Festival News: reflections on the Research School session

Published: 17 September 2020
Sai Patel and Louise McArdle (Learn Sheffield) reflect on the session from Julie Kettlewell and Huntington Research School about the EEF guide to supporting school planning.
  • Sai Patel (Learn Sheffield Improvement Partner):

The EEF guide to supporting school planning

Julie Kettlewell, Assistant Director of Huntingdon Research School in York

Julie Kettlewell provided an interesting and engaging session on supporting school planning. The session focussed on ‘The EEF guide to supporting school planning: A tiered approach to 2020-21’, published in August 2020, and Julie explored key elements of the tiered approach in more depth. These included teaching, targeted academic support and wider strategies.

Julie emphasised the continued importance of high quality teaching and how schools need to balance maintaining the central pillars of great practice whilst also adapting to meet the needs of the current landscape. She shared her thoughts on the importance of diagnostic assessment to help inform any interventions and how this needs to be considered on a pupil-by-pupil basis. Julie provided some ideas on what schools might wish to consider when thinking about diagnostic assessment including how it might be done, how it can be balanced with workload, what it might tell us, and the importance of pupil motivation and self-esteem in the process. Clearly, there is much to think about in developing a meaningful approach to diagnostic assessment.

On targeted academic support, Julie described the different approaches schools might take, and how such support should complement, and not replace, great teaching. She suggested that schools should think carefully about what they wanted to achieve through any intervention and how schools could identify when it had had its intended purpose and, as a consequence, stop the activity for a particular pupil; support needs to link to assessment. She reminded us of the power of peer tutoring, a low cost solution with a strong evidence base. More information on this, and other strategies is available on the EEF website.

On wider strategies, i.e. addressing non-academic barriers to learning, Julie stressed the importance of schools considering pupils’ social, emotional behavioural needs and how this is not separate from the academic learning; social and emotional learning (SEL) should be considered as integral to classroom practice. Other points raised by Julie included the development of a SEL curriculum and the importance communicating with and supporting parents.

In the last part of the presentation, Julie discussed the importance of high-quality implementation. She described in detail four strands for schools to cover: explore, prepare, deliver and sustain. Schools need to consider what is feasible and sustainable, how they can support and develop their staff, and how plans might be monitored.

A really interesting session – thank you Julie!


  • Louise McArdle (Learn Sheffield Improvement Partner):

The EEF guide to supporting school planning, a tiered approach to learning – an overview

Julie Kettlewell is Assistant Director at Huntington Research School which is part of the Huntington research schools network. https://researchschool.org.uk/ 

The RSN aims to lead the way in the use of evidence-based teaching. Julie’s session  on the EEF guide to supporting school planning  was extremely informative and brimming with ideas and strategies about how leaders and teachers can best support children to make rapid learning gains as they return to school. https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/covid-19-resources/guide-to-supporting-schools-planning/

Schools will be considering important questions that relate to ‘how’ and ‘when’ they assess pupils on their return. Questions may include;

 • What learning has been lost or misunderstood?

• What new knowledge and experiences have been gained?

• Should we re-teach that material to the whole group, or move on?

• What is the right balance between standardised assessments and classroom-based diagnostic assessments?

Julie reminded us  of the importance of understanding the processes around memory and metacognition and recommended that we apply this understanding in the planning of our lessons and within the classroom. Not overloading children’s working memory is more important than ever before following the period of lockdown and a lengthy absence from school for most children. She also talked about teachers identifying if children had forgotten previous learning or they had never learnt the information in the first place. She suggested that teachers refer to the great work of Daisy Christodoulou. https://daisychristodoulou.com/2020/03/how-to-remember-anything-forever/

Julie referred to other really useful documents which the EEF has produced, these include:

·        The teaching and learning toolkit which identifies the interventions and strategies which have been proven to have the biggest impact on pupil progress; https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/about-the-toolkits/

·        EYFS toolkit; https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/evidence-summaries/early-years-toolkit/

·       Metacognition guide https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/tools/guidance-reports/metacognition-and-self-regulated-learning/

Thank you to Julie for her sharing her expertise and excellent classroom practice, I am sure that all leaders and teachers will find her session very useful.

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