Measuring what matters: Redefining data’s role in schools

AMARBEER SINGH GILL, TEACHER EDUCATOR, AMBITION INSTITUTE, UK JENNIFER CURRAN, RESEARCH SCIENTIST, AMBITION INSTITUTE, UK We [often] question the judgement of experts whenever we seek out a second opinion on a medical diagnosis. Unfortunately, when it comes to our own knowledge and opinions, we often favor feeling right over being right… We need to develop the habit […]


These summaries all focus on issues around planning and funding. They summarise reports on school funding, discuss the shortage of maths teachers and how it affects teacher allocation, outline how students could be safeguarded from knife crime and explore how more girls could be encourages to take up maths and physics A-Levels. This collection may […]

Closing the gap

The summaries in this collection focus on closing the attainment gap. They explore how students from disadvantaged backgrounds could best be supported but also discuss regional attainment gaps, the best support for highly able students, the role of MATs in supporting underperforming schools, the power of attendance and the role of Maintained Nursery Schools in […]

Webinar: Dame Rachel de Souza “The Big Answer”

In this webinar recording Dame Rachel de Souza shares her vision for her work as Children’s Commissioner, the experience of conducting “The Big Ask, The Big Answer” and her immediate plans going forward. ‘The Big Ask’ was the biggest ever consultation with children undertaken in this country. The survey ran from April 19th to May 28th […]

Reconsidering the role of mock exams in schools

Nick Pointer, Programmes Tutor, Ambition Institute, UK The hegemony of assessment For many years, schools have given a central role to summative-style assessments. The use of terminal exam questions to drive in-class learning and employing regular internal mock exams to generate grades and measure student progress have become unquestioned practices. This is demonstrated in recent […]

Deciding when to trust online test scores

What’s the idea? Educational assessments are, at the best of times, an imprecise science. We also know that checking performance against success criteria is an important part of the learning process. Successful assessment design requires time, and skills that are given scant attention in Initial Teacher Training courses (Carter, 2015). Third party online assessment tools […]

Assessment beyond levels in the Early Years

Julian Grenier, Headteacher, Sheringham Nursery School and Children’s Centre Director, East London Research School, UK Practitioners working with children in the Early Years frequently have an excessive workload, and activities associated with assessment are a significant cause of this. The Early Years Alliance (2018) reported that practitioners feel overwhelmed by ‘unnecessary paperwork’ for Ofsted inspections. […]

The place of public examinations in future school assessment

Alex Standish, Associate Professor of Geography Education, UCL Institute of Education, UK David Perks, Principal, East London Science School, UK In 2021, most public examinations for GCSEs, A-levels and vocational qualifications have been cancelled for the second year running, meaning that teachers will decide what grade students receive. In place of exams, teachers will design […]

Using third-party assessments: Deciding when to trust online test scores

Clare Walsh, University of Southampton, UK Educational assessments are, at the best of times, an imprecise science. For many teachers today, regular ongoing assessment can improve their practice. Once success criteria have been shared and the lesson delivered, it makes sense to check what progress students and their teachers are making against classroom goals. Yet […]

Thinking more creatively about maths assessment

Lucy Rycroft-Smith, Cambridge University, UK Bart Crisp, CUREE, UK Last month, a student answer to a test question was placed on Twitter, asking maths teachers for their feedback as if they were marking it. Before you read ahead, try to imagine what the question may have been and what kind of answer was given. Here […]

Eyes on the prize: Creating lifelong learners through engagement with assessment

Peter Wolstencroft and Georgina Gretton, Liverpool John Moores University, UK In his seminal RSA (Royal Society of Arts) lecture, Sir Ken Robinson summed up the prevailing view of assessment as one where to every question there is one answer… and it is at the back of the book (Robinson, 2010). Assessment, in the world that […]

Webinar: Supporting students’ wellbeing as part of a recovery curriculum

This session focused on identifying students who are more likely to have been impacted by COVID in terms of mental health and wellbeing, providing guidance on how we can best support these students as they return to school. Discussed: Learn which student groups are more likely to have been particularly negatively affected by this crisis […]

Webinar: Rethinking Assessment

Some maths sums on a piece of paper and a pencil

The Chartered College of Teaching hosted a discussion chaired by Dame Alison Peacock (Chief Executive, Chartered College of Teaching) looking at the future of exams and Rethinking Assessment. There is a growing belief that there is something wrong with our exam and assessment system. The Rethinking Assessment movement is bringing together figures from across the education […]

Translating the science of learning into practice with teacher-led randomised controlled trials: Giving teachers voice and agency in evidence-informed pedagogy

Richard Churches, Education Development Trust, UK Eleanor Dommett, Institute Of Psychiatry, Psychology And Neuroscience, King’s College London, UK Ian Devonshire, Nottingham University Medical School, UK Robin Hall, Education Section, British Science Association, UK Steve Higgins, School Of Education, Durham University, UK Astrid Korin, Education Development Trust, UK Previously we wrote for Impact outlining a Wellcome […]

Checking pupil understanding using online quizzes

Quizzes and tests are not just good for assessing how much a student knows and what they still need to learn to inform future planning. Online quizzing tools also support teachers to check pupil understanding and help students take advantage of the ‘testing effect’. What does it mean? Research into the ‘testing effect’ shows that […]

Introduction to research: Premortems and avoiding the avoidable

When implementing a new idea or approach, on many occasions this may end in failure. Indeed, when you come back to look at these failures, you may often say “How could I have missed that problem?” Indeed, many of the problems you encounter may be entirely predictable and could have been easily addressed, if you […]

Introduction to research: Evaluating your progress as an evidence-based practitioner

A key aspect of being an evidence-based practitioner is to reflect, at the end of the process, not just on the outcomes of your actions, but also on how you did as an evidence-based practitioner (Straus et al, 2011). Indeed, before you start undertaking evidence-based practice related activities, you may wish to audit your starting […]

Introduction to research: Limitations of evidence-based practice

As an evidence-based practitioner, it is important that you are consistently challenging your own pre-conceptions of ‘what works’. Accordingly, it is important to be aware of the limitations and weaknesses of evidence-based practice when used as a basis for making decisions. What does it mean? Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) provide a number of reasons why […]

Effective feedback: Selective marking

a person writing with a magnifying glass in their hand

Selective marking involves selecting one section of work to mark in depth and using this to give specific feedback with focused, manageable improvement targets.   What does it mean? With this strategy, rather than trying to mark everything a student writes, teachers ‘zoom-in’ and specifically focus on smaller sections of work and particular skills. You mark […]

Effective feedback: Whole-class marking

Teachers read a whole set of books – without marking each individual student’s work – and then share feedback as a whole-class activity in the following lesson. What does it mean? Originally inspired by the Michaela Community School (where the belief is that marking forces an over-reliance on teachers and wastes valuable teacher time), whole-class […]