the discussion and related all discussion back to the learning objectives and the IMPACT OF ACTIVITIES ON LEARNING – with particular emphasis on the focus students. The group discussed each phase of the lesson i.e. starter, activity 1, activity 2 etc. looking at: (a) The nature of the activity (what students/teacher was to be doing) and (b) The challenges (possible misconceptions, barriers to learning, etc.) (c) Suggestions (to address the challenges)

The whole group then went through the suggestions and agreed what needed to be implemented into the revised lesson plan.

During the lesson:

Observers were situated around the room and focussed on watching targeted students (as agreed) and their engagement with and responses to lesson activities.

  1. Observers did not interact with and speak with students but instead concentrate on listening to and watching students.
  2. Observers made notes and compared anticipated responses of focus students to actual responses.
  3. At the end of the lesson observers (or the teacher) collected in student work (“artefacts”) for the subsequent post lesson observation discussion.

Year 4 lesson observation

Group Debrief:

A Post Lesson Observation Discussion took place following the lesson. The facilitator leading the discussion invited the teacher to:

  1. Share what they liked about the lesson (the facilitator asked questions for clarification during this)
  2. Explained anything about the lesson they would have liked to have changed. The facilitator then asked all observers for an overview of how the lesson went with specific reference to the students, observations about their responses to the lesson, learning and engagement. The facilitator outlined and reminded the observers what they were looking for in sharing their observations. These included:
  1. The physical responses of students
  2. The interaction between students (verbal and non-verbal)
  3. Questioning and students' attitudes/responses to questions asked
  4. Student attitudes towards feedback
  5. Students' exploration of learning
  6. Students' demonstration of understanding

The lesson was then discussed activity by activity with reference to its effectiveness and impact on learning, with contributions from all observers and a record was made of the discussion. A record was made of:

  1. What was observed
  2. What was achieved
  3. Action(s) for improvement

Day 2

The same format took place on day 2 but the outcomes from the previous day fed into the pre-lesson observation planning session.


Outcomes from observations

R- Children in class responded well to active learning and physical participation. They also liked to choose their own activities and decide themselves how to pursue tasks. The teacher planned more activities involving physical movement/actions for all learners (phonics/storytelling etc.) and planned ‘choosing’ activities which encouraged greater independence and autonomy. Effective use of talk partners was a focus of discussion and children were paired according to who they worked successfully with e.g. same ability talk partner or HA and LA together.

1-Children in the year one class exhibited a range of different learning styles and were only able to concentrate and focus in short bursts. The teachers planned shorter tasks, including mini plenaries, drama, role-play, actions etc to break up the lesson. Children were also grouped according to their different learning styles rather than abilities and took turns to work with the teacher who adapted her teaching style to suit the learning styles of the children. The groups that were identified are: “thinkers” – the children who need extra thinking time (discussion to be encouraged to develop this thinking), “willing” children who although appear to be working hard, staying on task and produce good quantities of work were not always on target to meet the learning objective because of misunderstandings. The final group identified were the “lacking concentration” children that were easily distracted.

4- Children were working at a different pace from one another. Some got on with their writing straight away whilst others seemed to take time to start the activity. It became apparent that children who did not settle to a task immediately did know what to do, however, they just required ‘thinking time’. The teacher considered ‘How can I make sure all the children can access the learning, now I know them better?”. Therefore the teacher planned for more opportunities to allow children to talk or think before going into their writing and changed her perception that getting on with a task straight away did not always equate to a child being successful or engaged in a task. The positioning of children in the classroom was also reorganised to improve attitudes and work ethic, talk partners

Impact on students

R- All children were involved with activities on the carpet and after the input. O now contributes to many more carpet sessions and his enthusiasm for lessons has increased dramatically. He is showing more pride in his work and takes care with it now. L has begun to find his voice again and is starting to join in with whole class sessions on the carpet, he looked more actively engaged. S has the confidence to choose activities now where before she liked to have direction to support her. She is starting to play with a range of children. The selection of follow up activities has allowed children to explore the focus book/texts in their own way.

1-Having a range of short activities accommodating different learning styles has proved beneficial as it breaks up tasks and children appear more engaged and enthusiastic. Levels of concentration and engagement have increased.

4- Repositioned children, in terms of their seating and talk partners, became more actively engaged in discussions and activities. Children were then also more likely to volunteer to share what they had discussed in their pairs/groups with the whole class. Allowing children ‘thinking time’ at the start of an activity and realising that not all children are able to start work immediately changed teachers perceptions of what looked like an effective learner and meant children could work in a way best suited to them.

