Strategies to use in KS5 lessons

Our guest writer this week is our A- level Science teacher Sara-Kate; who led our Butterfly session on Ks 5 strategies to help with our planning for the next academic year.



This year I began teaching A level biology to both year 12’s and year 13’s with certain presumptions on the types of learners I would have and how my lessons would go. I envisaged academic, independent and resourceful students with the skills necessary to work in their subject. However, there was a gap between where I thought the learners should be, where they actually were and where they could get to by themselves. This became more evident as the lessons went on. When I discussed my concerns with my students, they too felt they weren’t being as successful as they could be but didn’t know why.

Ks4 Ks5
Easy More difficult
Spoon Fed- structured sample answers, word banks and all work in lessons. More independent work- lesson time is only a fraction of what needs to be done
Simplified language More complicated terminology and vocabulary
Books are laid out in an easier format Information in book is not enough to succeed.

Jump from KS4 to KS5:

As teachers we understand the importance and need for our pupils to succeed in KS4 to obtain their GCSEs and we do as much as humanly possible to help them. This could be through a number of strategies such as structuring answers for them, giving vocab boxes for assignments, sentence starters and simplifying language for them. However, students found when they came to KS5, a lot of that support was gone and they were left to work by themselves. They aren’t shown/modelled the skills to effectively work independently in KS4 and therefore struggle to succeed in KS5.

I looked at two specific areas of my lessons to help the students with the difficulties they face:

  1. Getting the students to work independently
  2. Exam techniques

 flipped learning.png

This is a pedagogical approach where the pupils outside of the lesson must do most of the work for the lesson. It provides many benefits to both the teacher and the students:

  • Independence – students must use and practicse their research skills. Students will need to be given some guidance on how to research, what are good resources and what to do with the relevant information.
  • In control of your own learning – students success will be a reflection of the work they put into their assignment.
  • Allows time in lesson to develop exam skills – teachers time can be spent more effectively in lesson practicing skills the students may need for exams or practical aspects of the subject.
  • Collaboration – sharing of ideas builds rapport within the class between students and teacher. The classroom should be an open floor where no one feels judged for sharing ideas. It can also allow for greater understanding of the topic through discussion with a peer.
  • Consolidation of their learning – removal of any misconceptions students may have and highlight through in depth discussion the important points of a topic.

exam analysis

After the pupils sit an assessment, whether it be an in class test or a mock, I note down the marks each student gets in the different questions. This allows us to identify an area of the subject where the students don’t fully understand it, or an area of the subject I may have not spent enough time on in lesson. Time can then be effectively spent trying to clear any misinterpretations the students may have and allow them to gain a deeper understanding.


It may also highlight a specific type of question students struggle with, for example the A level Biologists find questions that ask them to differentiate between two scientific concepts difficult. Therefore in class we have spent time practising this type of response, which will hopefully help them out in their exam next year. This leads me on to my final strategy for KS5 learning, which is a handout I made for the extended essay assignments our students have to do each week.

Academic Writing

exam analysis1

Our students have a weekly assignment of extended writing they must complete and get graded on. In Biology there aren’t essays on the exam paper so it was hard for the pupils to understand the relevance or expectations of these assignments. At the beginning of the year what I found was that pupils were copying and pasting a lot from the Internet. Because of this the students weren’t gaining applying their understanding of the topic. I created these marking criteria’s for different command so the students knew what was expected of them to achieve a certain grade for the different analytical skills.

Any questions on flipped learning or exam analysis, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Sara-Kate 🙂


Our CPD personalised

This term we are starting a new CPD programme with a personalised approach for all teachers.

Our next 3 sessions will be in groups, with all staff identifying an area for development in their own classroom practice. All are under-pinned by the centrality of improving student outcomes.

The 25th April Blog started with this paragraph, and on Wednesday we completed the 3 personalised sessions.

