A group of 10 primary and secondary schools in the London Borough of Bexley are conducting a year-long pilot programme where teachers and teaching assistants work together to improve their understanding of the research about the powerful impact effective feedback can have on pupils’ learning skills and attainment. Throughout the year, teachers will discuss examples of feedback in their schools and develop classroom strategies that are evidenced-based and effective.
There is a general consensus that feedback is, as the leading educational researcher John Hattie puts it, “among the most powerful influences on achievement”. The aim of feedback is to help pupils to understand their learning goals and develop strategies to achieve them. But not all feedback is effective. For example, there is evidence that feedback aimed at the whole person (e.g. “You’re a good student”) does not have the impact on attainment that feedback aimed at specific tasks (e.g. “What is good about this piece of work is…”) or processes (e.g. “What you could do to improve next time…”). It is important that teachers understand the theory and evidence behind the use of feedback so that they can apply it effectively in the classroom.
The aim of this pilot project is to create a programme to help teachers to engage with the evidence about one of the most powerful teaching methods and to explore how to embed this in their classrooms. If the pilot goes well – if it is practical for schools to implement and is effective at changing teacher behaviour – the programme could be tested on a wider scale to assess its impact on pupils’ learning.
Durham University are independent evaluators of this project.