Adaptations for cycle 2

Revised Timetable

At the end of Cycle 1, the teachers evaluated the lesson study format and decided to implement some changes. Teachers found that there was not enough time to carefully observe videos of their lessons and to adapt plans fully, according to outcomes. Therefore a new timetable was introduced to allow more time for reflection, discussion and for full adjustments to be made.

Original timetable

  Day 1 Day 2
9.00-10.30 Group Discussion and planning Group discussion and today’s planning is adjusted according to yesterday’s lesson outcomes.
10.45-12.00 Lesson Delivery
Lesson videoed and teachers to observe focus children in class.
Lesson Delivery
Lesson videoed and teachers to observe focus children in class.
After school   Summary-Teachers complete Developing Focus Proforma

Revised timetable

  Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
9.00-10.30 Focus teacher videos own lesson. Focus teacher watches the video back and tags significant events/findings. Focus teacher highlights issues/areas in need of development in the classroom. Focus teacher videos own lesson.
10.45-12.00   The group meets to discuss what the issues are and work together to find a solution/strategy using the CLEAR coaching tool format. The group meets to watch the video and assess the impact of the actions.
After school   The focus teacher readjusts the following day’s plans according to the discussion outcomes/actions. Review -Teachers complete Developing Focus Proforma.


  • Teachers were given ample time to watch their lessons back on their own in order to reflect on their practice without the influence of anyone else.
  • Planning for the following day, rather than the following lesson, meant teachers were given sufficient time to completely re-adjust plans based on the discussion outcomes. This also meant the impact of the changes were more evident and far easier to measure.

Lesson study teachers using the new CLEAR format, Cycle 2


New Format

Cycle 1 was conducted as more of a mentoring program where the observing teachers became facilitators and, based upon their observations of the children, set targets and goals for the focus teacher. However, this changed when our teachers attended a coaching session in March with Paul Foster, Deputy Headteacher at Hayes School, Bromley just before the start of cycle 2. The CLEAR coaching format was introduced which was a more structured, explicit and specific lesson study process to follow. In CLEAR the focus teacher became the coachee, setting their own goals and targets based on the observations of themselves and their class.


  • The group planning sessions were more focussed and clearer outcomes were established from the simple yet effective CLEAR structure.
  • Teachers were given greater time, responsibility and support to embed changes in their own classroom practice.
  • A contract was devised which set clear rules and refocussed the teachers on the aim of the project.

Sample Lesson

One particularly successful lesson study, where significant actions were put in place, happened in cycle 2. In general, the teachers aimed to improve all children's independence and willingness to participate in lessons. They discussed how they could cater for different learning styles and agreed to take on more of a foundation stage approach to teaching and learning. When observed on day 1, the year one class appeared to be restless on the carpet and only able to sustain concentration for short periods of time. So on day 2, the teachers started their discussion by looking at the lesson's objective ‘Use and apply verbs’. They decided that the planning of the lesson should not be focussed on the written outcome, however, it should be focused on what the objective wanted the child to achieve (to use and understand verbs). They initially explored the idea of setting up activities which involved using verbs practically for different groups according to abilities but then quickly decided that this approach would not allow children full freedom and independence. So they decided to set up a range of fun activities i.e making cakes, songs, playing instruments, accessible to all, to allow the children to choose the activities they wanted to take part in. To ensure there was still an element of differentiation and challenge, 3 lists of verbs, varying in difficulty, were given to the children to refer to as they moved around the activity stations. The teachers also wanted the children to be accountable for their learning and have evidence that they have understood the task, so the children had to tick off each word they used at different activity stations.


  • Give children a choice about the activity they take part in.
  • Focus on the objective skills opposed to a written outcome.
  • Continue to differentiate by word choices.
  • Make children accountable (tick sheet).
  • Range of activities to appeal to different learning styles.


The teachers agreed a common issue across all year groups is that children are not always enthusiastic to take part in their learning. Planning needs to accommodate different learning styles, children need to be made accountable for their learning and lessons should not be restricted to time limits. Now, teachers are confident and aware of catering for different learning styles, focussing on objectives, using time effectively, looking at ways to compile evidence as well as increasing children's accountability. The children had a fantastic time and achieved the learning objective; just in a different way. The children then naturally wanted to write down what they had done which was not the original intended outcome.

