How can I focus on raising achievement in a pupil-centred way?

At the heart of a pupil-centred approach to education is the acknowledgement that giving every child the opportunity to be the best they can be, whatever their talent or background, is the fulfilment of excellence, not the betrayal.

Personalised learning focuses on high quality teaching that is responsive to the different ways that pupils achieve their best. By taking account of individual needs, interests and aspirations, a pupil-centred approach results in raised achievement since learning can be tailored to meet the uniqueness of each learner.

One-page profiles can be used to create strong awareness of each pupil’s individual strengths (’Like and admire’) and preferences (‘Important to’) as a learner, and to recognise what best support looks like for them (‘Important for’). This is perhaps the single most important tool in supporting pupils to become successful and self-aware lifelong learners. A one-page profile is generated by the individual, with whatever support is needed (in consultation with others) and provides those teaching the pupil with crucial information linked to that pupil’s sustainable success as a learner.

An important aspect of raising achievement is the involvement of pupils themselves in the progress pathway, and there are a number of person-centred tools which support pupils, alongside their teachers, to better understand themselves as learners and to drive their own progress.

‘Who am I?’ allows pupils to explore personal style and preferences as a learner, so that they can understand what creates engagement and what creates disconnection in learning for them as an individual. By tuning into this, both pupils and teachers can learn how to access the optimum learning state for the pupil and therefore maximise progress.

Ensuring that pupils are active contributors in every learning experience is another key to achievement. Using the tool ‘Presence to contribution’, teachers can support pupils to move from simply being present in a lesson, to having presence, to actively participating, to connecting with the learning and finally taking all opportunities to contribute to successful outcomes for them as learners. This can also be a very helpful tool for consideration at breaks or lunchtimes, or during extracurricular activities.

‘Learning logs’ support pupils in thinking critically about their learning, and help to discover what they and others did in a lesson/activity that worked well and did not work well. This supports them to make decisions about what to keep doing and what to do differently. Encouraging pupils to use this as a daily working document facilitates progress throughout each lesson.

A crucial part of sustaining good progress is for individual pupils, groups of pupils and teaching staff to evaluate learning experiences, attainment, progress and achievement regularly, and to adjust what they do as a result. Use of ‘4+1 questions’ helps to focus on the most important things by asking:

  • What have I/we tried?
  • What have I/we learned?
  • What am I/are we pleased about?
  • What am I/are we concerned about?

Pupils can then begin action planning by asking ‘What next?’

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