The Difference Between Good and Outstanding

Justin has just asked me to upload this lovely document. It’s a summary of Good to Outstanding


Collated remarks from OTP INSET Evaluation– 1/12/11

  1.   Was the meeting useful in terms of self / dept. development ideas?
  • Yes as several of the dept. are keen to take it further and use it to start conversations within the dept.
  • Reinforces what we do in the English dept.
  • Yes X5
  • I found the sheet (activity) very useful to assess my own lessons as well as others, and set targets for improvement
  • Very useful and the session will allow the whole department to work together with the lesson review process
  • Your meeting was very good at prompting self-evaluation making me consider the softer aspects of lesson planning, particularly in choice of activities for engagement. As a block of scientists we felt we could have some mileage for CPD department wide
  • Very useful ideas for self and departmental development especially in  terms of filming bits of lessons and evaluating as small groups and as a larger department.

2.    Did the activities help your understanding of what ‘Outstanding’ might mean in you teams, or implications for Ofsted?


  • Much more understanding of what Ofsted are looking for, rather than agreeing what outstanding is.
  • All teams need to see the official forms so they can discuss how criteria has changed
  • The discussion between colleagues and the issues raised were very interesting
  • A few colleagues stated they had really seen the difference for the first time during this conversation
  • I have a greater understanding, but believe more training or assistance will be required
  • Yes X3
  • It did help. However, I still feel that I could do some more time spent on this as if pushed by my colleagues to describe and analyse, I would feel that I was not giving a full account
  • Partially – It was a good starting point but now time is needed to consider some of the statements in greater detail, and what they would look like in the classroom
  • To a certain extent. It seems to be more about making sure the students are seen to be learning, rather than the teacher teaching
  • Clearly explained

3.    Would you recommend the meeting to colleagues in the future?

  • Definitely
  • Absolutely – Many staff present are already ‘open’ to improving practice or on their journey. It would be good to reach other staff …
  • I feel the session could be repeated in different groups – it is clear that the challenge and engagement exercise throws up a lot of useful discussion – many subject areas are unable to move from the teacher / task based approach to the new learning styles for challenge.
  • Yes X4
  • I would try and get every member of the department to attend
  • I will ask Line manager to observe my ‘Prof Dev.’ using this model… Can I have a set of cards please?!
  • Yes – there was a good atmosphere and a general feeling of trying to help everyone
  • If the meetings were run by OTP – definitely

4.    Are there any topics linked to Outstanding Teaching, which you would like covered in a meeting (not behaviour linked)?

  • Would like to see more videos of a range of lessons / subjects that could be discussed in the positive groups that were at the last meeting.
  • Powerful when students tell us what they consider an outstanding lesson to be
  • How Q & A sessions should develop to achieve Outstanding during an Ofsted inspection
  • Giving challenge to every student in a group. How would this look and how we could plan for this without taking as long planning as delivering the lesson!
  • Engaging students who are lacking motivation

5.    Any other comments:

  • It would be a great idea to run this session again during a Learning Community…
  • … super positive start.. . I feel some more co-planning and observing may help ‘shift’ happen.
  • Final task was easy to access and really useful
  • I was hesitant about the meeting (after getting on with a long list of tasks was appealing), but I was glad I went and feel there is a whole new challenge we have to meet. Your support is the starting point of this
  • I like the model you envisage – non-judgemental would be better from a teaching and learning point of view and for morale generally
  • The new model is an excellent idea
  • Keep going – best inset for ages… felt I have learnt something and done something!

JLw  Jan ‘11


Introduction and Direction



As a relatively new member of staff at Chosen Hill, and the least experienced school teacher in the G2O group, I started the program with mixed feelings. I could see the impact the course was having on learning in my own lessons, and on my own professional development and understanding. However, what support could I, having only just completed my NQT year, possibly offer to such an experienced and successful team of education professionals? “Who is she?” I hear you ask.

Prior to teaching, I worked for many years as a research scientist. My studies involved investigating the genetics of the immune system, and I have worked in various government and academic institutes in the UK and Canada. As well as the day to day lab work, I was responsible for funding applications and presenting the results in journals and at international conferences. One of the most rewarding aspects of my job was the mentoring of undergraduate and postgraduate students on lab placements, and it was this experience that made me decide to change careers. I was concerned that students were not capable of asking good scientific questions; but more worryingly, even these most able of students seemed unable to grasp the impact that scientific development has in shaping our societies. One student told me they couldn’t think of a project because we knew everything about science already and there was nothing left to find out. It was this that pushed me to sign up on the PGCE course to try fixing this misconception and get kids excited in science.

I have enjoyed my time teaching so far immensely. Yes, it’s hard work; but it is actually incredibly rewarding to work with young people and see them progress in all sorts of ways. For me, I believe encouraging independent learners is one of the most crucial aspects of teaching (and therefore learning). To be independent learners, students need some motivation, some intrinsic desire to progress. With this is mind, I found the sessions on Challenge the most interesting part of the OTP program and it is this topic that I will be focusing on in the team.

So what can I offer? Well, a genuine interest in understanding how we can challenge our students to achieve the best that they can, and a willingness to seek out and try new approaches in my own lessons. I am happy to share my successes and failures, and you can follow these on the blog. I will post resources that I think may be useful, feel free to adapt as you wish. Most importantly, if you would like some support in trying out new ideas I can talk through lesson plans or activities, or even come into lessons. These would not be “observed” lessons with a judgement, just a chance for informal discussion with someone who was in the lesson.

