The Importance of Mentoring In Schools

This week Sajida and I delivered our butterfly session on the importance of mentoring in schools. There has been a lot of discussion recently on Twitter and Educational blogs about the importance of mentoring and coaching, and we thought we would give our perspective, on what it means to us, and how we support our staff.


So what is mentoring in Westfield Academy?

  • —Mentoring is a method used to help develop our teaching in a friendly and non-judgemental way.
  • —It gives us the opportunity to develop our teaching practices and support our colleagues in their professional development.
  • —Mentoring can take place on a one-to-one basis or in small groups.

—What are the benefits of Mentoring at Westfield Academy?

  • Supports experimentation with new classroom strategies
  • —Support the development of a specific teaching skills and professional duties
  • —Share classroom practice with a colleague
  • —Work towards the school’s or department’s developmental priorities
  • —Provide opportunities for reflection and problem solving

Warning signs when someone might need support…

  • —Falling behind with marking
  • —Behaviour issues in lessons
  • —Time management
  • —Students/parents raise concerns
  • —Stress!
  • Struggling to maintain a work/life balance

So what can we do to help? How do we get it?

These are the people who help support our colleagues within our school:

  • —Head of Faculty
  • —SLT
  • —Line manager
  • —Colleagues/friendsPicture6
  • —6 week focused support programme
  • —Non-judgemental targets
  • —Weekly meetings for review
  • —Check-in and advice point

What does our support programme consist of? 

Each term we have a select number of staff who wish to have support and improve their teaching in a certain area of their job. This could be planning, work/ life balance, differentiating or behaviour management. Over the six week programme you will have a mentor, Myself as Teaching & Learning lead, and over the course of the programme you will receive team teaching, lesson plan feedback, informal observations with key feedback and next stepson how to take your teaching to the next level.

If this sounds like something you feel you would benefit from, or would love to be a mentor, then please do not hesitate to let me know!

So, on a day-to-day basis, how could you support your colleagues more?

  • —Taking the time to talk (sharing is caring)
  • —Suggesting/arranging teachers to observe
  • — organising weekly support- 15 mins to set targets WWW/ EBI
  • —Team teaching – both parties can gain a lot from this!
  • —Team planning/ sourcing lessons & resources
  • —Behaviour  Buddy- someone who models great relationships and use of behaviour system
  • An email agony aunt- check ins- tips and advice

When Observing- what should we actually do? 

  • —Be as discreet as possible when entering the classroom
  • —(Ofsted advice- no orange jackets)
  • —Do not make too much eye contact with either pupil or teacher
  • —Smile and acknowledge your presence- do not appear too intimidating
  • —(Ofsted advice) Do not talk to pupils, whilst in the classroom, it is distracting for teacher and pupils
  • (Ofsted advice) Listen- look at books with your back to the class- you gain a lot of insight from what you can hear.


When giving feedback- how should we do it? 

  • —Always be reassuring and begin with the WWW of the lesson
  • —Pick one or two keys areas for development- do not list in a negative fashion- as this can be disheartening and difficult to digest
  • —Always try to email when doing a learning walk- it is lovely to acknowledge your presence in someone’s room.
  • —Give a Teaching & learning postcard when you see improvements and pass on your praise.
  • —If in a 6 week programme; ensure you make targets which are achievable within the given time frame.
  • —If unsure, seek support from other staff  mentors or members of staff.


This is certainly no small task…mentoring and supporting our staff is never not going to be needed. We are constantly looking at ways to improve our mentoring and coaching models within the school. I am currently reading @teachertoolkit’s coaching model and I am interested in how we can develop these ideals within our school. If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to continually improve, please get in touch and share your ideas.




Personalising our Learning

The quality of teaching has improved since the last Inspection is great news, particularly as November 2012 was a previous high point, so how do we move from this, and make it sustainable? That’s our task, got the judgement, now get day-to-day better and better.

Between our last 2 Ofsteds’ many new staff have joined Westfield Academy, and participated in the CPD we share. In many respects a new teaching body has developed at Westfield over the last 3 and a half years. Building and improving classroom performance is the most important thing we can do, and the new programme we outlined this week aims to make this personalised, self-sustaining and collaborative.

