Diagnostic Teaching, Literacy, Time saving teaching, Writing

The Power of DTT (Diagnosis, Therapy, Testing)

Hana Malik – Curriculum Leader for English

Twitter – @MsHanaMalik

It is that time of year again, where you feel sandwiched between fear and hope: Year 11 students will do as amazingly as you know they can, or, some Year 11 students might not get there.

What we as teachers in the classroom, especially in this last push before final exams, undertake with learners will impact final outcomes. Fact. So how should one decide what to do with those precious remaining lessons?

DTT, Diagnosis Therapy Testing, is not new (is anything in education?) and we all do it, with all groups throughout the academic year. But are there ways to maximise this process to ensure Year 11 students have the best possible chance to achieve highly?

What is DTT?


Diagnosis: Finding out what the student needs.

There are countless ways to garner this information; for Year 11s, and arguably all year groups, the more specific you can be the better. As a teacher, be clear on what it is you wish to know, whether it be the extent to which content has been learnt or how successful students are in applying a skill. Thereafter, you can decide on how to record  and track that data.

One way we have tracked Year 11 mock data is through personalised learning checklists – PLCs. This straightforward and effective colour-coded system of logging marks allows you to see where the areas of strength are within a class. You can then deploy ‘experts’ as you wish. It also, vitally, allows teachers to gauge areas of weakness; teachers and students can see the content and/or skill which needs to be revisited, and even the extent to which it needs to be revisited – Is there a trend? How many students under-performed in this area?


Example of GCSE Literature mock PLC

Therapy: After identifying areas which need to be ‘treated’, teachers can devise lessons and revision sequences which will secure marginal gains.

This is vital in ensuring DTT is effective. As part of Year 11 therapy, I believe it is important to create and encourage a culture of sharing. What’s working well with specific students? Might it work with other learners? Creating a ‘Best Practice’ folder is one way to do this, carving time into meetings to share practice is another.

Ultimately, teachers having the resources and skills to close gaps is what makes DTT effective. That is to say, this is the bit that means the most and probably takes the most time. But, as every exam class teacher can tell you, it is always worth it.


Examples of therapy, securing marginal gains

Testing: Has it worked?

The only way to know if students have closed that gap you spent time ‘treating’ is by testing, and the test that ought to be sat really depends on what students have gone over.

In Year 11, mocks seem to be the most popular choice. However, there are other options. Quizzes, short and swift, can often highlight how well students know content. Flipped learning is also an enjoyable way to test whether students can transform learning.  

More often than not, therapy will prove effective the first time around. And, if it hasn’t, all we can do is try again.

Diagnostic Teaching, Numeracy, Time saving teaching, Work/Life balance

Question Level Analysis

Hafsa Farhana – Lead Practitioner for Maths

Teaching a year 11 class can be daunting, especially when you know very little about them. This was one of the challenges I faced when I started teaching two year 11 classes at Sarah Bonnell. I wanted to get an overview of their strengths and weaknesses and use that to plan my teaching for the rest of the year. I needed to make sure that all of my lessons were effective in order to maximise learning in a short amount of time. To do this I used question level analysis (QLA) tables from the beginning of the academic year. This helped me devise a Scheme of Learning catered to my class.

QLAs are all readily available from exam boards websites with conditional formatting so you can see the Red, Amber and Green (RAG) scores for each student. I would also calculate the average as a class and RAG each topics. This is now a method employed by the Maths department for our year 11s to ensure we use the build up to the summer exam effectively and can have a systematic approach to revision.

A comment I often heard from students is that they didn’t know where to begin with their revision so I always share the analysis with the class and individual students. The feedback from students is that they found QLAs useful as they were able to hone in on their weakness so that their revision was purposeful.


The QLAs enable me to give whole class feedback, for example, anything that is Red as a class average, I will need to reteach as a priority. This could be as a whole lesson or part, a starter, homework or a flipped learning activity. The Amber topics can be addressed through starters in lesson or using experts in the class to support the learning of those who weren’t as successful as them in those particular topics. Anything above 75% are the strengths of my class and therefore not a priority to revisit.


When I first started doing this the downfall was that it was very time consuming to enter the data myself. Asking students to fill in the google sheet posed a problem as some students did not want their classmates to see their results. However, I recently discovered how easy it was to do using Google Forms.

I created a Google Form so that I could collect individual scores of my students and shared the form onto the Google Classroom. Within minutes my I collected all their results; I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was!


This populates a Google Sheet which I then export and copy into the QLA file.

QLAs are not restricted to just exams, but they are very effective when used with diagnostic questions. Another way I use QLAs is by create a sub-SOL, where I can address the topics identified as starters for the term, thereby ensuring students are making progress without deviating from the department SOL so all topics are taught. The next thing I am keen to try is to use the QLAs to support my class in creating a revision timetable.


