Goodbye Old Westfield, Hello new!

Tomorrow we move in, and the new build becomes Westfield Academy. Last week saw visits from all students and guided tours with our 6th formers. Pickfords picked up a myriad of boxes, and various dress rehearsals with break and lunch procedures were held. Tomorrow sees our 1st full day.


Opening at 7.30am!


And what about old Westfield? Even on the Friday half day it was starting to resemble a post-nuclear town. I am sure the builders will look after it.

Photos by A-M Creber



Universal lesson cycle: Input Activity Review. And repeat.

The day had to come. After 70+ Butterfly sessions, we have said goodbye to BIT4, room 15 and our old Westfield venues.

Today we revisited a Core Westfield Way principle – the centrality of the Input Activity Review cycle in our lessons.

This cycle acts as a core to the 60 minutes, providing a focus on objectives and outcomes, and a cycle of exposition, engagement and assessment / feedback throughout the lesson.Image result for brighton stick of rock

The cycle progresses the lesson, and like a spiral around this core, challenges and develops the students’ understanding throughout the 60 minutes. By using this cycle, students can participate in a variety of stimulus and activity that will aid their engagement and progress.

Our 1st Butterfly session in September 2014 took this quote as its’ inspiration, and our commitment to caring about ideas and values and striving for excellence will continue in the new build:

“Of some of our teachers, we remember the foibles and mannerisms, of others, their kindness and encouragement, or their fierce devotion to standards of work that we probably didn’t share at the time. And of those we remember most, we remember what they cared about and that they cared about us and the person we might become. It is this quality of caring about ideas and values, this fascination with the potential for growth within people, this depth and fervour about doing things well and striving for excellence, that comes closest to what I mean in describing ‘passionate teaching’”. (Robert Fried, from ‘The Passionate Teacher’)

Our new Academy build really will support the learning that our students deserve. Butterfly CPD will continue to help all staff be the best classroom practitioners we can be.

Book Presentation: The greatest communication tool for our pupils!


Ever since the beginning, teachers have stressed the importance of neat book presentation:
“Underline your date and title.”
“Use a ruler.”
“Don’t draw in pen.”
“Is that your neatest handwriting?”

This can be a tiring process, especially for those children who struggle with their book presentation for various reasons or simply don’t try hard enough.

I asked the Staff at Butterfly on Tuesday morning and asked them to identify which work belonged to which set and which year group. I received a range of varying answers and in actual fact, they are all from my Year 7 Stephenson class ( a transition group) who have a range of learning needs and requirements. Why did i do this? To erase the myth that lower-ability students have weaker handwriting.  If a teacher has high expectations from day one- then you can guide all students in the right direction.

So why do we bother? Why do we want students to present their work neatly?

Firstly, handwriting is a tool of communication in the written form. Handwriting is often linked to decoration and illustration, leading to a finished product which is pleasing to look at and which can be attractively displayed. However, there is more to handwriting than this. When children use their neatest handwriting, they are demonstrating that they have achieved a great deal of satisfaction from the way they present their work; they are proud of the progress that they are making within lessons. Also, neat handwriting suggests that children have thought carefully about their work instead of rushing through it as quickly as they can.



To add to this, the presentation of work is very important too; it demonstrates what a child has learnt, their ability to clearly record their learning and the amount of care that they have taken in doing so. It even shows their ability to be responsible and look after things that belong to them.

So now we have established that it is highly important(and that we should persevere as teachers)- how do we ensure that every student presents work neatly in their books?

Well, here are my top tips:

  • Set your presentation expectations during the first lesson of the school year. Do not be afraid to plan a whole lesson that is dedicated for this. I did this, on the first day of school, with my Year 7 classes. They ended up writing a poem to remind them of how to maintain neat presentation. Having this poem written in the front of their books, meant that myself and the students could refer back to it as a reminder of the expectations that I set,

I promise that I will do my best,
To keep my pencil sharp and develop its lead,
To underline my date and title,
Cross out mistakes using one line and a ruler,
and to keep the Neat Presentation Law. 

  • Reward children for using neat presentation. Children like to know when they have impressed you so make it known that you are impressed with their neat book presentation too!
  • Highlight the importance of using neat presentation. How many times have we heard pupils ask, ‘But when will we ever use this again?’ Encourage pupils by making sure that the children understand the importance of neat presentation in school and out of school.
  • Set individual targets, with incentives, for those children who are particularly struggling with their presentation.
  • Teacher modelling is vital. Just as parents and carers model to children how to behave in everyday life, teachers need to model how to achieve neat presentation by presenting work and handwriting neatly when writing on the board and when marking children’s books.