Our 1st two terms have taken a Blanket approach to CPD, covering the key foci of Westfield way expectations, Questioning, and this term, Stretch and Challenge. The Inspection highlighted all of these areas as strengths, benefiting the students and their learning. What we now want to do is allow both personalisation of colleagues’ professional development through a choice of programmes in Term 3.1, as well as develop leaders in these programmes , delivering high quality support and training to colleagues.


We have planned a bank of 3 sessions in term 3.1 that will focus on key ingredients for successful lessons:

  • Lesson Planning
  • Questioning
  • Differentiation
  • Assessment for Learning
  • Gifted and Talented
  • Behaviour Management

There will be others, and we are open to suggestions for these sessions.

The other facet of this programme is that we want our own home-grown leadership of these sessions, with a team of associates to make this sustainable and collegial. Building a new team, with more capacity to support further strides in the classroom, is essential.


With this in mind, we are hoping for this:

So Term 3.1 will be personalised, self-sustaining and collaborative, based on practical strategies that we know will have impact in the classroom. This will catapult us to the next level.

I can’t wait.

Butterfly: Marking & Feedback

This week our amazing transition teacher, Jodie Vincent, delivered a wonderful and jam-packed session on strategies to use for marking and feedback.Have a look and try some tried and tested marking methods that help teachers become more effective in the classroom.

Using marking and instant feedback effectively to help consolidate and extend children’s learning


lets do this

Why is marking a pain in the a***?

Marking is the biggest nemesis for many teachers; it is a never ending process and the books just keep piling up. Unfortunately, marking is rarely completed in the 8.00am-3.00pm hours of the job; it is the task that keeps teachers working late into the evening and busy on a Sunday afternoon.


Why is marking and instant feedback important?

Giving purposeful feedback to students is essential as it is important for them (and the teacher) to know how they are doing and to help them identify the areas in which they need to improve.

How can we mark effectively and save time?


Marking on the go.

Setting a task during activity three which requires the children to apply their skills independently can give you time to butterfly and mark at the same time. This may seem like cheating but actually is giving effective, INSTANT feedback.

marking 3

Verbal feedback stamp

Give verbal feedback to children when you don’t have enough time to write in their books. Stamp their book and ask the child to write down their target. Seems like cheating? But it’s effective, INSTANT feedback.

verbal feedback#


Our LSAs are a fantastic resource for our children. They have been in the entire lesson and know what the learning objective is and the learning direction. Why not guide your LSA to help give the children feedback in their books too? Show your class that you and your LSA are a team! This will create an ethos in your class where they will respect LSA’s feedback just as much as the teacher’s

lsas team

Link to the LO

Ensure that marking links to the LO. At the end of the day, this is what you were intending children to achieve!

Fantastic! You have analysed the text thoroughly!


Next steps and targets that extends the children’s learning further

Questioning is a huge focus at Westfield. Therefore, I use my marking to show that effective questioning is happening. It also helps the children progress further in their learning.

NS Do you agree that Helena should be angry with Hermia? Why?

Questions and feedback from the children can be differentiated. Expect a high ability child to write more than you have written. But expect all children to explain their answers.

Before feedback can be given, children must be aware of the Success Criteria.
Again, you can stick the success criteria into the children’s book and simply tick the steps they have achieved and highlight the steps they need to improve


How to be successful


Give children time to respond to feedback given whether it’s in lesson or during the next.

Use as many ‘saving time’ marking tips so that children do get feedback. Children enjoy having their books marked as they put in effort in the first place to complete the work.

Optional: Using one colour to mark. I use green as I feel green represents ‘growth’ and red is always associated with negativity.

Literacy focus- Use the marking policy so it is consistent throughout the school.

Model neat writing and good grammar.

Positives for presentation (date and title).

Next Steps

Ensure you are familiar with the marking policy and use it when giving feedback. This is a trial run to see what is successful and areas for development. (document attached)

Marking Policy working draft


Whole Staff CPD Adolescents & Attachment

Westfield Academy Training: Adolescents and Attachment

Delivered by: Dr Ruth Rogers and Dr Madelaine Smith
Educational Psychology Service

Last week we had a wonderful session led by our Educational Psychologists Ruth and Madelaine, discussing the impact of early experiences on a young person’s behaviour.

