All posts by petercreber

Senior Deputy Head Teacher at Westfield Academy,Watford

#F2FTM hold fast to your dreams

“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough but because they can be even better”.

We are good to go, and look forward to welcoming all our guests tomorrow…


hold fast
Living the Dream


Planning done


pop tart preparation
Prepared, and we just don’t care


One step at a time…

See you at the TeachMeet

No excuses!




#F2FTM Thursday 27/6/19


TeachMeet time is approaching, and this will showcase our work this year on FACE, with strategies to support feedback, autonomy, challenge and engagement.

These strategies have come through our Lesson study programme that all staff have taken part in:

1: Chidi, Sara-Kate, Teresa, Ben Jigsaw learning so that I see an improvement in the students’ ownership of their learning
2: Jen, Josh, Nina, Alison  How can I use ‘prep/deliver/assess’ to see an improvement in the skill of independence
3: Chris C, Mel, Sam How can I use ‘Providing choices’ so that I see an improvement in the autonomy with
4: Jay, Mark, Paul How can I use  the 7 Es so that I see an improvement in the quality of challenge
5: Jason, Manaz, Sabah, How can I use  challenge boxes  so that I see an improvement in the stretch and challenge with the top achievers in the class over
6: Christine, Isye, Ryan M 3 pre-prepared questions linking to Blooms Taxonomy to improve higher order thinking with pupil premium learners
8: Bernie, Katy, Leah the use of group work in helping students to learn how to escape the learning pit with less teacher input and a role that they can work within with our 9WES classes.
9: Chimameka, Chris G, Kelly Group 9 is going to research how we use blooms taxonomy so that we see an improvement in achievement of different focus groups
12: Bebhinn, Jayna, Jacqui looking at how to engage students (especially year 9 boys) in a subject (Food Tech) that they chose for practical side but has quite a bit of theory in it too.
13:  Annabel, Ernesto, Julia  How can I use DIRT slides so that I see an improvement in the students’ response to my feedback with a selection of shared Year 9 students
14: Chloe, Lena, Sebastian, Nitza, Group  14 is going to research how we can use feedback sheets, writing frames and re-drafting lessons so that we can see an improvement in extended writing skills with KS5
16: Emma, Chris B, Ryan P,   How can I use student worked examples within the starter so that I see an improvement in the students’ awareness of common pitfalls with Year 11….
B: Jonathan, Roland, Clara  We are going to use competitive games to improve participation of reluctant  girls
C: Ishrat, Greg, Carly, Haroon Personalised Learning Checklist (PLC) so that I see an improvement in DIRT feedback after assessments with my Yr 11 GCSE We will use Teacher Toolkit Marking strategies

4.30pm, Thursday, 27th June, in here…

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Butterfly showcase

This week we had a miscellany of strategies, primarily the soft skills of embedding deeper relationships, working together in the classroom and how we are celebrating all that we do  at Westfield.

Engaging displays – Sam Cole    

 Making good use of school displays for the following:

intent of learning
– outline of topic

– key terms and phrases connected to project

– next step questions

implementation of teaching
– content of information

– photos of student task

– demonstration of class resources

impact of outcome

– large scale work

– bold colours

– good quality work show high aspirations for students

Elaine has been working with the site staff and individual faculties to showcase all the fantastic work that we do around the school. 

Use of Voice -Bebhinn Kennedy      

How do we use our voice effectively in the classroom?

Using your voice to help with behaviour management………..

  • Speak slowly and calmly
  • Dramatise activities to increase enthusiasm
  • Raising your voice (not screaming)
  • Speaking quietly to emphasise certain feelings / emotions / key vocabulary
  • Voice projection
  • Not talking when the students are talking – using wait times / countdowns to get attention

Different types of voice include a “firm voice to grab the attention of the classroom very quickly”, and “a comforting, advisory voice that is soothing”, for example. Having a calm, deep voice, rather than having a high-pitched tone or shouting, can help to give a sense of authority.

Whatever the voice, it is always about the consistency of practice, and the relationships that we are constantly building.

