TL Focus Title 1

Issue 3

Focus is the Teaching and Learning Newsletter from Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Engineering College and is written and compiled by staff to share good practice, highlight new ideas and develop our professional pedagogy.


The following reviews are from recent publications in the field on teaching and learning. All of the books are available in our CPD library if you would like more information.

Making Every Lesson Count: Six principles to support great teaching and learning (Making Every Lesson Count series)

Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby – 2015


The Making every lesson count series started in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength. As well as this edition they have many subject specific editions including Maths, English, Science, MFL, Geography and History – all of these can be found in our CPD library and I cannot recommend them more highly.

Each of the books in the series are held together by six pedagogical principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning – and provide simple, realistic classroom strategies that teachers can use to develop the teaching and learning in their classrooms. Below I have detailed a few examples for the general overview book.


This chapter starts with a reminder ‘put simply, challenge in education is the provision of difficult work that causes students to think deeply and engage in healthy struggle.’ They remind us that ;

It is not just for the most able.

We should have high expectations of all students, all the time.

It is good for students to struggle just outside of their comfort zone, as that is when they are likely to learn the most.

A few things to consider:

Lesson objectives: Make them single and challenging for all. If we never give lower ability students the chance to aim high is it any wonder they then don’t make great progress?

Scale up: As a rule of thumb know where your class are at and teach just beyond that point.

Know thy subject: Continue to keep yourself up to date. If you are going to provide good challenge and inspire it is important that you keep up to date in your subject.

Share excellence: What does excellent wok look like in your subject? Find it. Share it. Wall displays and visualisers are great for this.

Unstick them: Don’t just watch them struggle for to long. Maintaining challenge isn’t just about ploughing on regardless, make subtle adjustments, stop, reteach and help them flourish.


Like Roseshine and Sherrington’s books this book argues that high quality explanation is key to good teaching, and those teachers who explain themselves well see the best results. Based on the principles form the book Made to Stick (chip and Dan Heath) they suggest the way to make it stick is SUCCESS.

S – Simple – Choose the core concepts that need to be understood. Anchor on to what they already know (recall can help with this).

U – Unexpected – generate curiosity by highlighting and opening up gaps in their knowledge.

C – Concrete – provide opportunities regularly for students to do something meaningful (don’t waffle and forget to give them time!)

C – Credible – provide opportunities for students to see or experience something which will make them believe in what you are saying.

E - Emotional – Make students ‘feel’ something as a result of your teaching by selling it.

S – Story – make it human or personal where possible to make it more believable.


To earn how do something students need to watch and listen to experts who guide them through the process. Going side by side with explanation is is important that we model ideas and support students before setting them off on their own. You wouldn’t expect them to create a well-crafted history essay without first being shown technique and good examples.

Using visualizers is one technique for live modelling working through an equation together on the board before asking them to go alone. Watching an expect model how to write a successful piece helps create unconscious habits in student – from picking good vocabulary to deliberate sentence structure and proof reading.


Giving time to practice. This is also discussed in greater detail in the Sherrington review below but both books look in great detail at the need to practice. Practice needs both time and structure, argues Allison and Tharby. They say you need to provide time for practice and also (as mentioned in challenge) aim to push students just out of their comfort zones.  This chapter of the book focuses on not just repeated practice within one lesson but also overtime. The importance of mixing it up and interleaving practice through recall and retrieval. For example it could mean in maths looking at probability at the start of term one and then returning to practice this in the middle of term 2. Kate Jones’ books (Retrieval practice 1 & 2 2019,2021)  discussed later provide many user friendly examples of how to build in this practice over time.


Allison and Thanby state that feedback matters. They refer to Hattie’s studies which found that godo feedback can improve rates of learning by at least 50%.

They offer some excellent examples of how to make feedback good quality and enable it to inform planning and improve performance. One method is ‘Get DIRTy!’

An approach used widely across our school, DIRT time means Dedicated Improvement and Reflection Time. This could include focused editing where students highlight and fix mistakes, individual improvement task where students are provide with codes to look at what areas they specifically need to improve or used as homework where students may get the chance to redraft a piece of work. I have seen all of these methods being used effectively in our school settling and these and many more techniques can be found in this chapter (pg. 172 – 198 for more details).