Throughout this post, we will reflect on the questions they asked us and the important research behind ‘Attachment Disorder’. As you read, reflect upon your own experiences as a teacher,a carer, or a parent and think about how you can adapt your approaches to help our children.

Opening Message: “It is impossible to understand a child correctly unless one recognises the purpose of their behaviour”Driekurs, 1998

child screaming




Ruth and Madelaine delivered a key opening message: what we see in affected children or teenagers is unfortunately only the surface. It is only the tip of the iceberg. In order to understand ‘Attachment Disorder’ and its effects, we must dig deeper and have a better insight.

So, what do psychologists mean when they talk about having a secure attachment?

We were asked to discuss the following:

  • What does this look like in a toddler?
  • What does this look like in a teenager?

As a group we came up with a variety of  responses. Mostly we all agreed that ‘secure’ attachment was when a toddler cried when left, but recovered quickly- adapting to their social environment. In a teenager, for example at the prospect of a spot test, there might be initial stress, but then adapting to the situation and trying their best.

We were then introduced to Maslow’s hierarchy of need

Maslows theory

Why is attachment important?

Some of us were already aware of this theory, through Educational pedagogy. For others it was their first introduction. The group were able to appreciate, at this point how important these ‘needs’ are for a child, and if one base level was not met a child could not progress onto the next. As a stark reminder we were asked to think of pupils in our school who may not have received each level. At this point, I believe it made the training a lot more real.

What does a secure attachment look like?

Their carers are available, warm and loving…

….sensitive to what they are thinking and feeling and respond in comforting ways

These are the children who form secure relationships and attachments

Here’s how it happens….


We make blueprints for houses  and cars- plans we  follow.

Young children make mental blueprints- plans they follow- based on what their first relationships teach them about.. .

  • what relationships are all about and what they can expect from them.
  • what the world is like and what to expect will happen to them when they are in it.
  • themselves and who they are.

Children make mental blueprints about relationships…



…about the world…




…and about themselves.



Why is attachment important?

It is an essential foundation for healthy personality and functioning in society


  • Cognitive ability – attention, making connections, capacity to learn
  • Development of conscience, empathy, attunement
  • Coping skills (frustration and stress)
  • Relationship development
  • Ability to handle perceived threats
  • Ability to handle negative emotions

Activity: Reflection


This reflection was a pivotal moment in the training. We were now educated on attachments- secure and insecure. We were able to identify as teachers and parents what was healthy, normal, expected. We could now easily identify, as teachers what we recognised as ‘unnatural’ and began to think about the impact we have on them. We began to think below the surface…

Still Face Experiment: Dr. Edward Tronick – YouTube

Activity: ‘still face’ discussion

  • Discuss your thoughts about the video in groups of 2-3
  • Note down the possible situations where the parent might present like the adult in the second clip.

This clip changed the way we look at teaching,parenting and communicating. It made us all reflect on the ways we communicate with one another and how very important our facial expressions and how the learning environment we create is essential in enabling our pupils to become ‘secure’ and safe.


Ruth and Madelaine began to dig a little deeper and we started to look more closely at insecurities and ‘behaviour’ within our pupils.



We were asked to discuss the following question:

What are the risk factors affecting attachment?

The group came up with a range of responses and started to consider what it looks like within their learning environments. What we have seen/ witnessed/ written concerns about…

The following factors may present a risk to the quality of attachment between child and parent:

  • -Poverty
  • -Parental mental health difficulties e.g., depression (post-natal)
  • -Exposure to neglect, domestic violence or other forms of abuse
  • -Alcohol/drug taking during pregnancy
  • -Multiple home and school placements
  • -Premature birth
  • -Abandonment
  • -Family bereavement

Vulnerable groups may include:

  • -Children in areas of social and economic deprivation
  • -Children in care
  • -Adopted children whose early experiences of trauma continue to affect their lives
  • -Disabled children
  • -Children with medical conditions or illness or SEN
  • -Children who have moved home frequently during the early years e.g. forces families
  • -Refugees and children who have been traumatised by conflict or loss


Insecure attachments may occur within non-vulnerable children as well!