Student interviews and evaluations – Teresa Porter

  •  We teach as per the curriculum
  • We teach as per the Westfield way
  • We formatively and summatively assess students to check progress over time.

Unless we speak with students and ask them their own thoughts on their learning, how do they learn more?

How do we do less for them? How do we make them learners that are more independent? And how do we know the impact of our pedagogical skills?

We can either speak to students individually, as a small group…in these cases, choose students who are not necessarily the most compliant or best behaved, but those that will give the most honest and constructive, answers.

Alternatively, you may choose to do student evaluations/ questionnaires for the whole class.

And then act upon whatever we have found out…

Thanks all





6th Form Butterflies

The Butterflies have been thick and fast this term, with a focus on 6th form teaching:

Sharing is caring – Sabah Khan

It is important to show students what excellence looks like by sharing models of the very best work, giving them something to aspire to and an understanding of how to produce high quality work of their own.

Students are given specific topics to research (allocation of topic is based differentiation). Student work is then collated and made available to all, this way personalised revision guides have been created.


  • Sets high expectations.
  • Models student work.
  • Helpful for upcoming assessments/mocks.
  • Good for content heavy subjects.
  • Allows peer assessment.
  • Facilitates repetition.

Things to consider:

  • Quality control
  • Strategically assign topics – differentiate for abilities
  • Double up topics where necessary – assign to a variety of students

 Support with essay writing – Emma Keys

 Scaffolding- This is not just for Key stage 3 & 4. It is just as important in year 12 in order to model and support their writing development. I like to use a starting code of red- heavy support, amber- medium and green- essential information. Reduce this support over the course of year 12.

Providing critical references and modelling how to use them in an essay- this is a new skill and not one we should just ‘expect’ them to learn independently. Provide clear websites and books which you would expect to find the sources.

Essay mark sheet- a clear checklist of what essential requirements an essay should have and clearly marked to the exam AOs. This will help them visualise where they need to improve.

Refresh your subject knowledge- A levels are very difficult and at times, it is important that we as facilitators have the most up-to-date readings and research to help push and challenge their ideas/ progress.

 Building independence– Sara Kate Rafter

Making use of the exams boards website which is full of useful information. Some of what can found:

-specimen papers

-exemplar work

-past papers

Start yr12 teaching students how to make use of exemplar questions, so this can used to guide revision and improve answers to exam questions.

Set students 15 marks worth of questions to complete (they can choose the 15 marks worth- autonomy)

Give 15 mins DIRT time in lesson for students to reflect on their answers and identify using the specification which assessment objectives (AO’s) are their weakest and what content requires improvement.

Making BTEC engaging- Ben Waite

 Things to consider for BTEC lessons…

Planning – often there are very few lessons pre-planned for teacher tweaking and few resources. This means planning from scratch- but it is worth it, for an engaging lesson.

Ensure lessons are planned to allow ideas that are often      complex, to be explained clearly and concisely, bring in new ideas gradually (the less info per slide, the better).

Reviews– these should be well thought through, to maximise student engagement. Often students that do BTEC are less confident than others to express their understanding or lack thereof. Therefore, it is important that review activities draw out any concerns, misconceptions or understanding of the more challenging concepts.

Training students and getting them ready- Chris Chalk

 Ensure students are aware of how to distinguish between; describe, explain and analyse as these directly match the assessment criteria for assignments.

Use assessment criteria as a scaffold for students, so that work submitted is structured in a way that it can be easily and effectively scanned for marking, rather than be marked in a detailed way.

When submitted for the final marking, have the assessment record ready to fill in. When marking and filling in assessment records, keep the language used simple.

Make use of the Pearson on line calculator, for students to track and monitor their own progress in terms of P, M and D and relate this to the points system.


Suspended in a Sunbeam

Our last training session was led by Teresa, looking at the primacy of building relationships with all our students. Building these relationships takes time, we are over a thousand different personalities, all co-existing together and with many different variables in the mix on any given day.

So how can it be done?


And expectations that need to be in place for all of us in establishing these relationships.