We all know that children enjoy routines and knowing what is expected of them. They like it when every child is treated fairly. This is why consistency is key! If every teacher had the same expectations in their subjects, then every pupil will find it easier to understand what they need to do to achieve. Setting a ‘set of rules’ that is expected in every lesson is one strategy that can lead to success:


  • Full date written on the left hand side of the top line. This will help tackle spelling issues of some high frequency words.
  • Leave a line before writing the title (also next to the margin)
  • Date, title and sub-headings underlined using a ruler.
  • All words from the board copied with the correct spellings.
  • Pencil to draw pictures, tables, diagrams, lines.
  • Use a ruler to draw lines.
  • Black or dark blue pen (that is suitable) for writing.
  • Cross out mistakes using one line.
  • No doodling.
  • Spacing is used well.
  • Handwriting is neat and clear throughout.
  • No rips or bent corners of pages.

It will continue to be a struggle at times, but it will all be worth it in the end!





Further to this, there is a fantastic article on how students can use their exercise books – they are the best revision guides:

Nest week, Input Activity Review, with a Christmas twist.


Climbing the Questioning ladder to success and giving the best kind of feedback

Questioning is one of the nine research-based strategies presented in Classroom Instruction That Works (Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock 2001).

Educators have traditionally classified questions according to Bloom’s Taxonomy, a hierarchy of increasingly complex intellectual skills. Bloom’s Taxonomy includes six categories:


Knowledge – recall data or information

Comprehension – understand meaning

Application – use a concept in a new situation

Analysis – separate concepts into parts; distinguish between facts and inferences

Synthesis – combine parts to form new meaning

Evaluation – make judgements about the value of ideas or products

Questioning Video

  • What questioning styles can you see being used in this video?
  • What is the effect of these styles?
  • What other types of questioning could be used and why?


Questioning Ladders

So, we all know that questioning is hugely important in driving the learning in our lessons. But sometimes coming up with the right questions, and ensuring the level of difficulty is challenging enough for our learners can be a big ask on the spot.

This is why I drew up this questioning ladder. By using the same template each time I create a questioning ladder and adding my new questions to it, this is a really quick task to plan and means I can either ask questions that stretch my learners, or use key vocabulary and ask my learners to link it to our lesson with confidence. I also love that it means you are very definitely giving students ‘thinking time’ before pouncing on them to answer. All of them have had to think because they do not know who will be called upon. More than this, this has been a fun activity to use in the classroom.


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Feedback and why the words you say after questioning is so vital. 

Feedback or knowledge of results is the lifeblood of learning.’ 

Derek Rowntree

Evidence from inspections over the years shows that many teachers are not effective at providing children with the feedback they require to help them evaluate their work and identify what or how to improve. In general, most feedback is too little, too late, too vague and too impersonal

Effective feedback should relate to the learning objective, pointing out success and improvement needs. It should offer clear guidance on how work can be improved, the next steps in learning and how pupils can take them.

Questions to ask yourself to check you’re giving meaningful feedback:

1.Is it detailed enough?

2.Is it immediate enough?

3.Is it specific enough (are your next steps clear)?

4.Is it personalised?

Strategies to try out in helping with meaningful feedback:

  1. We all have longer writing aspects to our subjects, be it an essay question in an exam or a homework explaining how to market a product. These longer pieces are time-consuming to mark. To help giving instant feedback, why not try skim reading 10 pieces of work – not marking them – and then putting top tips on how to improve onto the start of your PPT for next lesson. Students have to re-read their work, think which common pitfalls they have fallen into, and make changes to their work.
  1. Using the marking code ‘NS’ – Next Step – works really well in giving specific feedback. For example, if you have marked a piece of work that has missed key terminology, your specific feedback may be ‘NS – re-write paragraph 3 using the key words photosynthesis, transpiration and produce’ You can then give DIRT (Directed Improvement Reflection Time) in the lesson where students try out their next steps.
  2. Teach students how to properly peer assess. This means all students are receiving feedback in the lesson that is personalised to their work.
  3. Verbal feedback stamps – these are easy to get hold of online. You move around your room, discuss a child’s work with them, stamp their work and they must write down the feedback you give them and then act on it.
  1. Model answers- really useful in hearing students’ ideas but helping them to improve them as you review. Ensure students give their work a sub-title in their book: ‘Review – our class answer’ and then randomly select students to contribute, type of their thoughts and then get other students to amend, questioning and prompting them as needed.
  1. Stars and targets. When marking a piece of work in detail e.g. a blue sticker assessment, use stars and target (a capital T in a circle) in the margin. Each time you draw a star or a target, write what it is they have done well or need to improve on. From this, you can then get students to complete their own strengths and steps to improve on the blue sticker itself meaning they have properly engaged with your feedback and had to ask if they do not understand it.

Juuuuuuust keep Questioning!

And feeding back.