Student Union News

By Tony Payne, Student Activities Manager

I love a bit of democracy, and there’s loads of it going on at the moment! Firstly we’ve recently elected a new Students’ Union exec for next year. Turnout was down on last year, which is a bit of a blow as we’re trying to evidence democracy as British Value so I’ll have a think about how we make it easier for next year. Ten students were elected Jessica Foster from Performing Arts is the new President with Ellesse Cheeseman and Luke Pollard (Science), Susie Haynes (HE Public Services), David Johnston (Supporrted Learning), Elliott Lawton (Performing Arts), Casey Pownall (Hair)  Jamie Dixon (A-Levels), Yann Trokhymenko (Business)  and Jack Marsh (Media) forming the rest of the executive committee.

We’ve just had the PCC and London Mayoral elections last week and the EU referendum is coming up on Thursday 23 June! There will be a debate for students to participate in before the vote (when I can get a hall) and Emma Fruin has a brilliant enrichment session you can use if you need it. It’s a tough subject to get your head past the “opinions” to find the facts but a good resource is  This is a once in a lifetime vote affecting everyone so please try and promote to your students.

The fifth annual student-led staff awards and class rep awards are coming up soon and students have until Friday 13 May (this Friday) to submit nominations – we are happy to come to classes and talk about the process. Please email me to arrange. All the info can be found at  and It would be great to hear about any great work your class rep has done.



Characteristics of Grade 2 & 3 Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Canterbury Grade 2

Typical characteristics delivering a Grade 2

Canterbury Grade 3

Typical characteristics delivering a Grade 3

·         Evidence of planning to meet individual needs

·         Clear introduction to the session creating a  sense of purpose

·         Students are ‘ready to learn’

·         Active learning with student-led activities

·         Timing and transitions between activities are well managed to provide ‘pace’.

·         Students engaged by learning activities

·         Clear checking of progress with extension and stretch

·         Students make significant progress

·         Opportunities to develop English & maths skills with use of SPAG checks and feedback

·         Skilful use of questioning techniques to support and extend learning

·         Students take notes where applicable and these are checked/marked to provide feedback

·         Clear contextualisation of learning to employment and progression skills

·         High attendance and punctuality

·         Students able to work well independently

·         Homework set/checked

·         Students know their target grades and are able to use feedback to identify how to improve

·         Students demonstrate respectful relationships with peers and the tutor

·         Resources/activities are well designed and fit-for-purpose

·         Tutor demonstrates ability to respond with flexibility to make the most of naturally occurring learning opportunities.


·         Limited evidence of planning

·         Lack of formalised start to the session

·         Attendance and punctuality at or below college average

·         Limited challenge of poor punctuality

·         Reliance on tutor-led activities with few opportunities for independent learning

·         Over-reliance on activities which are ‘tired’ and lack innovation (gapped hand-outs, word searches etc.)

·         Over use of PowerPoints which do not engage or create activity, sometimes taken straight from the awarding body

·         Few students take notes

·         Limited use of SPAG checks

·         Poor questioning technique missing opportunities to stretch and develop thinking skills

·         Limited use of opportunities to develop English and maths skills

·         Students’ ability to work independently is limited

·         Homework is not checked/set

·         Students are unclear about their target grades and what they need to do to improve

·         Students are not all ‘ready to learn’

·         Inconsistent or limited use of ‘class rules’

·         Progress checks lack rigour

·         Students’ progress is limited/slow

·         Students’ focus/engagement with learning is limited

·         Respect for peers and the tutor is limited

·         Behaviour and/or attitude to learning limits progress



Behaviour – Let’s be consistant

By Heather Scribbins

Here are some supporting strategies for different learning barriers:















Fundamentally it’s about clear, respectful communication clear consistent policies, boundaries which are across college and supported by all members of staff. Expectations are explained during their interview and support is provided to the individual students and their learning journey.

Staff establish the lead and provide positive examples of good behaviour and support students adjusting to a new environment.

The cohort of students which are applying to the college each year are from different cultures, religions, societies, backgrounds and mind-sets of what an education environment can offer and provide support in areas of weakness and understanding to each individual’s needs. Many of these individuals will have experienced a transition resilience, leaving a school environment of structured routine, where they are expected to conform to rules and timings with a larger network of support from agencies and school staff.