The next stage was the big task: Looking at Trauma in children

What is Trauma?

  • Trauma is the emotional, psychological and physiological residue left over from heightened stress that accompanies experience of threat, violence and life changing events
  • Source: Australian Childhood Foundation, Making Space for Learning: Trauma Informed Practice in Schools, 2010, <>

Types of Trauma:

  • Family violence
  • Medical trauma
  • Natural disasters
  • Community and
  • School violence
  • Neglect
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Traumatic grief
  • Refugee and war zone trauma
  • Source: Adapted from The National Child Traumatic Stress Network,


Now it was time to get scientific- and this is where I personally began to really understand the effects of attachment disorder on a child.

What does neuroscience tell us about emotions and learning?

brain emotuions

  • Source: Perry, BD., 2002, Childhood Experience and the Expression of Genetic Potential: What Childhood Neglect Tells Us About Nature and Nurture, Brain and Mind Vol 3: pp 79-100.

Our minds are continually shaped by emotions, experiences, relationships, opportunities, attitudes, values and beliefs, knowledge and genes. However, there is an instinctive priority of attachment over the brain’s exploratory system – feeling Safe and Secure is more important than learning. 

More Theory: Types of Attachment


Derived from Ainsworth and her work with the Strange Situation


–Insecure and avoidant

–Insecure ambivalent-resistant

–Insecure and disorganised

(Main and Soloman, 1990)

A cautionary note…

Attachment theories have their uses – But …

  Once we attach a label to a child we are likely to have stereotyped expectations and to lose sight of her individuality. Furthermore, we may treat the label as an explanation ……”

   Bishop 1989

Attachment types can be seen as self – protective behavioural strategies

There are 4 identified attachment types:

  • Secure – ‘I’m ok, you’re there for me
  • Insecure avoidant – ‘It’s not ok to be emotional
  • Insecure ambivalent – ‘I want comfort but it doesn’t help me
  • Insecure disorganized – ‘I’m frightened

Current research suggests that:

  • •At least one third of children have an insecure attachment with at least one caregiver (Bergin and Bergin 2009)
  • •As many as 80% of children diagnosed with ADHD have attachment issues (Clarke et al 2002; Moss and St-Laurent 2001)
  • •98% of children surveyed experienced one or more trauma event – for one in four this trauma resulted in behavioural and/or emotional disturbance (O’Connor and Russell 2004)

Neuroscientists are researching the impact of attachment style on brain development:

Some interesting studies:

  • Secure attachment status is associated with white matter integrity in healthy young adults. (Serra et al., 2015)
  • Attachment style, affective loss and gray matter volume: a voxel-based morphometry study. (Benetti et al., 2010)


This session was part one of two sessions; where Ruth and Madelaine will be delivering on Attachment Disorder. It is so crucial to understand the theory and the science behind this, before we can actually implement changes into our routine within schools. Our staff found this extremely beneficial and very thought provoking. After the session we could all identify with students who present with these behaviours. None of us have gone away believing we are experts in diagnosing or treating, but we are better equipped mentally and emotionally; with a more in-depth knowledge and awareness. We we can now begin to look behind the behaviour and think about how we can help a child who needs us, more than ever.

Our next session will be on the 30th March and we will be looking at strategies we can use within our classroom- keep your eyes peeled for this invaluable insight into Attachment Disorder (Part 2).




Emma 🙂


Butterfly session : AFL & 1-1 support

This week, our fantastic duo Ryan and Chris, led a great session on AFL and supporting students on an individual level.

Ryan started us off by looking solely at AFL and why we should constantly work on new ways to refresh the way pupils learn.

Sharing meaningful assessment


A range of different Assessment tools are nice to have in your repertoire of teaching skills, but its important to have the basics nailed before you start exploring.

We all have our strengths as practitioners and we need to play to our strengths when choosing what assessment tools work for us in our subject area and with the classes we have. But within the Westfield Ethos and Westfield Way there are two key assessment principles they are trying to instill and I want us to look at today:

  • The use of Learning directions to help our assessment for learning
  • The use of questioning to differentiate and stretch and challenge.