This is what happened…

#Butterfly 1: More Able with Chris Black

how to move forward 009

In Session one on More Able we looked at strategies for teacher explanation (Lemov’s ‘No Rounding Up’/ Allison and Tharby’s Principles of a good explanation) and strategies for student explanation (Lemov’s Right is Right/@headguruteacher’s Say it again, but better this time) . In Session two we covered strategies for planning for More Able in our Schemes of Work by making sure there is constant revision of key principles/lists/key definitions etc. because studies show students need exposure to the same ideas in multiple contexts on multiple occasions for a thorough understanding. One strategy we covered was Loci/Mind Palaces which we had a go at creating to the amusement of the group! We looked at Flipped Learning and Blended Learning in this session as a means of planning for, stretching and supporting More Able learners. Lastly, in Session 3 we looked at strategies for providing effective feedback to stretch (and to an extent ‘create) More Able students. We looked at different ways of modelling student work, The George Spencer Academy’s ‘Yellow Box’ concept and Carol Dweck’s ‘Not Yet’ grading system as a means of feeding into a Growth Mindset value system.

#Butterfly 2: Assessment for Learning with Sam Cole

how to move forward 014

This term we have been looking at Assessment for Learning at KS4 and how this can inform planning for younger year groups. We started by looking at how the Art department does this – being a visual subject and one that is perceived as being difficult to mark, it was good to show the staff that students need simple, broken down instructions in order to achieve highly in the subject.

Session 1 was spent looking at the exam specification and rewriting Assessment Objectives so students can access them more readily. This was then used to explore how SOW’s can be planned for younger years in order for them to improve on required skills for GCSE.

Session 2 looked at the idea of a Success Criteria and how important it is for individual pieces of work to be set against them in order to support progress and challenge.

In the final session it was down to the staff to produce a rough draft of their own ‘tickbox’ markscheme for student use. These can then be adapted as they go to use full time in their own lesson or alongside SOW’s.

#Butterfly 3: Lesson Planning with Jodie Vincent and Clara Ampah-Korsah

Three’s a crowd? Not this time!

What will make my lesson ‘outstanding’? Everyday teachers ask themselves this question. We may know what Ofsted are looking for, but how do we easily implement this into our everyday teaching?

According to the School Inspection Handbook (September 2015), for ‘outstanding’ learning a teacher should ‘set challenging work’, ensure ‘pupils love the challenge of learning and are resilient to failure’ and ‘provide children with incisive feedback’.  We wanted to explore how we could make this happen at Westfield Academy. Therefore, this became the themes for our three sessions; Engagement, Challenge and Feedback.

We aimed to highlight the importance of engagement, challenge and feedback within the lesson and provide teachers with the knowledge and resources to embed these key themes into their own teaching. Teachers experienced what it felt like to be engaged, challenged and critiqued. In addition to this, teachers were given set tasks to use within lessons and were able to give feedback on how well different activities worked for them. We explored the difference between a growth/ fixed mind set and how we could help children maintain a growth mind set.

What we loved most about the session was the learning ethos of the group. All teachers were hard-working, honest, and reflective. The feedback we received helped us to improve our training sessions and reflect on the effectiveness of our own teaching.  Discussions helped us to explore our ideas in more depth.

Overall, the response from staff was very positive. They ‘enjoyed the engaging activities’ and could see where training would help ‘lead to pupils’ progress’. A huge thank you to all teachers who took part! You made the three sessions very enjoyable for us and we learned lots from you too!

#Butterfly 4: Differentiation with Chloe Sefton

In the ‘How to differentiate your teaching at Westfield’ we looked at strategies to challenge and enthuse top set learners, strategies to challenge and support lower set learners and, lastly, strategies to support and challenge all learners in large and complicated middle set classes. I was really impressed with the group of staff I had who were very enthusiastic and passionate about learning new things and sharing their best practice. A real highlight was getting staff to complete an online Socrative quiz on what they had learnt. I would recommend this brilliant and free website ( to all teachers out there – it’s a great, great way to assess students in lesson and for homework and they love it!

So there we have it. 3 Wednesday sessions, 4 Personalised groups and all teaching staff involved having chosen their areas of interest and development.

Thanks to everyone, including the associates above who planned and delivered the sessions.

To go back to our TeachMeet vision,

The best classrooms are those where nobody feels anonymous, unsupported or undervalued- and that includes the teachers & teaching assistants

All of the sessions, and our joint learning during them, have addressed this fundamental vision, and challenge, for our students and staff.