Transforming from a child to a young adult is the most confusing time of most people’s lives , the chemical change the imbalances of hormones and identity crisis that all young adults go through is just the beginning of a long road to an uncertain and confusing time of their lives, many individuals may not have the support network or guidance that the need at this time and could be battling other deep traumatic experiences , young care leavers , new environments , they have lost their identities which they have had throughout their school life and many will have lost their secure friend groups through choice of course and college, many will have left with the expectation of being labelled with the same title as they had at school , individuals may have had a negative experience at school where they sat in isolation for the last three months with no teaching or support .

I am mindful that every tutor new and existing will want strategies for behaviour management in their classrooms but each year we are seeing new individuals and groups that display very challenging behaviours and dynamics, so to give a generic list of strategies will not enable tutors as it has to be tailored to individual needs.

E Tracker and REMs, hold important Transition and historical educational information that will allow all staff to access previous interventions, strategies and previous outside agencies that may have enabled the individual to progress in their education environment. E Tracker will also allow you to see who supports the student from ALS and if they have exam concession in place or any special arrangements whilst in class.

In many cases less resilient less supported individuals will struggle not only with the transformation but the new environment and the expectation of behaviour which we tell them, we will treat them like adults, yet many have not reached adulthood or can make the decisions of an adult, it could be through lack of support or guidance.

It is highly important that we have all up to date information on students that may have had historical issues in previous educational environments, and we transfer and support the students with similar strategies in our environment, we must insure that they have a fresh start but with consequences for their actions.

ADHD checklist

ASD checklist

Attachment Disorder checklist

Dyslexia checklist

Dyspraxia checklist

MLD checklist

ODD and CD checklist

In our mission statement it states “In Teaching & Learning to inspire everyone to reach their full potential’.”

We’ve created an environment where people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can meet, learn and grow. Our courses combine professional-standard facilities, industry specialist tutors and outstanding student support.

Giving a direct choice also minimises unnecessary confrontation and increases co-operation, never direct or single out individuals, always use the phrase ‘a number of students are still discussing /talking I need you all to please listen Thanks’.

Consequences are there to help us take responsibilities for our actions and behaviour.    It should be about individuals and recognising that mobile phones, lateness, language and eating and drinking in class, is not accepted within our college.

Avoid asking why they are late this causes an audience and can lead to confrontation, It wastes time and disrupts the learning of others, have a paper late register time in and reason which can be discussed after the lesson, this will lower the disruption and confrontation or their ability to discuss what could be a sensitive matter or issue outside of college.

The use of mobile phones in lesson needs to be addressed by a whole college approach as this has become high level disruption cause of many confrontation and unnecessary arguments that affect peers and the learning environment.

Positive supportive instructions

  • Hands up please
  • Could you all face this way and listen
  • Thank you for your input, keep it appropriate please
  • Can we discuss this after please
  • I can answer your questions at the end
  • Would you like to take five minutes out of class

Negative responses

  • Don’t call /shout out
  • Stop talking , while I’m talking / shut up
  • That’s rude and nothing to do with what I asked
  • Get out and calm down

behaviour simpsons

Classroom Noise!

Can a classroom be too noisy? As educators does the level of noise indicate a positive sign of collaborative learning? Are our students discussing the learning objective or are they discussing last night’s television programmes or the performance of their favourite football team! The noise we can hear, we hope is it the sound of learning, which brings us onto what is an acceptable level of noise in a classroom and how does this impact of the educational process?

Students unfortunately do not come with a volume control, so how can we as educators keep the level of noise to a satisfactory level. Noise levels within corridors can be excessive so to reduce the sound level, I stand at the classroom door and greet my students and politely remind the students to quieten down – this can be done my simply putting my finger to my lips. Within the lesson having a strategy to control the volume and not raising your voice louder to talk over the noise is important, reflecting on the many strategies tried over the years, I have found by reducing the volume of my voice will make the students lower their volume to hear you.

