Goffs Learning Matters

Carol Dweck - Fixed vs Growth Mindset - Feb 2017

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Based on research undertaken by Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

How can we foster a culture of aspiration?

  • Celebration of success
  • Sharing of best practice
  • Challenge versus support
  • It’s okay to make a mistake

What are the barriers to a culture of aspiration?

  • Cynicism
  • Glass ceiling
  • Staff working as islands, focused on their own students and classrooms
  • Misunderstanding and misinterpreting data and feedback

The former is based on growth mindset whereas the latter is based on fixed mindset. Consider how the classroom environment can contribute.

This clips sums it up best: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUWn_TJTrnU


Six ways visuals help learning  - Jan 2018 - Oliver Caviglioli, Teachinghow2s

Extract from article published on https://teachinghow2s.com/

  1. Visuals support attention
  2. Visuals help activate or build prior knowledge
  3. Visuals help minimise cognitive load
  4. Visuals help build mental models
  5. Visuals help support transfer of learning
  6. Visuals make use of dual coding

How will you use visuals in your lessons?


Dominic Shibili, University of Hertfordshire and Rachel West, The Nobel School, Hertfordshire - Cognitive Load Theory - Dec 2017

The theory identifies three different forms of cognitive load:

  • Intrinsic cognitive load: the inherent difficulty of the material itself, which can be influenced by prior knowledge of the topic
  • Extraneous cognitive load: the load generated by the way the material is presented, and which does not aid learning
  • Germane cognitive load: the elements that aid information processing and contribute to the development of ‘schemas’

Learning and Teaching tips are therefore provided and include:

  1. Don’t read out slides – avoid simultaneous oral and text presentation
  2. Break it down further – pause for practice between individual problem types
  3. Problem pairs – give a worked example alongside an almost identical question
  4. Stop after five minutes – advise students never to spend more than five minutes trying to solve a problem or question. Go on to the next question then go back to it, or ask for help.


SSAT article by Sophie Enstone - Nov 2017

Improving the Quality of Teaching and Learning

At Goffs Academy what we have come to call ‘learning and teaching’ has always been, and always will be, high on the agenda. Not only is it a key measure for Ofsted but more significantly, it is the root of a school’s essence and functionality.

Over the past few years, we have worked on placing the focus on the learning itself – hence why we have reversed the syntax of the usual phrase. Although we have no set lesson plan templates, in our CPD and INSET programmes, we encourage our staff to consider what the students’ learning will be in their lessons and how they will be facilitators of that learning via the implementation of their set teaching strategies. Therefore, the intention is that the learning requirements drive the planning and the teaching - as Ross Morrison McGill makes an argument for in his book, Mark, Plan, Teach (September 2007).

The drive to improve the quality of learning and teaching has seen the introduction of a reviewed and rigorous learning observation proforma which triangulates the key elements. Within this, we include student voice and a work scrutiny that takes into consideration student data. The way an observation is carried out includes the observer watching the lesson ‘live’ for a minimum of twenty minutes, or indeed, watching the recorded lesson using an IRIS recording at a later, perhaps more convenient, date. The observer identifies a minimum of five students to partake in the student voice section for which they often bring their workbooks or folders. In essence, this system permits for clear triangulation and honesty with regards to the student voice element. In providing feedback to the member of staff the student voice element is crucial and often their comments will drive the generation of ‘targets for development’ for the teacher to focus on going forward. 

Not only are schools microcosms – the application of a set strategy will not necessarily transfer over to a different setting – the same can be said for staff. Teaching staff will have different CPD and training needs. With constrained funding and an element of Catch-22 when staff are out for the day to hone in on a key skill, it seems obvious to turn to the internal CPD programme and offer what is best for the individual in the set school’s context. Our personalised CPD programme ‘does what it says on the tin’ and has been successful in ensuring that learning and teaching is constantly linked to driving improvement. Each full-time member of staff signs up to seven hours of CPD that suits their needs. A range of personalised CPD sessions are on offer which we ensure are closely linked to improving our learning and teaching outcomes. These include, for example, an action-research project with CamStar (Cambridge Schools Teachers and Research) – or a visit to another school.

With regards to CamStar, or similar investigative work, there has been research to prove that this is often one of the most effective types of CPD a teacher can undertake. As commented on in The Guardian by Tom Sherrington: ‘We found teachers are highly motivated by the process; it is voluntary, self-directed and unpaid, yet they engage with it because of the rewards that this level of rigour brings.’ (https://www.theguardian.com/teacher-network/teacher-blog/2013/feb/22/action-research-teaching-education-professional-development)

We have found that this rings true in our context and the independent aspect of the action research is a particularly welcomed. To maintain the focus on learning and teaching, we do ask that staff link their project to an area of our School Development Plan and present their findings of their action research to the staff body, in an effort to drive continuous improvement.

