Robert Brooks

Associate Assistant Headteacher

Leave a comment

Supporting NQTs and ITTs over Initial Hurdles

I had the pleasure of presenting at #PedagooHampshire18 on Supporting NQTs and ITTs over Initial Hurdles.

My presentation can be accessed here and please feel free to contact me if you have any further suggestions or comments.


Leave a comment


20 years a teacher

Over the next two months details will be added to this page sharing the presenters and agenda for our 4th annual teaching and learning conference at Eggar’s School in Alton.

So far 40 teachers have taken up the challenge from last year and will be sharing their work on improving their practice with outcomes as their starting point. The #teacher5aday themes have run through each event and this year I’m really looking forward to learning and connecting more than ever.

If you would like a ticket details are here

Keynote Details

I’m very pleased to announce that Sue Roffey will be delivering the keynote this year. Sue has pioneered work on well-being in both Australia and the UK and was one of the inspirations behind #teacher5aday.

Find out more about her work here


Sue has spent much of the last seventeen years in Australia where she founded the

View original post 6,715 more words

Leave a comment

Weekly Lead Practitioner T&L Tips (Autumn Term 2016)

I have been a Lead Practitioner at an outstanding Surrey school for 14 weeks now and in the last 8 weeks I decided to share a weekly teaching and learning tip from my Twitter account.

Some of these I have thought about myself, whereas others are from my teaching colleagues at school or on Twitter.

I have decided to compile these into a blog post:

  • 08/10/2016: From one of my Lead Practitioner colleagues: Write down your questions in advance of the lesson and put initials of students’ names next to them that you might ask these to.
  • 15/10/2016: Mark your books first or last so you can measure the gap between the rest of the class.
  • 30/10/2016: Use or adapt this great crib sheet by to improve efficiency, quality and impact of feedback
  • 06/11/2016: Put your marked books into piles for the grades to input on your tracker so you can keep away from the PC!
  • 13/11/2016: Use stickers for effective marking by  
  • 20/11/2016: Use pose, pause, pounce, bounce by as a questioning strategy
  • 27/11/2016: Staple lined paper over students’ work in books if they have not left you room to give feedback next to it!
  • 04/12/2016: Use to set up folders for your Year 11 and 13 students with revision & exams resources
  • 10/12/2016: Use this learning progression mat template by  

I hope you enjoy the Christmas break!

Leave a comment

Raising Achievement for Pupil Premium Students

On Monday 14th November 2016, I presented a teaching and learning item at staff briefing at my school on the topic of:

Raising Achievement for Pupil Premium Students.

Here is a case study below of two similar students, one is pupil premium and one is not:


As you can see, the third progress report of the pupil premium student is the same as the second progress report for the non-pupil premium student.

We need to explore the reasons for this gap. One potential scenario could be that the pupil premium student’s parents have taken on an extra job in the evenings so they are not available for support and guidance. The pupil premium student may have no desk, pen or paper at home and the family may have missed the last WiFi payment so they currently have no internet access. The pupil premium student is not completing their homework or revision and is worried about speaking about this to their teachers.

Kyle Schwartz, a third-grade teacher from America, gave her students a slip of paper and asked them to fill in ‘I wish my teacher knew’:


Are we aware of our pupil premium students’ struggles, needs and what we may be able to do to help them succeed in our subjects?

Effective feedback and other successful teaching and learning strategies can be used to narrow the gap for the pupil premium students. Make sure that the specific task for improvement is sufficiently detailed for the students to make enough progress to close the gap compared to the non-pupil premium students, for instance:



Here are some key strategies to help improve the progress of your pupil premium students:

1.Know your pupil premium students and mark their books last to ‘measure’ the gap.

2.‘Measure’ the gap and give specific DIRT tasks (click on the DIRT link, which is a blog post by Amjad Ali) that help them meet the standards that non-pupil premium students are achieving.

3.Carefully plan your homework tasks, do they have access to computers, online resources, printers, paper, pens at home?

4.Systematic approach to pupil premium students’ absence. Keep a file with resources in from each lesson to hand to them when they return.

5.Measure the impact of any initiatives used and share all initiatives, regardless of whether they work or not. John Tomsett suggests this as it stops staff from wasting time on initiatives that had no impact. Staff should not be afraid of sharing ideas that have not worked in order to move teaching, learning and progress forward.

1 Comment

Reflections on #rED16

I was delighted to attend #rED16 yesterday morning, organised by Tom Bennett @tombennett71 . It was a shame that I was not able to stay the whole day, however I attended 3 excellent sessions during the morning with my colleague Amanda Fleck @AJTF71 :

Perfectionism: what the research says, & why it’s ruining teachers

This session, led by Laura McInerney @miss_mcinerney (Editor of Schools Week), discussed why teachers are imploding with stress and could this be to do with “their own psychological demons?” Laura introduced the session with a definition of ‘perfectionism’ from Wikipedia:

“Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterised by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting excessively high performance standards.”