Children’s responses to the sample lesson

What did you like?

Summary- The children explored and took part in the range of activities. They were excited and enjoyed taking part in the different learning activities.

What helped you with your writing?

Summary- The children used the support and challenge resources to help them understand what they were learning and the practical activities gave them an experience to draw from when writing. 

Outcomes of Cycle 2

Outcomes from observations

R – For some children, joining in with conversations was limited. Children were provided with more props and materials to support their acting out of the story. Some children could be reluctant to join in with conversations and lacked motivation to write sentences linked to the story. Children had a designated writing area that children could access at any time but this was not a very popular activity for some of the boys in the class. A washing line was set up at child level meant that children could choose to showcase their work before it went into books.

1 – From findings and discussions in the last cycle, mixed learning style groups were trialled for Monday and Tuesday this week but the children that were easily distracted did not work well as a group. However, the Willing and the Thinkers worked well. On Wednesday's lesson the Distracted were integrated with other learning styles. Some children lacked the independent skills needed to take accountability of their learning and would need some adult encouragement before beginning a task. It was discussed how we might be able to cater for all of these varied learning styles and attitudes to learning and it was agreed that a more foundation stage approach to teaching and learning should be taken.

Impact on students

R – The props provided proved to be helpful at engaging all children and where previously S would be reluctant to act out a story, was joining in with taking on a character and acting out the story that was now familiar to her by the physical acting out. O and L chose to write sentences linked to the story showing more enthusiasm for writing. The use of a washing line meant that children could showcase their work and this appeared to motivate more children to complete a piece of writing for display.

1 - All focus children responded well to the lesson and were able to achieve the learning objective; however the approach became aimed at increasing all children's independence and willingness to participate in lessons. It was decided that the planning of the lesson should not be focussed on the written outcome, but should be focused on what the objective wants the child to achieve. We then discussed setting up activities which involved using verbs practically for different groups according to abilities but then quickly decided that this approach would not allow children full freedom and independence. A range of fun activities was set up i.e making cakes, songs, playing instruments to allow the children to choose the activities they wanted to take part in. To ensure there was still challenge, 3 lists of verbs were to be given to the children to refer as they moved around the activity stations. This also made children more accountable for their learning and provided evidence that they have understood the task and that they would remain focussed as they moved around the different activity stations ticking off the words.


Aspirational targets for pupil premium children were made at the beginning of the year and the target children either met those aspirational targets or exceeded them.

Lesson Study Summary

The lesson study has given staff the opportunity to reflect on the way they teach. With the introduction of the new CLEAR format teachers are also able to debate on teaching approaches and new ideas, igniting powerful and professional discussions. The process has instigated a shift from the original format of STAR, a mentoring programme, into a typical coaching format; where teachers feel they are deeply involved in their own professional development. Viewing their own class as an observer has enabled teachers to take on a different and very effective method of getting to know their pupils. Watching how the children work in the class environment, without interacting with them, means that teachers can see how children work, what types of learners they are and identify any individual needs. The lesson study has allowed teachers the opportunity to focus closely on specific groups of learners. It can be seen from the data that the aspirational targets that were set for pupils with FSM and underachieving pupils have either been met or exceeded. Most importantly of all, the children have enjoyed the lesson study lessons. The continuation of adaptations in teaching and learning hopefully means their enjoyment of learning will continue to grow, instilling passion and good attitudes towards learning for now and in the future.

The Future of Ascend

In the new academic year 2016/2017, The Ascend lesson study format will be rolled out across the school in order for teachers to share outstanding practice, to reflect on their own teaching and their children’s learning. The future of Ascend is illustrated in the diagram below:

During the year 2016/2017

  • A staff meeting and lesson study cycle will be planned for each trio per term. This dedicated time will allow teachers to reflect on their practice and become deeply involved in their own professional development.
  • Data analysis and the school’s The School’s Self Evaluation Format (SEF) will identify the underachieving pupils in each class who will be the target children for each lesson study teacher. The progress of these target pupils will also become part of lesson study teacher’s performance management targets.
  • The project’s leads will encourage lesson study teachers to engage with existing academic research.
  • Teachers should be encouraged to develop hypothesis and test them throughout the lesson study.
  • The whole school findings should be shared, complied and presented to learning networks and the school’s stakeholders.

