3 ways CPD can support the most vulnerable pupils

This blog gives a flavour of some of the ideas you will hear at the joint TDT/NET event – Developing Teachers to Meet the Needs of Vulnerable Learners – January 17th, London. Book your tickets here.

As teachers improve, the most at-risk children benefit. School is much tougher when you have to deal with ongoing mental, physical and emotional challenges. For these children the impact of the teacher can be much greater. If we improve the way we support and develop teachers then we can make a real difference for our most vulnerable pupils.

Target your CPD

Before you engage in some learning, do some preparation. Spend a short time identifying two or three vulnerable pupils that you teach. Consider what you might need to learn or improve to help them.

During the process – whether one-off training or something more extended – keep a page of notes with columns ruled for each pupil. Jot down:

  • Ideas you’ve heard that could help that pupil;
  • How you might assess whether the idea is really working;
  • How you might uncover more information about the issues; and
  • Who you could contact to get support & challenge.

Collect feedback constantly

Back in the classroom, you will want to try out new ideas. When you plan your lesson, make sure you plan ways to collect feedback. You want to constantly check: “am I making a difference yet?”

You are looking to collect information to help you understand your progress. You also want to uncover as much information as possible about the pupils’ learning. Feedback could include:

  • One-to-one interviews – you could record the audio or video if you have the correct permissions;
  • Asking pupils to write down responses to a carefully-designed question or task;
  • An informal multiple-choice test (there’s good guidance on these here);
  • Whole-class questioning using mini whiteboards; and
  • Mock examinations.

Bring the information that you collect to a discussion with colleagues. Use the different perspectives within the group to explore different ways to view the findings.

Connect with expertise

Identify those who can help you find the best approaches. You need to find digests of research about why different issues appear and summaries of research about the most effective interventions. Ideally, you need assessment tools and approaches that can reveal more about underlying issues as well as track progress as you learn.

Examples of expertise could include:

Find out more

Find out more about effective teacher development:

David Weston is the Chief Executive of the Teacher Development Trust and Chair of the DfE CPD Expert Group. David will be speaking at the TDT/NET event on 17th January in London. Follow him on Twitter at @informed_edu

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Ten Reflections to Inform Future Pupil Premium Use

Below is an extract from Marc Rowlands Pupil Premium action research report: Tackling Educational Disadvantage by Understanding What Works.

Ten Reflections to Inform Future Pupil Premium Use:

  1. There is no thing as a ‘typical’ Pupil Premium child. The funding offers a unique opportunity to focus on the individual.
  2. The answers to cracking the code for disadvantaged learners doesn’t necessarily lie in the HTs office. Get teachers to input into provision. Middle leaders should be championing the cause of disadvantaged learners every day. Parents views on how to effectively use the funding can be invaluable.
  3. Don’t wait. Use the funding to enable more regular Pupil progress meetings. Empower TAs to flag up where interventions are not working for a particular child.
  4. Evidence informed, not evidenced led. The EEF toolkit offers a brilliant opportunity for Pupil Premium activity to be informed by evidence. But it was never intended to be used ‘painting by numbers’ style. Finding out what works for an individual school context should be closer to independent travel with a guidebook than a coach trip where you are told when and where to get off, when to eat etc…
  5. Get assessment right. If assessment is inconsistent or poor it is disadvantaged learners that are more likely to ‘slip through the net’.
  6. Monitor progress regularly, evaluate outcomes robustly – but understand that effective quality improvement is not necessarily judgemental.
  7. Be explicit about what you are trying to achieve and by when. ‘Improve numeracy levels’ is not clear enough. Hold yourself to account for this.
  8. Strong values and moral purpose agreed across a whole school are key. Disadvantaged learners need a great experience at school in both structured and unstructured times during the school day. Ensure that disadvantaged learners play a role in wider school life.
  9. Disadvantaged learners are most successful where teachers in the classroom feel accountable for their outcomes.
  10. Welcome external input. Working together over a period of time – with colleagues in your cluster or group of schools can be most valuable. A culture of trust and shared ideas that has grown over time has been of fundamental importance during this project.

Download full report here.