Sunday, 1 December 2013

Seeking evidence for the effectiveness of the role of the form tutor

At every secondary school I’ve taught at, there has been some kind of ‘form tutor’ teacher role. The form tutor normally sees a class of children for 5-10 mins each morning to take the roll and deal with administrative matters such as permission slips, daily notices and the like. They’re often responsible for delivering some kind of pastoral programme.

In every school, the form tutor has been presented as being a first point of contact for the child/parents/teachers, for having a special overview of the child’s achievement in all subjects, and having a deep rapport and personal relationship with the child without having the pressures of an academic subject get in the way, as is the case for classroom teachers.

Leaving my experience aside, I am aware of no evidence for these assertions, and do not believe that they are obviously true enough to be exempt from requiring evidence. I am not saying they’re incorrect either, and the purpose of this post is to show why I have doubts, and invite evidence either way.

How did this form tutor role first arise? In primary school, children are taught by the same teacher for most subjects, and my understanding is that it is felt that children of this age benefit from the continuity and stability of having the same teacher, against the tradeoff of reduced specialist expertise in each subject. So it would be fairly obviously true that the primary school teacher would have a genuine overview of the child as a whole, from the day-in, day-out experience and repeated interactions. It seems plausible that the form tutor is designed to follow this role through to provide the same benefit. But how is the secondary form tutor supposed to get the same level of knowledge? They read report comments and see summative grades, granted, but these do not provide a particularly detailed (or even, at times, reliably accurate) picture. Maybe they talk to the child about academic subjects during the ten minutes in the morning, but (a) they will only get the child’s perspective, which may be quite different to the classroom teacher’s, and (b) it seems unrealistic that the form tutor will use this short period of time each day to systematically cover every child in every subject, so at best the form tutor will have a very fragmented picture. So they might know that Jack never gets his mathematics homework in on time, or is repeatedly rude and defiant to the music teacher, but it’s unlikely they’d know that Tina, though being basically very competent in English, doesn’t quite understand how commas work, and so needs to do some specific practice to bring this particular area up to scratch. Nor would they necessarily be able to help even if they did. Some schools organise cohort meetings to discuss all students in a particular group, but again these will only provide limited, fragmented information as teachers tend to focus on the more problematic cases, and it’s hard to see how the benefits gained for children from these meetings are worth the massive amounts of time involved, which could be spent e.g. planning better lessons. More generally, one could ask, why is it necessarily beneficial for one teacher to have an overview of each academic area for a particular child? Does having a synthesis of this knowledge enable better decisions to be made and advice to be given?

I also wonder how deep a rapport a teacher is supposed to develop with students during ten minutes of administrative business in the morning. Most of my relationships with adults are based on having something in common - either a shared interest/hobby, or a shared purpose (e.g. both being teachers.) It’s easy, then, to develop relationships in a classroom, because you both have the shared purpose of understanding and enjoying the content being taught. But that doesn’t exist so obviously for the form tutor. You often have the shared purpose of a pastoral programme, but in my experience, children do not value these programmes nearly as highly as they do their academic subjects. They are usually designed by people who do not have the same level of expertise in this area as they do for their main teaching subject (for which they have a degree and a teaching certification). So that leaves shared interests, and it’s unlikely that I have the same interests as all of a group of thirty children. We all know what it’s like when you are sat with someone for twenty minutes whom you don’t really have much in common with; I can feign an interest in golf for a little while, but it’s not going to be the basis for a strong relationship.

What remains, then, of the need for a form tutor, is the administrative work. But these days with electronic student management systems, there is no reason that the roll can’t be marked by the first teacher of the day, who would also read out any pertinent notices, with the added flexibility of being able to do so at any point during the lesson. I’ve heard the argument that the ‘roll call’ session provides stability, getting children settled and prepared for the day, but again this does not necessarily follow; one could hypothesise that starting the day with ten minutes where nothing is really achieved does not provide a particularly purposeful start to the day. As a classroom teacher I feel justified at expressing dissatisfaction at children arriving late, because they disrupt their own learning and/or that of their peers, but I can’t honestly get annoyed at a child who arrives eight minutes into a ten minute roll call, and hence misses the announcement about orchestra rehearsal for a select group of children that evening. So it’s easier for children to get away with being late in the morning, which again does not set the right tone, in my view.

