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Special Educational Needs & Disabilities

To be published on 6th December 2019

To be published on 6th December 2019

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EEF Guidance Report
1

Plan, support, and monitor SEL implementation

Establish a shared vision for SEL: ensure it is connected to rather than competing with other school priorities.

Involve teachers and school staff in planning for SEL.

Provide training and support to all school staff, covering: readiness for change; development of skills and knowledge; and support for embedding change.

Prioritise implementation quality: teacher preparedness and enthusiasm for SEL are associated with better outcomes.

Monitor implementation and evaluate the impact of your approaches.

EEF Guidance Report
2

Reinforce SEL skills through whole-school ethos and activities

Establish schoolwide norms, expectations and routines that support children’s social and emotional development.

Align your school’s behaviour and anti-bullying policies with SEL.

Seek ideas and support from staff and pupils in how the school environment can be improved.

Actively engage with parents to reinforce skills in the home environment.

EEF Guidance Report
3

Use a SAFE curriculum: Sequential, Active, Focused and Explicit

Ensure your curriculum builds skills sequentially across lessons and year groups. Start early and think long term.

Balance teacher-led activities with active forms of learning, such as: role-play, discussion and small group work, to practise skills.

Focus your time: quality matters more than quantity. Brief regular instruction appears more effective than infrequent long sessions.

Be explicit: clearly identify the skills that are being taught and why they are important.

EEF Guidance Report
4

Plan carefully for adopting a SEL programme

Use a planned series of lessons to teach skills in dedicated time.

Adopting an evidence-based programme is likely to be a better bet than developing your own from scratch.

Explore and prepare carefully before adopting a programme -  review what is required to deliver it, and whether it is suitable for your needs and context.

Use evidence summaries (such as those from EIF and EEF) as a quick way of assessing the evidence for programmes.

Once underway, regularly review progress, and adapt with care.

EEF Guidance Report
5

Integrate and model SEL skills through everyday teaching

Model the social and emotional behaviours you want children to adopt.

Give specific and focused praise when children display SEL skills.

Do not rely on ‘crisis moments’ for teaching skills.

Embed SEL teaching across a range of subject areas: literacy, history, drama and PE all provide good opportunities to link to SEL.

Use simple ground-rules in groupwork and classroom discussion to reinforce SEL skills.

EEF Guidance Report
6

Teach SEL skills explicitly

Use a range of strategies to teach key skills, both in dedicated time, and in everyday teaching.

Self-awareness: expand children’s emotional vocabulary and support them to express emotions.

Self-regulation: teach children to use self-calming strategies and positive self-talk to help deal with intense emotions.

Social awareness: use stories to discuss others’ emotions and perspectives.

Relationship skills: role play good communication and listening skills.

Responsible decision-making: teach and practise problem solving strategies.

EEF Guidance Report
7

Ensure explicit connections are made between learning from everyday classroom teaching structured interventions

Interventions are often quite separate from classroom activities. Lack of time for teachers and TAs to liaise allows relatively little connection between what pupils experience in, and away, from, the classroom. The key is to ensure that learning in interventions is consistent with, and extends, work inside the classroom and that pupils understand the links between them. It should not be assumed that pupils can consistently identify and make sense of these links on their own.

EEF Guidance Report
8

Adopt evidence-based interventions to support TAs in their small group and one-to-one instruction

Schools should use structured interventions with reliable evidence of effectiveness. There are presently only a handful of programmes in the UK for which there is a secure evidence base, so if schools are using programmes that are ‘unproven’, they should try and replicate some common elements of effective interventions:

  • Sessions are often brief (20–50mins), occur regularly (3–5 times per week) and are maintained over a sustained period (8–20 weeks). Careful timetabling is in place to enable this consistent delivery
  • TAs receive extensive training from experienced trainers and/or teachers (5–30 hours per intervention)
  • The intervention has structured supporting resources and lesson plans, with clear objectives
  • TAs closely follow the plan and structure of the intervention
  • Assessments are used to identify appropriate pupils, guide areas for focus and track pupil progress. Effective interventions ensure the right support is being provided to the right child
  • Connections are made between the out-of-class learning in the intervention and classroom teaching (see Rec 7).
9

Use TAs to deliver high quality one-to-one and small group support using structured interventions

Research on TAs delivering targeted interventions in one-to-one or small group settings shows a consistent impact on attainment of approximately three to four additional months’ progress (effect size 0.2–0.3). Crucially, these positive effects are only observed when TAs work in structured settings with high quality support and training. When TAs are deployed in more informal, unsupported instructional roles, they can impact negatively on pupils’ learning outcomes.

EEF Guidance Report
10

Ensure TAs are fully prepared for their role in the classroom

Schools should provide sufficient time for TA training and for teachers and TAs to meet out of class to enable the necessary lesson preparation and feedback.

Creative ways of ensuring teachers and TAs have time to meet include adjusting TAs’ working hours (start early, finish early), using assembly time and having TAs join teachers for (part of) Planning, Preparation and Assessment (PPA) time.

During lesson preparation time ensure TAs have the essential ‘need to knows’:

  • Concepts, facts, information being taught
  • Skills to be learned, applied, practised or extended
  • Intended learning outcomes
  • Expected/required feedback.
11

Use TAs to help pupils develop independent learning skills and manage their own learning

Research has shown that improving the nature and quality of TAs’ talk to pupils can support the development of independent learning skills, which are associated with improved learning outcomes. TAs should, for example, be trained to avoid prioritising task completion and instead concentrate on helping pupils develop ownership of tasks.

