Quick Wins and School Improvement in Challenging Times

School Improvement is always on the agenda, even in challenging times. Great schools never stand still.

Our latest webinar focusses on the actions shown to have the greatest impact upon student’s achievement.

Lots of quick wins that are easy to implement. And that will have an immediate and long-lasting impact.

Why not upskill parents, at scale, so they know exactly HOW to help at home?

It’s been shown time and again this has the biggest impact on school improvement. And it’s even more important than ever in lockdown. We show how to do this without overloading teachers. It’s not enough to send work home for parents to supervise. If remote learning is to be effective then parents need to be shown how to help. And we can automate that so it’s no work for teachers. And our pre-written explanations cover Reading, Writing and Maths, and are in 100 languages – perfect for EAL families.

Imagine if every teacher could access just the right part of your internal guidance, at the moment they need it, without wading through the whole policy? Imagine if your subject leads could mentor every member of staff remotely, one-demand? It’s easy with our Curriculum Tools.

Surely you should be able to search every online education resource on the internet in seconds? Find exactly what each child needs. Even from site’s like BBC Bitesize that don’t have their own search function. Then share and evaluate in a click? With our new curated search engine – The Curriculum Lab – you can do exactly that from within Learning Ladders. Find any resource, matched to your existing plans, then share it via the remote learning portal and even track understanding with self-marking quizzes.

Why wait for issues to arise? Interrogate historical data trends and pinpoint likely issues before they happen.

The video is 30 minutes long so grab a coffee.

Webinar Transcription:

Matt: Hello everybody, welcome to the webinar. Just in terms of housekeeping, as I always say, I think everybody is familiar with Zoom nowadays. If you have any questions or any comments as we go through, then do just type them into the Q&A on the chat and I’ll keep an eye on that as we go through. I’m going to stick to about half an hour and there’s an awful lot to talk about. So, I’m going to go through relatively quickly. There will be notes on our website, learningladders.info at the end of the session. 

My name is Matt. I’m the founder here at Learning Ladders. You can get me on social media. That’s my Twitter handle. And for the session today, we have a hashtag beyond tracking, which is our usual hashtag for the CPD events. I also chair EdTech at Besa, the trade association here in the U.K. I’m a founding member of a group called EdTech Evidence as well. I can give you perspectives from a range of angles. But mainly ones I wanted to share is some lessons that we’ve been learning from some of our member schools around the world that we think will be useful. And some insights into how you can get ahead of what’s going on at the moment. So a quick 30 minute session on quick wins and school improvement planning in challenging times with a particular focus on maths. 

A lot of what I’m going to talk about applies to any subject. But just as an example, we’re going to focus on maths today. So going through and having a look at some of these things. I’m going to cover the big picture. I’m going to talk about what research tells us about improving progress generally, not just at the moment, but generally how this looks, particularly in the context of mathematics and how to make it real, how to actually bring it to life without overloading staff. Obviously, the system that I have access to is Learning Ladders. That’s our system. I appreciate that. It’s a sophisticated system and not everybody has access to it on the webinar. Apologies if that’s the case, but this is probably the easiest way for me to show you the quickest and most accurate way to do these things. 

So a few housekeeping things in terms of context. Obviously, the majority of people on the webinar are probably working in a scenario where some parts of the school community is not attending school in the traditional way. There is some element of local lockdown. If you’re in the UK, that’s still a national lockdown. In other territories, you have more blended learning. And in some territories it’s beginning to get back to normal. But whatever the scenario is, it’s not quite what we would call normal learning. And there’s been a huge amount of disruption. So, before we rush into thinking about details of how we’re going to plan for school improvement and where we might get the quick wins, we really need to not overlook the really obvious fundamental factors. Thinking about pupil’s well-being here. If we miss that step, then anything that we do later on is going to have far less impact. 

So, we know obviously securely attached children learn better. We know the anxiety is a block to learning. We know that we have to create time and space for relationships and rebuild routines, particularly within young children. We know that we need to explicitly scaffold ways to learn, not just bombard children with content and stuff that they have to remember. We know that we need to be transparent with children and we know that children will learn much, much better if we construct how to address the gaps in learning with them. And by that, I mean involve them in their learning, give them a role, give them some responsibility for discussing and understanding where their gaps in learning may be. And with very young children, that probably falls partially or wholly with the parents as well. But to have that dialogue that needs to be a two-way dialogue, particularly at the moment. Parents are obviously playing a critical role and we really, really need to focus on how we up-skilling parents, how we interact with parents when we’re planning our school improvement and our quick win. So that’s a bit of context. I think everybody will hopefully agree with that. 

The one thing I would say from the research and things that we’re finding from schools that are successfully adapting to blended learning around the world, there is one influential factor that is significantly more important than anything else you will do. So if you remember nothing else from this webinar and you only take one action, this will be the one to take away that anything you do in school to try and improve children’s education, anything that you do around school improvement planning, around interventions, around assessment about anything else will be trumped by how effectively you can get adults at home, by which I mean parents, aunts, uncles, older siblings, tutors, chauffeurs (If you’re in that part of the world). Anything you can do to get adults more involved in the day-to- day learning of children and up skill them so they know how to help. That will have a greater impact on children’s learning than anything else that you can do, even under normal circumstances, so particularly under the current circumstances where we’re relying on the adults at home to scaffold learning, to address misconceptions, to manage motivation, to get children to do the things that we want them to do with our remote learning plans. 

We know that in young children, in very young children particularly, it is not enough to simply send work home and have an adult at home supervise that that work is is happening, that that work has been given to the child. Those children need an adult with them who can scaffold their learning, who can take the place of the teacher in some respects by providing that motivation, providing those nudges, addressing misconceptions, modelling great ways of doing this. And that’s an incredibly hard thing to do. We know that. But if you can do it, then it will have more of an impact than anything else. 

