Keeping students learning through ‘Least Invasive Interventions’

Visiting Charlotte Pywell, a ’13 Ambassador teaching in the North East, we were struck by her skill in helping students stay focused on learning.  Charlotte’s school faces significant challenges: 80% of students receive Free School Meals, there is a very high turnover of teachers and leaders and the school has low results within the area…

“Parents are the greatest stakeholders in any school”

An early finding of our ‘Areas of Greatest Need’ research is the importance of strengthening home-school relationships.  Becky Francis’s study of ‘Satisfactory’ schools noted a “striking” tendency towards “scant parent engagement”: schools were not perceived to be listening to parents or helping them support their children’s learning.  We’ve been seeking case studies of schools which excel at this;…

“Actually it’s useful sometimes to step in”

How best to use a twenty-minute mentor meeting with a new teacher?  We recently filmed the approach taken by Izzy Leahy (’10 Ambassador) to support first year Teach First participant Sam Bower at Harris Academy Greenwich.  Izzy’s main approach was coaching Sam, supporting him to reflect upon his teaching and reach his own conclusions; she also included…

Celebrating success and building teams at Reach Academy

We visited Reach Academy in Feltham recently to film a professional development session after school.  We’ll show the session in a future post, but first we wanted to highlight how Ed Vainker (’03 Ambassador) began.  Vainker set aside the first few minutes for teachers to share recent successes, inviting them to link their achievements to…

Areas of Greatest Need: Blackpool

Sun, sea, sand and Strictly – Blackpool may attract fewer tourists than it did in its heyday, but it retains the image of a fun holiday destination.  Describing growing up in Blackpool, many young people emphasised this aspect of life in the town, like the Year 6 pupil who told us: “I think it’s quite…

Growth mindset with grade targets

A teacher asked us recently: my school makes all students write their target grades on the front of their books: could this be undermining the self-belief and growth mindset I want them to have? She’s right to be worried. Although many schools believe that sharing grades in this way makes it obvious (particularly to inspectors,…

More than just an exam grade – creating and implementing a vision

Vision is important.  Research our team conducted recently found that teachers who were particularly successful in highly challenging schools were those who had a clear vision. So yes, it is important… but it’s also tricky. Breaking it down, is it simply a long-term aim for a class, encompassing good grades and academic achievement, or is…

What underpins an outlier’s success?

What does it take for a teacher to survive in a school which they themselves describe as ‘chaotic’, which may have seen numerous changes in leadership and direction, or might have suffered years of perceived failure?  This year, our team interviewed twenty-five Teach First participants (as well as their mentors and tutors), who had thrived…

New teachers in challenging environments: what support is crucial?

Understanding what support matters most for new teachers is critical for Teach First.  It formed one aspect of our ‘Outliers’ Study: interviews with twenty-five participants (and two colleagues of each teacher) who had thrived in particularly challenging schools. Every single case study highlighted the impact of practical support in aspects such as planning, assessment and…

“It’s marginal gains, isn’t it? The little things.”

There often seems to be a tacit assumption that your first year in teaching – and perhaps large parts of your career – are meant to be a bit of a misery.  Teaching is certainly incredibly hard but unhappiness is neither inevitable nor unavoidable. Recent research our team conducted found that the teachers who did…

Teachers and Teaching Assistants: A team is more than the sum of its parts

‘I have a teaching assistant? What do I do now?’…Does this ring a bell? Teaching assistants (TAs) are a valuable resource and the majority of teachers will work alongside them in the classroom. Their in-depth knowledge and experience should be a gift to hard-pressed teachers but EEF research has shown that many teachers do not,…

Four ways to create a positive departmental culture

Middle leaders are often described as the key figures in making schools run effectively. Part of their power stems from creating a departmental culture, and the effect this has on the way a team of adults works.  It was fascinating to learn about how Dani Quinn (‘10 Ambassador) has sought to do this within her…