SHP25: first plenary

Back at the SHP conference for its silver anniversary! First up – Dale Banham and Russell Hall on raising achievement at GCSE and A-Level.

Before that, Michael identifies and thanks everyone associated with making SHP a success since it began. Lots of people on their feet as current or previous workshop leaders, authors and examiners.

Using recent research to establish five key principals.

We start with a Mandela quote – we’re all here because we want to be better. Then onto Hattie and the importance of seeing learning from a student perspective.

What has the greatest influence on student learning? Russell shares the results of the Sutton Trust. The top is feedback. We should focus on creating a dialogue when doing the. Russell recommends An Ethic of Excellence by Ron Berger and the types of critique that he suggests: Gallery Critique and In Depth Critique. Encourage students to use the three golden rules when critiquing each other’s work: be kind, be helpful, be specific.

Dale talks about his work improving the level of interaction between staff and pupils. The dialogue gives both parties the feedback they need to improve. Students struggle with the review to begin with but get used to it after a short while.

Dale wonders, do you use your department time to discuss what feedback really helps students to move forward? And what will you do differently as a result of what has been shared?

Activities now. Here’s the story of the Battle of the Little Bighorn: put the steps in the right order. Put the class in 2 groups and pit them against each other: the competition makes all the difference. Meanwhile, set gate keepers under big statements that will help them to answer and exam question. The steps pick a gate where they think they belong while the gate keepers have to decide whether to let them in. Thus a walking essay is created. Additional facts can be pulled in where necessary, because there is competition between them to create the best paragraph. Dale uses How-to mats to give students advice on building a good historical argument.

Russell talks about Models of Excellence. Save the works of previous students as examples of what can be achieved.


The how-to maps above have language boxes and advice on writing to persuade that have benefited from the partnership between Dale and Russell.

Collaboration is also very important. Russell shows a clip of the end of Blackadder explained by the producers who made it, about how their collaboration led to the final scene. Collaboration in writing is important – the discussion and debate helps to make the whole process really visible to students. Position a debate before a piece of writing.

Snowball revision. Tests should include stuff from all the modules they’ve studied so far. Create a toolkit to help students select the best revision technique to help them with the various bits of information they have to remember. Homework – sum up xxx in a picture. Bring in a prop to help us role play xxx – then, the following lesson, remember the story from just the props. Revision should be the most interesting fun part of the course because you have all the info and you can start to play with it.

Independent learning and homework.


(For the past two years I’ve been trying to nail these down but I can never note them down quick enough!)

Use learning logs to record what they do for the 5 Rs. Give them YouTube watch lists for homework. Use shoot outs to do knowledge tests – with a grid on the board of correct answers as necessary. Lots more examples on the SHP website. Adding competition to revision improves engagement.

What a great start to the conference!

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