CPD Training 3: Westfield Academy’s The Apprentice

downloadthe apprentice

On Wednesday 50 staff  members attended their 3rd CPD training of the year: Westfield Academy’s The apprentice. It was such a success and a fantastic opportunity for staff to plan the perfect lesson in groups, looking specifically at Questioning and AFL strategies and competing against each other for the ‘best’ lesson.

Our very own Lord Sugar introduced the task ahead, making our training enjoyable but most importantly purposeful and useful for the staff.

Before the staff began their task, we watched some videos of pupils telling us about how Questioning and AFL helps them learn and make progress in the lesson.



The Groups watched intensely as the pupils informed them of their favourite strategies their teachers used in the classroom and you could see the cogs working away as the staff began to get competitive and think about their amazing lesson plans.

20mins later, with a completed adapted version of @teachertoolkit 5min lesson plan blank magic 6 5min plan

And after some serious deliberation,we had three finalists- hand picked by our own Lord Sugar assistants!


And the winner of Westfield Academy’s apprentice was…Ryan, Leah, Ben Waite, Ben Lee, Jodie, Karishma & Jamie’s group.

014So what popular gems did they use in their magic 6 lesson plans?

  • @teachertoolkit’s Pose Pause Pounce Bounce questioning
  • Secret spy & secret marker strategy for AFL
  • Traffic light tracking using their student planners
  • Lollipop sticks & classroom tools random selector
  • Use of a modernised bloom’s ladder of higher order questioning

Their lesson was chosen by our own Lord Sugar; Head teacher Mr Body. His reasoning for this decision was simple: it had a clear Input/ Activity/ review cycle. The level of tasks ensure stretch and challenge throughout. And most importantly they incorporated a range of simple but highly effective Questioning & AFL strategies to ensure all learners were making progress.

Well done to all groups, we can’t wait to  see your new strategies and ideas being incorporated in your lessons this term!



#47: Back to the future

We wanted to revisit what are the key foundations for successful teaching, so what better way of doing this than having Jason and Emily, our 2 most recently qualified staff to deliver the session this week.



We wanted our staff to revisit the basics: understanding the fundamental principles behind a successful lesson. Jason and Emily, who have recently completed their Assessment only qualification, and were graded outstanding, helped us refresh on the vital elements and told us what the observers ‘loved’ about their lessons.

Taking us back to the science lab, was the first step  on their agenda…

On a rainy and miserable Tuesday morning  at 7:50 am, we were greeted by the gentle glow of 10 Bunsen burners and the exciting prospect of getting to complete an experiment.


flame test

Jason and Emily carefully designed the session so that we completed our flame test experiment, and recorded our results in our groups. The room was joyful and there was a buzz of excitement and enthusiasm in the air. Some groups found it easier than others, some debated results and some excelled in their task. Basically they performed just as any normal lesson would.

So what was their point? How does this link to the basics?


The observers told Jason and Emily to have confidence in taking risks!

Sometimes, after a few years of teaching we forget to  challenge ourselves. We sometimes get bogged down with other admin tasks that makes us forget to be creative and take risks in the classroom. Remember the creativity we all had as a trainee? Well… the observers wanted more!! They want to see kids engaged and loving education. Here’s the tips they gave them…

Observers wanted to see more of the following in lessons:

  • Active learning.
  • Collaborative work.
  • Practical activities.
  • Students digging for knowledge.risks

So what basics elements of a Westfield lesson did the observers love?

  • Lesson cycle (Input, Activity, Review). They stated this showed great progress and learning over the duration of the lesson. It enabled opportunity for lots of feedback and AFL.
  • Questioning (PPPB). The observers commented on their continuous use of questioning and how they had mastered the art of Pose Pause Pounce bounce form @teachertoolkit
  • Context sheets. They commented on how well we ‘knew our kids’ and personally liked the section on ‘what works well with this class’
  • Evidence of progress over time. Observers complimented on Jason and Emily’s use of trackers and blue stickers, stating that pupils knew their target grade and were aware of their steps to improve.
  • Classroom routines (High expectations). Prompt entry into classrooms, equipment on the mats and standing behind their chairs was praised as ‘high expectations’ and showed a pride in their classroom ethos.
  • Positive relationship with students. They adored the positive and enthusiastic relationships with pupils at Westfield and commented on it being a key strength to their teaching and progress. Pupils wanted to learn and wanted to impress them.

This advice and feedback is real validation for what we are doing at Westfield. A huge amount of effort has gone into our collective drive on embedding the new expectations, and this is having real impact on our students’ learning. Thank you to everyone.



Learning Environments

What a lovely start to this week, with our butterfly session looking at the importance of engaging and  welcoming learning environments.

Jodie, our transition teacher and primary school specialist, welcomed us into her rooms and talked us through some of the visual displays she uses in her beautiful classroom.