TAs should aim to give pupils the least amount of help first. They should allow sufficient wait time, so pupils can respond to a question or attempt the stage of a task independently. TAs should intervene appropriately when pupils demonstrate they are unable to proceed.

12

Use TAs to add value to what teachers do, not replace them

If TAs have a direct instructional role it is important they add value to the work of the teacher, not replace them – the expectation should be that the needs of all pupils are addressed, first and foremost, through high quality classroom teaching. Schools should try and organise staff so that the pupils who struggle most have as much time with the teacher as others. Breaking away from a model of deployment where TAs are assigned to specific pupils for long periods requires more strategic approaches to classroom organisation. Instead, school leaders should develop effective teams of teachers and TAs, who understand their complementary roles in the classroom.

Where TAs are working individually with low attaining pupils the focus should be on retaining access to high-quality teaching, for example by delivering brief, but intensive, structured interventions (see Recommendations 5 and 6).

13

TAs should not be used as an informal teaching resource for low attaining pupils

The evidence on TA deployment suggests schools have drifted into a situation in which TAs are often used as an informal instructional resource for pupils in most need. This has the effect of separating pupils from the classroom, their teacher and their peers.

Although this has happened with the best of intentions, this evidence suggests that the status quo is no longer an option. 

School leaders should systematically review the roles of both teachers and TAs and take a wider view of how TAs can support learning and improve attainment throughout the school.

EEF Guidance Report
14

Provide high-quality literacy interventions for struggling students

Schools should expect and proactively plan to support students with the weakest levels of literacy, particularly in Year 7.

Developing a model of tiered support, which increases in intensity in line with need is a promising approach.

Assessment should be used to match students to appropriate types of intervention, and to monitor the impact of interventions.

Creating a co-ordinated system of support is a significant challenge requiring both specialist input and whole-school leadership.

EEF Guidance Report
15

Provide opportunities for structured talk

Talk matters: both in its own right and because of its impact on other aspects of learning.

High-quality talk is typically well-structured and guided by teachers.

'Accountable talk' is a useful framework to ensure talk is high quality, and emphasises how talk can be subject specific.

Teachers can support students by modelling high-quality talk, for example including key vocabulary and metacognitive reflection.

EEF Guidance Report
16

Combine writing instruction with reading in every subject

Combining reading activities and writing instruction is likely to improve students’ skills in both, compared to a less balanced approach.

Reading helps students gain knowledge, which leads to better writing, whilst writing can deepen students’ understanding of ideas.

Students should be taught to recognise features, aims and conventions of good writing within each subject.

Teaching spelling, grammar and punctuation explicitly can improve students’ writing, particularly when focused on meaning.

EEF Guidance Report
17

Break down complex writing tasks

Writing is challenging and students in every subject will benefit from explicit instruction in how to improve.

Teachers can break writing down into planning, monitoring and evaluation, and can support students by modelling each step.

Targeted support should be provided to students who struggle to write fluently, as this may affect writing quality.

Teachers can use a variety of approaches, including collaborative and paired writing, to motivate students to write.

EEF Guidance Report
18

Develop students’ ability to read complex academic texts

Training focused on teaching reading is likely to help secondary school teachers teach their subject more effectively.

To comprehend complex texts, students need to actively engage with what they are reading and use their existing subject knowledge.

Reading strategies, such as activating prior knowledge, prediction and questioning can improve students’ comprehension.

Strategies can be introduced through modelling and group work, before support is gradually removed to promote independence.

EEF Guidance Report
19

Provide targeted vocabulary instruction in every subject

Teachers in every subject should provide explicit vocabulary instruction to help students access and use academic language.

Effective approaches, including those related to etymology and morphology, will help students remember new words and make connections between words.

Teachers should prioritise teaching Tier 2 and 3 vocabulary, which students are unlikely to encounter in everyday speech.

Teachers and subject leaders should consider which words and phrases to teach as part of curriculum planning.

EEF Guidance Report
20

Prioritise ‘disciplinary literacy’ across the curriculum

Literacy is key to learning across all subjects in secondary school and a strong predictor of outcomes in later life.

Disciplinary literacy is an approach to improving literacy across the curriculum that emphasises the importance of subject specific support.

All teachers should be supported to understand how to teach students to read, write and communicate effectively in their subjects.

School leaders can help teachers by ensuring training related to literacy prioritises subject specificity over general approaches.

EEF Guidance Report
21

Whole-school

Consistency and coherence at a whole-school level are paramount.

Whole-school changes usually take longer to embed than individually tailored or single-classroom approaches.

However, behaviour programmes are more likely to have an impact on attainment outcomes if implemented at whole-school level.

EEF Guidance Report
22

Tailor targeted approaches to meet the needs of individuals in your school

Universal behaviour systems are unlikely to meet the needs of all your students.

For pupils with more challenging behaviour, the approach should be tailored to individual needs.

Teachers should be trained in specific strategies if supporting pupils with high behaviour needs.

EEF Guidance Report
23

​Use simple approaches as part of your regular routine

Some strategies that don’t require complex pedagogical changes have been shown to be promising.

Breakfast clubs, greeting children at the door and working with parents can all support good behaviour.

School leaders should ensure the school behaviour policy is clear and consistently applied.

EEF Guidance Report
24

Use classroom management strategies to support good classroom behaviour

Effective classroom management can reduce challenging behaviour, pupil disengagement, bullying and aggression.

Improving classroom management usually involves intensive training with teachers reflecting on their classroom management, trying a new approach and reviewing their progress over time.

Reinforcement programmes based on pupils gaining rewards can be effective when part of a broader classroom management strategy.