If you look at the studies, it shows that time and time again getting adults at home effectively involved in children’s learning, and what I mean by that is that they are actually specifically supporting individual tasks as part of a learning sequence. This is not simply about parents being involved, taking a picture and sharing it back with you, celebrating a reward sticker, celebrating something like that, answering homework. It is much deeper than that. Its parents who are up skilled at scale so they can all help their children remotely understand what they need to do and support them. And if you can crack that the maths for any other subject across the whole school, then time and time again the research has shown that is the single biggest thing that you can do. So, when you’re planning quick wins and school improvement in these challenging times, this is the most important thing you can do. And it’s not about simply sharing information with children or sharing information with parents. It’s making sure they know how to help at home. It’s making sure they understand the terminology. 

Now, clearly, that can be quite intimidating, but the very, very good news is that although there are a lot of challenges out there- we know that a lot of families here in the UK and international schools, English might not be their first language. They might not be familiar with the terminology, with the teaching strategies that we know. We know there are a lot of challenges and we know the parents really, really want to help, but we know that it can be potentially overwhelming. So, you need a way to upscale parents at scale at home. Now, we have a method for doing this (little plug for Learning Ladders). Obviously here you can do this very, very easily. The way that we do it, and you may have a different way, the way that we do it is every single task that is set by the school or every single assessment that is made for every child is communicated through the remote learning platform and mapped to a whole load of prewritten resources. And this is a really quick, easy way that you can upskill parents at scale. So, for every individual child, they have a summary of all of their current objectives, exactly what they’re working on. You can set homework, you can share portfolios, you can do pupil reports. You can do flip learning, remote learning tasks, self- marking homework. But critically, each one of these, the parents and the children’s themselves, can then click through to a pre-written article. This is an explanation that Learning Ladders has created, and it goes through and explains to parents, this is exactly what you do for this particular skill at a very specific level. And all of these resources are available in over 100 languages. So, if you have communities at home that are not used to supporting home learning because either they simply don’t have the time normally or they don’t have the capacity or the expertise if they need to access this information in their home language so they can support their children, that’s absolutely fine. It’s clearly much better when adults at home have some understanding of how to help their children. And if we need to serve that up in their home language, absolutely no problem with that whatsoever. So, this can be a real game changer for those families who are not used to accessing the curriculum or supporting their children. So that’s the first part. And if you’re interested in parental engagement and that sort of stuff, we can talk about that a lot more. 

So, you need to show parents exactly how to help. You need to, in school, create the conditions for success. Now, some of this will have happened already. Hopefully, if it hasn’t happened already, it is never too late. The relationship between home and school has to be to say there has to be a conversation going on. Share with parents and with the children. If they’re slightly older, explicitly share what you believe they can already do and therefore where your focus of teaching is going to be and they can respond to that and confirm it or challenge it or say, actually, maybe I don’t understand this, or I do understand this a little bit more. But that dialogue is going to be the best way that you can make an accurate assessment of children’s current learning situation. And until you’ve assessed that foundation stage, until you know exactly where they are at the moment, you can’t build on that. There are no quick wins. 

There is no school improvement unless you have a very clear idea of your starting point. So, lots of low stake quizzes, lots of open-ended tasks, lots of conversations. This is not the time for formal intimidating tests. This is not the time for, you know, your exam type features. You cannot replicate that remotely. You cannot validate the conditions on which children are taking. Those tests are universal and fair for every child. So don’t bother would be my suggestion. But what you can do is use your existing data to identify known gaps and predict where there may be issues. You can use software like Learning Ladders to set self-marking quizzes to do low stakes online assessment to set open-ended tasks which will give you really rich information. 

So, it’s a different way of doing your formative assessment, but it’s equally valid because your teachers will have that information. And if it’s low stakes and if it’s very small, there’s very little incentive for anyone to cheat the system. So, you do tend to find that actually the information that you get through this is very accurate. The other thing, obviously, while we’re talking about this, is this is a change. If this is a time of huge change for the majority of teachers in the majority of schools and families. So, we need to be flexible. We need to be flexible and compassionate, and we need to have flexible systems. And we need to just remember the scenario that everybody is operating in. 

OK, so for school leaders, what can we do on the school improvement area? First and foremost, create the conditions to support the teachers. We need a high-quality bespoke curriculum that doesn’t change whether you’re doing remote learning or whether you’re doing teaching and learning in the normal way. High quality bespoke curriculum for maths. You need a calculation policy that teachers can access at the point of need. So you will have, if you’re a subject lead, created a policy which sequences learning in your subject beautifully throughout the whole school. And it’s probably a work of art and something that you’re very proud of, certainly mine was when I was maths leader in my school. This is something that you’ve worked on. But unless the teachers are accessing the relevant part of it at the relevant point of need, it’s totally pointless because it’s not being pursued. So, you need to make that easy for them to access so that you’re supporting them, so you’re giving them every chance of success. 

If you’re using Learning Ladders and you’re a subject leader, you would do it like this. You would go into the curriculum section you would go into the creation zone. Let’s say I’m looking at maths, I would go into the part of the curriculum that I’m interested in. So, if I’m interested in addition, I can go into the edit function here and I can very easily go into a bit of the curriculum here. And I can add in useful resources. I can add in teaching notes and descriptions. This is where, as a subject leader, bringing your curriculum to life, bringing your calculation policy to life, giving that mentoring can be hugely valuable, particularly for the less experienced teachers and by upskilling your teaching staff so they have the confidence and the resources to hand so they know exactly how to help. That is another really quick way to school improvement in any time, regardless of remote learning or normal learning. So, add in teaching notes here, you know, and this can be simple extracts from your calculation policy if you’re using external resources, if you purchased a scheme linked to it from here, if you have an Internet, if you have moderated work, if you have lesson plans, link to it here so that the teachers can understand that in our particular system. 

