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Leadership, Outstanding Lessons, Redesigning Classrooms

Data and Feedback Informed Teaching and Learning

We’ve identified data, feedback, research and experience as four important sources of information to assist with the further development and improvement of teaching and learning.  The use of data and feedback to inform teaching and learning (DAFITAL) is our way of implementing Data Driven Instruction which can be found in Leverage Leadership.  It is well worth reading.

Photo Credit: nyay74 via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: nyay74 via Flickr cc

The B for Bang – We’re Ready to Go

On first reading about data driven instruction it just made sense.  Likewise for the three head teachers when they read it.  It became our shared reader last year.  We discussed chapters at our Management Board Meetings and started thinking about how to implement the approach in our academies.  Alongside rethinking assessment without levels it led to our simple strap line, “Find out what students don’t know and teach them it.”  The actual process is a bit more complex starting with collaborative planning of schemes of learning including the writing of common and cumulative assessments, termed interim assessments in Leverage Leadership, followed by DAFITAL Meetings.  Twelve months since discussions started we are ready to go, we’re on the B for Bang.  I didn’t like the word “driven” (our people prefer to be led rather than driven, as the saying goes) and as with all good ideas you need to adapt them to meet your own school’s idiosyncratic context hence the slight differences in our terminology and process.

The first part of the implementation involves subject leaders ensuring that all teachers have the interim assessments prior to the teaching of the schemes of learning.  These assessments form part of a range of sources which set the standard of challenge required, they help define excellence.  In some subjects the assessment pretty much elucidates the standard required but other subjects, like Art, benefit greatly from exemplars to help show what is expected.  Procedures need to be put in place for the standardisation and moderation of the assessments and a manageable means of analysis, at a grain size appropriate to the subject and age of the children or young people, which is understood by all teachers.  Grain size is the size of the smallest package of assessment data which is of value to the teacher and learner to enhance learning.

Photo Credit: Susanne Nilsson via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Susanne Nilsson via Flickr cc

As part of embedding DAFITAL a new style of meeting will be introduced this year.  This meant we had to abandon a number of other things we had done historically.  Some may never have been particularly useful but others, whilst useful, weren’t the best way to invest the finite time available.  The frequency of DAFITAL meetings varies according to curriculum time, subject and key stage.  Core subjects have 4-6 per year whilst other foundation subjects have 2-3.  A DAFITAL Meeting occurs after each pre-planned, common and cumulative interim assessments.  The person with responsibility for leading the meeting will determine in advance whether to have a 1:1, small group or whole team meeting for teachers to discuss the particular interim assessment’s results.

The purpose of the meeting is to identify:

  • Aspects of the curriculum which are particularly well taught or in need of development within schemes of learning or by individual teachers
  • What aspects of the previously taught curriculum needs to be retaught to a whole class or which elements revisited with individual children or young people, to secure their progress and provide a secure foundation for future learning
  • Specific interventions, beyond the class room, needed where children or young people are not making the required progress.

Prior to the DAFITAL Meeting

Leaders and teachers should have independently reviewed the data from the interim assessment, at an appropriate grain size for the subject and age of the children or young people, using the agreed format.

Grain size matters and varies between subjects and age

Grain size matters and varies between subjects and age so analysis needs to reflect this


Different students know different things - their personal gaps in learning need teaching too

Different students know different things – their personal gaps in learning need teaching to


Potential aspects for re-teaching, what action is required to secure the progress of individual children & young people, who in the class may be in need of additional support and an analysis of performance of pupil premium funded children and young people by prior attainment group will all need to be completed.  On the DAFITAL Meeting proforma there is the space to record changes to the teacher’s original thoughts in the light of the discussions.

We want the meeting to be conducted in a professional, supportive and inquiring manner with the aim of improving outcomes for the children and young people.  A discussion identifying the key areas for re-teaching in each class will occur with the meeting leader establishing any aspects of the curriculum, suggested by the assessment data, which have not been effectively learnt and lead a discussion on different approaches which could be used in the re-teach.  S/he should also identify any “outlier” teachers who teach the aspect well and ask her/him to lead departmental professional development on this aspect.  The scheme of learning should be revised accordingly to ensure future teaching has greater impact on learning.  These meetings will provide a great forum for a rich focused discussion around teaching and learning within a particular subject and age group – almost a novel idea in education these days .