EEF Guidance Report
25

Teach learning behaviours alongside managing misbehaviour

Teaching learning behaviours will reduce the need to manage misbehaviour.

Teachers can provide the conditions for learning behaviours to develop by ensuring pupils can access the curriculum, engage with lesson content and participate in their learning.

Teachers should encourage pupils to be self-reflective of their own behaviours.

EEF Guidance Report
26

Know and understand your pupils and their influences

Pupil behaviour has multiple influences, some of which teachers can manage directly.

Understanding a pupil’s context will inform effective responses to misbehaviour.

Every pupil should have a supportive relationship with a member of school staff.

EEF Guidance Report
27

Technology can play a role in improving assessment and feedback

Technology has the potential to improve assessment and feedback, which are crucial elements of effective teaching.

However, how teachers use information from assessments, and how pupils act on feedback, matter more than the way in which it is collected and delivered.

Using technology can increase the accuracy of assessment, or the speed with which assessment information is collected, with the potential to inform teachers’ decision-making and reduce workload.

Technology can be used to provide feedback directly to pupils via programmes or interventions, but in all cases careful implementation and monitoring are necessary.

Feedback via technology is likely to be most beneficial if it is provided in addition to, rather than instead of, other forms of feedback.

EEF Guidance Report
28

Technology offers ways to improve the impact of pupil practice

Technology has the potential to increase the quality and quantity of practice that pupils undertake, both inside and outside of the classroom.

Technology can be engaging and motivating for pupils. However, the relationship between technology, motivation, and achievement is complex.

Monitoring how technology is being used, including by checking that all learners have the skills they need to use it effectively, is likely to reduce the risk that technology becomes a tool that widens the gap between successful learners and their peers.

Some forms of technology can also enable teachers to adapt practice effectively, for example by increasing the challenge of questions as pupils succeed or by providing new contexts in which students are required to apply new skills.

Using technology to support retrieval practice and self-quizzing can increase retention of key ideas and knowledge.

EEF Guidance Report
29

Technology can be used to improve the quality of explanations and modelling

Technology has the potential to help teachers explain and model new concepts and ideas.

However, how explanations and models are conveyed is less important than their clarity and accessibility to pupils.

Introducing a new form of technology will not automatically change the way teachers teach.

Interactive whiteboards are a good example highlighting the need to consider the pedagogical rationale for adopting a form of technology, and for carefully planning the training required to enable teachers to use it effectively.

Technology can help teachers model in new ways and provide opportunities to highlight how experts think as well as what they do, but may be most effective when used as a supplement rather than a substitute for other forms of modelling.

EEF Guidance Report
30

Consider how technology will improve teaching and learning before introducing it

New technology can often appear exciting. However, it can become a solution in search of a problem unless it is introduced in response to an identified need.

It is often useful to link the introduction of new technology to wider planning, for example, a review of assessment policy.

Schools should consider the pedagogical rationale for how technology will improve learning.

The principles of how to use technology successfully are not distinct from questions of how to teach effectively or how children learn.

Without a clear plan for support and implementation, technology is much less likely to have an impact.

This includes considering what initial training will be needed, what time and resources are required, and what ongoing support should be available.

Decisions about whether to introduce technology should also include an analysis of the costs of implementing the technology, alongside the expected benefits.

EEF Guidance Report
31

Schools should support teachers to develop knowledge of these approaches and expect them to be applied appropriately

Develop teachers’ knowledge and understanding through high quality professional development and resources.

Senior leaders should provide teachers with time and support to make sure approaches are implemented consistently.

Teachers can use tools such as ‘traces’ and observation to assess pupils’ use of self-regulated learning skills.

Metacognition shouldn’t be an ‘extra’ task for teachers to do but should be built into their teaching activities.

EEF Guidance Report
32

Explicitly teach pupils how to organise and effectively manage their learning independently

Teachers should explicitly support pupils to develop independent learning skills.

Carefully designed guided practice, with support gradually withdrawn as the pupil becomes proficient, can allow pupils to develop skills and strategies before applying them in independent practice.

Pupils will need timely, effective feedback and strategies to be able to judge accurately how effectively they are learning.

Teachers should also support pupils’ motivation to undertake the learning tasks.

EEF Guidance Report
33

Promote and develop metacognitive talk in the classroom

As well as explicit instruction and modelling, classroom dialogue can be used to develop metacognitive skills.

Pupil-to-pupil and pupil-teacher talk can help to build knowledge and understanding of cognitive and metacognitive strategies.

However, dialogue needs to be purposeful, with teachers guiding and supporting the conversation to ensure it is challenging and builds on prior subject knowledge.

EEF Guidance Report
34

Set an appropriate level of challenge to develop pupils’ self-regulation and metacognition

  • Challenge is crucial to allow pupils to develop and progress their knowledge of tasks, strategies, and of themselves as learners. 
  • However, challenge needs to be at an appropriate level.
  • Pupils must have the motivation to accept the challenge.
  • Tasks should not overload pupils’ cognitive processes, particularly when they are expected to apply new strategies.
EEF Guidance Report
35

Teachers should support pupils to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning.

Modelling by the teacher is a cornerstone of effective teaching; revealing the thought processes of an expert learner helps to develop pupils’ metacognitive skills.

Teachers should verbalise their metacognitive thinking (‘What do I know about problems like this? What ways of solving them have I used before?’) as they approach and work through a task.

Scaffolded tasks, like worked examples, allow pupils to develop their metacognitive and cognitive skills without placing too many demands on their mental resources.