We now have something called the Curriculum Lab. So, a lot of the time teachers will then, once they know where the gaps in learning are, search through the Internet for supporting resources to understand what might be the best way to bring this to life for children. Well, again, can we short circuit that for them? Can we help them with that? So as more experienced teachers, you could use the curriculum lab here or teachers can use it as well. And literally what it will do is it searches the page that you’re on. So, it knows that you’re on addition and Mass, that’s maybe, say, filter by year two and it searches the Internet for the best available resources in this particular area. So, for example, these are all of the resources on BBC Bite Size relating to maths addition for year two children. And there’s a lot of them. And you can go through and you can have a look at them. We also have something called Oak National Academy, which is a government funded website where there are prewritten, pre-recorded lessons and resources and quizzes and all sorts of stuff. And again, the system will search all of those for you so you can go through. You can have a look at the particular resource and then you can add it into your teaching planning and use it either in school or remotely publish it through the remote learning platform. Set a quiz alongside it so that you can get immediate feedback and you can get an idea of who’s doing it. So, this is another new feature. If you’re using Learning Ladders to have a look at the curriculum, that which means that you can surface those resources, the point of need or other things to think about. 

You’ve got resources, you’ve got your calculation policy that’s come to life. What is your assessment policy? What is your assessment structure? Is that reflecting your current teaching needs? So how are you going to do that? And again, you can go through and you can flex this in different ways in the system. So, for example, you may decide to flag to your teachers that some parts of the curriculum are non-negotiable. They are particularly important parts of the curriculum that although we appreciate that it’s a challenging time and teachers may not be able to get every part of the curriculum. This is the really critical area. So flag them, highlight them. We call them key performance indicators, whatever you call them, flag them on their make it clear to teachers that those are the non-negotiable tasks. And again, it’s these simple little things. If you’re a sports fan, it’s the aggregation of marginal gains, lots and lots of simple little wins to make teachers lives easier, pupils’ lives easier, parents lives easier will yield these results. There’s very rarely a magic bullet. The parent portal is probably as far as we can come to that. So, it’s lots and lots of these quick wins that will make the difference. 

Alright, think about your assessment structure, think about your assessment policy. Is your data giving you the information that you need? If in remote learning you’re going to have to have a term or two of discovery, of understanding what children have done when they’ve been out of school, your assessment policy and your assessment data needs to reflect that and we can show you how to do that if you’re a Learning Ladders customer. All right. We want flexible, independent, resilient learners. So, it means empowering them. If you want children to be flexible enough to cope with remote learning, they need to have had responsibility for their own learning if the process that they’re used to is teacher, just as with a very small information, very small amount of information, just enough to get them through one lesson, and then the teacher evaluates them on that lesson and then they leave the lessons finished. If they’re used to that stop start teaching style, it’s going to be impossible for them to adapt to remote learning where they need to take more ownership. They need to be more self- starting. They need to be more resilient, more flexible. So, we have to train children by sharing with them explicitly. This is your learning journey. These are the objectives that we’re going to be working on. They are a sequence of lessons that will build up to these objectives and we want you to take ownership of them. So having those conversations with children, that’s the first step to effective remote learning. If children are not used to having the conversations about learning and taking ownership of learning with their teachers, they’re not going to magically suddenly be able to take ownership of their learning and lead the conversation with their parents when they’re at home. So, we need to build that gap and we need to give the children responsibility for this area. 

Final area, I told you I was going quickly, and I apologise for that, there’s a lot to cover. Data is your friend, so set yourself up for success. A big part of what Learning Ladders will do is obviously your data. Whatever data system you’re using, you need to tailor your algorithms. So, school data historically has been quite inaccurate for three main reasons. The systems that you’ve used haven’t been able to reflect exactly the curriculum that you’re teaching in school. The assessment policy that the system has used hasn’t exactly been able to reflect your assessment policy and the calculation. The algorithm that the system has used doesn’t reflect the real world of teaching and learning. Now, most of the time, you should be able to customise your curriculum. You should be able to customise your assessment policy, but make sure you also customise your algorithm. If your data system is giving you judgements on children based on linear progress, a third, a third, a third progress each term. If it assumes that every subject is assessed in the same way, the data you get from it will be wrong because that’s not how schools work. If your system can’t cope, as we know that a lot of systems can’t with progress outside of the registration year group. If the system won’t recognise a year for child working on year three objectives as making progress, then your data is always going to be wrong. So find a system that will do that for you. Share excellence and support needs based on the data, then, yes, so you can use data patterns, even though you’ve probably had 12 months, nine months possibly of missing data. You can look at historical patterns and understand very, very easily where gaps in learning may be. 

And you can do that in a number of ways. You can very easily do it using systems. If I was to go into ours, for example, again, this is how we do it, you might be able to do it differently, very, very simply. I am choosing a target group. I am choosing year five. I’m looking at their reading. I’m looking at what have they done in year five. So far, these colours and numbers are based on this school’s particular example. These this is what’s going on. But what I’m seeing here is the current year. Well, that may not be of particular interest to me. What did Year five AB do when they were in year four? You should be able to just go back in time for your existing class and identify gaps in learning really, really easily. What did the current Year five do when they were in year three? This information needs to be accessible to your class teachers at the click of a button. Otherwise, they are going to waste a lot of time on diagnostic work, on assessments, on pitching work at the wrong level, on trying to cover topics and subjects where the foundation skills haven’t been mastered by the children. If you don’t have this kind of data, this accessible, you’re always going to struggle. 