40% of teachers leave teaching within the first 5 years of teaching, however Laura explains that this statistic is not a recent one. There are many tired teachers who either do not want to or cannot do teaching permanently. Teaching can allow professionals to thrive who want to be a perfectionist, however this can also be detrimental when things do not always go to plan in this unpredictable and ever changing profession.

Another factor that is being investigated, relating to teacher retention, is more women tending to have children later in life, leading to many of them having the stress of teenager children in their 40s, combined with elderly parents and a full teaching timetable.

Laura spoke to someone about who should manage teachers and they suggested theatre directors as there are very few other professions where you would be expected to perform for up to 6 hours a day and 5 days a week.

Laura also discussed about relationships in teaching compared to other professions, such as when dealing with customers or clients. In teaching you could have around 120 relationships or interactions throughout the working day, if there are any difficulties with relationships, such as with a class of children, this could then filter onto the next day, whereas as a difficult customer may not. Laura shared this “positive model of other” showing where people (teachers in the examples discussed in the session) see themselves and others positively or negatively.


Laura shared the graph below, showing the least and most effective scenarios for teacher retention:


Laura ended the session with a couple of tips on what not to do to a teacher perfectionist:

  • Attempt to show them ‘best practice’
  • Show them the best teacher in the school something that they cannot do yet

This could be considered detrimental to the perfectionist as it only confirms how wide the gap is between where they are at and where they want to get to. Focussing on smaller steps at a time (i.e. what went well in that lesson, what will I focus on in the next) is much more productive.

Assessment (what every teacher needs to know)

This session, led by Rob Coe @ProfCoe (Professor of Education at Durham University) covered assessment basics, such as reliability, validity, formative and monitoring uses of assessment.

Assessment reliability depends on standardisation, the subject matter and the number of assessment items. A subject that has more closed items on an assessment, such as mathematics, is inevitably going to be more reliable than a holistic approach to marking seen in subjects such as English or history.

Rob also talked about how at parents’ evenings and reporting mechanisms in the past with National Curriculum levels, sometimes the reliability variance between one annual assessment and another could be two sublevels. As students previously were expected to make two sublevels of progress per academic year, this data could be considered unreliable. However, have the new systems put in place by schools replacing National Curriculum levels (or life beyond levels) put this right?

Rob discussed hinge questions as a method of understanding where students have mastered various concepts and showed the probability of mastery from this method.



Rob explained how it was important that teachers use their professional judgement in hinge questioning so that they were sure if a student had understood a particular concept.

This could involve:


Rob also talked about the assumptions that we may make as teachers, such as a badly behaved student being a lower attainer. This is an example of where teacher assessment could be detrimental to some students.

Developing a school-wide evidence-informed approach to teaching & leaning

This session, led by John Tomsett @johntomsett (Headteacher at Huntington SchoolHuntington School, York), reflected upon the challenges of developing an evidence-informed approach to teaching and learning for all the teachers at Huntingdon School.

John explained that he had two senior leadership teams within his school, one for the core operations of the school and one for research. His school has committed to reflective practitioners continuing to develop sound subject knowledge and evidence-based methods for teaching and learning.

Control groups were discussed, as it is difficult to measure the impact of initiatives directly relating to pupil outcomes when there is no control group. If there is a control group however, students could be disadvantaged if they are not in the test group that goes onto perform better in assessments. This is where ethics comes into question.

John reminded us how important question-level analysis (QLA) is to inform any necessary intervention or further teaching of a concept, topic or skill. Measuring the impact is vital to see if they are worthwhile, such as the cost and time allocated, for the improvement in pupil outcomes. John asks his staff to share interventions that have not worked so that they can be discussed on how to improve them or remove the intervention method altogether, such as highlighter pens for revision! His philosophy is that only teaching and learning methods that improve pupil outcomes are to be used in his school, hence the evidence-based approach to teaching and learning at Huntington School.

John gave an example of an intervention used that helped a student move up 3 A Level grades in Economics, by using exam questions annotated on the screen using a Visualiser (such as one from IPEVO):


The example above refers to how we, as teachers, need to:


In my GCSE Science numeracy questions blog, I have given an example of this.

John also gave an example of how he sets performance management targets for his staff:

“How does students modelling how to answer 6 mark QWC questions in science impact on the marks awarded for these questions for students in the top sets compared to the lower sets?”

John also gave examples of where students can go backwards in terms of progress, despite interventions, such as taking an assessment straight after half-term if the students have not revised. It is important that interventions are not ‘disposed of’ in cases like this, as there are other mitigating circumstances.