EEF Guidance Report
36

Explicitly teach pupils metacognitive strategies, including how to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning

Explicit instruction in cognitive and metacognitive strategies can improve pupils’ learning. A series of steps—beginning with activating prior knowledge and leading to independent practice before ending in structured reflection—can be applied to different subjects, ages and contents.

While concepts like ‘plan, monitor, evaluate’ can be introduced generically, the strategies are mostly applied in relation to specific content and tasks, and are therefore best taught this way.

A series of steps—beginning with activating prior knowledge and leading to independent practice before ending in structured reflection—can be applied to different subjects, ages and contents.

EEF Guidance Report
37

Teachers should acquire the professional understanding and skills to develop their pupils’ metacognitive knowledge

Self-regulated learners are aware of their strengths and weaknesses, and can motivate themselves to engage in, and improve, their learning.

Developing pupils’ metacognitive knowledge of how they learn—their knowledge of themselves as a learner, of strategies, and of tasks—is an effective way of improving pupil outcomes.

Teachers should support pupils to plan, monitor, and evaluate their learning.

EEF Guidance Report
38

Support pupils to make a successful transition between primary and secondary school

There is a large dip in mathematical attainment and attitudes towards maths as children move from primary to secondary school.

  • Primary and secondary schools should develop shared understandings of curriculum, teaching and learning.
  • When pupils arrive in Year 7, quickly attain a good understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Structured intervention support may be required for Year 7 pupils who are struggling to make progress.

  • Carefully consider how pupils are allocated to maths classes.
  • Setting is likely to lead to a widening of the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers, because the former are more likely to be assigned to lower groups.
EEF Guidance Report
39

Use structured interventions to provide additional support

  • Selection should be guided by pupil assessment.
  • Interventions should start early, be evidence-based and be carefully planned.
  • Interventions should include explicit and systematic instruction.
  • Even the best designed intervention will not work if implementation is poor.

  • Support pupils to understand how interventions are connected to whole class instruction.
  • Interventions should motivate pupils – not bore them or cause them to be anxious.

  • If interventions cause pupils to miss activities they enjoy, or content they need to learn, teachers should ask if the interventions are really necessary.
  • Avoid ‘intervention fatigue’. Interventions do not always need to be time consuming or intensive to be effective.

EEF Guidance Report
40

Use tasks and resources to challenge and support pupils’ mathematics

  • Tasks and resources are just tools – they will not be effective if they are used inappropriately by the teacher.
  • Use assessment of pupils’ strengths and weaknesses to inform your choice of task.
  • Use tasks to address pupil misconceptions.
  • Provide examples and non-examples of concepts.

  • Use stories and problems to help pupils understand mathematics.
  • Use tasks to build conceptual knowledge in tandem with procedural knowledge.
  • Technology is not a silver bullet – it has to be used judiciously and less costly resources may be just as effective.

EEF Guidance Report
41

Develop pupils’ independence and motivation

  • Encourage pupils to take responsibility for, and play an active role in, their own learning.
  • This requires pupils to develop metacognition – the ability to independently plan, monitor and evaluate their thinking and learning.

  • Initially, teachers may have to model metacognition by describing their own thinking.
  • Provide regular opportunities for pupils to develop metacognition by encouraging them to explain their thinking to themselves and others.

  • Avoid doing too much too early.
  • Positive attitudes are important, but there is scant evidence on the most effective ways to foster them.
  • School leaders should ensure that all staff, including non-teaching staff, encourage enjoyment in maths for all children.

EEF Guidance Report
42

Enable pupils to develop a rich network of mathematical knowledge

  • Emphasise the many connections between mathematical facts, procedures, and concepts.
  • Ensure that pupils develop fluent recall of facts.

  • Teach pupils to understand procedures.
  • Teach pupils to consciously choose between mathematical strategies.

  • Build on pupils’ informal understanding of sharing and proportionality to introduce procedures.
  • Teach pupils that fractions and decimals extend the number system beyond whole numbers.
  • Teach pupils to recognise and use mathematical structure.

EEF Guidance Report
43

Teach pupils strategies for solving problems

If pupils lack a well-rehearsed and readily available method to solve a problem they need to draw on problem-solving strategies to make sense of the unfamiliar situation.

  • Select problem-solving tasks for which pupils do not have ready-made solutions.
  • Teach them to use and compare different approaches.
  • Show them how to interrogate and use their existing knowledge to solve problems.
  • Use worked examples to enable them to analyse the use of different strategies.
  • Require pupils to monitor, reflect on, and communicate their problem solving.

EEF Guidance Report
44

Use manipulatives and representations

Manipulatives (physical objects used to teach maths) and representations (such as number lines and graphs) can help pupils engage with mathematical ideas.

However, manipulatives and representations are just tools: how they are used is essential.

They need to be used purposefully and appropriately to have an impact.

There must be a clear rationale for using a particular manipulative or representation to teach a specific mathematical concept.

Manipulatives should be temporary; they should act as a ‘scaffold’ that can be removed once independence is achieved.

EEF Guidance Report
45

Use assessment to build on pupils’ existing knowledge and understanding

Assessment should be used not only to track pupils’ learning but also to provide teachers with information about what pupils do and do not know.

This should inform the planning of future lessons and the focus of targeted support.

Effective feedback will be an important element of teachers’ response to assessment.

Feedback should be specific and clear, encourage and support further effort, and be given sparingly.

Teachers not only have to address misconceptions but also understand why pupils may persist with errors.

Knowledge of common misconceptions can be invaluable in planning lessons to address errors before they arise.

EEF Guidance Report
46

Use high-quality structured interventions to help pupils who are struggling with their literacy

Schools should focus first on developing core classroom teaching strategies that improve the literacy capabilities of the whole class. With this in place, the need for additional support should decrease. Nevertheless, it is likely that a small number of pupils will require additional support.