Controlling the volume on group work, peer assessment and presentations can be challenging, walking around the classroom and reminding the students of what is an acceptable level always seems an arduous task but after a while and with encouragement the students themselves will enforce a ‘suitable’ level. Having and managing a strategy that allows students to listen to their own personal music through headphones can be challenging on many levels, this would require the lecturer to monitor the impact on the student and if there are any adverse effects on the other learners.

Model the voice level that you wish the students to use, within the classrooms and within vocational workshop areas, install signs that highlight what is an acceptable volume for that classroom or workshop area. There are various technological solutions to help manage the noise level within a classroom, ‘Noise Down’ is a classroom App that measure’s the noise in the class and gives an audible and visual signal to show the level of student noise.

Good luck and let’s hope the only noise you hear within your classroom is the sound of learning!


Differentiating Employability Skills

By Russell Griffiths

As a vocational college we must not lose sight of the fact that we are preparing learners for work. Our ultimate success should not be judged on how many achieve a particular level but “attain relevant qualifications so that they can and do progress to the next stage of their education into courses that lead to higher-level qualifications and into jobs that meet local and national needs” Common inspection framework August 2015, No. 150065

Under the new common inspection framework personal development welfare and behaviour is a limiting judgement for the overall effectiveness of an institution. Part of this judgement is “does the institution promote, where relevant, employability skills so that they are well prepared for the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training?” Common inspection framework August 2015, No. 150065

So with this in mind, within the electrical workshop we run scenario based daily activities, giving learners responsibility and ownership of their study. We have 7 booths for learners to work in and these are split into working teams, each team has a supervisor for a two week period and they are in charge of that team, responsible for checking health and safety timekeeping and quality of work for each of their team which they report directly to the main tutor. The supervisors’ role is rotated to give everyone a turn, the initial supervisors were selected from the differentiated booth plan using the group profile. As well as supervisors there is also a clerk of works who has overall responsibility for all of the workshop ensuring all health and safety and quality of work. They report to the tutor on all matters and must review progress of all work during the session and report back at the end of the session on how all students have progressed during the session. In doing this site hierarchy activity we use a wide variety of learning strategies including;

  1. Stretch and challenge for all learners
  2. Differentiation
  3. Peer assessment
  4. Peer collaboration
  5. Problem solving in teams
  6. Independence within the classroom
  7. Evidence of progress
  8. Responsibilities
  9. Professional standards
  10. Real life vocational situations

See our resources and lesson plans from University of Portsmouth to start your planning – Personalised Study Programmes – Skills for Progression

Direct Questioning – Where’s the Challenge?

By Karen McCafferty

I am frequently asked how to stretch and challenge all students in a lesson (apart from providing the most able students with extension activities).  An easy way to check all students’ understanding, to differentiate and to stretch and challenge is by asking directed questions.

The table below is taken from the book Rigor is not a Four Letter Word and can be found on Pintrest in ‘Education’

karen mc.png

When planning your lesson, devise a series of questions starting with the appropriate two words from the table. You will find that if you practice this regularly, asking differentiated/stretch and challenge questions becomes second nature.

Did you know? (facts taken from article on TES website)

  • Teachers ask up to two questions every minute, up to 400 in a day, around 70,000 a year, or two to three million in the course of a career
  • Questioning accounts for up to a third of all teaching time, second only to the time devoted to explanation
  • Most questions are answered in less than a second. That’s the average time teachers allow between posing a question and accepting an answer, throwing it to someone else, or answering it themselves
  • Research has found, however, that increasing the wait time improves the number and quality of the responses – three seconds for a lower-order question and more than 10 seconds for a higher-order question.

If you have not yet discovered Pintrest it is worth signing up and making ‘Education’ one of your favourites. You will receive regular email updates with recommended pins –

Personalised Study Programmes – Skills for Progression

What is Meant by Skills for Progression?

Skills which enable students to retain employment or be successful in further study

We have categorised them as:

1. Communication

2. Problem Solving

3. Teamwork

4. Self Management

5. Commercial Awareness

assess study skills

Linkages with 2015 CIF

  • Staff gather a useful range of accurate assessment information and use this to give learners incisive feedback about what they can do to improve their skills.
  • Staff set work that consolidates learning, deepens understanding and develops skills, and prepares learners very well for their next steps.
  • Learners are prepared for the next stage of their education, employment, self-employment or training.
  • Learners make substantial and sustained progress from their different starting points.
  • Learners are exceptionally well-prepared for the next stage of their education, training or employment and have attained relevant qualifications, skills, knowledge and understanding.