‘Barak Rosenshine’s principles of instruction has found that the most effective teachers tend to ask more questions than the least effective.’ There are many different types of questioning which can all be used well to deepen understanding and undo misconceptions. A few highlighted in this chapter include;

Serve and return – As a question, get a response and always aim to have a follow up question for them. The simplest and most effective way is just to continue asking why?

Probe them like Socrates – get students to clarify their thinking and challenge assumptions – is that always the case? Why might someone disagree with you? Demand evidence.

Move from closed to open – Surface and deep learning are both important. Allison and Tharby argue that whilst in recent year there has been a trend for just open questions, closed questions should still be used to fact check especially at the beginning of a lesson.

Other techniques includes that you may wish to read more on are random questioning, direct questioning, rouse the dead, support, in the moment. (p211 – 233 offer many more examples).

This book is a excellent one to read alongside Tom Sherrington’s ‘Rosenshine’s Principles in Action.’ And both are a great starting point for reflecting on your own classroom practice and practice and a department and whole school level.

Rosenshine's Principles in Action

Tom Sherrington - 2019


At just 50 pages long this easy to read, evidence based reflection of Rosenshine’s principles is a great resource for both new and experienced teachers. Sherrington takes Rosenshine’s 10 ‘Principles of instruction’ and first categorises into 4 strands.

Strand 1 is ‘Sequencing concepts and modelling.’ Rosenshine suggests that the most effective teachers regognise that the working memory has limiations and that new information and concepts need to be introduced in small steps. In Sherrington’s book pg.16 - 18 he provides examples of models he has used successfully. He goes on to say that the most effectie teachers will provide a narrative alongside the model to ensure students are familiar with the process before leading them to go alone. On p.23 he provides examples of how alongside models we should provide scafolding for the most difficult tasks and refers to examples such as PEDAL and PEEL.

Strand 2 focuses on questionning. Sherrington states ‘ one of the strongest impications from Rosenshine’s Principes of instruction is that effective questionning lies at the heart of great teaching.’ This should include –

  • Ask a large numebr of questions to check understanding.
  • Ask students to explain what they had learned.
  • Check the response of all students.
  • Provide systematic feedbcak and corrections.

He says we should eb cosntantly wondering how its going, does this make sense? A strong message from the book is that he msot effective teachers involve more studenst in questionning and take the time to claify and check understanding. On pg.28 – 29 he discusses some methods he has found particularly useful including; cold calling, say it again,better, think,pair,share, whole class response and probing.

He stresses that poor questionning often involves asking for volunteers and calling on a few correct answers then assuming everyone understands. Alternatively just saying’ are theer any questions?’ and assuming that if no one raises their hand then they all understand.

Sherrington summarises the strand by stresses the importance of using a variety of methods to check for understanding including repeated questions, checklists and mini whiteboards.

The focus of Strand 3 is reviewing material. Rosenshine instructs us to begin each lesson with a short review of previous learning and reteach material when neseccary. These are further split into daily review which helps us reconsilidate information and add it to our working memory. Quick fire multiple choice questions on one way this can be easily achieved. The second part is weekly and monthly reviews, with Sherington stating that these are crucial to ensure previously learnt materil isnt forgotten – to attenuate the natural rate of forgetting. Simple recall starters are very useful for this for examples the 4 Ls (last lesson, last week, last term last year).

Strand 4 is stages of practice. Rosehine states we should;

  • Provide a high level of practice for al students.
  • Guide students as the begin to practice.
  • Prepare students for independent practice.
  • Monitor students when they begin independent practice.

Sherrington says ‘ Rosenshine suggests that the most effective teacehrs gave more time for guided pratice – which is directly linked to spending more time asking questions, more time checking for indertsanding and using more worked examples.’ He says the research shows that teachers who give more time for practice have higher success rates. It is important to stress that as well as practising, students should be challenged and if pupils are regularly making mitakes me must not be afraid to re – teach, re – explain and re – model.

Sherrington’s book is an easy read with examples provides throughout and supported by research. If you are looking for a short read which could provide you with some quick wins id certainly recommend reading this one.

