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