DAFITAL Meeting Planner adapted from the #5MinAchievementPlan by @leadingLearner & @TeacherToolkit

DAFITAL Meeting Planner adapted (with permission) from the #5MinAchievementPlan by @LeadingLearner & @TeacherToolkit

A PDF copy of the DAFITAL Meeting Planner and Record is available via the link below:

DAFITAL Meeting Planner v1.1

The class teacher will lead on a discussion, for his/her class, of which aspects of the assessment suggests children or young people show limited knowledge, skill or understanding and how this will be addressed in the next lesson(s).  This will include a review of the performance, by prior attainment, of the children & young people eligible for pupil premium funding who are underperforming.  The leader will note which children or young people may require extra support, beyond the class room, which may be provided through bespoke intervention programmes.  Over time we hope that the interventions outside the class room get fewer and fewer as the impact of what is happening in the class room gets better and better from Early Years Foundation Stage all the way through to Sixth Form.  A review of the impact of the in-class and extra support provided following the previous DAFITAL Meeting will be built into the process.

Following the Meeting

The class teacher is responsible for the re-teaching agreed aspects of the scheme of learning and the implementation of the in-class support.  S/he will need to monitor the impact of these interventions.  The leader will organise any professional development identified for teachers, manage the process of adapting the schemes of learning and co-ordinate the extra support required for specific children.  The leader will also take responsibility for ensuring the effective transfer of DAFITAL documentation from one teacher to a new one, e.g. across primary years via transition meetings or in-year if the class teacher changes.

Sharpening Our Practice

What always struck me when reading Leverage Leadership was that it wasn’t rocket science rather it was common sense which took key aspects of the teaching and learning process and converted them into highly effective, inevitable routines.  The main thing became the main thing and this will be our main thing and pretty much only thing as we want to do it as well as possible.

Photo Credit: Sharyn Morrow via Flickr cc

Photo Credit: Sharyn Morrow via Flickr cc

This year all three academies in the Trust will get a visit from Ofsted and goodness only knows what they will make of it.  There isn’t six weekly gathering of aggregated data which can be turned into nice tables and graphs for people to make a pretence about the progress or lack of it being made.  The data will now be collected at a grain size which is of greatest value to the learner against agreed curriculum success criteria.  We used this approach, though it was quite loose in places, to good effect in Years 6, 11 & 13 last year plus the teaching of phonics.

Whether we are successful or not in our implementation over the coming years will be evidenced using the outcomes achieved by our children and young people.  We aspire to be in the top quartile on key performance measures (except the E-Bacc which is a daft distraction) and once there we will aspire to go further.  I can’t pretend there isn’t a worry about how manageable the process is for teachers and leaders as we seek to implement it across all year groups and classes.  We won’t improve if teachers are too exhausted by this process to teach.  More abandonment may be necessary or the winding back of other activities which add less value to our work in the class room.

Other Posts which may be of interest:

Assessment Without Levels is Built on Trusting Teachers

The Four Aces for Improving the Quality of Teaching #rEdScot

The #5MinAchievementPlan by @LeadingLearner & @TeacherToolkit



20 thoughts on “Data and Feedback Informed Teaching and Learning

  1. These ideas I like as a way of identifying individual gaps in knowledge and rectifying a students understanding. This seems a very common sense approach to T an L. I agree that it may have implications for teacher workload.

    I will use the approach with my team.

    Posted by Darren 58 | September 15, 2015, 9:29 pm
  2. I particularly like your use of ‘grain size’, which enables individual curricular innovation and bespoke assessment but with an eye to the whole. Following your journey with interest!

    Posted by Deb Hepplestone | October 22, 2015, 2:09 pm
  3. How are the interim assessments designed and by whom? One potential risk I could see might be the reliability of items being produced by individuals who do not have the level of item type writing experience that examiners for the awarding bodies do.

    Posted by robertmsolway | June 20, 2016, 10:05 pm


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