And I think we made a pretty good job of getting the great professional development below:

Happy Father’s Day. I’m watching ‘Deliverance’.


Big Brother Big Sister: Butterfly Mentoring

My First Butterfly….

What an honour…..

Pastoral care is an area of school life that I am very keen as a teacher to play a part in. As a result school based mentoring is something I am quite passionate about. Personal experiences throughout my younger teenage years helped me learn the lesson that there will be times when you may be surrounded by people but you may still feel very much on your own.

It is during those days when a person is feeling scared, isolated, confused or even just sad that it helps to have a person to talk to and share your thoughts with.

Here I present the Big Brother Big Sister Idea……..



What is Big Brother Big Sister?

A school based mentoring programme which is essentially aimed at supporting the transition of young people from primary to secondary school and helping them to feel settled at school.

For The Mentees..

As part of the programme, young people in their first year of secondary school are mentored by a fifth or sixth year student in the same school.

Through participation in the programme, it is expected that mentees will have the opportunity to develop a supportive friendship in a safe environment, increase their confidence and self-esteem, have a positive role model in their lives and have fun.

Positively engage with an older student who is supportive and encouraging, in their school lives.

Enhance communication, self-esteem and assertiveness skills through the relationship they will develop with their Big Brother / Big Sister.

Have a positive developmental programme linked to their formal education.

Develop a support network through which they may discuss issues of concern to them.

Improve their attitude to education and their motivation to be engaged in education.

For The Mentors…

  • For senior students who opt to become school-based mentors, the programme offers the opportunity to undertake a voluntary leadership role within the school and provides valuable experience which can assist in their personal and professional development.
  • Engage with a first year student in a supportive and encouraging role.
  • Develop a greater understanding of the role of a volunteer mentor.
  • Demonstrate improved communication and assertiveness skills through BBBS training and programme involvement.
  • Recognise and develop opportunities to contribute positively to the school community.
  • Enhance their sense of empathy and school / community awareness.
  • Receive recognition through positive affirmation by school personnel

How can this programme help?

  • Can help to improve connectedness to school
  • Facilitate peer support
  • Improve academic outcomes for participants
  • Respondents also identified a range of benefits for the senior students participating, including being given greater responsibility and respect within the school.
  • Mentors were seen to develop enhanced leadership skills and benefited in terms of being able to highlight their contribution on the CVs.
  • The majority of respondents said that the programme has helped to create a culture of caring in the wider school community and helps in the early identification and prevention of issues affecting younger students.


What does this programme entail?

  • All matches meet for a minimum of 40 minutes per week from
  • September / October to  May / June  in a group setting
  • Link teacher facilitates a group activity
  • Organised at the end of the programme
  • Participants, parents and staff invited to end of year presentation – Certificates are awarded

The End Result..

On the whole, principals and link teachers believe that the first year students taking part in the mentoring programme feel more safe, secure and settled at school.

Respondents believed that mentees gain from new friendships with their same age and older peers, feel more at ease in the school and have a better support network as a result of their participation in the programme.

The programme was also seen to improve confidence and self-esteem and was considered to play a role in addressing bullying. The fact that the programme harnesses peer rather than teacher support was seen as critical to its effectiveness and was seen to complement the teacher-led forms of support offered by the schools.

My Aims for Westfield Academy

  • To enhance the Key Stage 3 Experience of our students here at Westfield.
  • To provide a structured mentoring programme that instils confidence in our students and gives them courage and assertiveness that facilitates a growing bond with school life on a day to day basis.
  • To bridge the gap between Key Stage 3 and Sixth Form with interactions between both groups.
  • To ensure all students are catered for from Sets R to I – For our mentoring programme to be seen by all students as a way to make friends, have fun and learn that school life is about growing as a person and becoming the best person you can be both in and outside the classroom.


 Thank you, Lena 🙂 

TeachMeet success!

Well, what a fantastic night,our very first TeachMeet turned out to be a huge success!

Our theme was ‘accessible learning’ and we had a range of fantastic speakers from Westfield Academy and schools from the surrounding area.  We believed this was our opportunity to create a learning community; where passionate teachers could share their ideas and strategies to improve the learning in pupils and the progress they make during their time at school.

