28 Mar 2018

Effective Feedback to Maximise Progress – Day Two

Effective Feedback to Maximise Progress – Day Two

Yesterday heralded Day Two of our training course Effective Feedback to Maximise Progress, and colleagues from across the region came together once again to consider effective feedback, and in particular how to engage students with the feedback they are given and get them actively involved in the feedback process.

We started the day discussing the Three Photo Challenge. At the end of Day One we had challenged delegates to take three photos: one which identified a piece of research that resonated with them, the next that provided an example of how they had adapted their practice (e.g. lesson resources, questions) based on this research and a third which illustrated students’ responses (e.g. a piece of work) to this change. There was such a buzz in the room while discussing this and it was interesting to hear what had worked and what hadn’t and where delegates were going to go next with their ideas.

Day One had provided a stimulating beginning to our work in this training course with a keynote from Harry Fletcher-Wood from the Institute for Teaching, and it was his work that we used as a starting point today. The decision tree below was used to structure our morning activities, which focused on meta-cognition (modelling) and student response.


We introduced meta-cognition as a key area to support students with the feedback process and used this video from Dylan Wiliam as a starting point for discussion. Linking into the decision tree, we focused on modelling and the use of think aloud strategies, in particular, to support this. This article by Raihan provides a useful overview of this strategy and this blog from John Tomsett provided a thought-provoking illustration of the strategy in action. There was a lot of positivity about using this approach going forward and it appeared in a number of reflections at the end of the day.

We also briefly touched on exam wrappers here as a way to aid meta-cognition and encourage students to reflect not just on what they know but how they go about learning. A previous Research School blog on using this approach in your classroom can be found here.

Student response to feedback

A Marked Improvement states that: ‘The most basic question related to pupil responses is whether pupils should be given time in class to consider comments. While no high-quality experimental studies appear to have looked at this question, surveys in schools and higher education settings consistently suggest that pupils do not engage with or find it hard to act on the feedback they are given, and that pupils value the opportunity to respond to feedback. Given this, it appears that there is a strong case for providing dedicated time to consider and respond to marking in class.’

And this is what the session after break focused on. One of the key activities was a ‘Book Look’ where we delved into a variety of exercise books and folders from a range of curriculum areas. This enabled us to see feedback and student response in action in a range of curriculum areas, not just our own, delivered in a range of ways. This activity resulted in some fascinating discussions about how we are currently getting students to engage with our feedback and how we could do things differently going forward.

We also looked at some suggestions on student response from a range of books, including Wiliam and Leahy’s Embedding Formative Assessment, Tharby and Allison’s Making Every Lesson Count: Six principles to support great teaching and learning and Tom Sherrington’s The Learning Rainforest: Great Teaching in Real Classrooms. This supported a practical activity, focusing key strategies that delegates planned to adopt and adapt in their classrooms, faculties and schools.

A powerful session discussing feedback with a selection of Year 12 and 13 students followed, with the students giving an honest overview of what effective feedback looks like for them and how they respond and react to the feedback they are given. This certainly provided a different perspective to our discussions up to this point!


The afternoon focused on the challenge of workload and how we can provide effective feedback to students without it becoming a burden. We looked at the DfE Eliminating unnecessary workload around marking document and discussed the reality of teaching workload, in particular marking workload, and how to balance this with the other demands of being a teacher and with life outside of school. The document sets out a number of different recommendations for different groups involved in education including Ofsted, ITT providers and school leaders and it suggests that teachers should:

• Seek to develop a range of assessment techniques to support their pedagogy (which has been happening on this training course!)

• Actively review current practice to ensure marking adheres to the three principles in this report.

In the spirit of considering the three principles outlined in the report – that marking should be manageable, meaningful and motivating – we asked delegates to reflect on the range of feedback strategies we had identified during two days of training and to consider their impact on students and how manageable they are for teachers in the form of a graph, as shown below.

Key strategies that were seen as high impact and low workload included whole class feedback, think aloud strategies and using coded feedback so you are not writing the same thing over and over again on different students’ work.

Although we were only able to touch on the issue of marking workload, the final pentagon review provided a clear way forward, with delegates identifying things they were going to stop doing and things they were going to do differently. We will see how this has gone in our next session in April!

A big thank you to all of our delegates from Day Two for their participation, enthusiasm and ideas. The next session after the Easter break focuses on effective feedback policies and how best to implement new approaches and measure their impact.