The other thing to think about is then patterns in learning across multiple years. So again, this is something that we’ve been doing with our schools quite a lot. Having a look at what we’re showing here as a part of the Learning Ladders systems, which has cohort comparisons year on year. So, you can look at your curriculum and see how it’s performing year on year. And what this will do is this will show you. OK, so the current let’s have a look at year four maths. How have we been doing in the year for maths curriculum over the last three academic years? Well, the current year four, we don’t have much data for. We know that, but we can have a look at patterns in previous years and that may give us some trends in our own curriculum, which means we can get ahead of something. And from a school improvement planning perspective means we can make some reasonable assumptions. So, for example, a number of our schools have looked at their curriculum and discovered, for example, that in year two, every year there are 15 or 20 percent of children who don’t master times tables to the required level by the end of the academic year. Well, if that’s happened previously, it’s reasonable to assume that it’s going to happen again this year because this year is likely to be more challenging and not less challenging. So, if in the last few years there’s always been 15 or 20 percent of children who haven’t accessed or mastered time’s tables in maths in year four, it’s reasonable to assume that’s the case. So why wait, put an intervention in place now tell your teaching staff in year four. I am the head of maths. I’ve looked at the data. I anticipate that we may well have a number of children have this issue with times tables in year four. I have looked at the gap analysis of your class or asked you to do it. We’ve identified the specific children and we’ve proactively put an intervention in place that’s highly targeted based on historical data and a reasonable assumption of what’s likely to happen. That is quite simple to do if you can. Access the data in the right way. That’s something that you can really do to get ahead of school improvement planning. Not just look at the children that you’ve got at the moment but have a look at the performance of your curriculum over multiple years and that will give you some really good insights. 

Use historical data. This is one of our dashboards looking at GL data. If you’re a school that uses GL data, particularly in the Middle East, have a look at your historical trends. Have a look at that on a global basis, on an individual basis, and you can get some really good insights as to where likely challenge areas and likely opportunities may be. You need a system that does all of this together, so obviously a little plug for Learning Ladders here, but this is what we do. Everything that I’ve talked about is within one system. So your curriculum design, your assessment, your remote learning, your parent tools, your split learning, your self-marking homework, your pupil reports, your data, your independent learning. Everything I’ve talked about is within one system and you need that. Otherwise, multiple logins, multiple systems, just a waste of time. It’s going to distract your staff. OK. Does it work? Well, yes. In our particular case, we know that it does. 

If you’re interested in EdTech and you’re looking at different solutions, go to comparison sites like EdTech Impact. Have a look at what they say about the various different systems, and that’s a really good way of doing it. So, in summary, if you have any questions do put them in the chat I’m conscious of times. 

I’m going to try and finish promptly because I know everyone’s busy. In summary, involve parents at a granular level and by that, I mean a specific objective level as they go. It’s no good waiting until the end of term, until you do parent consultations or you do a formal people report to share with parents what’s going on. We know that if you’re doing blended learning at the moment with a lot of children at home, it’s no good just sending worksheets home or sending tasks home or giving them a log in to a remote learning platform. The adults at home need to be able to support the children’s learning, address misconceptions, give them the motivation, model enthusiasm. And in order to do that as a school, you need to upscale parents at Scale On-Demand remotely. And that’s what we do at Learning Ladders. No compromise, OK, this is too important and your school is working too hard to compromise. 

There are lots of systems out there, but there are very few that will do all of this for you. Don’t compromise. Make sure you get involved with the systems. If you think systems like ours are beyond you, get in touch with the office, we’re here to help. Even if you’re not using Learning Ladders get in touch. If you have any questions, we are here to help. I’m a former teacher. I know what it’s like. We genuinely want to try and support schools through this programme and we have been doing this for years. I set this up five years ago. We’ve spent five years researching this, developing it, working with schools around the world. We understand this space extremely well. This is not new for us. So have a think about how you can do that. I hope that was that was useful. I have gone through a lot of information very, very quickly. 

These are free CPD sessions that we run at Learning Ladders to support primarily our existing members, but also the wider school community. So, if you’re a member, then I hope that was useful and you’ve picked up some tips. If you are a member and you want to discover more about this than when you’ve logged into your system, click on The Help Guide. And this, as always, is where you’ll find all of the articles. This is where you’ll find access to future webinars. This is where you’ll find access to historical webinars. Our chat forums are community forums. All sorts of stuff is here in the help center. If you’re a member, that’s where you’ll find the recording of this later on. If you’re not, then contact the office and I’m sure they’ll be able to give you a copy. This is how you can get hold of us. Like I said, if you’re on social media, if you’re on Twitter, the hash tag is #beyondtracking. I hope that was useful. I’m going to stop talking now and just have a quick look at the Q&A. If you haven’t asked a question, and you need to get on with your day then thank you very much for taking the time. I hope this was useful so let me know what you think. And like I said, we’re here to support. So very best of luck. Thank you. 

How to spot when a child needs support and what needs to be put in place

Learning Ladders are excited to host a webinar with Jenni Dellman, Head of Primary at the British School of Muscat.

Jenni shares her reflections on using Learning Ladders both for learning in school and during this period of remote and blended learning.

Join the webinar to hear about how the British School of Muscat:

  • Incorporates Learning Ladders into their ‘holistic journey’
  • Built a curriculum that is purposeful for their students, reflective of their pedagogy and is tailored to reflect the diverse range of nationalities
  • Engages with Learning Ladders as a High Performance Learning school
  • Utilises Gap Analysis tools to inform teaching and planning
  • Informs parents using Pupil Reports, sharing explicit learning goals using Ladders at Home (translatable in 100+ languages).

A copy of the webinar can be found below:


Webinar Transcription:

Jeni Dellman: Hello, everyone, and thank you very much for attending today. A little bit of history just before we start. I’m currently the head of primary at the British school Muscat and have been for the last almost two years. Prior to that, though, I was the assistant head for assessment and reporting, and that’s when my journey to Learning Ladders began. So, I am coming at this from starting at the grassroots and helping with the buildup. 

And obviously things are a little bit different now with everything that’s happening in the world. We went into lockdown on March the 13th and we reopened for Blended learning November the 1st. And I’m sure that some of you may still not even be in school. So, some of this may or may not be relevant. But I’ll give you a little bit as we go along. I think basically before I move on, I think the most important thing here is a disclaimer. This is our personal journey. All this is how we are using Learning Ladders. And as per anything, there is never a one size fits all. So, it could be a case of taking some of this, taking note of it. And it’s all contextual to your school.