I came across a great quote on twitter, when I was preparing for the TeachMeet- and I felt it completely encompassed our ethos and challenge for the night:

The best classrooms are those where nobody feels anonymous, unsupported or undervalued- and that includes the teachers & teaching assistants


Our first speaker was Chris Black– our More Able lead at Westfield Academy. He opened up our TeachMeet looking at strategies to stretch and challenge, not only our high achievers, but all pupils within the classroom.

Part 1 of 2: Strategies for having high expectations in order to create More Able learners

Using ICT to help reduce your workload: Use an automatically-updating Date box.

Contents Pages in Exercise Books.

  • Get students to leave the first few pages of their exercise books blank.
  • Get them to go through their book and put a number on every page.
  • Get students to label the first blank page as ‘Contents’.
  • At the end of the lesson get students to return to the ‘Contents’ page and add in the lesson title and the relevant page numbers for the lesson.

Planning for and eliminating common mistakes in advance.

Before setting students off on a piece of extended writing or exam practice, it is useful to remind them to avoid certain pitfalls we as teachers are too familiar with.

dos donts.png

Part 2 of 2: Strategies for challenging More Able Learners

Ready-to-go extension lollypop sticks/extension capsules.

Match up extension tasks with levels or grades according to the national curriculum levels/GCSE mark scheme. Extension tasks can be colour-coded so that students can choose to do an extension that is one level (or one sub-level) above their most recent level. This way students can take some ownership over their own progress and achievement.


E.g. for MFL…

Level 3: Write a sentence using three different connectives

Level 6: Find an idiom, explain it in English, and use it in context in the Target Language

Wonder Wall.

If you’re like me, then often it’s the students who need more support that get our attention during tasks and who are heard when they ask questions. A technique for countering this, and giving more voice to curious students who need less support during tasks is as follows:

  • Create a space on your classroom wall called the ‘Wonder Wall’. You might like to make this look like a wall by chalking bricks onto black paper.
  • When students think of questions and there is not enough time to explore these, ask them to write them down on a Post-It® note and to stick this on the Wonder Wall.
  • When students have finished the tasks you have set in a lesson, ask them to fetch a question from the ‘Wonder Wall’ and to explore it either with a partner or in writing. Alternatively, once a week you might set aside time to respond to a question you picked off the wall and planned a response to in advance of the lesson. Use this as an opportunity to model a ‘Growth Mindset’ – explain to students you had to do some research to answer the question properly – show that teachers don’t know everything and have to try to understand or be able to explain things too.

Westfield’s More Able Learners: Our Objectives and Upcoming Challenges.

It has been highlighted in our most recent OFSTED report that Westfield would benefit from greater awareness of the Primary School Curriculum. Benefits include a greater awareness of the content that students are taught in Primary School in order to prevent repetition of teaching of the same content and an increased awareness of what a More Able learner looks at in Primary (which can in turn help us paint our picture of Key Stage 3 More Able Learners more vividly) and curriculum design which can build upon the knowledge we can reasonably expect students to already have obtained at Primary.

Westfield’s More Able Learners: Our Objectives and Upcoming Challenges.

We as secondary teachers have a duty to our students to know what they know by the time they arrive with us. Working closely with Primary Schools can only boost a sense of community and cohesion and could prove mutually beneficial (e.g. sharing of resources, shared interventions, shared CPD, shared good practice, all the way through to Sixth Form enrichment experiences helping out where needed in the local Primaries – an experience that would benefit our Sixth Form whilst also benefiting the Primary Schools with additional adults to use).

Our second Speaker was our SENCO Paula Creber, who talked to the audience about the importance of reading interventions in primary and secondary schools.

Paula began by showing us, the Watford community- how many schools make up our diverse and detailed  information about pupils who will, eventually come to join us at Westfield Academy. This in itself is a wonderful example of a learning community already established.

reading group

In Westfield Academy, we don’t simply rely on information from Key stage 1 and 2 at primary school, Paula and her fantastic team build upon this knowledge and collate their own data, to ensure we have as much information about pupils in our school and their learning journey. The following tests are used by the SEN team:

This enables Paula and her team to create trackers like the following:

comparative data

When looking at which pupils require reading support and intervention- it is this information  and testing which has become an integral part of pupils’ learning and progress at Westfield Academy.