Jodie firmly believes that learning stems from a range of different inputs in a lesson. Her classroom has an array of learning areas and personalised learning boards, so pupils can track their progress over a significant period of time.

When deciding upon displays, include your class and ask them to decide what classroom displays mean to them and what they should show.

Together, develop criteria for choosing work to display. These criteria might include:

  • The work shows our best efforts, not just perfect work.
  • The work shows growth or improvement. (This may include displaying early drafts with later drafts.)
  • We feel proud of the work.
  • The work is important to us.


Take a look at the following displays in Jodie’s classroom:

The most evident point to note about Jodie’s displays is that every single one has a learning purpose. They are actually part of the every day learning in her classroom. I believe that is the key to success. We know that displays like these take time and sometimes they fall to the bottom of our workload- however when they are used to aid learning- they are an important addition, which should be considered worthy of time and effort.


Jodie designed a great task for our butterfly groups. We had the opportunity to design our very own classroom ( where money was no problem-what a dream!) we then had to go around each group and stick a dot on the design which we felt incorporated the best range of visual and kinaesthetic learning environments.


We had ideas that ranged from the simple to the extravagant. however they all had a range of elements in common:

  • computers/ laptops/ ipads area
  • reading corner/ literacy area
  • learning boards- displaying pupil work
  • group tables- with space for movement/ white board top
  • large centralised board with learning aids/ behaviour system
  • code of conduct
  • Question/ wonder wall

Good looks are important

magazine article | Published in TES Newspaper on 11 April, 1997 | By: David Bell Last Updated:12 May, 2008

An effective display helps create an interesting and stimulating place for teachers and children to work. Much has been made of the inadequate state of school buildings across the country. In many schools, children have to work in unappealing and unattractive surroundings. Yet, effective displays can do much to enliven the drabbest of buildings.

Good displays also add to the atmosphere and ethos of a school. Even in these hard-nosed days of choice and league tables, most parents still comment favourably if they visit a school for the first time and find children’s work prominently displayed.

Effective displays suggest that pupils’ work is valued. Such a signal is often consistent with school policy which rewards the positive and does not always focus on the negative. It is also a way of highlighting the work of all children: boys and girls, more able and less able, tidy and untidy. It is not a trendy notion to state that children learn from the environment around them. But if display is to be used to best effect, it is not simply about creating a “nice” atmosphere. An effective policy for display must be related to the educational intentions of the school.

Main Message: Get organised, get crafting and make your classroom a art gallery of pupils’ work. However, most importantly use your new displays to help you and your pupils in their quest for knowledge and discovery.






Modelling in the classroom.


Modelling- What do we mean by this?

We model in so many ways in our working day. We are role models, we model good behaviour, teach the pupils respect but most important; model answers and teach our pupils how to learn and make progress.

Why is modelling work so important? 

modelling model

Modelling is an instructional strategy in which the teacher demonstrates a new concept or approach to learning and students learn by observing or the teacher providing a pathway to success step by step.

This technique, in a way enables the teacher to differentiate; to break a concept down into manageable chunks, and to enable every learner to access the steps necessary to succeed.

‘Scaffolding refers to the steps taken to reduce the degrees of freedom in carrying out some task, so that the child can concentrate on the difficult skill she is in the process of acquiring’ (Bruner, 1978)

How do we model effectively?

Teachers can model a range of processes, for example, how to use a particular piece of equipment appropriately and accurately; how to record data; how to evaluate an investigation; how to plan a more complex investigation; how to draw a particular graph or representation; how to obtain specific information from a text or from the Internet; how to answer a test question; how to improve writing; how to improve the quality of talk (Adapted fromModelling Introduction, section Body). http://oer.educ.cam.ac.uk/wiki/Teaching_Approaches/Modelling 

Modelling processes with pupils involves

  • establishing clear aims;
  • providing an example;
  • exploring thinking – yours and the pupils;
  • demonstrating the process;
  • working together through the example;
  • providing prompts (or scaffolds) as appropriate;
  • providing an opportunity for pupils to work themselves (alone or in pairs);
  • drawing out the key learning.

Westfield Academy Staff- having a go at modelling:

At Tuesday’s butterfly session, Jade and Ryan delivered a fantastic example of how modelling and breaking learning into manageable chunks really can make the difference. They looked at the concept of drawing- and it did create a rumble of laughter amongst the staff- but delivered an equally important message about modelling’s importance and proven results.


The first task given to staff was to draw a copy of a completed drawing. This task was given with no instructions, success criteria or time limit. To suggest staff found this challenging at 7:50 am was an understatement!!

The second time the task was presented in a very different manner. staff were given a success criteria, a mark scheme and a time limit. Staff worked more efficiently and every member of staff, regardless of their artistic ability made progress.