Retrieval Practice 1: Research & Resources for every classroom

Kate jones – 2019


Kate Jones is a head of department and her user friendly books of an abundance of resources to tap into and improve classroom retrieval practices in a sustainable manner. At the back of her book are a number of QR codes which I would highly recommend you take a look at. These links provide you with an abundance of easily adaptable resources to help you on your journey to embedding retrieval practices in the classroom. Jones tells us that rather than just memorising facts retrieval practices – aid better retention later, identify gaps in knowledge so you can prioritise what to teach moving forward, causes students to learn more from their next lesson and produces better organisation of knowledge.

Recall and retrival have been a major focus for our school over the last few years and the research tells us that it is one of the most important tools to improve progress.

In Figure 1 Jones suggests the ten benefits of regular testing though retrieval based on research.

The forgetting curve first introduced by Ebbinghaus, shows how quickly new information can be lost if it is revisited. Kate Jones suggests that we shouldn’t therefore just be revisiting recent content but ensure we also look further back at information before it ‘drops out of the brain completely.’

The rest of the book offers examples of a range of retrieval practices, many of which could be trialled with minimal planning, but hopefully maximum impact. Below I have include a few examples that I have trialled with success. For these templates and many more please use the QR codes found at the back of the book.

Retrieval road map – helps identify links between lessons over the course of topic.

Revision clocks – split the lesson into time zones. Give them,for example, 5 minutes to recall information on a topic. Could be completed twice in different colours to show new knowledge added. Great for revision lessons.

4Ls – A popular, easy to introduce recall starter that looks at information from recent lessons and further back (help reducing the impacts of the forgetting curve).

Retrieval Practice 2: Implementing, embedding & reflecting

Kate Jones - 2021


A follow up book to ‘Retrieval practice 1’, this focuses on addressing misconceptions about retrieval practice and how to move from implementing to embedding into your daily classroom practice. Designed to be read alongside her first book, this edition is similarly based of through research and provides lots of user friendly resources via QR codes in the back of the book.

Jones stresses the importance of retrieval practice being introduced and promoted at all levels of a school and acknowledges that all schools are on their own journey and at different points. She also acknowledges whilst is only is only one part of a complex learning puzzle but is an areas which has strong evidence to support the effectiveness.

She poses some questions a subject leader may wish to consider when implementing retrieval practice;

  • Where should we concentrate our efforts?
  • What exactly do students need to retrieve?
  • How can the practice reflect the kind of retrieval they need for my subject?
  • Do interleaving make sense in my subject?

Her books goes on to looking at what needs to be considered for specific groups of students such as those with SEND and what considerations need to be taken at a whole level. If you are interested in finding out more about this both her books are available in the CPD library.

Teaching WalkThrus: Five-step guides to instructional coaching

Tom Sherrington – 2020

The teaching walkthrough series are an excellent resource to dip into and trial a new idea or simply remind yourself of something you may have not used for a while. Beautifully designed and easy to understand, open at any double page spread and you will find a useful tool for the classroom. Below are two examples, on from each book, which could be easily implemented into any of our classrooms.


The first example is worked examples. Having discussed modelling earlier on worked examples and backwards fading is one method to help students gradually become more independent and by showing them the method first, they should be more successful.

Teaching WalkThrus 2: Five-step guides to instructional coaching

Tom Sherrington – 2021


This example for the second in the series is based on multiple choice questions. As we look forward to the new academic year and consider the use of Teams for homework considering the design of multiple choice questions could be useful.



Mark Taylor

A short session introducing the basics of phonics was delivered to the teaching and learning group. This gave a background to how phonics is used in a very structured way in primary school to teach reading and spelling. Those of you who have children going through primary will be well aware of phonics!

The underlining principle in phonics is that there are 44 different sounds in the English language made up of different groups of letters

One of the main issues to know is the pronunciation of letter sounds to enable children to correctly decode and blend sounds in unfamiliar words.

The included video clip helps us to see how to pronounce the different sounds

Having a basic understanding of phonics helps us to understand how children are taught to read and how we can use the basic principles when introducing new vocabulary, especially subject specific vocabulary.

In September, there will be whole school training on the basics in Phonics

1st - 3rd September 2021 INSET Days


We use cookies to track visits to our website. We store no personal details.