My focus is now on exploring how we can appropriately challenge students in the classroom, with the goal of students making maximum progress and becoming more independent.  As a starting point, I wanted a working definition of challenge.  Looking at various dictionaries, it struck me that all the definitions included an element of reward or enjoyment in the task. I will go with this definition for now : “A test of ones abilities or resources in a demanding but stimulating undertaking”, which will probably change over the year!  The main areas I will be looking at are as follows:

  1. Making challenging tasks inherently rewarding and not just “difficult”
  2. Supporting students so they feel confident in tackling the challenge
  3. Encouraging students that if they are not successful in the challenging task this can still be a useful experience upon reflection.
  4. Making students aware of when they are being challenged.
  5. Defining “pace” as number of learning events per lesson rather than number of activities per lesson – this can mean less activities but encouraging a deeper level of understanding.
  6. Differentiating tasks so individual students are appropriately challenged – challenge is very personal.

Laura Perry – Update from Space!

I am looking at different ways to use space in my lessons to give students more autonomy and encourage collaborative work. I hope to encourage this in other classrooms initially by making videos available of students using space in different ways and by encouraging colleagues in to come and watch different activities in action.

The first thing I tried this year was to rearrange the desks into groups of four to encourage group conversations/debates/arguments. I could then go and join in with different groups and try and reduce the teacher-led teacher-whole class interactions and allow groups to manage their own conversations and debate and go off on tangents etc.  I can also arrange students according to ability. (You can see this on the inset video )

The Timewalk is an idea I took from an MFL teacher called Greg Horton to encourage students to refer to past or future events and access the higher grades at GCSE. Students move backwards or forwards depending on their time reference (e.g. 2 minutes ago = 2 tiny steps back, 2 weeks age = a few big steps back and a century ago = running to the back of the field). The topic was to talk about activities we have done on holiday. Students combined the actions for the different activities with moving into the correct time position.  I find the kinesthetic activities are as popular with the very high ability students as they are with the lower ability groups. When they are doing speaking and writing activities in class I sometimes see them making these physical gestures to jog their memory. This video shows year 10 Spanish doing this.

The human skyline is another idea I nicked from Greg Horton. Students pick a word and get up one by one to form a sentence. Capital letters stand on chairs. Certain words (such as opinions, certain verbs/tenses, adjectives, good connectives…) may be rewarded by waving pom poms, speaking into a mic, putting on a wig, dressing up… encourage students to include the complex structures in their sentences to access the higher grades. If they use complex structures there should not be many capital letters on chairs.

This clip shows year 11 when they had formed their sentence. I then asked them to stick with the word they chose but to jumble themselves to form a different sentence with the same words (this was spare of the moment – I didn’t nick it!). Each student put their word onto a mini-whiteboard.  The clip shows yr 10 doing the same activity but they are a far more mixed ability group they had mini-whiteboards from the start). Both times the second rearranged sentence was the better one.

Speed dating is an activity lots of MFL teachers use to encourage students to talk and to take part in peer assessment.   By talking to and listening to a lot of people in a short time students generally stay focused, sometimes talk spontaneously and can use and adapt other peoples’ structures in their own work.  In this clip we are focusing on using opinions and reasons.

Here is a link to some of Greg Horton’s work.

New Directions

When I get the chance, I have been looking into some fairly exciting developments/possibilities for the use of digital technology in the classroom. Here’s an update.

My starting point has been to try to find things that could make a really difference to the school lives of both students and teachers. I have tried to avoid the temptation to experiment with something simply because it looks good. Instead, I have tried to identify what I would like to be able to do and have then tried to see if there is anything out there that can deliver.

I identified two priorities.

1. Instead of phones being a distraction, how could we use phones to make students more engaged in their learning?

2. How can we use technology to make marking – the bane of all our lives – less irksome, more meaningful and more interactive (and formative)?


Could mobile phones act as a hi-tech,low maintenance alternative to use of mini-white boards. I like the idea of students being given a chance to reflect and then share an answer as an alternative to the hurly-burly of ‘hands up if you know the answer’.  The same hands go up and the same hands stay down.

I know that the English department have been trying to dispense with hands up altogether, and I have seen effective use of  mini-white boards in other parts of the school. Personally, however, I have always been put off by the palaver of passing the boards around, making sure that there are enough pens and rubbers/cloths. I also feel that students don’t necessarily see each other’s responses and unless the teacher happens to pick them, there answers are essentially redundant.

Here’s the idea. At the end of the question you ask the students to send a text in which they summarise what they have learned in the lesson. Or perhaps, you ask them a very open-ended question that builds on the learning that has taken place. They send a text in a matter of seconds (no need for passing around those whiteboards) and lo and behold, all their responses appear on the teacher’s screen at the front of the class. Responses can be discussed, challenged etc. Everyone feels they have contributed. What is more, if the question has thrown up interesting ideas that could be useful in a subsequent lesson, it is easy to share and distribute this electronic record of the class’s ideas.

Can it be done. Yes – just about. There is a site that does it perfectly – It’;s free and incredibly easy to use. Unfortunately, however, for the moment in the UK  it is only possible for students to share ideas from a PC to the class screen. The SMS option is not yet available outside the US. Still – a useful option for a computer room , or as a piece of homework. Another site, textthemob does pretty much the same thing, but a little less stylishly.

There is another option, however, that does this….and a bit more. It;s called polleverywhere. You can set an open question and then get students to send their response to a screen. Cleverly, you can also set multiple choice questions or polls, and then see the results as a bar graph on the class’s big screen as the results come in. For example: When was the Battle of Hastings:




This can of course be used at the culmination of a lesson to assess learning, or as an ‘opening shot’ to try to generate discussion, or indeed as a homework task. It’s possible to ask (and answer) more than one question in any one poll.

There are a couple of other sites:




Lesson Management & Collaboration

Free Texting From PCs

Free Group Texting

Speed Reading


Automatic Grading with Google Do cs

Movie Clips

Video Mail

Talking Photos

Pictures and Storytelling


Live Blogging




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