So there’s my case for requiring evidence for the benefits of the role of the form tutor. I’ve also, at times, come across difficulties which I think may be directly attributable to the existence of a form tutor role. We’ve all had times where parents are concerned about either their child’s progress in your class in general, or a specific incident where, let’s say, you give a child a detention, and the child told his parents he wasn’t doing anything wrong. In both of those cases, I would like the parent to believe that the first point of contact is the classroom teacher. If you think I’m not teaching your child well enough, explain your concerns to me and we can have a constructive conversation. If your child told you I gave him a detention for no reason, I will happily explain my side of the story to you. In either case, if you are dissatisfied with my response, there is someone else you can escalate your concerns to. This all sounds perfectly reasonable to me, and every head of department I have worked for has directed parents to first raise any teaching concerns with the classroom teacher.

But, instead, a child/parent makes contact with a form tutor. It’s easier to exaggerate your complaints when talking to a third person, and you’ll often complain about two or three things when really there is only one problem you’re bothered about. I think this is quite a natural, human response. For example: “Billy says you gave him a detention when he wasn’t the only one talking. He says you’re always picking on him, and that you’re not very good at teaching science anyway, and he talks because he doesn’t understand.” So this exaggerated complaint is made to a form tutor who emails the teacher, and maybe a head of department, requiring an explanation. The response is in turn relayed to the parent, but is obviously going to be less detailed and accurate as it has been passed through this extra layer that is the form tutor. Maybe a meeting is eventually set up, by which time everybody has become anxious, and a very big deal is being made out of something that could have been resolved with one phone call - “Billy wasn’t the only one talking at every given instant, but over the hour’s class he was talking far more than anyone else, and I gave him repeated warnings and made it clear that a consequence would be issued if he continued to make the wrong choices. I quite like having Billy in the class, and he’s got the potential to achieve well, if we can work together to fix this one small aspect of his behaviour.” Instead, emails go around, meaning is lost, people’s reputations are tarnished, and relationships between teachers, students and parents are damaged. All because of this extra layer of communication, which dilutes meaning and makes it easier for children to complain and hence avoid responsibility for their actions. This is a very natural thing for children to do, given the opportunity - our job is to teach them to take responsibility for their actions, because they are not born with that instinct. I’m not saying this kind of unpleasantness happens every time, of course; this is a worst case scenario. But I fail to see how having a form tutor handle such things will normally be better than having a classroom teacher deal with it in the first instance.

I should add that the situation described in the above paragraph is exacerbated further when the form tutor, and/or higher layers of pastoral managers, see it as their primary role to advocate for the children in their care, like a criminal defence lawyer. At my first school in the UK, I watched a newly-appointed Head of Year (one up from a form tutor) proclaim to the assembled 15 year olds at the start of the year: “If you have any problems with your teachers, I want you to come and tell me about it. I’m here to look out for you.” This developed a ‘complaint-reflex’ within the children, such that if I wanted to give a behaviour sanction to a child, there would be a high chance that the child would automatically “put in a complaint”, and the HoY would demand a written explanation from me, with witness statements (because my word that John told me to f**k off wasn’t good enough). The conclusion she would come to might be that, actually, I wound John up, and maybe I need to teach more kinaesthetically to make sure he can fully achieve his potential. This made the HoY massively popular with students, and given the low number of behaviour sanctions being issued to her students (because it was never worth the hassle), she looked great to senior management too. Again, worst case scenario, but not so unique that it’s not worth mentioning. More generally, we have to recognise that teachers are human beings with families to feed and, to different degrees, careers to advance, and we might be setting up a system which allows them more easily to appear to do the right thing without actually helping anyone.

At the risk of repeating myself, I’m not saying the role of the form tutor is fundamentally flawed. I’d love to see evidence that shows that having the role leads to tangible increases in student wellbeing, just as much as evidence to the contrary. What I’m doing here is raising my reasons for doubts and inviting reply. All I’ve ever heard so far, though, is “I reckon… in my experience… intangible benefits”, i.e. claims which are neither verifiable nor falsifiable.