There is a strong and consistent body of evidence demonstrating the benefit of structured interventions for pupils who are struggling with their literacy. The first step should be to use accurate diagnosis of capabilities and difficulties to match pupils to appropriate interventions.

EEF Guidance Report
47

Target teaching and support by accurately assessing pupil needs

High-quality assessment and diagnosis should be used to target and adapt teaching to pupils’ needs. 

Rapid provision of support is important, but it is critical to ensure it is the right support. Diagnostic assessment can be used to inform professional judgement about the best next steps. Diagnostic assessment makes teaching more efficient by ensuring that effort is not wasted on rehearsing skills or content that a pupil already knows well. 

A range of diagnostic assessments are available and staff should be trained to use and interpret these effectively. 

This approach can be used for high- and low-attaining pupils and for whole-class and targeted interventions.

EEF Guidance Report
48

Develop pupils’ transcription and sentence construction skills through extensive practice

A fluent writing style supports composition because pupils’ cognitive resources are freed from focusing on handwriting, spelling, and sentence construction and can be redirected towards writing composition. 

Extensive practice, supported by effective feedback, is required to develop fluent transcription skills. Spelling should be explicitly taught and diagnostic assessment should be used to focus effort on the spellings that pupils are finding difficult. 

Pupils should practise sentence-combining and other sentence construction techniques.

49

Teach writing composition strategies through modelling and supported practice

Purpose and audience are central to effective writing. Pupils need to have a reason to write and someone to write for. Writing can be thought of as a process made up of seven components: planning; drafting; sharing; evaluating; revising; editing; and publishing.  

Effective writers use a number of strategies to support each component of the writing process. Pupils should learn how, when, and why to use each strategy. For example, pupils’ planning could be improved by teaching the strategies of goal setting and activating prior knowledge.

The strategies should be described and modelled before pupils practise them with feedback. Support should then be gradually reduced as pupils take increasing responsibility.

EEF Guidance Report
50

Teach reading comprehension strategies through modelling and supported practice

Reading comprehension can be improved by teaching specific strategies that pupils can apply both to monitor and overcome barriers to comprehension. These include: prediction; questioning; clarifying; summarising; inference; and activating prior knowledge

The potential impact of these strategies is very high, but can be hard to achieve, since pupils are required to take greater responsibility for their own learning. The strategies should be described and modelled before pupils practise the strategies with feedback. Support should then be gradually reduced as pupils take increasing responsibility.

Texts should be carefully selected to support the teaching of these strategies.

51

Support pupils to develop fluent reading capabilities

Fluent readers can read quickly, accurately, and with appropriate stress and intonation. 

Fluent reading supports comprehension because pupils’ cognitive resources are freed from focusing on word recognition and can be redirected towards comprehending the text.

This can be developed through:

  • guided oral reading instruction—teachers model fluent reading of a text, then pupils read the same text aloud with appropriate feedback; and
  • repeated reading—pupils reread a short and meaningful passage a set number of times or until they reach a suitable level of fluency.
  • It is important to understand pupils’ current capabilities and teach accordingly. Most pupils will need an emphasis on developing reading fluency, but some pupils may need a focus on more basic skills, such as decoding and phonological awareness.
EEF Guidance Report
52

Develop pupils’ language capability to support their reading and writing

Purposeful speaking and listening activities support the development of pupils’ language capability and provides a foundation for thinking and communication. Purposeful activities include:

  • reading books aloud and discussing them;
  • activities that extend pupils’ expressive and receptive vocabulary;
  • collaborative learning activities where pupils can share their thought processes;
  • structured questioning to develop reading comprehension;
  • teachers modelling inference-making by thinking aloud; and
  • pupils articulating their ideas verbally before they start writing.

EEF Guidance Report
53

Use high-quality structured interventions to help pupils who are struggling with their literacy

Schools should focus on core classroom teaching strategies, which improve literacy for the whole class. However, even when excellent classroom teaching is occurring, it is likely that a small number of children will also require more focused literacy instruction to make expected progress.

The first step should be to use accurate diagnosis of capabilities and difficulties to match pupils to appropriate interventions.

There is a strong and consistent body of evidence demonstrating the benefit of one-to one or small-group tutoring using structured interventions for children who are struggling with literacy.

EEF Guidance Report
54

Use high-quality information about pupils’ current capabilities to select the best next steps for teaching

Collect high quality, up-to-date information about pupil’s current capabilities, and adapt teaching accordingly to focus on exactly what the pupil needs to progress. This approach is more efficient because effort is spent on the best next step and not wasted by rehearsing skills or content that a child already knows well.

Teaching can be adapted by:

  • Changing the focus. Models of typical literacy development can be used to diagnose pupils’ capabilities and select a particular aspect of literacy to focus on next.
  • Changing the approach. If a pupil is disengaged or is finding activities too easy or too hard, adopt a different approach to teaching the same aspect of literacy.
EEF Guidance Report
55

Promote fluent written transcription skills by encouraging extensive and effective practice and explicitly teaching spelling

Transcription refers to the physical processes of handwriting or typing, and spelling.

Children must develop their fluency in these skills to the point that they have become automated. If children have to concentrate to ensure their transcription is accurate, they will be less able to think about the content of their writing.

A large amount of practice, supported by effective feedback, is required to develop fluency. Achieving the necessary quantity of practice requires that children are motivated and fully engaged in the process of improving their writing.Spelling should be explicitly taught.

Teaching should focus on spellings that are relevant to the topic or genre being studied.