And if it doesn’t go right? Keep things in perspective, and try again. Rarely is an endpoint or irreversible situation reached, so we pick it up again, and keep on learning about people, situations and strategies.

p dix

Paul Dix and his work on changing attitudes is a revelation on this.

Paul Smith and Dan Finill have kindly circulated his podcasts as a further support and guide:


A Pale Blue Dot

I recently read an article by Carl Sagan, in which he wrote of his own thoughts on our co-existence and the gift of perspective, based around the Voyager photograph of Earth and the inner Solar System:

20140801_PIA00452Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there–on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994



The whirlpools get wider and wider

Our 3rd session showcased some lovely aides to learning and retention.

Teresa introduced a simple way of revisiting and testing student memories:


‘The stamen is a male reproductive organ of a flower. It produces the pollen. The stamen has two parts: anther and stalk. The stalk is also called a filament.



Mark brought his trusty IPad to demo strategies that will enhance learning…

1.Some teachers in the school have an Ipad. There is a lot of software packages available that make the Ipad a powerful learning tool and for little money. (in terms of apps). They will allow you to produce work on the fly, set up quizzes. Create rubrics for marking, You can use Idoceo (School management) You can even do the register and seamlessly connect to SIMS and Go4Schools.

2.By using the Ipad you can work the room and allow students to have an input and diffuse any disruption in the class room.

3.You can get timers and quizzes such a Kahoot and Socrative.

4.You can also record pictorial and video evidence for exams and have it saved against a students progression record.

5.It is small enough to take to parents meetings and parents evenings and deliver a comprehensive report.


Next up was Jen with some fantastic supports for student reading, understanding and retention.

‘I’ve been looking at reading and understanding properly what is read. Students cut out an article and stick it into the middle of a page. They then work through the article at their pace – highlighting key words, adding titles for each paragraph on the left and a very short summary on the right. The teacher then reads this discussing titles and summaries with the class. By doing this the students really understand difficult chunks of text.

This can then be used to check understanding but asking a big question and getting the students to answer in one minute using images on a mini whiteboard’


notesnotes 2notes 3notes 4

It’s been a great term of teaching and learning, thank you to all Butterflyers.

Sam Cole has re-branded us as well. Love the whirlpool look!

Wow Butterflies II is well and truly branded.

Next session is Tuesday 30th April. make sure you’re there…


Reaching all children in the classroom

Lena presented this week on what a difference differentiation can make with our students.


“Summer’s over kids! Now,all you round pegs get back into your square holes!”

As teachers we often make the mistake and think that teaching is a one size fits all. At Westfield Academy we have a range of students from those who are gifted and talented to those who are extremely academically weak. We have students who lack confidence but don’t lack ability, students who need support with organisation and students who need to be supported to complete basic tasks or pieces of work. Above all, all are students who need to be stretched and challenged every lesson. As teachers how do we cater for all and what key strategies can we implement to compliment our teaching and support our students?

Differentiation can take many forms including:

  • By outcome
  • By task
  • By questioning
  • By support
  • By input

When planning lessons we need to know what should students know, understand, and be able to do as a a result of this learning assignment?

This Learning Direction is fundamental…

Following this, comes further consideration…

How am I going to know who’s learning what I intend, and who already knows it?

What am I going to do now that I know who’s where relative to my learning goals?

What do I need to do to ensure that my classroom actively supports the success of each student?

To answer the questions above it is imperative that each teacher knows their students as well as they possibly can. Teachers need to access provision plans where available and along with this liaise with their LSA where necessary. LSA’s are a vital resource that play a big part in the success of our weaker students.

Strategies to consider…

By outcome:

  • What are your objectives for the lesson? Know where you are heading with a lessons and make sure your students know too. This gives focus to students who may be unorganised or unsure of what comes next.
  • ‘All’ ‘Most’ ‘Some’ ? Always keep an open mind when planning lessons and be mindful that a range of tasks is important along with the fact that not all students will be able to access all of the work set. Plan with Gifted and Talented, SEN and average ability students in mind.