So, when we first started looking at Learning Ladders for a number of reasons why we wanted to go down this route, and I’m actually not going to go into all of now because over the course of the last few months, in the next coming months, I know that Matt and the team are doing other seminars and webinars that will cover some of these and a little bit more depth. But from my perspective, if I look at the highlighted areas, those are kind of the ones that help us think about why we chose Learning Ladders in terms of being able to address those needs of the children, being able to look at those gaps that students may or may not have. 

Now, I think yesterday Matt ran a webinar which talked about parental engagement, but also talked a little bit about, you know, the uses of Learning Ladders and the most important bit being that it’s not a day to Dropbox. It’s not a place where you just put a lot of information and then you ignore it. And I think if that’s what it is, you’re going to lose your staff, you’re going to lose your parents, and it’s not going to have an impact on the children in any way at all. So, I’ve kind of listed here a number of the different ways that that we have been using Learning Ladders in a number of different ways that we incorporate it into what we like to call our holistic journey. So, it’s not a standalone it’s not a bolt on. It’s not something that you take separately. It builds into every aspect of what we’re doing.

So, if I think about it in terms of our steps and stages of where we’ve gone, step one was the set up. Now, it was referenced earlier already by Matt, but it’s a bespoke curriculum content. And for us, that was one of the biggest selling points. It meant that we’re British International School. We follow the national curriculum objectives, and we want to make sure that we’re preparing our children for progression both across the year groups, but also around the world. But at the same time, we need to make sure it was purposeful for us and it allowed us to follow the interests of how our pedagogy was, we do something called Discovery Learning, which looks a different way of delivering some areas of the curriculum. And also, we wanted to make sure that in a school, like many of yours, will be with a diverse range of nationalities, that we were able to tailor what we did to still meet those national curriculum objectives, but in a way that helped us progress with the children. So, the first thing we did, and it has taken years, I’m not going to lie. We started with their set of objectives that they pre put in so that you can use those. And over the course of many years, our subject coordinators and our Year group teams have met. They’ve looked at it that refined, and they’ve adapted. But at the moment we’ve got a curriculum that is based very heavily on the things that we cover and the areas that we need to make sure we’ve hit for the children. Once we have that in place. We then created what we’d like to call the internal consistency’s document, and I’m more than happy to share that with anybody who would like to see it. It basically boiled down to almost a one-page policy. Now, within our assessment policy and our teaching and learning policy and each individual subject area, Learning Ladders is referenced, but it did deserve its own little standards like standalone section that meant that teachers could go to it when they just had a few questions. So, within the internal consistencies, we basically focus on the frequency and a few explanations. So, the frequency of expectation, how regularly should our staff be looking at updating the objectives, the regular things that they’re doing on a day-by-day basis? But also, what is the time frame for completing the teacher judgements, for looking at that attainment holistically, for looking at the progress of the children? So those things are within the document. In addition to which the text. 

Now, I can’t see anybody’s faces, but if you do use Learning Ladders, one of the things that we found the most interesting was the use of the four-tick system, because with the best will in the world, everybody still was looking at those ticks and thinking of them in a very different way. So, we held a number of staff meetings. We talked together about what one tick should mean, what two ticks would mean three and then four. And so, by moderating together, by sharing our practice and we do have moderation meetings as well. Looking at the latest objectives that allowed us to create a document which, you know, while never perfect, is certainly more robust than it was at the start of this journey and training. You know, at the end, I’m going to talk about time and giving time to things. And it’s the most valuable resource we have, and especially at the moment in a world of covid, where many of us can’t get together in large groups and everything seems to be done in Zoom or Google meets. But those were the first two stages of our step of setting up system. And then we talked about that idea of adaptive planning, that idea of being a responsive teacher of looking at what’s being covered, of looking at what needs to be covered and making sure that we are undertaking all the objectives. And so, for us, we found it quite helpful in our medium-term planning. In addition to the work that we do on HPL, we also wanted to make sure that we listed those Learning Ladders targets so that we made sure we covered them all. So, we built into our planning as well. 

Now, this is where we come, I suppose, to the main part of this presentation about identifying the gaps, I love the Gap Analysis part of Learning Ladders, partly because it’s very colourful. Learning Ladders is very intuitive. It’s very easy to follow and it’s very easy to see things. And for visual learners, it’s perfect. And here we’ve been able to use the Gap Analysis within teams for individual and Cohort Gap Analysis. So, I’ve taken anonymised part from a media section of one year group. And you can see here that at the bottom there’s a whole block of red. And that was absolutely fine because at that particular point in the year, these children had not had those lessons and that exposure to those objectives. So as a teacher, when I’m planning and looking forward and making sure that my longer-term plans are in place, I will be looking at the Gap Analysis and going, right, what is missing, what have I not yet covered. And that allows us to make sure that we’ve got that that fuller picture. But at the same time, that individual analysis, that first look is very useful. If you look at the first column, you’ll see there’s a child whose twos pretty much all the way down, but then they have one or you’ll look at children who have a number of different ones, red, one being the exposure to it, some understanding, but no confidence in that area. And so, when you’re targeting children, when you’re looking at what you’re going to identify and when you’re talking to parents, you’re able to really drill down into those very key objectives that are very specific for each child. So, within a planned timetable, staff meeting sessions and so on, the plan is always having time built in to allow teams to get together and do that. And then we also plan those times for teams to work across groups. So, again, they can look at each other’s and see where they’re going. 

Now, pre covid, we also would have planning days for teams where the next year group team member or leader would come down and meet with them and again, they’d be able to talk about those things. Obviously, we’re a little bit in a different world at the moment, but that’s the further intention moving forward. And as a school, it’s you know, we’re a HPL school. It’s all about that high level of challenge and that high level of support. So, you’ll see here as well that there are some children who are green, who have mastered certain skills. And you want to look at those children as well, because it’s not just about finding those gaps for the children who struggle. It’s about making sure that those children are able to keep pushing so there’s no ceiling on what they can do. And so, we have what we call pupil progress meetings, and those are held firmly, and they held between the class teacher and the year leader during the first instance. And then the inclusion team, SEN and our language for learning department also join it. And we have two parts to this document. The first part is a tracking of the teacher judgements by Learning Ladders. 