HERE questions are obvious in the text i.e. literal

HIDDEN questions can be drawn from one or more parts of the text

HEAD questions require the reader to bring their own knowledge or understanding to the information given in the text.  


  • A ‘personalised learning’ approach- pupils are placed
  • A multisensory phonics approach.
  • Focuses on improving reading comprehension
  • Can be used at home- this is ideal for more able learners with Dyslexic type difficulties pupils
  • Easily accessed reports inform planning and provide the evidence of pupil’s progress

Pupils at work on Lexia within their  curriculum provision:

lexia pupils.jpg

Latest news …developing our communication skills


The Narrative Programme– Year 7 Transition class

The programme focuses on enhancing the understanding and expression of vocabulary…


Year 7 Pupil Information booklet  so that the staff teaching – know the needs


Paula has designed this booklet to enable all teachers to make learning accessible for all learners, despite the challenges they might face within the classroom. If you would like to know any more information on testing, reading intervention or how to compile data for teacher contact

Our next speaker was the amazingly talented Chris Sweetman from PennyDrop solutions. He talked to us about the importance of making learning accessible through ICT.

Education Consultants

With ICT Strategy



Rule Number One!

It’s not OK to say…I don’t do technology!!


Rule Number Two!

There is no ‘right’ device-

  • Apple
  • Microsoft
  • Android
  • Google
  • Ubuntu

Rule Number Three!

Have a Strategy-



  • Visualisers
  • MIS
  • VLE
  • 3D goggles

strategy Every Teacher Should Know!


All teachers should use the following as they are completely free!

Chris discussed the challenges we face as educators- and the advantages of using ICT alongside of Teaching and Learning. He talked a lot about the importance of using ICT but more importantly having a strategy. Without a clear focus and strategy- ICT will not aid learning but will inevitably become a ‘fad’ and hinder it.

If you would like more help or information on how to use ICT within your school contact Chris Sweetman on

Our next speaker was Nicola Furey- Nuture Leader at Laurance Haines Primary School, one of our feeder schools, in Watford. She spoke to us about a wonderful initiative they have grown and developed in their school called the ‘Nuture Group’ and how this enables all pupils, no matter what circumstances they come from, or what learning needs they may have- and allows them to be successful in school.



lhs 3

lhs 4

lhs 6


lhs 7lhs 13lhs 14

Nicola talked through an array of benefits which they have noticed over the years at Laurance Haines. They have found that the above programmes and incentives have helped establish pupils with SEBD and those from disadvantaged backgrounds to strive and achieve and have enabled them to have the same opportunities as all pupils. They have enabled accessible learning for all of their pupils. If you have any questions or would like to talk to Nicola about their nurture group please send an email to:


Our next speaker was our wonderful Literacy Lead- Jodie Vincent who talked to us about the importance of transition teaching at Westfield Academy.

The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another- children go through so many changes when they grow up- new friends, new schools, teachers. It is such an overwhelming time and can be quite a scary period in their lives.

The transition from primary to secondary school is important in the lives of children and their families, yet research has shown that transitions can be stressful for children, that continuity of curriculum between primary and secondary school may suffer during transition and that some vulnerable children need intervention prior to transition (McGee et. al., 2004). In addition, the progress pupils make at primary school may not always be maintained after the move to secondary level. The Government’s Five Year Strategy for Children and Learners has acknowledged that “too many children still find the transition from primary to secondary school difficult –some fall back in their learning as a result” (DfES, 2004, p.61). As part of its commitment to ensuring that every young person achieves their full potential, Westfield Academy aims to provide all pupils with a smooth transition from primary to secondary school.

ofsted ks3.jpg

This is Our aim, at Westfield- to ensure that no pupil suffers ‘wasted years’ at school. Jodie and her fantastic LSA Bijou have worked so hard this year to ensure that pupils, who have entered into school with SAT scores well below the national average, can have an education which makes learning accessible to them, and enables them to make sufficient progress over time and be confident learners throughout their time in school.

Our expectations?