By task:

  • Language – modify language for G+T/SEN. Questioning from teacher can be styled towards particular learners, open and closed questions (obvious to observers).
  • Limit reading/writing for SEN pupils, often where difficulties lie.
  • Provide prompts/key vocabulary.
  • Activities – expectations higher for upper levels – Quality not quantity!
  • Extension work – challenge more able (open ended tasks)


By questioning:



  • Are we aware of Blooms Taxonomy and where our students sit? Are we providing the skills and language break down to allow our students to access the skills they need to move up the hierarchy? Blooms can also be used to gauge the types of questions we use with our students and slowly build a students confidence and in turn access their higher order thinking skills.



By support:

  • Your LSA….. Tell them what you want them to do. Communication is key to success. LSA’s rarely need to be stuck beside ONE pupil only.
  • Use their expertise of the child to support your expertise of teaching and subject knowledge
  • Discuss with them about the pupils’ progress/needs/difficulties

By input:

  • Do all pupils need the same input?
  • Consider differentiating the teaching of the task as well as following tasks…
  • For example, if you’re aware that part of the group don’t need to ‘overlearn’ – why not set them off on a task while focussing on those that will require extra input?


 Differentiation is

  • Varied tasks for students at different levels of readiness or achievement
  • Authentic choices for students to demonstrate what they have learned
  • Adjustment of pacing, resources, and instructional strategies to meet the needs of ALL students
  • Using pre- and post- assessments to create a good fit of instruction to the students

Differentiation is not

  • Just more of the same work for advanced students
  • Random groups all doing the same work
  • Advanced students tutoring struggling students
  • Mostly whole class instruction with the same assignments for everyone
  • Only for weaker classes
  • Grading differently based on perceptions of students’ capabilities
  • Blue paper vs. green paper

Overall with keeping differentiation in mind we allow the following:

  • Increased academic progress
  • Increased confidence in learning
  • Enhanced intrinsic motivation for learning
  • Increased independent learning


cup of tea

Lena’s test yourself test:

1. The teacher’s responsibility in providing appropriately differentiated instruction includes what five tasks?

2. What will you consider trying in your classroom?

3. Have your ideas about differentiation changed? Explain why or why not.

Overall, how would you rate your current skills and expertise in differentiation? What information or assistance do you still need?

Give these a go:


  • Simple: quick and easy to do
  • Little more effort: about a minute or two of your time
  • More effort: Preparing longer term resources – but can be used over and over again



  • Give out homework at the beginning of the lesson
  • Use “comic sans” or Century Gothic font
  • Change background to light blue

Little more effort

  • Make laptops available for those who benefit from/need  word processing
  • Allow them to show what they know in a variety of ways, e.g. mindmap, bullet points
  • Copying from board:  write each line in a different colour – easier to find their place

More effort

  • Scribe for them
  • Create ‘fill the gaps’ sheets
  • Have writing frames/templates available in classroom
  • Drawing grids/tables/graphs etc. can be REALLY difficult to complete for those with poor motor skills. Unless that is the focus of the task/assessment, provide the grid
  • Top ten topic vocabulary or *subject specific words. Must allow over-learning – won’t be recalled otherwise
  • Encourage pupils to identify words they don’t know – reward ‘I don’t know what that means’ so pupils know it is ok to be unsure.
  • Prepare a reduced version of text, find simpler synonyms for more sophisticated vocabulary.
  • Find a simpler text – for LA learners it might be worth looking at texts aimed at KS2 or even KS1 for specific pupils.
  • Provide a glossary –pupils may be unable to use a dictionary.
  • Homework: 
  • Staple homework instructions into their planners or email to them.
  • Limit time spent/amount required otherwise if they are struggling they might be there for hours!
  • Research: written questions which must be answered on paper rather than “Find information about the Tudors”
  • Limit number of facts to find (find 5)
  • Break big questions into smaller steps – bullet point mini questions. – When did the Tudors come to the throne? What were their names? Etc.
  • Provide key words and teach “Find” on computers – give specific websites.
  • Teach pupils how to skim and scan (Skim = general info – Scan = searching for key words/information.
we can
Because that’s what we would want for our own.