What would the alternative to the form tutor be? I’ve already mentioned that a lot of the admin work could be spread out across classroom teachers. This has been the case in one school I’ve worked in - I would read the daily notices and take the roll for the first class of the day. I could fit this in far more neatly with my lesson structure - the roll can be taken when the children start working and don’t immediately need you anyway, and notices could be read towards the end of the lesson when we need a bit of down-time. The pastoral program would need to be delivered either by specialists, or spread across classroom teachers. I imagine specialists are hard to find. If I am correct in my assumption that children value e.g. mathematics more than they value PSE (personal/social ed, or whatever else it’s called locally), it seems plausible that they would have a stronger work ethic when they come to my lessons, which I could use to more effectively deliver the occasional PSE lesson, rather than children coming to me every week as their form tutor and PSE teacher, where they will get used to having a poorer work ethic. To put it another way, I’m good enough at being a mathematics teacher that my reputation and rapport can survive the hit of the occasional PSE lesson, where my expertise and experience (and that of almost every other teacher) is significantly lower. Another advantage of doing it this way is that children could get PSE lessons from different teachers, providing a more rich and balanced pastoral programme, and involving all teachers in pastoral education in a far more genuine way.

You would probably still need the head of year, or whatever the ‘next one up’ from the form tutor is, to deal with recurring problems or problems across subjects, where more complex case management is required. They would need to have data available to spot patterns, so that if Jane doesn’t do her homework for history, this is recorded centrally rather than just dealt with by the teacher. They would need to be able to track grades and indicators to look for e.g. consistent declines. This is necessary even with the form tutor system as-is. But the HoY role would not be sold as a first point of call for parents or students; the classroom teacher is always where you begin.

So, what experiences do people have of different pastoral care systems? And has anyone come across any relevant research evidence? (I’ll continue to look and add anything relevant here.)

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Evidence-based practice in education

I've just read Ben Goldacre's paper on RCTs in education. An interesting response by Rebecca Allen seems broadly in favour of it, but I'm interested in a couple of points raised, which I'll bring up along with my own reaction here.

The question is asked in Rebecca's blog, why is it necessary for someone like Ben Goldacre to have to say anything at all? Why isn't this obviously the way forward? Which takes me back to a course I did on educational research through the Open University, where Goldacre's position is broadly characterised as positivist: moving away from beliefs that are based in tradition or superstition, or held simply because of the charisma of the speaker, and towards positions that are based on evidence gained through scientific procedures, principally RCTs as they provide objectivity and replicable procedures.

This position was said to have been in and out of favour over time, and was not presented to me as being as solid as Goldacre suggests. However, despite going over and over the reading, I could never quite work out, why not? What is the argument against RCTs?

Intepretivism was presented as the opposing viewpoint to positivism. It argues that people cannot be studied in the same way as natural phenomena (e.g. the effectiveness of drugs on the body) because whatever we observe is at best indicative of what we are interested in measuring. As a mathematics teacher, I am trying to teach children to understand mathematics, not how to pass exams, but it's the exams we use to measure their achievement. So interpretivism says that we need to do more than just observe these objective kinds of measures; we need to make sense of how people understand and interpret their world, so that we can get closer to seeing what is really going on. To aid the understanding of these interpretations, interpretivists argue we should have more rich, qualitative research instead of simple quantitative measures.

A simple example of this is as follows: young children were given a test which required them to identify "the animal which can fly" from an elephant, a bird, and a dog. Lots of children ticked 'elephant'. This would suggest that they hadn't achieved whatever outcome we were hoping for, but in fact, talking to children afterwards, it was found that they were referring to Dumbo.

I'm not sure if this strikes me as an argument against RCTs altogether, or just the requirement that we design tests properly. I don't think an RCT advocate would say that we couldn't check that children's understanding of tests coincided with our own before completely trusting the results.

It also seems tough to draw firm conclusions just from qualitative data. One interpretivist strategy would be to interview subjects with as few fixed boundaries as possible, so that the researcher is not imposing their reality on the subject. But this seems self defeating - we are actually introducing more layers for misinterpretation, the researcher has his own perception of things, along with the subject. We would presumably be looking for common themes in responses, but Goldacre makes a point in Bad Science that if you do an experiment, generate that data, and then look through to find out what trends you can observe, you'll always find something of apparent statistical significance.

Although I can't see them as insurmountable, there are certainly problems in trying to measure things like educational achievement in a way that works with RCTs. But not all interventions are of this nature. As a mathematics teacher I'm most interested in test scores as the outcome, but there are also plenty of measures which are more objective - school attendance rates, teenage pregnancies, incidence of self harm and so on, which would be relevant to other interventions such as those concerning student wellbeing.