Forestdale Primary School Ascend Mission Statement

Here at Forestdale Primary School, we believe that every child and adult can achieve excellence regardless of age, ability or attitude.

As a team, we are focussed on developing a positive attitude towards learning that will last a life time. We want to enthuse each and every child at Forestdale Primary School and together build an ethos of lifelong learning in a happy and safe learning environment.

The Power of Reading Project

In 2014 the local authority introduced funding to help raise standards in reading across Croydon schools. The literacy coordinator applied for the school to be granted funding for The Power of Reading project, which is an online source that gives access to teaching sequences and materials based on quality literature for children. Our application was successful and two lead teachers, one from year 2 and the other from year 6, attended training for the project over a year 2014-2105. Throughout the year sessions, ran by the local authority, provided the lead teachers with ideas and books from the scheme. Debbie Thomas, Croydon’s School Improvement Officer, also came in during the summer term and led a Power of Reading staff meeting for all staff to demonstrate how it scheme should be implemented.

The literacy coordinator and the year 6 teacher/art coordinator planned a week for teachers to launch and roll out the project in their own classes across the school. The aim of the week was to promote the books by combining the literature and creative ideas to produce an exhibition for the community of poetry (using rich vocabulary) and art (of an abstract nature). The week was entitled ‘Picture This’ and teachers were allocated a picture book from the project as a stimulus for the week’s poetry and art work. We deliberately chose a diverse range of books covering different concepts and cultures from around the world to reflect the multicultural society we live in.


Reception created poems and artwork based on ‘The Naughty Bus’ by Jan and Jerry Oke. The book tells the story of a little boy who is given a toy bus and takes it on adventures with him. The beautiful photographs and text capture the importance and emotional connection to the little boy’s toy. The book inspired Reception to think about toys that were particularly special to them and why. The children created representations of their favourite toys using a variety of media: painting, drawing, junk modelling and also building with construction resources. The representations of their favourite toys were displayed on a road that the children made out of paper and tyre prints. This road weaved around the art exhibition and took visitors on a journey, just like in the story. Reception also created simple poems describing what they may see or hear on a bus journey, and how this experience would make them feel. The children’s poetry was displayed on bus stops along the bus route.

Year 1:

Year 1 worked really well to create their own poems and shadow puppets based on the book 'The Dark' by Lemony Snicket. The story of Lazlo and how he stopped being afraid of the dark inspired the children to think about what the dark means to them. The children created fantastic puppets that were then displayed in our Shadow Puppet Theatre. The theatre allowed the children's representations of the dark to be seen through their shadows. The story incorporates the different senses and the children used this to create their own poems about the dark. All of their poems were displayed on the outside of the Shadow Puppet Theatre.

Year 2:

Year 2 created poems and art work based on the story of Lila and the Secret of the Rain. The story is of a girl named Lila who lives in a village in Kenya; where they have not seen rain for several months. The crops are withering, the cattle are suffering, and the heat is so unbearable the villagers cannot do their regular work. When Lila overhears her mother saying that the well has dried up, her worries grow. In desperation, she seeks her grandfather's wisdom about the secret of rain and then leaves her village to try and accomplish the impossible. The text and illustrations inspired the children to explore the contrast in these two weather conditions, including what they might see as well as how they might feel. Chestnut class focused on Lila’s experience before the rain whilst Hazel class’ focus was after the rain has come. The poems were displayed back to back in order for children and adults to experience the story from beginning to end. The children created African masks through exploring African style artwork. They also created African landscapes to accompany this. The masks and landscapes were displayed on a mountain relating to that of which Lila had to climb to experience the secret of the rain. The children also learnt an African style dance to replicate this African tradition.

Year 3:

Year 3 created poems and art work inspired by the story 'Leon and the Place Between' written by Angela McAllister and Grahame Baker-Smith. Wanting to prove to his brothers and sister that magic really exists, Leon volunteers to be in Abdul Kazam's magic show and gets transported to a mysterious world. Filled with rabbits, doves, playing cards and magician's assistants, if a magician can make it disappear, it will end up in the Place Between! The children started by creating a class list poem considering the things that could be seen and the emotions it made them feel using an image in the text. They then wrote their own poems, using the poem 'Magic Carpet Ride' by Brian Moses as a template, exploring the places they could go and the things they could do on a magic carpet. Their poetry was backed on to pastel patterns inspired by carpet patterns. Finally, the children also wrote, filmed and edited their own magic shows inspired by 1920s black and white, silent movies. The children used Windows Live Movie Maker to edit their videos, ensuring they were black and white, silent, cropped so that it seemed magic had taken place and music placed over the top. All of the videos were then shown on a computer screen, inside a circus tent, with the children's poems hanging from trapezes inside the tent.