And what you’ll see here is the colour coded because, you know, I love a colour. In the first term, you’ll see it’s black, for example and within there you take from your Learning Ladders the children who are working below age related towards, at or beyond Age-Related and you put them into the grid. And there’s not a great deal at that point you can do with that data beyond part of the conversation that happens. Now, Matt referenced this idea of it being a conversation, and I think he would agree with me that it isn’t the be all and end all and only thing you should be using, but it’s a great jumping off point, it’s a great first step that allows those dialogues. 

We also use G.L., we also use the Pass. And so, we take all of that information and we use the Learning Ladders to help build it. Now, over the course of the year, you’ll also see that the colours change and we look to see whether children have moved from one area to another. So, you’ll see that the children in red and the children who move over and the number of children, for example, here in red has increased, which must mean that some of the children who were working before having moved. OK, and that’s kind of the idea behind it. We’re continuously tracking. But we also asked teachers to highlight if anybody hasn’t made progress, but more importantly, has actually gone backwards in their teacher judgement because, again, that needs to start to dialogue. 

Now, this particular child, bless him, through no fault of his own, was incredibly ill and took two months off school. Now, of course, he wasn’t able to make progress in line with his peers. And so that was a dialogue. There was no judgement. There was no penalising anybody because your children aren’t working. But it allowed that conversation. 

And we then take that to make individualised responses so within our pupil progress data, every child is discussed, every child is talked about within a class because the danger I remember when I was first starting teaching and you had to write reports and you always found it easier to write the reports for the children who were struggling or for the children who were higher achievers. But for those children who just knuckled down and got on with it and were polite and everything else, sometimes you might have missed things. So, we look at it holistically and we make sure that each child is discussed. And then we write into the comment boxes, the actions that we’re taking, the interventions that we’re going to put into place, and the support that we’re offering. And there in response to the identified gaps that we’ve looked at or for the children who are working below or towards. And as you can see here, the demonstration is as well as using the suite of information as well. And then you want to look at it even more holistically, but for each individual. And so, what we do here is we take one child, and we look at them in terms of are they going to be reaching age related expectations by the end of the academic year? Are we expecting to see these children at the level that we hope they need to be in order to progress confidently to the next group and thrive? And if they are not expected to do that, then we need to have further conversations. We need to think about what it is that we as a school need to do to make sure those children are supported and able to continue to progress. And so, you’ll see here again that that happens. We have children who are currently maybe not age related, but they’re green here because we know they’re going to be age related at the level of progress which they’re currently making. So, it’s a number of different ways of taking that data and having conversations about it. On a on a side note also as well, one of the things and it’s just worth mentioning here is the subject leaders at the school. We do have subject leaders and part of their responsibility, again, is to look at the whole school attainment and the curriculum coverage. So, as well as identifying those gaps for your own children in your own class and also for identifying gaps for specific individuals as a school, we’re able to identify those gaps. 

We’re able to see if traditionally time, which in the in the past used to always be one of the last curriculum parts of a year group’s timetable was always left to the end and then with everything that happened, got scrunched down and it wasn’t necessarily taught. And do we need to reshuffle the units and how we teach? And so, each subject leader is able to look at it in terms of where the gaps are for their area. And it’s great we get all of that and then what do we do with the data? And so, we do a number of things and I’ve mentioned a few. We worked with the teachers and the TA’s and we work with the inclusion team to look at what we can do. But we also talk to the students and the parents because with the best well in the world you can do everything you want, and if the students and the parents aren’t engaged and on board, you are not going to get any further. And so pre-covid, there was a lot of student’s dialogue. 

And it looked a little bit like this. So, the children have maths targets, for example, in year three, which are linked to our Learning Ladders objectives. And so, what would happen is each child would have their own placemat, their own card, which had those objectives on it. And throughout the year, they would have conversations with their teachers about where they were at, about what they were doing. Depending on the age of the children, they’d be asked to self-assess themselves. Where do they think they are? What do they think they need to work on next? And they were able to start articulating, using the Ladders at Home objective language. And I think that’s very important as well, because if you’re looking at this holistic view and it’s not an add on, everybody needs to be using the same language. Everybody needs to know what we’re doing. So, the children had these cards that they were using. At the moment, obviously, we are back on a blended model, but we have restrictions on what can be on tables and everything else. So, the children have conversations about their objectives with the teachers, but they don’t yet have these. 

And that leads me to the parental engagement. I talked about those cards pre covid. We had open afternoons every time the parents would come into school and they would sit with their child. They wouldn’t sit with the teacher; they’d sit with their child and the and the child would go through all the different things that they were doing in class that share their books and walk around the classroom. They point to the things they done, but they also had these target cards and they’d be able to tell their mums and dads what they were currently working on, what they were going to work on next, what they were very proud of. And we balanced the use of the Learning Ladders words with the work that we do on High-Performance, learning on our values and attitudes. We also have parent focused meetings, there are little different, and we’ve developed them over the last few years and every week for parents from a class have 15-minute appointments now during Google meets. So, we’re allowed to have that a little bit longer conversation with the parents and we share those targets with them. We share the target paths with them in the past. Now we just share the targets and we let them know where their children are in terms of the objectives that we are currently covering and what it is they need to do for their next steps. 