So this is all very epistemological, and I'm still not sure I fully understand the interpretivist criticism of positivism. There are some other more practical issues with RCTs raised.

Rebecca's post states, quite validly I think, that you need some way to devise good interventions that are likely to work. This is, I think, where qualitative evidence would be useful - interviewing relatively small numbers of subjects in a less structured manner. But I see no reasons that this should not lead to the design of an intervention that can be tested using RCTs.

One such reason given is that of external validity - can you be sure that an intervention in one set of circumstances will work in another? Rebecca's post states that "the challenge of external validity cannot be underestimated in educational settings...validity declines as we try to implement the policy in different settings and over different time frames." There seems to me to be quite an assumption here, that may apply to some kinds of intervention more than others. Her example regarding student motivation is quite believable, but I wonder how much the way children learn algebra really changes across time and culture? I would certainly want to see some evidence that this is the case before dismissing what could be a very powerful way to assess the effectiveness of different interventions. We can't just use external validity to dismiss any empirical evidence out of hand.

I've made some other comments on Rebecca's blog, most of which I think relate to practical difficulties rather than fundamental, theoretical ones. I'm still bothered that I don't think I've fully grasped the interpretivist critique of positivism.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Trialling the Flipped Classroom

As we begin the new 2013 classes, I am going to be trying out some flipped classroom techniques with the new Year 12 Methods class.

For homework, they will be expected to watch a video explaining a concept (in the first case, the chain rule), get some basic skill practice, and then have some larger questions which they will be expected to discuss in class.

It is important that the students have procedural fluency in the chain rule. But I am starting the video by hopefully creating some need as to why it is important, and finishing with some challenging questions which should get them to think a bit, and create confidence in their own abilities if they are successful (e.g. by differentiating sin(2x) having never even seen differentiation of trig functions before). This is following advice from Dan Meyer's blog, and hopefully will address criticisms of the Khan Academy.*

This relates to my last post about how we perhaps don't foster enough independence in our students. I want them to feel responsible for going away and watching the video as many times as they need to in order to understand, with the expectation that they don't need the teacher holding their hands at every stage.

In doing this I do want to be realistic about the workload it might create. It would be unrealistic of me to spend hours and hours on top of my normal planning time. Which is why my screencast is done in one take, and can be expected to contain the odd mistake and the odd word fumble (though I think I have corrected myself).

The course will appear here. Comments/feedback welcome and appreciated.

* Reading tweets and blogs, there is a fair bit of criticism of TKA. Whilst such criticisms are often valid, they're not damning, and it's important to give credit for the mission statement of providing a free quality education for all.

So, I watched TKA's video on the chain rule, after I made my video, to see how they compared. In order to create a sense of challenge in students, both videos begin with "Nobody wants to expand (2x-5)7 if they can avoid it."

After that, we diverged. TKA taught by examples, using the procedure "differentiate outside the function, then inside, then multiply the two answers." (my paraphrasing.) I started from a more 'first principles' approach, using more formal notation. My feeling is that the latter is better for accuracy, particularly when you get e.g. chain rule within a chain rule, maybe within a product rule.

Watching TKA also made me quite conscious of the language used. "I will show you some examples before I tell you the rule" (from TKA) is quite teacher centred, and doesn't create in students the expectation that they can figure a lot of this out for themselves. But then, TKA videos are not designed specifically to be followed up by a teacher. Not to mention the fact that so far I have only watched the one video.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Do maths teachers set lower standards than other teachers?

Whilst marking examination papers, I was chatting with a colleague, an experienced Maths Methods and Specialist teacher. We were looking at a couple of students who intend to do Methods next year, but currently fall well short on what I would consider very basic things - factorising quadratics, learning (or being able to find) exact values for trig functions, that kind of thing.

I firmly believe that we should teach for understanding. But at the same time there is a certain amount of spade work to be done. Students need to learn certain facts and processes - ideally this will be done with full understanding, but in reality the understanding may come some time after these processes, and sometimes as a result of using them and becoming more familiar with them.

But in maths, if a Methods student does some homework and, let's say, can't factorise x2-9, or doesn't know what sin(30o) is, or when told to differentiate x2 from first principles and given half a page in which to do it, just writes down f'(x)=2x, then that student hasn't done the spade work. He hasn't bothered to go away and commit some facts to memory, or to review a process adequately until he understands.

