What does exceptional achievement by pupils look like?

In a blog, 14/01/15, HMC member Mike Buchanan, Headmaster of Ashford School gives tips on observing and evaluating lessons to ensure all their pupils receive a rich experience and asks what does exceptional achievement look like?

In observing and evaluating lessons we are looking at the two factors and how the quality of teaching affects them. Our primary focus is on the pupils. In other words, it's the outcomes for the pupils which are important not the manner in which they are achieved. Hence, under "achievement" we are looking at what pupils know and can do and under "personal development" we are looking at how they learn and the personal characteristics they portray related to learning. As you can tell, this approach is equally applicable to pupils of any ability.

So what are some of the indicators of excellence when watching lessons? I suggest they might include:

  • All pupils understand what is required of them and are able to undertake it with success; they make excellent progress
  • All pupils show highly positive attitudes to learning including initiative, independence, perseverance, co-operation & enjoyment
  • All pupils are able to synthesise, evaluate and apply reasoning and subject specific skills and/or knowledge at an appropriate level
  • All pupils are highly motivated and keen to challenge themselves
  • All pupils are inspired, challenged and supported by the teaching and set high expectations for themselves.
  • All pupils feel their needs are being met

In every class there is a range of pupils of different abilities and needs. Some are highly able so need specific stretch & challenge, some have specific learning needs or disabilities and some might not have English as their first language. Often the difference between "good" and "excellent" is that in "good" lessons most but not all pupils are fully and effectively engaged whereas in "excellent" lessons they are. So that covers "excellent"; what about "exceptional"?

Read more on the HMC blog.