Inspiring Disadvantaged Learners – Research 2017-18

English Teacher Rachael Davison looked at how we she could inspire disadvantaged learners in her English lessons. This is her summary of her project.

Research Question

How can increased communication positively impact on disadvantaged students’ engagement and progress?

Method

  • Increased one to one and small group conversations with disadvantaged students about their understanding of the learning, their progress etc. during and outside of lessons.
  • An increased number of postcards and phone calls home.
  • Setting students catch up work to complete independently following absence or at least one to one/small group discussion regarding what the class have covered when students have been absent.
  • Student participation in every lesson – disadvantaged students always questioned, invited to share their learning, their used for teacher modelling of self/peer assessment etc.
  • Increased verbal feedback during the lesson so students receive instant feedback that they can respond to in the lesson.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

  • Disadvantaged students are always selected to answer questions, to share their learning, read out loud etc. throughout the lesson.
  • I have adapted my practice by ensuring that these students receive clear and focused verbal feedback alongside lots of praise and encouragement within the lesson and not just written in their books during a marking cycle.
  • I have tried to catch up/meet with the students following a period of absence so that they know what they have missed in class. I have also tried to engage the students in taking ownership of the missed work by giving them tasks to complete at home.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

  • Observations of students’ engagement in lessons (engagement in tasks and motivation to achieve), summative assessment outcomes, discussions with the students themselves and their feedback.

Summary of impact so far.

Make students more accountable for the learning they miss due to absence (or discuss what has been missed): give students tasks to complete at home to catch up.

Provide disadvantaged students with regular verbal feedback opportunities throughout lessons.

Increase the number of postcards sent home, phone calls home, sending copies of completed work home.

Increased student participation in every lesson – all disadvantaged students answering questions, sharing work, responding to others’ ideas etc.

Use disadvantaged students’ books on the visualiser to model peer/self-marking – the students get instant quality feedback from their peers and the teacher.

Direct Questioning with Disadvantaged Student – Research 2017/18

Last year one of our Maths teachers, Matt Sims, carried out research into improving the performance of disadvantaged students. This is the summary of his project.

Research Question

Will direct questioning of Pupil Premium students and increasing parental contact improve their performance?

Method

More questions were directed disadvantaged students during the lesson. At the same time the Connect Ed app was used to try to engage parental engagement.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

A laminated seating plan was produced highlighting Pupil Premium students and kept out of view of the class. This help to remind me which students to easily identify key students when asking questions. Resources and revision material was sent to parents via the MyEd app.

How did you review the impact of your research and what is your summary?

Summer GCSE results were used. In addition lesson observation showed an increased involvement from the students and the feedback from the parents was positive. Students were more involved and as a result their confidence increased. I would recommend the use of laminated seating plans and My Ed app with parents.

Raising the progress and attainment of disadvantaged students.

A priority area for most schools in the country is the performance and  attainment of disadvantaged students, these are the students that fulfil the Pupil Premium (PP) descriptors. At Tor Bridge High the PP students are attaining above that for similar schools but crucially there is still  gap that we are adamant to remove. Clearly this is a huge question in education and there is a large amount of information that is published on it. What were are concerned with is how we distill the vast amount of nationally published research into what works for our students at Tor Bridge High.

The action research leads for this area are Ian Goldsmith (Head of Humanities) and Robbie Williams) Teacher of PE).

One of the difficulties staff encountered when researching this area is that the term ‘PP’ does not describe a homogenous group of students, in our school it is roughly one third of all students. Some of our best performing students are in this group. It goes without saying that each one of  our PP students is a highly valued individual and getting to know them is the key.  However, there are also some general considerations when reviewing the progress and attainment of PP students that are widely discussed in research.

What we found out from the action research projects carried out from staff are some approaches that are more likely to work in our school setting.

What makes a difference?

Classroom based strategies.

  • PP students have increased engagement and understanding through challenging and differentiated tasks.
  • Marking the work of PP students can lead to enhanced feedback and understanding.
  • Collaborative work between PP students and suitable peers can increase engagement and understanding.
  • Collation and display of class performances for class tests, can motivate high attaining PP students, whereas low attaining PP students can lose confidence and then engagement.
  • Seating placement of high attaining PP learners with high attaining non-PP learners enriches metacognition.
  • Visual resources and strategies enhances the understanding, confidence and reduces the anxiety of PP boys in the research group.
  • Freedom of writing choice and topic does increase enthusiasm for the writing task in PP boys.
  • Self esteem of PP students is generally enhanced when working collaboratively with similar ability peers.
  • Metacognitive strategies can support KS5 students with extended writing.

Out of classroom based strategies.

  • Attendance at homework clubs improved reading ages.
  • Proactive parental dialogue resulted in end of unit assessment performance in line with or above PP students target grade.
  • Participation in mandatory and optional fieldwork trips has seen a greater uptake following positive home communication.
  • Parental engagement has supported students progress.

Whats next?

The action research that was carried out raised almost as many questions as it did provide answers. Areas for further action research projects are.

  • How do we overcome language barriers to improve progress?
  • How do engage all parents?
  • What opportunities can we build at lunchtime for students to develop cultural capital?
  • How can continue to improve students mental health?
  • How can we adapt teaching to promote good attendance and proactively support missed lessons?

 

 

Links to Research

This is a list of online research starting points, this is a great place to start to look at what current research exists in each of our priority areas.

National research organisations.

Education Endowment Foundation funds and evaluates research into many areas in education and publishes the results on the teacher toolkit.

National education Trust collates knowledge and expertise to support innovation and good practice in the classroom.

Education Datalab these carry out research for policy makers but also work with schools to help them use data to adapt their practice.

The Institute for Effective Education based at the University of York, this is a charity that works with schools to improve the quality of teaching. They also produce a best evidence in Brief fortnightly newsletter which is emailed out if you sign up.

Sutton Trust a foundation that aims ti improve social mobility through evidence based research, programs and policy.

Blog Sites

Evidence Based Educational Leadership this blog focuses on the leadership and management of Evidence Based Education – including Action Research projects. It provides a really good ‘reality check’ for what works … and significantly – what doesn’t work  – in terms of implementation.

The Super Blog Database of research already conducted by teacher researchers in schools in the UK and across the globe.

Class Teaching This blog shows one school’s (or MAT’s!) approach to Evidence Based Practice and Action Research. They are undeniably much, much further down the road than we are … but their resources may help to shape how we can move forward.

Overcoming Prejudices to the Benefit of Students – Blogpost by John Tomsett, Headteacher in York and review of Making Good Progress?: The future of Assessment for Learning by Daisy Christodoulou 

Review of the OECD paper ‘Academic resilience’ – excellent study on what works for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. https://gregashman.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/orderly-classrooms-benefit-the-most-disadvantaged-children/

Twitter – some people to follow…

@acethattest – The Learning Scientists blog is a treasure chest of ideas and resources presented by leading cognitive psychological scientists. The FAQ section is a good starting point for Action Research ideas.

@suttontrust – updates from the Sutton Trust.

@edudatalab – regular updates from the Educational Datalab.

@marcrowland – wrote an excellent book on pupil premium and works for Rosendale Research School.

 

 

 

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