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Developing AFL across whole school

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by plmccahi, Jun 7, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I have been asked to look into effective ways of developing AFL across my whole school. Has anyone any experience with developing this? There are many departments that successfully incorporate this into their lessons, therefore I was thinking of getting a working party together to share effective practice. My concern is ensuring that this is implemented across the whole school.
    Any advice/experiences would be much appreciated.

  2. Hi,
    I have been asked to look into effective ways of developing AFL across my whole school. Has anyone any experience with developing this? There are many departments that successfully incorporate this into their lessons, therefore I was thinking of getting a working party together to share effective practice. My concern is ensuring that this is implemented across the whole school.
    Any advice/experiences would be much appreciated.

  3. mpc


    Geezer called Dylan William (sp) is the top guru on this, I believe.
    I'd also agree that sharing current effective practice which works in your school is best way forward.
    Do you need a working party? Just ask every teacher to write their best AFL tips on a Post-it and post them in staff room with a write-up to follow?
  4. Thanks,
    AFL is something that SLT would like to develop further within our school. It also is a main component of the schools SDP. Therefore I am needing to develop something more substantial.
    Anyone had any experience with doing this?
  5. Hello,
    I have recently been involved with a similar project and would be willing to assist you with this. My tips are:
    Read 'Inside the Black Box' by Paul Black and Dylan Wiliam (absolutely essential - do not do anything until you have read this) and the KMOFAP project report. Be sure that whoever is leading the initiative is fully conversant with the principles of AfL.
    Spend plenty of time presenting 'evidence' to colleagues about the benefits of AfL - this will help people to buy into it as otherwise there may be tokenism.
    Start small - incremental changes that can be integrated with existing practice. Build on the small changes.
    Always refer to AfL as being integral to classroom practice - rather than a 'bolt-on' or 'something extra' that you must remember to do.
    AfL coaches - we have representatives in each department who have been given access additional CPD which is then shared within and across departments. AfL coaches are volunteers who receive no additional pay.
    Other good reads -
    Shirley Clark - Formative Assessment in the Classroom and anything by Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black - Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand and develop AfL in schools.

    Hope this helps,

    Night Rider

  6. frymeariver

    frymeariver New commenter

    Dylan William has developed a programme for embedding AfL called Teacher Learning Communities. This involves splitting staff into groups of 10-12 and facilitating them holding a sharing good practice session about once a month, led by teachers and always following a common agenda, with peer observations in between. The idea is to spread best practice throughout the school but without it being top down. We are introducing this next year and have been out to a lot of schools to see it in action and discuss its impact. It's well worth a look in my view as it is a good model for CPD if AfL is the key focus for your SDP.
  7. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    AFL is a bandwagon! Good luck... If your place is anything like mine it'll die a death within 2years when another fantastic acronym is en-vogue. In the olden days, it used to be called "marking work"!!!
  8. I'd second all the above - bar Bigpedro.
    I'd recommend the Embedding Formative Assessment packs, co-written by Wiliam, sold by SSAT (go to their e-shop), which promote the setting up of Teacher Learning Communities. As Wiliam says "what else are you going to do if you don't make AfL a priority?"

  9. I would start with looking at Shirley Clarke's materials. She has published several books which refer to schools who have carried out fieldwork in this area. She also runs courses so maybe you could get yourself on one of those with a colleague and then work out where you are going with it.

    Best of luck

  10. peterdevon

    peterdevon New commenter

    This looks very good: thanks
  11. djwill

    djwill New commenter

    Our school has used the Teacher Learning Communities idea for the last couple of years and I have found it a very useful way of getting ideas and strategies for effectively embedding AfL in my teaching. The best thing about them is that you get the benefit of someone else's experience with the strategy and can then modify or improve on it. It also works really well with mixed subject groups and also across Key Stages and can often bring up ideas that you would never have thought to use.

    The worrying aspect about AfL, in my opinion, is that it can be adopted on a very superficial level, where, if someone applies certain techniques in their classroom (e.g. no hands up when answering a question), they think that they are "doing AfL". Reading the aforementioned works by Wiliam and Black (and others) make you quickly realise that adopting AfL in a way that is really going to benefit students, requires a bit more thought and planning (e.g. in the type of questions you plan to ask your students).

    My opinion is probably also an oversimplification, and it would be interesting to hear other good and bad experiences of using this strategy.
  12. Well I know that it is almost a year since you originally made this post but thought I still wanted to add my thoughts.

    I am working in an international school in Slovakia and am the Leader of Teaching and Learning across the primary phase of the school. I have had this role since September and one of my main jobs has been to embed the use of AfL. This has been a main focus for the school over the last few years, and there are pockets where it is really embedded in to everyday practice, however there are still areas for development.
    One of my biggest challenges has been trying to overcome the 'I've already been doing this for years, therefore I don't need to learn about it any more'. We have established the Teaching and Learning Communities, and in general these have been really positive. We have made it a optional thing, though most of the staff have joined up, and the staff have really enjoyed meeting together with each other to discuss ideas. I now think that many members of staff are seeing the benefit of these, even if it is just to get a few more ideas of how to deliver something they already thought they were good at.
    We have also linked the peer observations in with this. We have paired people up according to their strengths and areas of development. This has enabled people to have a much more focussed approach to their observations and hopefully means that they are getting more out of it.

    It is nice to hear some really positive comments about AfL and TLCs.

  13. stuskam

    stuskam New commenter

    I love sharing good/different practice with my colleagues and AfL/EFA is as good a stimulus for the discussion as any.
    However, in the current climate of performance related pay and targets set to bash teachers into submission with, why would a routinely successful (good GCSE/A level/Value Added) risk experimenting with their classroom practice?
    The current state of play with pay and conditions does not create creative, innovative or exciting teaching; it merely promotes safe, dull yet effective classroom practice that is geared to passing an exam.
  14. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Do a lot on Formative Assessment and deliver on policy, rationale and practice. Important I think to emphasise the strengths of AFL in the bigger context of Teaching and Learning. Often been a tick box exercise (in my opinion ) in lots of settings for several reasons which I shan't go into here. Have written on the subject too. Yes there is a real tension between the ' learning things by rote ' to regurgitate in an exam to ' make ' the exam grade and the AFL practice ( backed by theory ) which advocates taking a risk but develops ALL students and their capacity to become better learners . I completely understand why Heads and LT seek to keep the status quo. Also consider employability skills cf NACE 2014 ( mentioned in another post on beyond levels ) - teamwork, communication, problem solving , working with information. Students stapled to desks and force fed knowledge aren't given the opportunity to develop these. Agree with much of what colleagues have said but if you think I can be of help don't hesitate to PM me.
  15. minnie me

    minnie me Star commenter

    Oh yes just a reminder whole school development plan - insist ( if this does not happen already ) that additional adults eg TAs are included in your training. Imperative that they are also held accountable for its implementation as they support learning. All staff had PM targets attached to AFL.

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