Year 4:

Year 4 created poems and art work based on the true story of Jemmy Button who was taken from his native home in Tierra Del Fuego to be civilised in England. The book’s illustrations and text inspired a whole class free poem based on Jemmy’s forest home and his opportunity to discover new shores. The children also created individual list poems to capture his feelings when he encountered new experiences, from wearing clothes to sampling delicious and exotic cuisines! The children created colourful artwork inspired by South American artists Roberto Mamani Mamani and Joaquin Torres Garcia, representing elements of Jemmy’s journey and experiences. The children then used their artwork and poems to form abstract trees and create a forest. The whole class poem was written up on a large life-size cut-out of Jemmy Button and displayed amongst the abstract trees. All of the colourful pieces were then displayed under a canopy of green accompanied by sound effects, replicating his native home.

Year 5:

The year 5 ‘Picture This’ book was called ‘The Viewer’ written by acclaimed author Gary Crew and illustrated by academy award winner Shaun Tan. The Viewer tells the peculiar story of a boy whose obsession with curious artefacts leads him to discover a strange box at a dump site. It proves to be an ancient chest full of optical devices, one of which captures his interest; an intricately mechanical object which carries disks of images; scenes of destruction, violence and the collapse of civilisations throughout time. The boy is afraid, but also cannot help but look into the machine time and time again as the images shift and change.

Year 5 focused on the concept of an ‘All Seeing-Eye’. Around since the dawn of time, the ‘All Seeing-Eye’ has been an ever present throughout the evolution of human history from the creation of the universe to more contemporary major events such as World War II. Year 5 focused on what the ‘All Seeing-Eye’ has seen throughout history; each line of the poem that they wrote started with the words ‘The eye sees…’ The children started with a verse on the creation of the universe and then progressed through the major periods of human history and wrote a verse on each time period. In the last verse of their poem, the children changed the opening line of the verse to ‘My eye sees…’ They then wrote about the significant events that have taken place so far in their own life e.g. their first Christmas, their first holiday. They focused on the emotion that they felt during these events and incorporated this within the last verse of their poem.

With regards to the art that was inspired by the book, the children were asked to bring in photos of themselves from different periods of their own life. The photos started from when the children were babies and progressed chronologically to the present day. The children created their own viewfinder like the main character ‘Tristan’ views in the book. The idea behind the creation of the viewer was to chronologically catalogue the life of each child. In addition to this, one of the spaces in the viewer was left empty with just a question mark illustrating that no one is sure what will take place in the next stage of their lives, much like human history today.

Another aspect that we pursued based on the book was this concept of time and what it means to, and how it governs us as a society. We looked at a piece of art ‘The Persistence of Memory’ by the artist Salvador Dali. The melted clocks within this piece of art demonstrated a completely different viewpoint on how time can be depicted. Usually time dictates where we need to be and what we do at specific periods of the day. Within this painting, this is completely changed due to the fact the clocks are melted signifying a lack of importance. The children, in pairs, designed their own melting clocks in the style of Dali and created their design using the medium of clay.

For the exhibit a giant eye was created and placed over a giant television. The reason a television was chosen was because this invention is something that people view daily and the eye was placed on it to represent the seeing of all human kind. The viewers created by the children were placed around this All Seeing-Eye and pictures of significant events throughout history were placed in chronologically order around the exhibit. The poetry produced by the children was then hung using string and the Salvador Dali clocks were hung around the ‘All Seeing-Eye’.

Year 6:

Year 6 created poetry and artwork based on The Princess’ Blankets by Carol Ann Duffy. This new fairy tale contains many traditional ingredients of the genre, with sinister events lurking beneath the surface, causing the reader to think beyond the superficial. As the story unfolds, we are introduced to a king, a queen, a princess, a dark stranger and a gentle musician who saves the day, ensuring a happy ending.

Desperate to prevent his daughter from being cold, the king declares great reward for anyone who can keep her warm. A dark stranger, hungry for the reward, makes a succession of four blankets made from the ocean, the forest, the mountain and the earth, each to no avail. His wicked and immoral act of stealing nature, causes great distress to the people of the land.