And again, within the reports, our teacher judgements are echoed in the reports. We were looking with Matt and his team at moving to using the Learning Ladders reports. And then unfortunately, we did go into full lockdown. So, I know that is something we’re still interested in and learning more about, but at this point, we were not quite ready for it. And then the final thing with parents is the Ladders at Home. So, we tell our parents what it is that our children may be struggling with or their children. And we may say to them that they’re really having a hard time with fronted that verbals. And if your schools are like ours, we have a lot of parents who may not have gone through the national curriculum, the British or English curriculum. They may not understand the way that we do addition or subtraction. They may not have had the words to convey because there are so many different changes working internationally. So, for me and I know that this is a completely separate webinar topic, but Ladders at Home has been fabulous, particularly during this period of covid because the parents are able to go on to Ladders at Home. We’re going to say to them whatever area is and if a parent feels that they would like to support at home, then they at least know where to look. We do make it very clear that we are still the teachers, and it is still what we do to teach the children. And there isn’t a level of expectation. 

One of the things we found during covid is parents’ shame, I think would be the nicest way to say that guilt. The parents feel they’re working. They have 100 other jobs to do, and they want nothing more than to help their children. And sometimes they may not have the time to do that. And so, it’s part of our job to work with those parents and let them know that that’s OK, too. And we do not make any judgements about what you can and can’t do at home. But if you do want to, here’s one way that you can do it as well. And then I guess this links, therefore, to the lock down changes, you know, the fact that on March the 12th we went into lockdown and everybody was then online learning. And when we first started, we were using Google suites. We were doing preprepared videos. We were talking about things. We were sharing resources. We’ve since moved towards like lessons. But in the early days, the parents would have a video. It would have an explanation of what they were doing. The teachers would be showing them and talking. But at the same time, there was still that level of confusion in some ways because they’re not teachers and they’re suddenly in the home in a classroom at home. So, we did a couple more seminars or webinars for the parents where we shared how they could use Learning Ladders. We showed them the different tools that they had, the way that it would give them advice on what they could do. And again, with our school, we also spoke a lot about the fact that it could translate into multiple languages, because, again, we have we have parents from many, many different nationalities. And I think that gave some parents a great deal more confidence to talk to us about what their children were doing to make sure that they were able to say, well, I’m not sure about this or what do we do? And it was that individualised, personalised conversation that led to us helping the children to sort of like fill those gaps and to make that progress. 

And I think if we talk about moving forward, it’s different now. We’ve got some children in school and some not in school. And we need to think about what we could do with the students to make sure that they were engaged in their learning and still having conversations about what they needed to do. So, although we were talking about it in class, we’ve now started to think about how they can reflect when they’re working online. We use Jamboard and Google Docs. It allows them to think about what they’ve done and what they’ve learnt and what they need to do next. So that level of ownership, we are now looking in the coming months to see if we can run some virtual site, open afternoons for the for the children to share what they’re doing. And then for the staff, it’s the idea of having time and being able to review because a lot has changed, and we are still using ladders and we are still using it very effectively and we are still making sure that we cover the objectives. 

But we do need to give people time because obviously at the moment we’re all going through it in a very different way. When covid started and the lockdown happened, the biggest concern from the parents on, the biggest concern from the staff was how on earth were we going to track what the children were doing? How on earth were we going to make sure as teachers that our duty of care for the children was to make sure that we educated them, but that we cared about them for their pastoral needs, and we made sure that they were able to be looked after, spoken to and make that progress. And so, as a team, we took the KPI’s from the Learning Ladders and we took those and made those are like our core objectives and said, OK, we are not necessarily going to guarantee that we can hit every single objective, but what we can do is make sure that we cover all of the KPIs so that we’re not disadvantaging the children when they move to the next year. And we created a series of rubrics, so teachers were updating them. So, the next year group would know what had been covered and what they needed to go back and fill, as well as using the Gap Analysis on Learning Ladders. And I think I’ve kind of raced through that. But I will stop. At that point and see if Matt needs to step in. 

Matt: Thank you, Jenny. That was really, really useful. Let me share, you touched on a few points there. If anyone has any questions to do to put them in the queue and I’ve got a couple already but let me just share my screen and actually show people a couple of things that you were talking about. 

So, you mentioned. The parents also quite a few times, just in terms of what that looks like for people, so this this is the parent portal that you’ll see if you’re a student or a parent accessing it remotely. And what it will do is pulling all of the objectives for every individual child that they’re working on at any moment in time. So, it’s totally individualised to them. You can go through. You can have a look at portfolios of their work. There’s obviously remote learning tasks and all sorts in here. But what Jenny was talking about, as well as these supporting articles that we’ve already created, so these are in the system. You don’t have to do anything. They exist already there for the whole reading, writing, maths, curriculum. And it goes through and it explains to parents exactly how to support. So, once you have identified those needs and you share that with parents and then this is the best that you can identify and you can share in multiple languages, so you can change this, we have over 100 different languages in here that you can just change at the click of a button just to pick up on that and actually show people that is what that looks like. 

The other thing that you touched upon let me go into the system, I think is a really interesting moment. We’ve seen this time and time again is identifying parts of the curriculum as KPIs. So, this idea that in an ideal world, teachers would obviously go through the whole curriculum, as they would do normally. But there are some bits which are the really sort of critical areas. So, again, if you’re a member already, then the way you would do that is go into the creation zone, find the subject you’re interested in. So, let’s say we’re interested in this area here, go into the edit function. And then when you scroll down to any of the particular objectives, you can add in useful resources, teaching those descriptions, bringing together policies and stuff. But you can also identify them as KPIs in here. And that will then filter through the system and identify them for staff. So, I won’t do that on this particular example, but that’s what that’s all about. 

And you mentioned pupil reports and all the pupil reports that like this is a PDF version. But there’s a there’s a digital version as well. You can choose whichever one you want. So, this is an automated thing that the system will do and share with parents remotely, at the end of term, at the end of the year, exactly what is going on in a more formal sense. So, you have the ongoing dialogue in the parent platform and then you have the opportunity for this sort of formal sense. 

So, I just picked up on a couple of areas there that I thought I’d have given. I’ve got the demo versions to hand out I’ll share there. So that was really interesting, really useful.  One thing that’s come through on the on the already as a question is, you mentioned obviously set up with this and bespoke and lots of different options and stuff. How the question that’s come in is given there are so many options, and it is possible to do bespoke, what’s the support like giddyap to get to do this on your own or how does that work? 

