Big Four

We have completed our first round of formal training session observations, and some common themes have emerged that we can work on as a team. Also, our 2015-2016 Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) has been finalised, detailing clear targets and actions for improvement identified in the self-assessment report (SAR). Self-assessment and quality improvement planning must be integrated into the wider quality assurance and planning processes of all training providers.

It is important that a strong link is made between quality improvement and strategic planning. Although a provider may produce a whole-organisation self-assessment and quality improvement plan, this is normally evidenced by a subset of quality improvement plans produced by the curriculum areas. In our case, the resulting subset for our training and assessment team is called “The Big Four.”

Big Four Poster Jan 2016
Learner-centred Teaching
The emphasis in any learning environment should be on the learning outcomes and the purpose of learning rather than on control. Learners should not be regarded as empty vessels; they come with their own perceptions, prior knowledge, attitudes, opinions and preferences etc.

We know that learners learn in different ways and have different learning styles. Personalised/individualised approaches to teaching are encouraged which will help to foster creativity in learners.

The role of the tutor is that of facilitator, helping learners to access and process information. This probably means ‘less’ work for the tutor during the training session (as learners are directed to solve carefully constructed tasks by themselves, and in collaboration with their peers, under the tutor’s supervision), but more work outside the session to plan and then evaluate learners’ work in preparation for the next session.


English Language Development
One of our targets is to ensure all tutors and assessors correct spelling and grammar of all written work.  There must be minimal errors of spelling, grammar punctuation in learners’ written work, which will result in learners who are all able to make outstanding progress in improving their English (and Maths). This will be supported via feedback and the documentation generated for assessment visits.

When conducting research for assignments, learners need to know how to make effective decisions about what they have read – when to skim, when to focus, and how to take concise quotes. Copying from source material constitutes plagiarism and does not indicate whether the learner understands the context or implications of the material.

Learners can also develop the quality of their English via speech. In this instance, tutors should be using specific strategies to improve the quality of any discussions, and any tutor intervention should be should be minimal and timely.


Most educational research indicates that around 80% of classroom questioning is based on factual, recall questions which do not develop higher-order thinking skills.

Outstanding tutors use an array of approaches to assessment which maximise the quality of information they receive, whether that is around prior knowledge or checking that learners have really learned (and understood) what was originally planned. Using this information enables them to make judgments and accelerate the progress of learners.

You cannot measure progress without first establishing the starting points of the learners. Their individual starting points vary, depending on what is being covered during that session eg topics covered in school or college, topics covered in previous training sessions, and experience gained on work placements. This ties in with differentiation and equality and diversity.


Getting to know our learners and using that knowledge to shape the training session is an important prerequisite for effective differentiation, not only does this empower them, but it also demonstrates equality and diversity. Tutors should view every interaction as an opportunity to get to know their learners better.

The question tutors must ask themselves throughout their training session is: “Has sufficient provision been made for all learners to be included?”

Our target is to develop a set of resources and CPD training sessions aimed at helping tutors challenge all learners, such that they all feel stretched by training. Every tutor should also be able to make outstanding provision for additional needs.


Further Reading
Gadsby, C., (2012) Perfect Assessment for Learning: Independent Thinking Press.
Jones, R., (2014) Don’t Change the Lightbulbs: Crown House Publishing Ltd.
Maclean, A., (2004) The Motivated School: Paul Chapman Publishing

Session Planning

Today marks the first of our training team’s CPD 15-minute forums, known as ‘Momentum Monday’. Every Monday at 9:15, one of our tutors or assessors will share a successful teaching strategy/resource for 5-10 minutes. Then the other members of the training team will discuss ways to implement this in their own subject areas, or share similar approaches which they have also used successfully.

The idea for these forums came from the aptly titled book by Shaun Allison (edited by Jackie Beere):

Perfect Teacher-Led CPD

Perfect Teacher-Led CPD

I thought I would get things underway with a forum about the extent to which our revamped session plan could contribute towards effective teaching and learning.

A comprehensively designed training session evidenced by a completed session plan, does not automatically result in an outstanding experience for the learners.

The session plan is useful for the tutor delivering the session, and also for any potential observer, but it is merely an indicator of what might happen during the session. Anyone who has taught will know that even the most carefully constructed session plan is prone to slippage in terms of timings and/or the proposed content.

A written plan is not an end product in itself, but one of the stages in the overall process of delivering high quality teaching and learning. Also, the relationship between successive training sessions is just as important as each individual session.

Our session plan is particularly helpful in supporting us to deliver appropriate learning outcomes because it requires tutors to consider areas which might otherwise have been overlooked, such as opportunities to promote equality and diversity, employability skills developed during the session and links to career progression.

Common mistakes made when planning training sessions are:

  • Plans which centre around tutor activity as opposed to learner activity; and
  • Tutors focusing on what learners will be doing rather than what they will be learning.

Our training team is currently gearing up for the start of the next teaching year, so the CPD focus for September 2015 will be various aspects of planning (and ultimately delivering) outstanding training sessions.