The children worked in four groups and created group poems inspired by nature - the earth, the mountain, the forest and the ocean - and underwent a tactile activity involving ice, and elements of the ocean, forest and earth. They then went onto create individual poems retelling the story. Using mixed media, each pupil created a section of weaving, depicting one of the four areas of nature, and were assembled together to make a large blanket – The Princess’ Blanket. This highly colourful and tactile piece of art was then displayed on a bed, complete with gold headboard and quirky crown almost teetering on a bed post.

The visitor feedback was staggering

Books from the project were also used as a stimulus for the summer writing assessments.


  • Reluctant readers were able to access literature through a range of mediums.
  • Children were given a purpose to read.
  • Children enjoyed sharing a book collectively as a class.
  • Children were enthusiastic to create art and poetry based on ideas stimulated by the text they were studying.
  • Children produced a piece of work they were proud of, to a high standard and for an
  • audience/purpose.
  • The school’s aim to promote reading and a love of literature was successfully demonstrated to parents, stakeholders and members of the community.

Marking and Feedback

What makes marking and feedback effective?

At Forestdale Primary we believe that effective marking and feedback will develop self-confidence, raise self-esteem, promote positive attitudes and behaviour and lead to an improvement in learning. We aim to establish a consistent approach in the way children’s work is marked so that they are involved in the process and are aware of the next steps in their learning.

Key principles

Marking should:

  • show pupils that their work is valued
  • encourage, motivate, support and promote positive attitudes
  • assess children’s performance against stated learning objectives and success criteria
  • acknowledge effort and attainment
  • correct misunderstanding and offer encouragement and address misconceptions
  • provide information for assessment and inform planning
  • be related to needs, attainment and ability of individuals
  • where possible, be accompanied by verbal comments
  • recognise achievement, presentation and effort
  • share expectations
  • encourage pupils to reflect on their performance
  • allow pupils to make amendments to work in order to improve and extend skills
  • raise attainment and achievement
  • develop a dialogue between pupils and staff
  • promote a consistent approach to marking and feedback throughout all Key Stages

How has marking at Forestdale recently changed?

Revised policy

Through meticulous moderation of work and book scrutinies it became apparent that marking and feedback needed to be amended and developed. Greater emphasis was needed on pupils being able to use their feedback in order to know what to do to improve.

The existing school policy was then developed and improved to ensure that not only were efforts congratulated, but the children’s learning was supported, consolidated or challenged by the feedback given by the teacher. This then became to motto for our policy.

Staff Meeting 1 (29.06.15)

Once the policy had been updated a staff meeting was held led by the assistant head teacher. The purpose of the staff meeting was to update staff with recent changes in the Ofsted framework, clarify the aim of our newly revised marking policy, collectively discuss and agree as a staff how we were going to move marking on in our school, share examples of effective practice and agree to pilot the new policy.

1) Current Affairs

At the start of the staff meeting, teachers were given an article “Hit the Books” by Julie Price Grimshaw from the Teach Primary Magazine. They were asked to read the article which included details of recent changes in Ofsted guidance and outlining how effective marking can contribute to raising standards.

The staff then discussed the article and the following points were raised:

  • Is the current policy making a difference? Countless hours are spent marking according to the current policy but is it having any impact in raising standards? Who is the marking for?
  • Any changes made to encompass a more effective way of feeding back will be a process over time which will need review at different stages in consultation with staff and children.
  • When will children be given time to respond to their feedback or time to absorb new information or trial something new? Currently, children tend to be given ‘early work’ time (5 minutes) to respond to any marking comments. If marking is to move children’s learning on they will need carefully planned time, embedded in a lesson.

2 Examples of Outstanding Practice

Teachers were then given Ofsted reports of recent inspections carried out in the local authority to identify statements regarding ‘outstanding’ marking. These statements were then added to our newly revised policy to ensure we remain focussed on how to provide ‘outstanding’ marking for our children.

