As a school, we have worked within PiXL over the last few years and have gained a lot from their approach known as Diagnosis, Therapy and Testing (DTT). This is a fantastic approach to raising achievement and supporting Teaching and Learning. We have used ideas from PiXL within our school over the past couple of years within our intervention programme. For example, we have successfully used approaches such as Walking, Talking, Mocks and the idea of Question Level Analysis.
This year, we decided we wanted to take the approach of DTT even more into the classroom having been inspired by the PiXL Classrooms approach. We surmised that for it to truly have the impact we wanted, we needed to embed it into our schemes of learning. We have used Personalised Learning Checklists (PLCs) with students before but decided we wanted to give PLCs and their link to DTT even more of an emphasis for the new academic year. Knowing that curriculum change and 9-1 assessment meant new schemes of learning anyway for Year 10 classes we felt this provided an opportunity to really embed DTT within our work at school.
Therefore, one of our key priorities this year has been to embed DTT within our Schemes of Learning and lessons, initially for Year 10 only, with the hope and expectations that this will spread further in future years. In many ways it already has done this year by osmosis because many of our teachers feels that the approach is useful for supporting high quality Teaching and Learning. Our rationale for only choosing Year 10 was to ensure that the change was realistic and manageable for our teachers who are dealing with unprecedented curriculum and assessment change at the moment.
We began by launching our ‘non-negotiables’ around DTT to our whole staff back in June through a whole staff CPD session. We had previously discussed this at both a SLT level and a Curriculum Leader level. Here is an extract from our annual Teaching and Learning handbook which communicates both our ‘non-negotiables’ and also examples of best practice.
We launched our CPD session by going through what DTT means and by being able to already share some good practice that our ‘early adopter’ faculties of English and Maths had already been using within their Year 10 lessons (having begun the new curriculum one year earlier). Teachers then prepped up their new schemes of learning complete with PLCs, DTT ideas and ‘therapy lessons’ ready for September. We have continued to use our whole staff CPD sessions in September and October to ‘over-communicate’ this key priority and ensure that staff are confident in their pedagogical practice regarding DTT. We have also ensured that when we complete QAs and lesson observations that we are specifically looking at DTT and can use this information in future CPD sessions. For example, we know that we need to keep coming back to how we can successfully use PLCs in lessons. We have also included a DTT poster in all classrooms to help communicate to students what we mean by DTT. This has been reinforced with students during mentor time. Our Year 10 students can now confidently explain what a ‘therapy lesson’ is without thinking they are being sent to their GPs!
A central premise of our work on DTT has been to consider the purpose and role of the PLC. For us, we have made the students the ‘gatekeepers’ of the PLC with staff support and guidance. We felt it would be wholly unrealistic for staff to fill in all the PLCs and the notion of students being gatekeepers will help our student take more ownership and independence of their learning and build their reflective skills. In Year 10, every student has a PLC stuck into their books or folder which gives them a clear overview of the learning they will be doing in a particular topic or unit of work. One approach, such as this example from history, is to get students to Red, Amber, Green their learning twice so that they can evaluate the impact of their ‘Therapy lessons’. Once as a diagnosis after the initial teaching and then after they have completed a formal test which tests their learning of the whole unit.
Teachers are now regularly referring to PLCs in lessons and students are using their PLCs to help them to reflect on their learning. Reviews take place at the end of lessons where students are often guided as to how they can ‘diagnose’ their own understanding such as this example below.
One challenge for us this year has been to consider what ‘therapy’ lessons should look like. We use the term ‘therapy’ lessons with the students and our students now understand that these are lessons where they can work on using their PLC to carry out extra work to help develop, consolidate or extend their understanding. One option is for students to have a menu of activities to choose from which they can select according to their PLC. Some subjects have used technology and resources to support this such as MyMaths. Other subject areas have used programmes such as Socrative, Google docs or Kahoot to diagnose student understanding and put into place ‘therapy lessons’.
Another initiative that has supported DTT within the school is to ensure that students are all using a purple pen when completing Reflection Time (our version of DIRT time). Clearly, Reflection Time and responding to feedback is a key aspect of effective ‘therapy lessons’. The use of a purple pen has given consistency across subject areas and acts as a clear visual sign to students that they are completing Reflection Time. Although, we have provided all our teachers with a complete set of purple pens, some of our students have even gone out and bought their own purple pens. As with the DTT initiative, we have a poster in all classrooms that supports our work on Reflection Time.
As a school, we are continuing to keep DTT as a prime focus within school. We are still in our early stages of making it have impact. But, hopefully by keeping our focus on this as a key priority, it will continue to have impact on the learning of our students initially in Year 10 and across the school.
Below are some more images of DTT resources within school that we are creating. A huge thanks to PixL and the work of their teams for inspiring us with their ideas and support.