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Peer to Peer Review 2018

A review took place with two local Headteachers and an External Consultant to look at provision in school. There were some very positive findings as well as ideas to improve school even further.


26 January 2018

Susan Robinson – Headteacher, Thelwall Junior School

Alison Rostron – Headteacher, Thelwall Infant School

Rachel Morris-Brown – Headteacher, Broomfields Junior School

Derek Barnes – External Consultant


Evidence base:

Paired visits to classes

Pupil discussions in years 4, 5 and 6.

Examination of pupils’ work

Discussion with some middle/senior leaders

Analysis of IDSR


The team would like to thank most sincerely the staff and pupils for their help, discussions and openness during the day.



Progress indicators have improved from 2016. Those pupils of higher prior attainment attain in line with national indicators in reading and maths. Likewise this groups’ progress in reading and maths is above the national averages. Writing, however, is not.

The school has rightly noted that attainment and progress for pupils with middle ability prior attainment can be improved – at ‘expected+’ and at ‘high standards’ in reading and writing. This includes their performance in EGPS and spelling.

Science attainment is either above or in line with national averages for the various groups of pupils.

Therefore, one specific focus in this review was the provision in reading and writing particularly, but not exclusively, for middle ability learners



Findings  - in no priority order

  1. Children want to learn and do well. In all classrooms pupils were engaged in what they were doing. The support of the additional adults enabled children to stay on task (where concentration was a problem) – no TA was seen doing the work for the pupils, rather questioning them so they did it themselves. Coupled with this, the pupils are becoming resilient learners – even when the pitch of a maths lesson was too high for low attainers, the children did not give up. Even so, all pupils knew what they were expected to do because there was clarity in objectives and expectations. Recapping the expectations led to clarity and further motivation in several lessons.
  2. The attitudes to learning were invariably positive. Many examples of this were seen. For instance, the questioning of the MP by Y6 pupils showed good preparation, clear support for environmental issues and probing questioning of a politician to ascertain his views. One pupil was certainly not afraid to challenge the MP’s comments. This group of learners were clearly engaged in the ways in which legislation and decisions are made. In one Y4 lesson pupils assisted each other and took turns without being reminded. They are keen to talk about their learning and many think deeply about why they are learning what they are learning.


  1. The behaviour of pupils showed respect to each other and to visitors. They behaved well around the building and in leaving and entering. Supervision is present but light. With pupils’ attitudes to their lessons, their behaviour around the building and their relationships with adults and with each other, the conditions are most conducive to the rapid and deep learning the school wishes.


  1. There is evidence that pupils are required to write for different purposes and for different audiences. When asked pupils say they enjoy writing. Many have personal likes e.g. stories, scripts or factual prose which are catered for (some would like more of their preferred genre!). Examples were seen of some extended writing across the curriculum. This ties in with one of the actions in the school development plan showing impact.


  1. The move to Singapore maths is clearly improving the pupils’ reasoning and problem solving skills. Their fluency continues to improve and they say that the emphasis on problem solving and explanations causes them to think hard. They are able to draw on their knowledge of numbers and calculation strategies to experiment with ideas of solving problems and are not afraid of being wrong. However, in year 6 where Singapore maths is not used, precision in maths is still obtained – some very careful drawing of shapes and in measuring angles was seen. Practical maths is evident both in lessons and in pupils’ work, enabling them to experience concrete examples that lead to more abstract concepts. Some challenging material e.g. with areas of parallelograms, was extended and meshed with pupils’ abilities well. On one occasion with one pupil, the concrete was not relevant as he had already grasped the concept and needed to be moved to abstract examples and application of knowledge. In another, the pitch of the lesson was too high particularly for the less able learners. However, there was some passionate and knowledgeable teaching of maths. The leader clearly has a solid understanding and can demonstrate what constitutes effective practice.


  1. Coupled with 4 above is the effective questioning shown in many lessons. In a Y4 lesson this was used to move pupils on and in Y5, to check understanding and then to follow this up with modelling a method.