Learning Objectives


Ryan got us to think about a lesson we had taught yesterday, and requested we do the following tasks:

Task 1: I want you to think back to the last lesson you taught/ assisted in.

Can you write specifically what the learning directions/learning objectives were in that lesson?

Peer-Assessing our partner’s Learning Direction

This simple activity was simple and very thought-provoking. It made us work with partners from other departments and think ‘ is the learning direction really clear and precise?’

Remember: ‘If you can’t express what the learning should be in a clear and precise way, then it is unlikely that your teaching will be clear and precise

Interestingly, Ryan had us use SMART targets when thinking about our learning direction and the clarity of how we will then use this to assess our pupils’ learning.

Target Setting:

S – Specific – says exactly what the learner will be able to do

M – Measurable – can be observed by the end of the training session

A – Attainable for the participants within scheduled time and specified conditions

R – Relevant to the needs of the participant and the organization

T – Time-framed – achievable by the end of the lesson

Pose, Pause, Pounce, Bounce


aghh, our favourite: PPPB. This has become a massive focus this year in Westfield Academy. We had really used it, and very successfully within our lessons. I love that Ryan has added another dimension to this powerful questioning tool; and teamed it with @SandringhamSch1 questioning wheel.

Ryan states ‘in front of you is a Questioning wheel, this is an assessment tool I use to question learners: I believe that this is applicable to everyone in the teaching environment and this tool allows you to differentiate the questioning you do and stretch and challenge others.’


sandringham wheel

Staff found this extremely useful and really welcomed the prospect of taking it with them and trying it out today. One teacher, particularly found it useful when thinking about the types of questions she could ask her middle and higher level pupils and how this could create a real sense of higher-order thinking within the lesson.

How do we know the technique worked? Do we reflect?


This diagram is a fantastic little tool to use as a reflective model at the end of a lesson. Sometimes as a teacher, we can become bogged down with marking, lesson plans, worksheets. Sometimes, it can be difficult to take the time to reflect on our pupils’ learning as much as we should. Sticking this little gem to your wall is a quick and sure fire way to help you reflect in speedy efficient time! Or even put it in your planner, for planning the next lesson.

Tip for teachers-Share your meaningful assessment strategies:Picture2

Something that really comes to light in our CPD sessions, is that sharing of strategies is the best and most efficient way of keeping AFL fresh and successful. Sharing experiences and tools will help us spend less time wracking our brain as to how and actually get in the classroom and think why? and ‘how can I actually change/adapt remodel?’ So, take the time this week to share at least one AFL strategy you have used this week and pass it on to a colleague!

1-2-1 Teaching & support

Chris Guilder, our fantastic TSA and trainee teacher has taken the time to share his experiences in the classroom and how we can adapt these TSA tools to support students on a 1-2-1 basis.


You are teaching the class and everyone gets on with a task except that one student who does not understand what to do…


What strategies can you use to help them understand the task and complete it independently.

Colour Coding

One of the best methods I have found is to colour code instructions and then make them answer the question using the same colours. This works particularly well in Maths but also in English with PEELS paragraphs…




Key Words/Vocabulary

If the teacher provides us with key words vocabulary before the lesson we can print out cards with this on and stick it into books.

This means we can refer back to it in lesson and explain it in the context of each question.

It also helps build up a key word bank that students can refer back to.

Task Cards

In order to help focus students who can be unsettled.

It allows you to break down the different tasks of your lesson. It clearly shows the students how they will progress over the course of lesson to help them reach their end goal. It is used to help with behaviour but could also be used for assessment for learning.



Where To Find Strategies


The important message from today’s butterfly session is the idea of experimenting, sharing and remodelling strategies to ensure a ‘best-fit’ AFL for each of our classes. We need to adapt our AFL styles; dependent on setting and ability. @SandringhamSch1 Questioning wheel is fantastic for stretch and challenge, whereas the colour coding is a super and creative way to break down learning into manageable chunks for lower-ability learners.

Remember: If our learning direction is visible, clear and precise then we should embrace the opportunity to continue  assessing for learning in a range of creative ways to keep learning fresh, fun and motivating for our pupils at Westfield Academy.