In these cases, my reaction will usually be something like "This first one is a difference of two squares. Remember that?" "Oh yeah, right!" "Ah well, next time...". Or, when solving a trig equation, I'll find myself more or less repeating what I said in the first place. "This tells you the acute angle, and the negative value tells you it's in these quadrants." This doesn't need me to explain again, it needs the student to look over their notes and follow the process demonstrated again and again until they at least remember (and, ideally, understand why...)

But my colleague suggested that not learning these things is like an English student writing an essay on Macbeth without having seen or read the play. Such an essay would, of course, be pretty rubbish. And the English teacher would not hesitate to say "You haven't read the book, and what you have written is hence a pile of rubbish. Go away, get it done properly, and don't waste my time like this again."

In maths, however, we have a tendency to fall away from this, and reduce our expectations of the students. "Oh, you don't know how to do this? Don't worry, I'll explain it to you again." It's like the English teacher reading out the book to a student who didn't go away and read it.

Perhaps we do this because of the culture of failure around mathematics. People say "Maths is hard, don't expect to be able to do it." When really they should say "Maths is hard, so you'd better work really hard if you want to master it."

But I feel the pressure to let students get away with this kind of behaviour because, if I don't, I worry that the students will go away thinking that I don't care, or that the reason they can't do this must because I didn't explain the concept properly in the first place. But on reflection, this habit is actually quite damaging to the students - setting such low expectations, it's not surprising that they get into these dependent habits. A lot of this is reflected in Dweck's Self Theories, how when we think we are helping, we are actually making things worse.

The challenge for me here is to set these high expectations, but be really clear to students what I expect, and why. If I just tell them "You haven't bothered", I can expect to be fielding calls from parents that afternoon. For a lot of students, they will have never been expected to sit and struggle with a piece of maths, and they need to know how to do this productively.

To this end, I'm also looking forward to trying a bit of 'flipped classroom' structure, whereby for homework I might get students to watch a video explaining something, and expect them to achieve mastery (up to a certain, realistic level) by playing the video over and over, practising at home, and having the expectation that they will arrive prepared, and not be able to say "I watched it once, and it was hard, so can you explain it to me again now?"

I'll be teaching an intense course for Year 9 students for the last two weeks of this term, and I'm hoping to try this technique during this time. We'll see how it goes...

Monday, 12 November 2012

ABC's "The Future of Maths" - Some reflections


In The Future of Maths,  Conrad Wolfram argues against the teaching of e.g. long division algorithms, because these days we have computers to do this for us. Instead he wants to see maths used to answer real world problems which often involve modelling - e.g. are house prices in UK and Australia connected? What is the risk associated with a particular course of action?

I agree that teaching algorithms without understanding is fairly pointless. It used to be the case that learners of mathematics would be expected to do large numbers of long divisions, because what mattered is not that they understood what it meant to divide one number by another, or roughly how this process worked, but that they could produce the outcome required, i.e. the right answer. It is fair to argue that being able to repeatedly do these kinds of calculations quickly and accurately is less important than it once was.

However this does not mean we shouldn't teach it at all. We should teach long division so that learners have an understanding of what it means to divide one number by another. The meaning behind the algorithm requires and develops an understanding of place value, for example. And it gives learners a sense of roughly what the answer might be - in every day life we need to be able to work out roughly how to perform divisions mentally.

Wolfram argues that we should spend more time on modelling and problem solving. However this seems to be making the mistake outlined in Kirschner, Sweller and Clark (2006), which is that novice learners work the same way as expert practitioners. Yes, complex modelling and problem solving is a noble and useful goal, but we're not going to get people there without understanding and fluency of more basic skills.

I'm also uncomfortable with a recurring theme in this programme, mentioned by Wolfram and Keith Devlin, that we should only teach things which are explicitly useful in real life. If you want to make this a requirement of education, then you would want to scrap art, music, poetry, many parts of science (how many of us need to know about xylem and phloem in our lives?) and more. It might sound a bit pretentious but I'm of the opinion that learning mathematics, along with other subjects, is valuable and reward in itself, and that it teaches an intellectual rigour that can be applied to more concrete subjects as required.

Devlin made a similar point that being able to do arithmetic is less important as having a number sense. This sounds reasonable, though I wasn't sure what he means by a number sense. I take it to understand (as above) what it means to divide, or multiply, or work with fractions, and know when you would want to do these various operations. His discussion of using algebraic reasoning in spreadsheets reminded me of an ATM resource where kids would construct spreadsheets to e.g. model mobile phone tariffs, and having tried these, I found that they were effective in getting across ideas of variables in a slightly more meaningful way than normal algebra exercises. 