An example of a project undertaken last academic year looked into the gender gap, specifically amongst A Level students. By conducting triangulated research, taking into account student voice, teacher interviews and data, Associate Assistant Principal Kevin White was able to establish and feedback to colleagues on some of the learning strategies that best suited a specific gender. The impact of this work was evident in our exam results where the gender gap has started to narrow, particularly in single-gender heavy subjects.

Undoubtedly, the most significant factor in the learning process are the students themselves; developing ways in which a school can use student voice to strengthen their teaching, as we have found, can be extremely effective.


Numeracy by Tom Cahill - October 2017

“Good numeracy is the best protection against unemployment, low wages and poor health.”

Andreas Schleicher, OECD.

Numeracy is a fundamental life skill and not just subject specific, therefore needs to be developed across the curriculum and not just independently by the maths department.

There are many ways you can improve your student’s numeracy skills within your subject areas, whether it is the use of chronology in History, profit and loss in Business Studies, time signatures in Music or the use of geometric shapes in Art.  Planning opportunities that allow your students to improve their numeracy means you are planning opportunities to help them improve their life chances. As Sophie Everist said in her article on literacy “We all know the content that must be taught but it’s how we teach it that makes a difference”.

If you are unsure on how to do this please take a look at the National Numeracy website’s “essentials of numeracy” https://www.nationalnumeracy.org.uk/essentials-numeracy as a starting point. They highlight numbers, shapes, space and measures, handling information and operations and calculations as the crucial elements of an individual’s numeracy. So don’t worry - we are not talking algebra or trigonometry, we are talking understanding percentages and how to manage a budget.  

So there is no reason you cannot make the use of numeracy in lessons count.

Please watch this short youtube clip on the importance of Numeracy in the contemporary world https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5jQJKA2aTMY


Literacy Learning does Matter! by Sophie Everist - Sept 2017

Effective literacy across all subjects: it’s not all about writing and spelling you know!

There are many ways that we can develop the literacy skills of the students that we teach and these are through the following areas: reading, writing, speaking and listening; having advanced literacy skills means that our students are competent in all four of these areas.

Allowing your teaching methods and styles to incorporate opportunities that allow your students to use each of these areas means you are building their literacy skills. We all know the content that must be taught but it’s how we teach it that makes a difference to students’ literacy.

Are we allowing them to talk about it, write about it, listen to it and read about it?

Adding a mixture of these ingredients to your lessons makes for a successful literacy recipe that your fellow teacher friends will be asking for!

“How do I do it in my subject though?” you ask. Well, let me offer you some suggestions because literacy learning does matter!


Talking? Noise? No writing? Surely not? For the right reasons, YES!

  • Think- Pair-Share- allow students to discuss the task, new piece of content or how they work out/do something before they get their heads down independently.
  • Chunk and Chew- chunk your lessons in sections and allow students time to chew the information in pairs or groups.
  • Turn your lessons in the House of Commons - allow students to voice their opinions on and debate the importance of The Arts in schools or the need for good health and social care in the 21st century.                                                               


In English our students wrists are always hurting but when was the last time they hurt in yours? When you’re writing you can’t escape thinking, how can you get students to write in your subject?

  • Could it be a paragraph to explain how they work out a sum?
  • Could it be a mind map of what they know about the population figures of The Weimar Republic by 1925? (Yes, Nigel Appleyard was my History teacher!)
  • Could it be an essay exploring the benefits of social experiments?
  • Could it be a presentation on the importance of technology in today’s society?


It doesn’t have to be the works of Jane Austen! (How dull!)

  • Flipped learning, ask students to read up on something so that they are better prepared for what you want to teach them
  • Read for a purpose
  • Read to make predictions and connections
  • Read to educate
  • Read to build stamina
  • Read to calm, soothe and control behaviour


How do we know they’re actually listening to us; the ever unanswered question?

  • What questioning techniques could you use to build their listening skills?
  • In your lessons, could they have an opportunity to listen to each other speak as well as themselves?
  • Could they present their ideas and watch their presentation back?
  • Could they record voice notes for revision?

If we take away the label of ‘Literacy’ and start thinking about how we are getting our students to read, write, speak and listen in our classrooms, we are much more likely to increase their literacy skills without even mentioning the word literacy.

Give Literacy a go, you never know, you might even secretly enjoy it!