(Ofsted, 2015)

Resources – Designed and provided by University of Portsmouth

Commercial Awareness Lesson Pack:

LessonPlan-Commercial Awareness

Case Studies

Cost of Poor Customer Service Activity Sheet

Cost of Poor Customer Service-Answer Sheet

Logos Quiz Extension

Logos Quiz Extension-Answer Sheet

Logos Quiz

Logos Quiz-Answer Sheet

Communication Lesson Pack:


Communication Activity Sheet

Communication Answer Sheet

Reflecting on the Week Activity Sheet

Weighing It All Up Starter Activity

Problem Solving Lesson Pack:

LessonPlan-Problem Solving

Being Creative Activity Sheet

What’s the Lesson About Crossword

What’s the Lesson About Crossword-Answer Sheet

What’s the Lesson About Word Search

What’s the Lesson About Word Search-Answer Sheet

Self-Management Lesson Pack:

LessonPlan-Self Management

Managing Ourselves PPT

Weekly Planner Activity Sheet

Weekly Planner Template

Teamwork Lesson Pack:


Community Matters Quiz – Starter Activity

Quiz – Answer Sheet

Self Reflection Tweet Sheet

Community Matters Activity

Marking Criteria and User guide:


Marking Criteria Overall

Marking Criteria Commercial Awareness

Marking Criteria Communication

Marking Criteria Problem-Solving

Marking Criteria Self-Management

Marking Criteria Teamwork

Innovative Learning Technologies (with nothing to be scared of!)


Learning Futures – E-learning Delivery ‘How to implement blended learning’

Learning Futures – Design and Create Videos for Learning

Learning Futures – Gamification ‘Making something serious, fun’

Learning Futures – Online Badging ‘explore how badges have been used to set goals, motivate behaviour, represent achievement and communicate success in the education and training sector’

Learning Futures – Line of Sight to Work ‘Engaging with employers to shape the curriculum’

Learning Futures – Instructional Design “instructional experiences which make the acquisition of knowledge and skill more efficient, effective and appealing” (Merril 1996).

Learning Futures – Screencasting ‘how screencasts can be used to deliver learning, explore some examples of effective practice, and get some tips on how to get the best out of using screencasts’

Learning Futures – Project Management ‘the effective use of project management skills has a significant influence on the achievement of goals and quality of project outcomes’


Embedding English – Activities

Lightbulb Moment – Embedding English – 4 Fun ways with vocabulary and terminology

I recently read a blog by Joanne Miles Consulting (  with all sorts of good ideas about how a simple vocabulary box could be used to embed English during a recap session or as a resource for revision exercises or for differentiated practice activities for early finishers.

A bank of word cards is built up session by session so that the class has access to key words from a range of topics delivered at different points in the learning programme.

Some teachers write one word per card, some put the word on one side and the definition/example on the other side, some put the word on one side and a picture on the other. Ideally the learners should be involved in the creation of the cards in the first place.

  1. Quick recap exercise (differentiated version)

Strong students: in pairs they take 10 words from the box. One student defines the word without saying it and the other has to guess the word being described.

Weaker students: in pairs they take 8 words from the box. One student shows the other a word and asks him /her to explain/draw/mime the word.

  1. Walls Exercise

Put 10 or 12 words from the box on the walls and students can walk round in pairs trying to explain the words and make an example sentence or give a definition. In feedback the teacher can explain words and get the students to guess which word is being described. This can be done as a competitive team game/quiz too.

  1. Word Grab

Students work in groups of 3, with a lot of the words laid out on the table face up. One student explains a word and the other two compete to grab the right word. The student with the most words at the end is the winner. The piles of words can stay on each table and the students can move from table to table until all piles have been covered.

  1. Noughts and Crosses

Grid on the board and class in 2 teams. For each numbered space the teacher pulls a word from the box and gets the relevant team to explain it and give an example sentence or definition. If the student/team do this correctly, they can put a cross or a nought in that square. This can be played in groups with a student in the role of teacher.

For more ideas, CPD, videos and blogs visit