At Minchinhampton Academy, we recognise the crucial role that good quality feedback has on learning and attitudes.
“The mistake I made was seeing feedback as something teachers provided to students. I discovered that feedback is most powerful when it is from the student to the teacher: what they know, what they understand, where they make errors, when they have misconceptions, when they are not engaged- then teaching and learning can be synchronised and powerful. Feedback to teachers makes learning visible.” John Hattie
All adults must take account of the fact that effective feedback is complex and relies heavily on their knowledge of and relationship with the child. Effective feedback is down to fine judgement on the part of the feedback giver and over- prescriptive policies are not conducive to this. As much as 40% of feedback in primary classes has been proven to actually lower performance.
Feedback must create a cognitive response (thinking) in the pupil as opposed to an emotional response.
The sole aim of feedback should be to further learning. Advice from the NCETM (National Centre for Excellence in the Teaching of Mathematics) clarifies that the most important activity for teachers is the teaching itself, supported by the design and preparation of lessons. Evidence of feedback is incidental and is not provided for the sake of external verification. Any feedback that is not responded to will be considered a waste of teacher/pupil time.
Principles of good feedback at Minchinhampton:-
Feedback must always be responded to every time it is given.
Researchers have found that whether feedback was given orally or in writing was far less important than whether pupils are given adequate time to respond to any feedback. Feedback should therefore include next steps. Where possible class teachers will look to organise their timetable to enable feedback to be responded to.
Feedback encourages pupil autonomy/ self evaluation:-
Feedback is given, wherever possible, at the pupils’ request or with their collusion. This could happen in in a number of ways:-
a) At the end of a lesson, pupils could identify on their work where they felt particularly confident or where they felt it needed improvement/ where they were struggling/ where there were errors. Feedback could then be provided about this aspect.
b) At the end of some work pupils could write a self-evaluation comment – there could be different models for these but the self-evaluation questions would be a good starting point. (see appendix)
c) Wherever possible the feedback is generated through discussion with the pupil.
d) Wherever possible when feedback is given (whether by an FB or by the teacher) the pupil themselves writes the feedback into their own book.
Feedback is always positive:-
Feedback must always stays positive and leave the pupil’s self-esteem intact. It should aim to encourage further effort.
‘You have used strong adjectives in this description. Now try finding a noun that could be more specific.’
‘You showed lots of perseverance working on this problem. There is one mistake on the second line of your calculations. Can you find it?’
Feedback must be appropriate for the individual:-
Adults must decide on the feedback they want to provide and the manner in which they are going to provide it. This will depend on both the learning the child has produced and the personality of the child/ the teacher’s relationship with them. Adults need to be wary that different pupils will exhibit completely different responses (positive and negative) to the same piece of feedback. Knowing the child well is a prerequisite for impactful feedback. Written comments should only be used if they are accessible to the child. For example previously low attaining pupils may not get what they need from feedback buddies.
Feedback will provide next steps:-
Feedback should be specific, accurate, clear and constructive. It contains information about their learning or about their performance against the learning objective and/ or success criteria, and gives the pupil a clear idea about next steps to help them improve. In order of priority, the next steps of any feedback should always take one of/ two of 3 forms:-
a) Building on a strength- eg ‘This is impressive writing. You have used strong adjectives in this description.…where could you include one more adjective?
b) Look for alternative ways forward eg How else could you have worked this out?
c) Explore an error or mistake eg where do you think this began to go wrong?
-Next steps should be given frequently in literacy, numeracy and science but can be used in other subjects. They should always be responded to by the pupil.
-maths work where the children will be re-visiting the same concept the next day and they have had the chance to learn from the previous day’s mistakes before moving on.
-written work where the children are writing an extended piece over several lessons and next steps can provide guidance mid way through the writing.
-science work when questions in their book will help them re-structure their thinking around a particular concept- very useful when responding to conclusions.
Feedback has high expectations of the pupil
Feedback, generally, should expect more of the recipient than the person giving it. This could mean:-
-sometimes no feedback is the most appropriate course of action.
-sometimes that less is more…the children must be expected to think.
Feedback must result in a cognitive response (lead to thinking) as opposed to an emotional one. Feedback that is more critical than constructive will possibly help the teacher but not the pupil.
Includes feedback about learning attitudes
See the learning attitudes as, as much part of the curriculum as the maths, English etc.
i) Take time to teach the correct learning attitudes explicitly through, for example, structured cooperative group work.
ii) When pupils get their learning attitude wrong, see this as a mistake to be worked on – as you would do in any other curriculum subject. Provide positive feedback as well as next steps.
Current but Timely
Feedback happens as close to the coal face as possible:-
When do we give feedback? We take the view that the best feedback is given in the lesson and with the pupil involved. It should be given sparingly to ensure it is meaningful.
To ensure adults have the opportunity to think carefully about feedback before giving it, plenty of ‘within lesson feedback’ should be prepared for outside of the lesson. To prepare for feedback teachers should aim to scrutinize work in books carefully before the next lesson. For the sake of practicality, teachers will usually divide the books and the feedback into several distinct groups.
The same kinds of feedback can be given mid lesson in response to an unfolding picture of learning and progress across the class and with individuals. These ‘learning stops’ can happen at any point within the lesson but preferably near the beginning or mid-way through the lesson to allow time for pupils to act on the feedback within lesson. But teachers must always supplement this with pre-prepared feedback.
-Attention needs to be given to the timing of any feedback. For example if feedback is given too early (before a child has had a chance to work on a problem/ persevere themselves, it is likely the feedback will result in less learning.
Staff will seek ongoing feedback about feedback:
all teaching staff to check whether and how pupils are finding the feedback useful. Staff to use feedback interview questions provided- see below.
The look of a book: Quick look check list
1. Books will not look the same across different pupils and different classes….
2. …but it will be clear that the feedback is
3. Written feedback from the teacher will appear ‘regularly’ in each child’s book.
4. A range of strategies will be used and in evidence in each class but not necessarily in every book.