Research School Network: Does your feedback policy reflect the needs of disadvantaged pupils? Margaret Daly on why it is important to consider context when adopting a new feedback policy in a school setting.


Does your feedback policy reflect the needs of disadvantaged pupils?

Margaret Daly on why it is important to consider context when adopting a new feedback policy in a school setting.

Margaret is the Director of Aspirer Research School and an Early Years Teacher at Wilbraham Primary School, part of Aspire Educational Trust.

The implementation of a new feedback policy at Wilbraham Primary was led by Andi Marchant, Principal and Sarah Izon, English Lead, Phase Leader and ELE at Aspirer Research School.

The challenge for senior leaders at Wilbraham Primary School regarding policy in respect of feedback will be familiar to those working in education. It highlights the broader debate about the effectiveness and impact of traditional assessment and feedback practices. It is important to strike a balance between providing meaningful feedback that moves learning forward and managing the demands on teachers’ time.

It is equally important that the feedback policy promotes educational equity by addressing the specific challenges and barriers that students from diverse backgrounds experience – such as socio-economic status, access to resources, language barriers and SEND.

Wilbraham Primary School is a three-form entry primary school in the heart of Manchester. Just over 50% of the pupils are eligible for free school meals, 70% have English as an additional language and there is a high proportion of pupils with SEND. The multicultural nature of the school’s community is an asset; however, it also means that there may be varying levels of familiarity with English language and different cultural perspectives on education. Tailoring feedback and assessment approaches to accommodate this diversity is important for equitable education.

Foundations for Good Implementation
During the process of implementing a new feedback policy, school leaders were informed by: Putting Evidence to Work: A School’s Guide to Implementation”.

Circle quadrant

Explore Phase
Andi and Sarah set up a working party, with representatives from all phases and with differing responsibilities. The remit was to thoroughly interrogate the evidence, and to then identify a specific area for improvement. The examination of fit and feasibility’ of feedback approaches accounted for the disadvantaged student population. It considered how feedback should effectively address disadvantage.

Professional Development

All teachers and teaching assistants were trained using the EEF guidance report Teacher Feedback to Improve Pupil Learning.Teachers participated in gap tasks designed to promote professional curiosity and discussion. The implementation plan, that outlined responsibilities, timelines, and resources was regularly reviewed. 

In this blog post, I would like to delve deeper into recommendations 1 and 3.

Recommendation 1: Laying the Foundations for Effective Feedback.

Effective feedback requires teaching staff to understand the purpose of feedback, different forms of feedback and impact it may have. Teachers should be well-versed in the principles of effective teaching and learning, which includes pedagogical strategies, curriculum design, high quality instruction and assessment techniques.

In the course of our professional development we considered:
The 5 Key Strategies for Formative Assessment” (William 2018).


Effective formative assessment plays a crucial role in supporting teacher feedback by providing ongoing information about pupils’ progress, understanding, and learning needs. We found it helpful to spend time unpicking formative assessment and planning how it would be used in each phase.

Effective initial instruction can help prevent learning gaps from forming in the early stages of education. This is vital for pupils who may be at risk of falling behind due to socio-economic factors or language barriers. Emphasising the delivery of high-quality instruction was a pivotal component of our staff training.

Recommendation 3: Plan for how pupils will receive and use feedback.

Kid chair

Feedback is not a one-size-fits-all process: it is deeply intertwined with the quality of the teacher-pupil relationship. By building positive relationships, respecting individual needs, and providing feedback that is relevant and actionable, we have created an environment where feedback has become a powerful tool for enhancing learning for all pupils.


It is critical to understand the school context when considering feedback policy. When we did this at Wilbraham Primary School, we developed a feedback policy which not only meets the needs of disadvantaged pupils, but is culturally sensitive, inclusive, and supportive of student learning and emotional development.

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