56

Teach pupils to use strategies for planning and monitoring their writing

Pupils’ writing can be improved by teaching them to effectively plan and monitor their writing. Teaching a number of different strategies is likely to help, depending on the current skills of the writer. 

These include: pre-writing activities; structuring text; sentence combination; summarising; drafting, editing and revising; and sharing.

Teachers could introduce these strategies using modelling and structured support, which should be strategically reduced as a child progresses until the child is capable of completing the activity independently.

EEF Guidance Report
57

Teach pupils to use strategies for developing and monitoring their reading comprehension

Reading comprehension can be improved by teaching pupils specific strategies that they can apply to both check how well they comprehend what they read, and overcome barriers to comprehension. 

These include: inference, questioning, clarifying, summarising, and predicting.

Teachers could introduce these strategies using modelling and structured support, which should be strategically reduced as a child progresses until the child is capable of completing the activity independently.

58

Effectively implement a systematic phonics programme

    Systematic phonics approaches explicitly teach pupils a comprehensive set of letter-sound relationships through an organised sequence. 

The following should be considered when teaching a phonics programme:

  • A phonics programme will only be effective if it is delivered using effective pedagogy.
  • How phonics is taught is important.
  • Pupils’ progress should be monitored to check whether it can be accelerated or extra support is required.
  • Lessons should engage pupils, develop persistence and perseverance, and be enjoyable to teach.
  • All staff involved in teaching the programme should have received training on how to deliver the programme.
  • The programme should be implemented as intended by the developer.
59

Use a balanced and engaging approach to developing reading, which integrates both decoding and comprehension skills

Both decoding (the ability to translate written words into the sounds of spoken language) and comprehension (the ability to understand the meaning of the language being read) skills are necessary for confident and competent reading, but neither is sufficient on its own. 

It is also important to remember that progress in literacy requires motivation and engagement, which will help children to develop persistence and enjoyment in their reading.

Children will need a range of wider language and literacy experiences to develop their understanding of written texts in all their forms. This should include active engagement with different media and genres of texts and a wide range of content topics.

EEF Guidance Report
60

Develop pupils’ speaking and listening skills and wider understanding of language

A focus on developing oral language skills is especially important for the development of a range of reading and writing skills in this age group. 

Useful speaking and listening activities include:

  • pupils reading books aloud and being encouraged to have conversations about them; 
  • a teacher modeling inference-making by asking relevant questions aloud and answering them themselves; 
  • pupils engaging in paired or group work so they can share the thought processes that led them to make inferences; 
  • activities which extend pupils’ spoken and receptive vocabulary; 
  • and a teacher encouraging children to clearly articulate what they are going to say in their writing.

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Plan for sustaining and scaling an intervention from the outset and continually acknowledge and nurture its use.

  • Plan for sustaining and scaling an innovation from the outset.
  • Treat scale-up as a new implementation process.
  • Ensure the implementation data remains fit for purpose.
  • Continually acknowledge, support, and reward good implementation practices.

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Support staff, monitor progress, solve problems, and adapt strategies as the approach is used for the first time.

  • Adopt a flexible and motivating leadership approach during the initial attempts at implementation.
  • Reinforce initial training with follow-on coaching within the school.
  • Use highly skilled coaches.
  • Complement expert coaching and mentoring with structured peer-to-peer collaboration.
  • Use implementation data to actively tailor and improve the approach.
  • Make thoughtful adaptations only when the active ingredients are securely understood and implemented.
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Create a clear implementation plan, judge the readiness of the school to deliver that plan, then prepare staff and resources.

Develop a clear, logical, and well-specified implementation plan:

  1. Specify the active ingredients of the intervention clearly: know where to be ‘tight’ andwhere to be ‘loose’.
  2. Develop a targeted, yet multi-stranded, package of implementation strategies.
  3. Define clear implementation outcomes and monitor them using robust and pragmatic measures.

Thoroughly assess the degree to which the school is ready to implement the innovation.

Once ready to implement an intervention, practically prepare for its use:

  1. Create a shared understanding of the implementation process and provide appropriate support and incentives.
  2. Introduce new skills, knowledge, and strategies with explicit up-front training.
  3. Prepare the implementation infrastructure.

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Define the problem you want to solve and identify appropriate programmes or practices to implement.

  • Specify a tight area of focus for improvement that is amenable to change.
  • Determine a programme of activity based on existing evidence of what has – and hasn’t – worked before.
  • Examine the fit and feasibility of possible interventions to the school context.
  • Make an adoption decision.

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Create a leadership environment and school climate that is conducive to good implementation.

  • Set the stage for implementation through school policies, routines, and practices.
  • Identify and cultivate leaders of implementation throughout the school.
  • Build leadership capacity through implementation teams.

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Treat implementation as a process, not an event; plan and execute it in stages.

Allow enough time for effective implementation, particularly in the preparation stage; prioritise appropriately.

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Use high quality targeted support to help struggling children

High quality targeted support can ensure that children falling behind catch up as quickly as possible.

Small-group support is more likely to be effective when children with the greatest needs are supported by the most capable adults; adults have been trained to deliver the activity being used; and the approach is evidence-based and has been evaluated elsewhere.

In addition to using evidence-based programmes, some specialist services are likely to be best delivered by other professionals, such as speech and language therapists.

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Use high quality assessment to ensure all children make good progress

Ensure clarity of purpose about the different assessments used in your setting. Collect a small amount of high quality information to ensure that: 

  • children who are struggling receive the right type of support; and 
  • time is used efficiently by avoiding rehearsing skills or content that children already know well.

Use assessments to inform, not replace, professional judgement.