I still maintain that, in order to get this 'number sense', you need to have some experience and confidence in doing numerical operations, but that this is a means to an end.

I was interested in something Terence Tao touched upon, i.e. collaborative work in mathematics. He wasn't sure how this would be used in the classroom, but evidence shows that communicating and explaining mathematics to others helps both the explainer and explainee. I am keen to encourage collaboration in classrooms, though whenever it has been the explicit focus of the lesson, it often takes over the mathematics. I remember lessons as a less experienced teacher where I would have kids make a powerpoint and explain something to the rest of the class - more thinking was done about the powerpoint and the non-mathematical aspects of the task. In working with Moodle, one of the visions for this model of education is a kind of inquiry-based learning, where kids would logon and exchange ideas on how to solve a particular problem. There are practical issues with doing this in mathematics (where you can't express ideas easily using a keyboard) and there is a danger of cognitive overload (Kirschner et al) and of the focus on the medium overtaking the focus on the mathematics. We need to teach collaboration progressively like any other skill, and not assume that novice learners will be as competent as expert practitioners.

From this programme, I will consider again how I can get more collaboration in my classroom, without falling into the trap of collaboration for the sake of collaboration. I found William's "Think Pair Share" construct useful for this. 

An ongoing aim for me is making sure that learners understand any algorithms they are doing - this has been a cultural challenge at times when learners are often more interested in passing exams than understanding the subject matter itself. Managing this kind of culture shift is a delicate and long term task.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Success Criteria in Maths


Our school have been looking lately at success criteria, and we were interested as to how they might be used in maths. Other departments use them more routinely and successfully than we do, so I observed an English teacher during a ‘success criteria’ part of a lesson to see if we can apply in maths what other departments are doing. I’ve written a fairly seminal reflection here that may guide discussion.

The learning intention was “Analyse the discourse and grammatical features of complex text.” Key words were identified, defined and broken down (e.g. lists of grammatical features given). Student input was sought, and reframed by the teacher. The question was asked “How will I know that my analysis is effective and worthwhile?” Kids spent about ten minutes discussing, in groups and as a whole class, how they would know. They came up with:

  •          I can do this analysis in different contexts
  •          Others can read my analysis and know about the text being analysed without having first read it
  •          My analysis will identify the audience/context of the text
  •          I can deconstruct complex text using my skills.

During the discussion there was a lot of recapping of previously learned material, e.g. mentions of implicit/explicit information in text, literary devices. I got the feeling that the kids were already fairly familiar with what needed to be done, which indicated that the learning intention cumulatively built upon previous lessons.

It certainly felt like an effective use of time, focusing the kids on exactly what needed to be done.

I wondered how this could be applied to the last maths I remember teaching before revision: “Sketch cubic graphs including all key features.” Modelling what was seen, I would ask the kids, “So what are the key features?” Shape. Intercepts. Turning points. Shape? Well, let’s see what the basic cubic looks like by trying some numbers in y=x^3. Intercepts? X=0, easy enough. Y=0, need to factorise. How?... This feels like it would have been more or less what I do anyway, but without referring to the parts as success criteria. Where in English there seems like a large pool of skills from which to draw, in maths it is far more rigidly defined – these are just the things you have to do to answer the question, and if you don’t do them, you won’t get to an answer. (And we would accept different routes to the same answer, and hence ‘process criteria’ wouldn’t be appropriate). In English, you might have what looks like an answer, but actually doesn’t do everything you would want.

So, discussing the learning intentions sounds like it gives a structure to the lesson and identifies what needs to be done, but I’m not sure I would make explicit success criteria. They seemed useful in English because, after producing a piece of text, some serious reflection needs to happen for the student to know they have done what they should have. In maths, once you have done it, it’s fairly obvious.

The structure here would not be appropriate for e.g. the first lesson where children see matrices. “Understand what matrices are and what operations can be performed with them.” What’s a matrix? Don’t know. What can we do with them? Don’t know. OK, listen carefully whilst I tell you… And it’s quite possible that there are English lessons where the content is too unfamiliar for the kids to discuss success criteria.

So at the moment I have no plans to get into success criteria as a routine part of my lessons. But I would be interested to know if other people have different experience of this.