Sort the statements into two piles; one that show what children should know by the end of Year 6 and one that shows what children should learn in secondary school.


The conclusion? Secondary teachers have a tendency to underestimate what primary school children are capable of. It is important that we have high expectations and continue to  push their abilities and not ‘dumb them down’ when they enter secondary education.

High Expectations with Support

  • Give children the tools they need but then expect them to work to their best e.g word banks, sentence starters, group work, shared writing, visual displays
  • Homework clubs, 1:1 support and resources provided.
  • Lots of contact time with Form Tutor.
  • Consolidate and extend learning from primary schools.
  • Differentiated questioning including PPPB and Phone a Friend.
  • Set challenges high and then scale up or down.
  • Instant, effective feedback.
  • Tailored timetable to suit the needs of the children.


Describe the transition phase at Westfield Academy in one word.


inspoIf you have any questions for Jodie , about transition teaching or literacy please contact her on

Jen Dennis Head of Teaching and Learning at John Madejski Academy in Reading talked to us about crossing the Chasm from kS4 into ks5. To view her prezi presentation please follow the link:



Dan Finill then spoke about the role of Inclusion at Westfield,

Our Ethos of behavioural support

Ø Focussed around students accessing a mainstream
within a mainstream environment

Ø Support is targeted to students within
mainstream lessons

Ø Withdrawals from mainstream lessons are
kept to a maximum of 6 hours per week

Different types of Support at Westfield Academy

Ø Offers in class support to target students

ØSupport is targeted because of behavioural
difficulties but our primary aim is to engage
the student in learning

Ø Within lessons Mr Meale will support the teacher with
behaviour management but also motivating, stretching and
challenging the students learning.

ØOutside of lessons Mr Meale provides advice and guidance as well as extra curricular activities


Specialisit Support:

Ø12 – 16 week programme designed to prevent permanent exclusion

ØInvolves intensive 1-1 support, alternative
curriculum, mentoring, feedback to parents

ØOutcomes: Stem poor behaviour and re-engage in education through positive learning experiences.


ØImproving and building relationships

ØPositive feedback to both students and parents

ØShowing understanding and allowing opportunity for discussion

ØShowing respect, being honest but in a non judgemental way

ØDealing with incidents of behaviour in a staged approach – allowing “get outs”

ØWhen things go wrong – opportunity for a resolution

Mentoring At Westfield Acadmey. 

ØEvaluating strengths and areas of difficult

ØChallenging their thought process and decision making

ØAdvice, guidance & motivation

ØBook monitoring/learning walks

Ø1-1 sessions focussing on appropriate and inappropriate
behaviours and the importance of positive relation ships

ØExtra curricular sessions

ØHome visits



ØInclusion Report Card

ØMonitoring Key Indicators over a period of 18 weeks (FTE’s, Isolations,
referrals and attendance)

Ø Go4Schools Data


Ø71% pass rate (10 out of 14 students)

ØOver 4000 lesson of which 87% were judged either good or outstanding


ØFor those 10 who passed, we compare their data 18 weeks prior to support and the 18 weeks during the support.

Exclusions = reduced by 53%     Positive referrals = increased by 52%

Isolations = reduced by 50%     Attendance = increased by 7.7%

Removal from lessons = reduced by 46%

Negative referrals = reduced by 18%

Extended services that we would highly recommend:

If you have any questions or would like more information on our programme please email Dan Finill-


And last, but not least we have Gifton Noel- Williams an ex professional footballer, who is our coach for the Football Academy. Westfield Academy has a route for everyone and we believe that our football Academy offers boys and girls the opportunity to play football, alongside amazing coaches and gain coaching qualification and study sports, nutrition and fitness.

For more information on how your pupils or children could join our new, exciting Football Academy please see the information leaflet in the link below.


Overall, Our first TeachMeet was a phenomenal success, opening doors of opportunity with every speaker. Our guests were inspired, motivated and encouraged by our challenge of making all learning accessible. Our aim and hopes for the future is that we, as a learning community, ensure that all classrooms become the best classrooms. After all: The best classrooms are those where nobody feels anonymous, unsupported or undervalued- and that includes the teachers & teaching assistants.


Many thanks, and we look forward to the next one!