Monitor children’s sensory needs to ensure they do not impede learning.

Avoid using assessments to label children and split them into fixed groups.

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Support parents to understand how to help their children learn

Effective parental engagement is challenging but has the potential to improve children’s communication, language, and literacy. 

Promising strategies include encouraging parents to read to children before they can read, then to begin reading with children as soon as they can; and running workshops showing parents how to read and talk about books with their children effectively.

Less promising strategies include occasional home visits or homework tasks.

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Embed opportunities to develop self-regulation

‘Self-regulation’ refers to children’s ability to manage their own behaviour and aspects of their learning. 

A number of approaches to developing self-regulation exist, including the ‘Plan-Do-Review’ cycle.

Embed opportunities to develop self-regulation within day-to-day activities.

Monitor the development of children’s self-regulation and ensure activities remain suitably challenging.

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Develop children’s capability and motivation to write

Writing is physically and intellectually demanding. 

Expressive language underpins writing and should be prioritised.

Provide a wide range of opportunities to communicate through writing and develop children’s motivation to write.

Support children to develop the foundations of a fast, accurate, and efficient handwriting style.

Monitor the product and process of children’s handwriting and provide additional support as necessary.

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Develop children’s early reading using a balanced approach

Early reading requires the development of a broad range of capabilities.

Using a number of different approaches will be more effective than focusing on any single aspect of early reading.

Promising approaches to develop early reading include storytelling, activities to develop letter and sound knowledge, and singing and rhyming activities to develop phonological awareness.

Prior to the introduction of systematic phonics teaching, activities to develop children’s phonological awareness and interest in sounds are likely to be beneficial.

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Prioritise the development of communication and language

Language provides the foundation of thinking and learning and should be prioritised. 

High quality adult-child interactions are important and sometimes described as talking with children rather than just talking to children. 

Adults have a vital role to play in modelling effective language and communication. 

Use a wide range of approaches including shared reading, storytelling, and explicitly extending children’s vocabulary

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Feedback: use structured feedback to move on pupils’ thinking

Pupils can have strengths in one area and weaknesses in another. So it is important that you build up an accurate picture of the current understanding of all your pupils. 

Feedback should help the pupil develop as a learner, not just improve on the specific task that you are providing feedback on—and teachers can provide feedback at different levels.

Provide feedback as comments rather than marks. Marks can demotivate low attainers and can make high attainers complacent; in contrast, comments show both how they can do better.

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Language of science: develop scientific vocabulary and support pupils to read and write about science

Be aware of the vocabulary demands of a topic and make a conscious choice about the words that you are going to teach and when to introduce them. Focus on the words that pupils really need to understand and make sure they understand them well. Less is more: a deep understanding of fewer words is better than understanding lots of words at a surface level.

Teach new scientific vocabulary explicitly. Direct instruction has benefits, but this is not just about rote learning; you need to show pupils how words are linked and how to use them in a range of contexts.

It is important that the texts pupils are reading are at an appropriate level, but challenging and interesting; pupils should have the opportunity to engage with authentic scientific books and texts.

The use of authentic texts does not mean that all pupils need to be reading journal articles but they should have access to quality texts from a range of sources, including news articles and parts of popular science books.

Writing about science is more than communication alone; it supports pupils in their learning because when they write about science they reflect on their understanding, formulate their own ideas, and combine ideas in new ways.

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Practical work: use practical work purposefully and as part of a learning sequence

It is important that you are clear about the skills or knowledge that you are trying to develop in your pupils with a particular practical activity. Think through the best approach to developing these things and plan how to sequence it with other learning.

It is unreasonable to expect lasting learning of a scientific concept from a single, relatively brief practical activity. Practical work is an important string to your bow, but as a successful science teacher you will use it alongside a range of other activities. An experiment may be the centre-piece of a lesson, but don’t forget the activities that go with it.

Science, for humans, is the most powerful way of discovering truth about the world. A scientific attitude is an attribute that will serve pupils well in life.

Every time you do an experiment, you can model some aspect of scientific reasoning. Even if the main purpose of the experiment is to develop a particular scientific theory or a scientific skill, you can point out how you are using scientific methodology.

There are different ways to expose pupils to the processes of practical science, from virtual experiments to open-ended projects. Virtual experiments, such as the PhET simulations from the University of Colorado at Boulder, allow pupils to quickly change variables, see patterns in data, and understand relationships.

An approach to practical work that requires more time involves open-ended projects, with pupils pursuing a project of their own choosing over an extended period of time. Providing project opportunities within the constrained curriculum, especially at GCSE, is challenging. But there are opportunities for project work outside the timetable and in STEM clubs.

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Memory: support pupils to retain and retrieve knowledge

The limit of the working memory means that it can quickly become overloaded when dealing with a new task. Any task that exceeds the limit of the working memory will result in cognitive overload and this increases the possibility that the content may be misunderstood and not effectively encoded in the long-term memory.

Learning everything to do with a topic during a single time period is not as effective as distributed learning. Spaced review involves revisiting a topic after a ‘forgetting gap’ and strengthens long-term memory. A simple way to manage this is to build in review time, including reviewing learning from the previous lesson at the start of the next one or over longer periods (at the end of each week, month, or topic). This also links with retrieval practice. and combining spaced review and retrieval practice can lead to great benefits in retention in the long-term.

Repeatedly re-reading a text is not an effective way of learning. It is much more effective for pupils to try to retrieve what they already know about a topic, or what they have recently read about it, from memory. Retrieval practice involves retrieving something you have learnt in the past and bringing it back to mind. You can use retrieval to review past learning before introducing new related learning. 