How can you do this?

Think about how you can model in your subject area:

English/History: Model paragraphs and higher-level sophisticated analysis.

model answers english

Maths/ science: breaking down equations step by step- showing the pupils howto answer exam questions.

model maths

Art/ Design Technology: showing step-by-step guides on how to draw shapes/ shade/ tone.

PE: displaying essential skills necessary for that particular sport: football drills/ trampoline jumps and turns/ rugby passes.

model PE

evaluation of butterflly

#46: CPD Speed dating: A New-found Love for Questioning, Assessment and AFL

Well what a success! This week saw 50 Westfield Academy staff members take part in a CPD speed-dating extravaganza! Our half term focus on Questioning and Assessment continued with further strategies to sow and tell to colleagues.

We started off the session looking back at Pose Pause Pounce Bounce with teaching video demonstrations from Jayna and Sarah-Kate. This was a great opportunity to look at the significant work and progress the staff body have been making with this questioning style.  Staff used this time to feedback and reflect on their work in the classroom and it was such a lovely opportunity to compliment staff and reward them for their hard work and effort.


The CPD speed dating meeting enabled  staff to prepare a 30 second sell of a strategy they used in the classroom, or had researched.  Many colleagues brought visual aids and then in true batchelor(ette) fashion, impressed potential partners with this strategy, and vice versa.

So why do it?

The purpose of this training session was to enable staff to get excited and invested in pedagogy and learning new strategies to improve the depth and quality of questioning and Assessment for Learning in their classrooms. We had a wealth of strategies discussed and staff found the experience extremely beneficial, making a list of potential ideas they could use to help improve the progress.

Some of the most popular ideas discussed:

  1. Spin the wheel- questioning 5Ws.
  2. Using figures/ characters for group work
  3. Laminated mark schemes and individual trackers
  4. Numbers 1-4 for group work and differentiation

Food for Thought. 

It is a well-known fact that teachers don’t have a fantastic work-life balance. The reason behind our CPD staff meetings are to provide teachers with a range of strategies and ideas, so that we, as a teaching body,  are not constantly reinventing the wheel and making more work for ourselves. We are changing the way we learn and improve in Westfield Academy. We are moving CPD to JPD-a joint community of teachers who share and help each other keep their lessons fresh and exciting.


The more Joint Practice development we pursue at Westfield Academy the more we can ensure teachers’ pedagogic knowledge  improves and our teaching tool kit increases- giving us skills we can use and reinvent throughout our lifetime of teaching. Sustainable development in the classroom.

Ultimately it is as simple as this: Teachers who work together- teach together- get results together.

teachers work together

#45: British Values – what is just and right for our young people?


British Values, and how schools positively promote them, is an emotive subject. The purpose of the training this week was to unpick what it actually does mean, and consider how we do already promote these values,

It is not about the Proms, or Britain’s occasionally controversial History, but the values that underpin life in Britain and what we are trying to establish with our students.

The government set out its definition of “British Values” in its “Prevent Strategy”; values of

  • Democracy
  • The rule of law
  • Individual liberty
  • Mutual respect
  • Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs

What this means in practice is our own set of expectations and commitments:

  • to our communitity
  • a belief in a modern ever changing, multi-cultural and multi-faith community
  • to our learners growing as individuals and citizens in the community and country in which they live.

We believe that this is something not only achieved through the curriculum but through the school’s core values and ethos as well as our provision for students beyond formal lessons.

Central to this advocacy of British values are our:

  • Belief in the importance of our Westfield community
  • Commitment to achieving our very best
  • Setting and securing the highest expectations of all at Westfield

These guide and drive our direction and are also fundamental in supporting the development of British values, which in every respect are Human values.

We discussed all that we do in the Butterfly session this week, and in particular where this focused in the SMSC programme:

Social: How we socialise and work and play together in many of our lessons. Our mentors and 6th form Enrichment programme all develop a spirit of cooperation and volunteering. PE explicitly develops leadership through officiating, leadership and teamwork, and the Code of Conduct and use of resolution meetings both contribute to the ethos of the rule of law, liberty, mutual respect and tolerance.

Moral, how we debate different political systems in History and English, and respectfully discuss laws and philosophies both in the UK and around the World. above all, we give respect to all the communities and beliefs in evidence at Westfield.

Spiritual, how we reflect on both our and others’ beliefs in RE, Science and Humanities. This often encompasses debate, empathy and imagination, and all the time we aim to encourage a willingness to reflect on these experiences and an enjoyment of the world around us. Westfield is a happy school, and we want to foster and maintain this enjoyment of life.

Cultural, how we look at our Heritage through history and political developments. The plays that we study in different languages, and the religions we discuss and debate. The Westfield community is thriving, and is a focal point of many of our assemblies and form time activities.