3 key things I will do as a result of attending #rED16

  1. Ensure that I use appropriate strategies, such as smaller targets, for any staff I support that strive for perfection.
  2. Plan hinge questions within medium term plans and DIRT lessons (explained by Amjad Ali, @ASTsupportAAli in his blog post) to ensure there are opportunities for clarifying any misconceptions and developing mastery of a topic.
  3. Continue to run interventions, but measure their impact to assess how worthwhile they have been in improving pupil outcomes.

Leave a comment

GCSE Edexcel P2 Physics Exam Calculations

There are less than two weeks before the GCSE Edexcel P2 Physics exam!

This blog post is a continuation of my previous posts titled GCSE Edexcel P2 Physics Exam Calculations and GCSE Science Numeracy Questions.

Your students will be revising the content relevant to the foundation or higher tier they are sitting but have they practised enough calculations?

Did you know that (on average, based on previous past papers) the following marks are awarded for calculation and data interpretation questions:

  • P2 Foundation: 19/60 marks
  • P2 Higher: 20/60 marks

So looking at the grade boundaries:

  • Grade C Boundary on P2 Foundation Tier June 2015 = 36/60 (53% of the marks required to get a C from the calculation questions)
  • Grade C Boundary on P2 Higher Tier June 2015 = 25/60 (80% of the marks required to get a C from the calculation questions)

Here are my top tips and resources for gaining your students full marks on these questions. Please share them with your students over the next week to build their confidence:

Recall and use 15 scientific units appropriately

In the exam, students will often be given the scientific unit but sometimes they will have to provide it themselves. Get the students to note the sizes of the abbreviations of the units as some are upper or lower case:

  1. Charge = C (coulombs)
  2. Current = A (amps)
  3. Time = s (seconds)
  4. Potential difference = V (volts)
  5. Resistance = Ω (ohms)
  6. Power = W (watts)
  7. Energy and work done = J (joules)
  8. Speed and velocity = m/s (metres per second)
  9. Distance = m (metres)
  10. Acceleration = metres per second squared
  11. Force = N (newtons)
  12. Mass = kg (kilograms)
  13. Gravitational field strength = N/kg
  14. Momentum = kg m/s
  15. Force and weight = N (newtons)

Why not set your class a multiple choice quiz on Show My Homework testing them on these units before their exam?

Step by step process to all calculation questions

  • Practise using the equation sheet on page 2 of the exam paper
  • Choose the correct equation by highlighting the quantities given in the question and what they are asking for, such as power, energy used, time taken
  • Copy the shorthand version of the equation, such as P = E / t
  • Rearrange the equation if necessary using an equation triangle (see next section) and rewrite the new equation out as part of your working
  • Show your full working out
  • Write out the full answer first, no matter how many decimal points!
  • Then round (only if you need to, remember 5 and above after the decimal point rounds up!)
  • Give the correct answer in the answer space (so that the examiner does not miss it!)
  • Give the correct unit (only if requested to and if another unit has not already been provided)

Rearranging equations (HIGHER TIER ONLY)

  • If the equation is in the V = I x R format, then the subject of the equation goes onto the top of the equation triangle and the other two quantities onto the bottom.
  • If the equation is in the I = V / R format, then the quantity being divided goes onto the top of the equation triangle and the other two quantities onto the bottom.
  • You then cover up the quantity you want to find and carry out the appropriate calculation.

Converting units

Students need to remember to convert to SI units, otherwise they risk losing marks:

  • 60 seconds (s) in 1 minute
  • 100 centimetres (cm) in 1 metre (m)
  • 1000 metres (m) in 1 kilometre (km)
  • 1000 watts ( W ) in 1 kilowatt (kW)
  • 1000 joules (J) in 1 kilojoule (kJ)
  • 1000 grams (g) in 1 kilogram (kg)

Students also need to remember that gravitational field strength on Earth is 10 N/kg.

Practising general mathematical skills

  • Calculating a percentage
  • Calculating the mean
  • Plot and draw graphs (line graphs, bar charts, pie charts, scatter graphs, histograms) and selecting appropriate scales, labels and units for the axes
  • Interpret information from tables, charts and graphs. If the question asks the student to describe what the data shows, it is important that they give numerical values from the data as well as describing it (just like they would have done for the conclusions based on evidence in their controlled assessment tasks)
  • Use and interpret numbers written in standard form (higher tier)


Students must practise calculations and data interpretation questions. Print off a pack of these questions using Exam Wizard or create your own (see my resources below). Set some challenging multiple choice calculation-style questions using the quiz function on Show My Homework.


My Resources

Here are some of my resources that I have used with my students to help prepare them for the calculation questions in the P2 exam:

Other Resources

Here is a link where you can access most of the past papers and mark schemes for P2, as well as revision resources and exam tips. This website has been written by @teacherkettle.

@Brain_Jar has put all of his Edexcel Physics PowerPoints on this website.

@UKScienceguy has a range of YouTube videos covering Physics topics.

This website gives you quick access to a range of past papers.

I wish your students every success in their examinations.