Encourage pupils to elaborate on what they have learnt. Elaboration involves describing and explaining in detail something you have learnt. This approach supports learning by integrating new information with existing prior knowledge, helping to embed it in the long-term memory. This is useful as pupils progress in their understanding of a concept.

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Modelling: use models to support understanding

Scientific knowledge is difficult to learn because we are constantly moving between observations we can make with our senses, the explanations for observations, and the symbolic representation of these explanations. You can use models to link observations to explanations and representations.

As a science teacher you have many models in your repertoire. Models should only be used if they aid understanding—and there are plenty of concepts that can be taught without the use of models.

Think about the models that you are going to use before, during, and following lessons. A useful way of doing this is the Focus, Action and Reflection (FAR) approach.

For pupils to get the most out of models they need to understand how models relate to reality and why they are used. This is an important step in developing their ability to ‘reason like a scientist’. 

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Self-regulation: help pupils direct their own learning

Metacognition is not just ‘thinking about one’s thinking’, but also monitoring one’s learning and, importantly, making changes to one’s approach to a task as a result of the monitoring. Encourage pupils to engage in the Planning-Monitoring-Evaluation cycle as part of science lessons.

Show your pupils how you think. You can provide a useful example for pupils by making your thinking processes explicit. You can do this by working through problems in front of a class, talking through how you are approaching the problem, the kinds of strategies you are trying and why you’ve chosen them, and how you are monitoring if they are successful.

Promote metacognitive talk and dialogue in the classroom: Discussion requires careful structuring and pupils need explicit instruction on how to have effective group discussions.

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Preconceptions: build on the ideas that pupils bring to lessons

Science is about how the world works and long before children start a formal education in science they build their own understanding about the phenomena that they meet on a daily basis. These preconceptions are built through sensory experiences and social interactions. These self-constructed ideas may or may not align with scientific understanding and, if they do not, are called misconceptions. Pupils usually need to go through a process of adjusting their ideas, or even replacing them with more scientifically correct ones.

First, find out what your pupils’ preconceptions are. Well known misconceptions are a useful place to start. Once you have identified their preconceptions, you can begin to help pupils develop their thinking. A useful way to develop thinking is to provide evidence that may conflict with pupils’ currently held ideas.

Throughout teaching sequences it is useful to revisit misconceptions and remind pupils of what they thought at the beginning, getting them to revisit these early ideas and acknowledge any changes in their thinking. Some misconceptions can take time to shift, so it is important to use formative assessment to check that thinking has changed in the long-term.

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Offer more sustained and intensive support where needed

Start by assessing needs and talking to parents about what would help them support learning: targeting is likely to be needed to use resources effectively, and avoid widening gaps. Target and communicate carefully to avoid stigmatising, blaming or discouraging parents. Focus on building parents’ efficacy: that they are equal partners and can make a difference.

Encourage a consistent approach to behaviour between parents and the school, for example, by sharing expectations with parents.

Offering more structured, evidence-based programmes can help to develop positive behaviour and consistency where needs area greater.

Plan carefully for group-based parenting initiatives (eg, regular workshops): a convenient time and location, face-to-face recruitment, trusting relationships, and an informal, welcoming environment are the most important factors for parents to attend group sessions.

Consider offering regular home visits for younger children with greater needs. This can be an effective approach for parents that struggle to attend meetings in settings, and for building relationships.

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Tailor school communications to encourage positive dialogue about learning

Well-designed school communications can be effective for improving attainment and a range of other outcomes, such as attendance - Examples include weekly texts sent from school to parents, and short termly letters.

Impacts from such approaches may appear small, but they are generally low cost, straight-forward to introduce, and can prompt wider engagement.

Messages are likely to be more effective if they are personalised, linked to learning and promote positive interactions, eg, celebrate success. Communication should be two-way: consulting with parents about how they can be involved is likely to be valuable, and increase the effectiveness of home-school relationships. Currently around half of parents say that they have not been consulted.

School communications may be particularly important for engaging some parents/carers who could play an important role but may have less contact with school.

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Provide practical strategies to support learning at home

For young children, promoting shared book reading should be a central component of any parental engagement approach. Home learning activities such as practising letters and numbers, are also linked to improved outcomes.

Tips, support, and resources can make home activities more effective, for example, where they prompt longer and more frequent conversations during book reading.

Book-gifting alone is unlikely to be effective, but carefully selected books plus advice and support can be beneficial for supporting reading.

Support parents to create a regular routine and encourage good homework habits, but be cautious about promoting direct parental assistance with homework (particularly for older children).

Parents can support their children by encouraging them to set goals, plan and manage their time and emotions. This type of support can help children to regulate their own learning, and will often be more valuable than direct help with homework tasks.

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Critically review how you work with parents

Schools should be optimistic about the potential of working with parents: There is an established link between the home learning environment at all ages and children’s performance at school. 

Schools and parents have a shared priority to deliver the best outcomes for their children. However, evidence on effective strategies that schools can use to engage parents in their children’s learning is mixed. If the aim is solely to improve academic outcomes, classroom interventions working directly with children currently have more evidence of effectiveness at improving learning than parenting interventions with the same aim.

Working effectively with parents can be challenging, and is likely to require sustained effort and support. Most schools say that they do not have an explicit plan for how they work with parents; fewer than 10% of teachers have undertaken CPD on parental engagement.

Therefore, schools should start by critically reviewing their aims and current approaches: focusing on areas that have better evidence different approaches are needed for different ages; talking to parents who are less involved about what support they would find helpful; and planning and monitoring progress towards their aims.

To be published on 6th December 2019

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