It's what the pupils do

Catherine Williams, physics teacher and aspiring chartered teacher at Holy Rood High in Edinburgh, hoped her study trip would allow her to extend her own work on formative assessment by introducing her to new examples of good practice.

"However, having reflected on the visit, I realise that what has been most valuable and significant was not so much what the teachers were doing and the strategies they were using, but what the pupils were doing and able to do," she said.

"Most of the pupils in the schools we visited were able to tell us what they were doing and why they were doing it. They were clear about their individual strengths and weaknesses, their goals and, most significantly, how they were going to reach those goals.

"To quote one of the teachers, these pupils were not only 'responsible' for their learning, but also 'response-able', having the understanding and skills to address their own learning needs."

Seeing the Melbourne pupils' identify their own strengths, weaknesses and goals, she wondered if Scottish teachers were doing enough to help their pupils meet their goals. Dr Williams is being more explicit with her pupils about how they can strengthen their areas of weakness, even through little things, such as where to find pieces of information.

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