Aim: To set up a common approach, which could be shared with partner secondary schools, of using feedback to students more effectively within the Science department,

Background: Lesson observations conducted in 2011/2012 indicated that students knew their target grades but could not articulate effective ways of progressing to the next level. John West-Burnham had spoken at an inset day about recent education research showing that effective feedback had the biggest impact on students’ progress.


Year 1: The whole department focused on feedback as part of their development management. The need to set meaningful (SMART) targets was emphasised. Student questionnaires on the impact of feedback were completed each year. After this first year there was significant progress, with 100% of students questioned able to comment on the level they were at and where they should be. Some students were able to give insightful strategies to allow them to progress to the next level. The quality of feedback was good but there was a need to make the quality consistent for all students, regardless of age or ability.

Year 2: Great progress was made in the area of dialogue marking. The adoption of this policy across all key stages was fast and sustained. A range of techniques was trialled and used at KS3 in particular. KS4 and KS5 saw a more uniform approach and students responded well, after a slow start.

Year 3: A working party was set up and a common format of feedback sheets was developed. This also included an option for parents to comment on the targets set. The time and rigour of the system caused some difficulties with staff who taught many year groups. There was also concern with the comments coming back from parents; teachers felt vulnerable and open to intimidation. This was addressed by redesigning the feedback cards and developing an agreed bank of stock phrases. The development of the feedback project was also the subject of a continuing professional development twilight event where teachers from three different local secondary schools attended.

Evidence: Lesson observations, student and staff surveys, feedback from other schools.

Impact: The CPD event was well received by visiting schools: interest 4, relevance 4, quality of material 5 and style of delivery 5 (5 = very good 1 = Poor). The most significant improvement indicated by student feedback over 3 years was an increase from 72% to 82% of students who said they set targets based on feedback given by their teachers. As the assessment and feedback increased, teaching within the department also improved - in 2012 the quality of teaching was 1.9 (1 = Outstanding. 2 = Good), in 2014 it was rated as 1.4.

Reflections: Students are more aware of their learning and how to move forward. Not every student is as articulate at describing this, but they all get the opportunity to reflect, formulate and discuss their own progress.

Contact: Lesley Newnham,