  1. Pupils have access to, and do not shy away from using, dictionaries and thesauri. These are often on pupils’ tables and are used to enable greater precision in spelling. Pupils do not always use them saying, rightly, that they are trying to obtain meaning from the text. 


  1. The marking policy appeared to be applied consistently across the school. Effective peer and self-assessments were also evidenced. On a few occasions teachers’ feedback comments were not followed through.


  1. Progress over time as seen in books tied in with that seen in lessons. Namely, higher ability pupils showed flair in their writing based on their extended vocabulary. This led them to produce writing that engaged the reader. Middle ability learners’ writing did not show the same degree of flair and use of rich vocabulary.


  1. Handwriting was improving also, particularly in Years 3 and 4. There was more variability in Y5 and 6. Much work is in pencil with pupils having to demonstrate good handwriting to move to pen.


  1. Pupils were keen to talk to visitors about their work. They can identify with experiences that promote team work, democracy, inclusion and equality. They play an active role in the ‘Zero Hunger’ project ad were very keen, as mentioned earlier, to learn about environmental issue that face the world/locality today and also them in the future. Hence it was good to celebrate with the school the ‘Geography Award’.


  1. Pupils like reading! They say this has been engendered throughout their school life. They experience a wide range of genres and would like more books, (non-fiction was mentioned). The ‘free-readers’ choose their own books often bringing some in from home. These pupils say they are not heard read by adults in the school other than in guided reading where, they say, some texts are too easy for them. They identified examples when they were challenged by the use of new words/phrases – this appealed to them and they wanted more. The vocabulary they experience in some tomes is not, at present, captured and coupled with a demand to be used in their writing. e.g. “mellifluous” displayed on the wall from a text studied in the autumn was recognised but no pupils could articulate its meaning or give a sentence with it in context. “We read it once”, was one comment. It was not seen in pupils writing. Pupils around the school are adept at decoding unfamiliar words and trying to ascertain meaning from context.


  1. Strategies to improve the monitoring and tracking of writing have been put into place. An analysis of the Y6 outcomes in 2017 has been completed and focuses on specific improvement areas, e.g. use of correct grammar/standard English, making inference, how narrative contributes to the meaning as a whole. Whilst these will assist improvement, extending pupils’ vocabulary and then demanding its use can bolster ‘flair’ in writing.


  1. Leaders of subjects show a passion for their subject area, are clear about their roles and can identify areas of strength together with some areas of improvement needed in their subjects e.g. the curriculum is predicated on the national curriculum and literacy and numeracy links are being identified. This is evidenced also in a subject development plan within the school improvement plan – e.g. identifying a focus on inference (predictions + ‘because’) in science. Leaders have some time to monitor (which includes book sampling and lesson visits etc) but would like more time to enable them to gain a more comprehensive view of their subjects. They continue to work on ensuring accuracy in assessments e.g. literacy assessments are moderated internally and externally to the school. Suitable training is given and actions taken e.g. in Singapore Maths; reading books have been re-banded to account for the rise in demand of the revised curriculum.


Suggestions for improvement

  1. Ensure that maths lessons are always adapted to meet the needs of all abilities of learners (see text above). More able mathematicians do well at expected levels+. There remains scope to push them on to a high standard by ensuring they have further depth and breadth in provision.


  1. In literacy increase the level of difficulty in the extent and use of vocabulary and phrasing through the school. Extend the demand made on pupils to identify, capture and use ‘richer’ language in oracy and, especially, writing.
  • how is children’s ‘free reading’ monitored and pushed?


  1. One aspect the school has identified for improvement is writing. To assist this displays that celebrate pupils’ writing, showing ‘what a good one looks like’, ones that draw children in to interact with the display can be considered (e.g. an ‘evolution of writing’ corridor??)
  • much display was teacher produced rather than celebrating pupils’ work and giving challenge
  • pupils say that books are not well presented and many were seen untidily grouped on shelves in classrooms. Is there a better way of making them attractive – reading corners etc?



Derek Barnes

Rachel Morris-Brown

Alison Rostron


January 2018

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