Jenni: I am I’m not saying that just because Matt is listening. But, you know, I have to say that I one of the reasons that we particularly like Learning Ladders is the level of support that you get. So far, that has not been a time that we haven’t written to them with some drastic major help email or please fix this or we would like this or whatever. And they and they haven’t responded. And most of the time, you know, they are very much a listening team. So, we do get a lot of support in terms of the practicalities of you within a staff and the admin. I think if you were looking at this as a brand-new set up, I do recommend taking one of the set sections, either the national curriculum model, the Hilting bury one, and using that, even if the way we did it was we started with the Hilton bury and we ran it only for English and maths for the first year and we didn’t share it with the parents. Now, it may be that you want to go full steam ahead and you have the capacity within your teams. But what we then did in the following year was we shared with our staff the national curriculum documents and the Hiltingbury documents and together they built and adapted. And it is a very quick once you’ve got it on a document, a Google doc or whatever else. It is a very quick copy it into the box, copy it into the box, press, save press, publish. It’s not massively onerous, but there is an element of admin to it which will take you a little bit of time in the very first set up. And what I do like about it is then you can still edit, and you can still add to it and you can still change and move as you need. And so, every year, not going to lie. Matt will agree with this. Every year we refine and adapt. We do it at the end of an academic year to ensure that all our ticks and all are so Gap Analysis is consistent across all of them. 

Matt: Yeah, and that’s a comprehensive answer. Thank you. I won’t tell the team that you think they’re great because they’ll probably just ask for more money. But yes, I think in terms of how it works, all the curriculum frameworks within the system already, so you can take it off the shelf and a lot of schools will do that, or you can customise it in any way you like. And that process is very easy. But the critical thing about it, again, is what Jenny’s touched on here is this. This should be a living document. There should be something the staff are using day in, day out, getting the information out of it, as well as making the assessments and sharing it and using feature analysis for your actual curriculum is going to change and improve and evolve as you go through it as well. So, you can change and adapt that either to individual circumstances, but don’t a long-term school improvement plan as well. 

OK, and one thing that we get asked about quite a lot, so I was just going to touch on very, very briefly is obviously when people talk about gaps in learning, they look about data stuff and we do separate webinars on data. So, I won’t go into too much detail. But the key thing to get accurate data to do any of this kind of stuff is, is three kind of areas. You need obviously the curriculum digitally to reflect what you’re actually teaching in class. We talked about it time and time again to make sure your system is flexible enough. To do that, you need your assessment policy to be reflected in your system. So, again, make sure your system is done and that set up. But you also need to make all the calculations behind the scenes are set up to the reality of how you teach. So, if you’re teaching a mastery approach, if you’re teaching a thematic approach, if because of local circumstances you have factors which mean one particular term, you can’t get quite so much taught as you might do in different ways. If you’re adapting your pacing because of coronavirus, all of that kind of stuff needs to feed into the system. So, you get the accurate data. And again, if that’s an area of interest, we have separate webinars on that. But do make sure you do that, because if you’re not getting into that level, then you won’t get the sort of specific information any sort of stole my thunder here. 

We talk about Gap Analysis as being a really popular. That’s obviously great. And then the cohort comparison is a relatively new one but is something that a lot of schools are looking at the moment. And if you’re worried about not having a lot of recent data that you can make inferences on or use for your planning for the current cohort, looking at multiple cohorts going through a curriculum is a really good way of identifying patterns in learning. So, some time as an example, actually, do we see in terms of our data that we have a consistent challenge with the peer group in a particular part of the curriculum? And what can we do to address that? Which is because you’ve got last year’s data missing. If you’ve got the prior two or three years of data, as long as you can analyse it in a sensible way, it’s a really good way of red flagging, like the issues that you would have had anyway. You’re almost certainly going to have now. So that whole data, if you’re interested in that, we do. We do other webinars on this. And you mentioned GL data. I don’t think you may be missing this, Jenny, but this is new. This is going to go live in the next few days so we can sort this out for you. This is a whole sort of new dashboard approach to all the GL data. So, if you use that in your schools, then then obviously we can enable that from your system from the end of next week. 

And then there’s the contact details. What I think I’ll do now is just sort of leave a bit of space because we aim for half an hour. We’re already ten minutes over the beginning. I’ve ever met or spoken with a webinar where we stick to the time. So, I apologise for that. Thank you for sticking with us. Everybody knows that nobody’s left that to gain a few people at the end. So, if you have any questions, then follow then fire them through and we’ll answer them. Now, if you think of them afterwards, then get in touch with the team and we’ll do it. If you’re on Twitter, then feel free to tweet us and I’m sure we can have a discussion on Twitter. Jenni, I love that you put your hand up. 

Jenni: I’m used to primary school. The other thing I was going to say is in the past, when I first started Learning Ladders, Matt put me in touch with a school in Dubai and I spent a lot of time talking to that person about how they’ve set it up. So, in public and witnessed, I’m more than happy outside of this webinar if there is anybody who is thinking of setting it up or has anything or even just building a network of people in a similar situation, I’m more than happy to start dialogues outside of here as well. And I’m sure Matt is happy to pass on information. 

Matt: Yeah, thank you, that’s really kind, Jenni. And we definitely will. Yeah, I mean, one of the great things is we do have some fantastic schools who are brilliant at sharing and sharing best practice and CPD stuff like this. So, all right. I think that was the main question. The other ones I know that we answered as we went through, I picked up in a couple of people, asked to just show some of the things that we were talking about. So, I’ve done that. So let me bring this to a close. Jenny, thank you for taking the time out of what I know is very, very busy time for you and everybody else and enjoy the rest of the evening. Everyone else, if there’s anything else that that can be useful then do get in touch. But we’ll send a copy of the presentation and everything to you afterwards, so thanks Jenni and thank you very much, everybody.