Analysing the Gaps…

5 December 2016

As Hattie (2009) emphasises, the most important thing a teacher needs to do is to “know thy impact”. Every teacher needs to be finely tuned into the effectiveness of the learning in the classroom (for all children) and adjust accordingly. For me, that is the essence of differentiation – adjusting to each child, in the moment, after the moment and before the moment to ensure they reach the same level as the others. We should not be curriculum deliverers (Twiselton, 2006, 2007), but concept builders and teachers need a wide repertoire of skills and approaches in their pedagogical toolkit to be able to do this effectively.

This adjustment of provision is at the heart of the approach we have developed at the Aspirer Research School – our Pupil Portfolio approach to supporting children. We begin with a Pupil Progress Meeting; one per class, every half term. Each meeting usually consists of the Head Teacher, the class teacher, possibly the SENDCo and any other professionals who are involved and working with the children. Because they are so important – they take a long time; every child is discussed in detail. Teachers bring books, assessments, thoughts and reflections. The Head Teacher contributes with pupil and parental voice. Anything else that might have a bearing on the child’s progress is considered. These are team meetings in the truest sense of the word. The focus is on each and every child – we work together to do what needs to be done.

The possible outcome from this meeting are fourfold:

  1. Attainment at greater depth – carry on happily
  2. Attainment at greater depth, but bubbling under – straight to intervention menu
  3. Expected attainment – carry on happily
  4. Bubbling under – straight to intervention menu

The next step is the Intervention Menu. Each school in our Trust has a slightly different menu according to what works. Usually, there are around 20 interventions to choose from. All are evidence based; some are bought-in interventions such as Switch On or Talk Boost; others have been developed in school (examples include same day intervention; peer tuition, 1:1 tuition, or something such as our own Handwriting Bootcamp, or Phonics programme – Pulling It Together). The effectiveness of interventions is regularly checked. Anything that doesn’t appear to be having an impact is dropped off the list. A suitable intervention(s) is chosen for the child and it starts the NEXT day.

At six weeks, progress is checked. This is our Golden Rule. Something that is working will continue. Anything that doesn’t appear to be making an impact is investigated. The secret to using any intervention successfully is understanding exactly what it is intended to do, matching it accurately to the child and then adjusting if necessary. Of course, anything that isn’t having an effect after adjustment should stop immediately. Know thy impact.

This might seem like a huge amount of work; it is. It requires that all staff are hugely flexible and responsive. It means we spend a lot of time drenching teachers in professional learning. But the outcomes in terms of learning are immense. We all learn, all the time.

Posted on 5 December 2016
Posted in: Blog


  1. Kirsten Snook
    January 17, 2017 at 10:32 pm
    A fabulous read. Refreshing to hear these great principles put so simply. Will steer colleagues to this blog.

Comments are closed.