Justice and right

What came through was how much we do that is instilling an ethos and set of values in our lessons and our wider interactions with students. This has always been a huge part of Westfield – as a Community Technology College and now as an Academy. The community, be it Watford, Britain or the wider world, and how we prepare our students for it, is a key part of our mission and core values:

“The British person never means anything seriously till he talks about justice and right.”

Rudyard Kipling

A final thought…Doggerland!

Doggerland_MapV11_finalI love this fact – 10,000 years ago Doggerland was the Ice-Age land that connected Britain and the rest of Europe. No North Sea, no separation, and is always my response to the little englanders. We are all one, and the values that we promote for Britain, are also the best values of the rest of the world. Our session established that we do a lot to promote these values at Westfield.

ice age

As John Donne wrote, ‘no man is an Island’.

Westfield Academy caters for all! How we teach every type of learner.

A little time to reflect!

It is so lovely to look back at the pictures and videos we have taken over the past 7 weeks. What an incredibly busy, but fruitful half term!

fantastic butterfly sessions
fantastic butterfly sessions
great CPD staff training sessions
great CPD staff training sessions
exciting TV coverage on ITV
exciting TV coverage on ITV

The last focus of the Half Term: How to differentiate effectively! 

Sophia and Seamus delivering their session on how we help all learners acheive
Sophia and Seamus delivering their session on how we help all learners achieve


Sophia and Seamus talked to us last week about how we can help all learners understand and make progress in your lesson.

Seamus talked to us about simple strategies with big impact:


As simple as differentiating by task/ support and outcome can change the whole way we present a topic to a class full of individual and unique learners.

zonesSeamus uses this simple and easy to design slide in his lessons to gauge where his learners are, and how easy/ challenging or difficult they find the task. This allows us to look back at their work to adapt it for the next lesson, or change the task on the spot.

Seamus even differentiates his teaching resources and allows for stretch and challenge of all learners.
Seamus even differentiates his teaching resources and allows for stretch and challenge of all learners.
creating different teaching tasks within a lesson creates an opportunity for all learners to be  engaged
creating different teaching tasks within a lesson creates an opportunity for all learners to be engaged

Teaching 9B, I understand the struggles of trying to cater to a very diverse and challenging group of pupils. I used Seamus’ slide and adapted this slightly in order to help the pupils create a task to their comfortable ability. It worked a treat and had pupils in 9B, who I never thought would stand up and give a presentation. This truly goes to show the power of differentiating by task!

Sophia talked to a range of pupils around the school about how you great practitioners assist their learning in lessons- to hear it directly from the pupils’ mouth was lovely and very thought-provoking.

Destiny took centre stage at the butterfly session.
Destiny took centre stage at the butterfly session.

The comments varied, however there were common basic trends:

  • Modelling answers and working out
  • Providing sentence starters and word banks
  • provide positivity and enthusiasm in their learning
  • The sky is the limit- don not brand them as certain ability learners- avoid ‘they can only do this, they are Stephenson’
  • Provide homework that is engaging and accessible to their ability at home (without the help of a teacher)
  • make information appealing- visually, verbally and physically. Create exciting and interesting lessons as much as possible.

How we develop their individual skills

Everyday we cater for a wide range of learners from period 1 right through to period 5. The range of strategies we use on a day-to-day basis is outstanding and your efforts are to be hugely commended.

The football academy boys trying their hand at Yoga
The football academy boys trying their hand at Yoga

The Football Academy is one area in Westfield where learners are striving in an subject they love and are passionate about. These learners might not be the most academically gifted- but they have gifted skills in football and sport. We have invested in this skill and given them an opportunity to shine.

In PE and after school we are developing even more budding sportsmen!

year 11 football team
year 11 football team

No challenge big enough for Westfield Pupils

We have already begun planning for our next trip in July 2016
We have already begun planning for our next trip in July 2016

As we get further in to the school year, and we are fully in the swing of things; we begin our journey to Zanzibar to Fuoni School once more. This year we have 16 pupils from all ability groups taking on the massive task of fundraising £2000 each. It is imperative that we provide a diverse range of pupils with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to complete charity and humanitarian work in a tropical paradise. This trip helps build confidence, independence and fundamental communication skills.

we cannot wait to return to see these faces in Fuoni School Zanzibar in July 2016
we cannot wait to return to see these faces in Fuoni School Zanzibar in July 2016

No matter what class, what set- believe in them- believe in your teaching and enjoy planning and delivering exciting and interesting lessons. If we cater to every learner we are opening up a world of opportunity for them.

The most important area to ensure you differentiate appropriately is knowing your pupils. Research to find out their strengths and weaknesses and talk to different subject teachers to understand what makes them tick. Add these ingredients altogether you have a wonderful satisfying dish!