Outstanding Good
    Next steps for pupils were highlighted
  • Children follow advice
  • Time is built in for responding to teachers comments/questions
  • Regular
  • Children respond enthusiastically
  • Marking helps children understand
  • Verbal feedback is instant and moves learning on
  • High levels of expectation and presentation
  • Marking is variable and inconsistent
  • Children are not sure about feedback
  • Teachers do not allow time for children to respond
  • Lack of progress is evident

3) Key changes

The new policy was then shared and teachers were informed of the following changes:

  • Golden sentences to be highlighted in yellow by the teacher. Children then write their Golden Sentence, in best, and add it to the What Makes a Golden Sentence Display. This not only recognises an individual’s effort and achievement but also acts as a model/example for other pupil’s to replicate.
  • Marking and feedback should be consistent with the policy across both key stages in order to be effective and efficient in promoting learning.
  • Marking will no longer be a summary at the end of a piece of work using the 3 ticks and a wish symbol; ticks () highlighted elements achieved and the wish indicated a development point. Marking is to be a narrative throughout, recognising and highlighting effort and success (using a double tick symbol  and a label ), as well as areas in need of further development (a star symbol *)
  • A congratulatory comment must accompany a piece of learning and either a supportive, consolidating or challenging question must ensue indicated by a large Q. Whether a Q is always necessary for each and every piece is at the discretion of the teacher.
  • Modelled strategies and examples by the teacher is vital in providing informative and effective feedback.
  • Teacher’s feedback, pupil’s responses and general standards in presentations and expectations will become a major contributing factor when reviewing performance management targets. We aim for excellence across the school.

4) Question Models

Examples of Support, Consolidation and Challenge questions for both numeracy and literacy were provided for teachers (see policy).

5) Trial

Teachers then trialled the new policy and marked an anonymous piece of work. They were then asked to pilot the new policy over the next week and prepare to bring along samples of books and feedback to the staff what they had found.

Staff Meeting 2 (06.07.15)

Teachers were asked to bring along 4 maths and 4 literacy books to the meeting.

1) Results of the pilot

Teachers were put into in mixed key stage groups and were asked to share with each other what they had found over the course of the week. They then fed back to the whole staff.

Feedback from teachers:

  • It had a positive effect but only if sufficient time was granted the following day to consolidate.
  • The process should become easier over time.
  • Spellings in year 1 and 2 are given to the children to copy rather than expecting children to find the correct spelling in a dictionary (different skill required) Year 1 found that not all of the children could read the range of questions therefore BAR children will be given a similar style of question each day. They will also create a bank of example questions to refer to.
  • Children respond well to the symbols.
  • There was a mix of who found the literacy easier to mark than the maths.
  • Double ticks are useful in reception and the children are starting to do it independently. Some type of symbol needs to be considered for children who exceed the L.O.
  • It is great there is consistency across the school
  • Children in year 2 are now more aware of the purpose of marking and work well to support each other in pairs to respond to the feedback comments written by the teacher.
  • Children are already going back to check their work without prompting.
  • Children in year 2 are using coloured pencils to show/highlight the changes they have made in light of the question/development point from the teacher.

Developments/suggestions by teachers for the future:

  • Teachers can model marking an anonymous piece of writing and could ask the children what question they might think the teacher may ask.
  • Teachers need to keep in mind that the marking relates to the LO.
  • A child suggested a ‘Golden Calculation’ could be highlighted as well as a Golden Sentence.
  • Teachers need to remind themselves that they are marking for ‘impact’ and not just the sake of showing it has been acknowledged.
  • Remember it is important to talk to children about development points to ensure they understand what they are and how they can achieve them.
  • Do avoid marking the same thing each time.
  • Children will need continued support from the teacher to refine their answers.


Thank you

Teachers were thanked for piloting the new scheme and for recognising the importance of implementing the new policy in order to raise standards.

The Future

Our pupils are eager to know how to improve their learning. We need to continue to capitalise on opportunities using feedback, written or oral, for them to improve.

In the future, as teachers embed the new policy the following elements will need to be either considered or monitored:

  • Can we develop a bank of questions as a staff, particularly to extend and challenge learners for example, including Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) questions and elements of Blooms Taxonomy?
  • An arrow symbol, as used in year 6, can also be used to indicate to children how something can be up-levelled.
  • Is time planned in for teachers to conference with children and are examples of feedback and how to respond to feedback modelled by the teacher to ensure it can be accessed by the children for maximum impact?
  • Does a colour coding system need to be introduced in KS1 to make it easier for children to identify?
  • In order to help children access the feedback lower down in the school, do Feedback Friends- need to be a part of classroom practice?
  • Do the questions and feedback relate to the learning objective and are they moving individuals on?
  • Symbols from policy to be displayed in books/classroom.
  • Teaching Assistants will need training in order to adopt the new policy.