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Policies, School Leadership, Teaching and Learning

Mark-Plan-Teach by @TeacherToolkit

If you could steer your own vision for teaching and learning, how would you define this on one page?

Over the past 2-3 months, we have been working on a draft Learning Policy and have shared our Mark-Plan-Teach statements in the following blogs;

I am sharing this here in order to gather your feedback. Please make sure you leave a comment; I will read everything and feed the information back into our final draft policy.

This summary aims to deliver consistency and expectations in classrooms throughout the school. Behind the one-page summary that will appear in our teacher planner (click to view) there will be a detailed policy that will include context; appendices and an abridged version of what we want to avoid; or simply, what we want teachers not to do. This learning policy has been designed by myself and our headteacher @alexatherton100 and our senior leadership team had the opportunity to discuss this in depth, last week. The next phase we move towards, is for me to meet with my core teaching and learning team, and then share the first section of ‘marking’ with middle leaders in our final meeting of the academic year. Heads of department and post-holders will have the opportunity to view the one-page summary. Our intention is that we focus on one part of mark-plan-teach summary at a time, agreeing the content, before moving on to discuss another section of the document. Once we have worked through this, we will share this with all staff for consultation.

Today, we have published four positions for classroom teachers to join the teaching and learning team. I hope before the end of the year, that they will have the opportunity to discuss what should/should not be included in the policy. This will ensure that when presented with a final draft, teachers will be equipped with a robust, clear and common policy that is fit for purpose.

Below, is a short amalgamation of the 3 blogposts shared above. This is our first attempt at defining what we want from a Mark-Plan-Teach model.

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Marking has two purposes. One, students act on feedback and make progress over time. Two, it informs future planning and teaching.

  1. Teachers must have a secure overview of the starting points, progress and context of all students.
  2. Marking must be primarily formative including use of a yellow box which is clear about what students must act upon and selective marking, where relevant.
  3. Marking and feedback must be regular
    1. work must be marked at least every 6 lessons on average for each class.
    2. including 3-6 ‘green sticker’ assessments per year, proportionate with curriculum time.
  4. The marking code must be used.

There was a minor change in terminology from ‘should’ to ‘must’ in the details above. Like it? Tweet it!


Planning is a process not a product. It has one purpose, to enable high quality delivery which meets the needs of all students.

  • Be clear and precise about the knowledge/skills you want students to learn, not what you want them to do.
  • Do the ‘so why?’ Activities, including homework, must be designed to facilitate learning and not to keep students busy.
  • There must be evidence of long-term planning, in schemes of work, and short-term planning in the planner.
  • Differentiation should be planned over time to ensure a ‘quality first’ approach which meets the needs of all students and groups and maximises the use of any additional adult(s) in the room.
  • Every class must have a seating plan on MINT class that accounts for their profile including the various groups (e.g. gender, ethnicity, SEN, PP).
  • All lessons must get off to a flying start, with students purposeful from the beginning.
  • Consider timings to ensure appropriate pace for the intended learning.

Feedback please in the comments section below … Like it? Tweet it.


  • Go with the learning: the ‘flow’ of great progress is more important than following a lesson plan.
  • Ensure that learning has stuck, through checking that is incisive and systematic.
  • We are all teachers of literacy. The quality of both students’ and teacher’s language, such as in instructions and questioning, are significant determinants of progress. Make the implicit, explicit.
  • All students must be working harder than the teacher, over time.
  • Teachers must be explicit about learning outcomes and key words.
  • Demonstrate the values of the school.
    1. Reinforce students’ aspiration for success by the challenge you offer.
    2. Enable them to show resilience by taking a risk and working through barriers.
    3. Each class is a learning community in its own right. Their success depends on each other.

The 3 bullet points above tie in with our whole school values.

Feedback please in the comments section below … Like it? Tweet it.


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About @TeacherToolkit

Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, a Twitter account which soon evolved into and rapidly became the 'most followed teacher on Twitter in the UK'. He is an award winning teacher and experienced school leader who curates one of the 'most influential blogs on education in the UK'; Onalytica ranks McGill's blog as one of the 'Top-50 Ed-Tech Brands on Education' across the world! In 2015, he was nominated for '500 Most Influential People in the Britain' by The Sunday Times and one of the most influential in the field of education. He is a former Teaching Award nominee for 'Teacher of the Year in a Secondary School in London' and has also written 3 books on teaching.


12 thoughts on “Mark-Plan-Teach by @TeacherToolkit

  1. When you say work is marked every 6 lessons, what does this entail? Is it one piece of work, fully marked with feedback every 6 lessons. Or must every piece of work be marked, with teachers not getting more that 6 lessons behind with marking, or should the ‘other 5’ lessons be ‘tick and flick’ style?

    Posted by Amanda | June 27, 2015, 7:52 AM
  2. I like the fact that it could tie-in well to a performance management policy/system. It also ties in with measuring teaching with more than just a single observation – creating judgements from a wider variey of what a teacher does – ‘conditions for learning’ etc. Accountability will increase for all staff though we should all have a ‘corporate responsibility’ to ensure high quality marking, planning and teaching. How do we ‘sell’ this without beating staff over the head with it?

    Posted by Jono Knight | June 27, 2015, 8:09 PM
  3. I have been following this with interest.

    The power of three is ‘biblical’ in a sense. I have always felt that teaching and learning is a triangulation.

    I particularly liked the point about what you want to ‘stick’ with children and their learning.

    Another valuable point was raised about children completing more work than the teacher, over time.

    I look forward to seeing the one page summary that will go in the teacher’s planner.

    Keep up the good work.

    Posted by Josie Walter | June 27, 2015, 10:37 PM
  4. Look forward to reading the final result. There seems to be a healthy balance of what needs to happen whole school countered with empowering teachers to have freedom to lead the learning in their classrooms.

    Posted by Jeremy Taylor | June 28, 2015, 5:41 PM
  5. Very important that all lessons must get off to a ‘flying start’ with students ‘purposeful from the beginning.’ I am a primary teacher and recently observed a year 7 lesson where the first 15 mins was spent writing the learning objective and ‘key terms’. Getting off to a quick start ensures that more learning can take place! @miss_ks1

    Posted by @Miss_Ks1 | July 5, 2015, 9:48 AM
  6. Lots of schools including mine are moving towards this ‘model’ which is a great thing – a revolution in the teaching/learning/facilitating process. Love that you have the confidence and charisma (not to mention the focus/KISS (keep it simple, stupid) to hang your policy out in public.

    Posted by Emma Hughes | July 5, 2015, 11:23 AM
    • Could be foolish … However, this is a draft policy which will evolve throughout 2015/16. Behind this one page will sit context, rationale and exemplar material.

      Posted by @TeacherToolkit | July 5, 2015, 11:25 AM
  7. Just got home from a LT meeting where I presented an Assess- Plan- Teach- Reflect model with lesson planning proformas and observation/work scrutiny proformas mirror that process. Looking forward to Sept. Seems logical to me.

    Posted by Rachel Wickham | July 8, 2015, 8:28 PM


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