Time saving teaching, Work/Life balance

Time-saving teaching for time-pressed teachers

Charlotte Paine- Assistant Headteacher

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any teacher, in any school, is always in want of more time.  We go from standing at the photocopier at 8am to the bell ringing at 3:10pm in the blink of an eye, and in any case contrary to popular opinion amongst non-teachers – and in my experience usually expressed at parties beginning with phrases such as ‘ah you teachers, 3pm blah blah blah, long holidays blah blah blah’ – most of us aren’t going home for hours to come anyway.  In fact research conducted by the BBC and The Guardian show that teachers in England and Wales work longer hours than almost anywhere else in the world – at secondary level it’s an average of 55.7 hours per week, whilst our primary colleagues are clocking up a staggering 59.3 hours.

So, we’re busy people – which is better than the alternative of being bored – but that’s to be expected because we are also (contrary to popular opinion!) important people, in charge of educating, shaping and mentoring the next generation.  But, are we always using the time we do have in the most efficient way?

What follows are some time-saving tips, designed to help you maximise your working day, and perhaps even go home before it’s pitch-black outside.

Before we begin, here is a glossary of key terms:


Procrastinating The act of doing a lot of things that are not the job you actually have to do e.g. organising colouring pencils into rainbow order instead of marking Year 7’s assessments.
Faffing The act of taking a long time to do something that is, in theory, achievable in a very short space of time.
Stalling The act of putting off the thing you have to do, and creating a whole list of excuses in your head as to why you have not done it, whilst regarding your mounting anxiety in a detached yet terrified way.
Postponing The act of delaying, or putting off something, that you still actually need to do.  Similar to stalling.


Tip 1: Audit your time

On the face of it, this might seem like just another job to do, but completing a time audit for a day (or dare I say it, a week) can help you identify where you have pressure points, and where you have more time to play with.  It can also help you identify where you have time that you could use more effectively.  It’s simple to do – you just write down what you are doing at hourly intervals through the day, e.g. 8am – photocopying resources, 9am – teaching, 10am – teaching, 11am – planning.  Working out patterns or lost or wasted time can really help you to restructure your day.

Tip 2: Lollipop sticks

A set of wooden lollipop sticks can be used for many different purposes, not least, for grouping students quickly and easily, flexibly and on the spur of the moment – no planning required.  On each stick, write the student’s name in a colour – if you choose several different colours then you can automagically (apparently this is a word) group students into ‘colour groups.’  If you also write a number on the stick, then you have another option – ‘number grouping.’  Add a shape, and you have a third option – ‘shape grouping.’  Sticks can also be used to direct questions, or you can hand them out at the start of the lesson and gather them in when a student answers a question, or contributes to the lesson positively – at the end of the lesson you have a clear indication of who has participated, and who has not. It makes awarding achievement points much quicker too than writing names on the board and then rubbing them off, and forgetting who’s they were.



Tip 3: Google Forms for self-marking quizzes and questionnaires

Google Forms are a great way of setting up quizzes or questionnaires for your class, staff, or even parents/visitors to the school.  They can ‘self mark’ (once you have entered the right and wrong answers!) and you can add feedback to each question so students can see why they have answered (in)correctly which saves you having to write comments individually.  The results can then be exported to Google Sheets, and graphs will automagically (still a word) be generated again.  You can also ask your Google Sheets questions, and it will analyse the data to answer for you.  You can also use the same form again and again, either as a revision activity, or for next year’s lessons.  Plan once, use forever! For more info, head to Google and google Google Forms.  ‘Google’ is now noun and verb.

google cpe


Tip 4: Weekly meal prep

My husband still hasn’t managed to grasp the idea that teachers don’t have a lunch ‘break’ – instead, we have a unit of time in the day that is not technically a lesson, but probably still involves working.  If possible, set aside part of this time unit – 20 or 30 minutes – to have as much of a break as you can manage, but above all, prioritise eating.  3:30pm is not lunchtime, even if it is when many of us eat!  Prepping your lunches in advance of the week can be really helpful, as then each morning you can just grab the tupperware and go.  If this isn’t possible, or isn’t your style, consider eating in the school cafeteria.  It is a great opportunity to sit down to a proper meal, and to have more informal conversations with colleagues and students.


lunch cpe.png

Tip 5: Glossaries

This is essentially front-loaded lesson prep, but a well thought-out glossary can be a big time saver later down the line.  Properly used as a reference document, students can access the vocabulary that might otherwise hold back their learning, take up time in the lesson whilst you answer ‘what does xxx mean’ 15 times, and possibly even prevent disengagement leading to time-consuming behaviour.  Again, once constructed for a topic you teach every year, a glossary can be reused over and over.

Tip 6: Planning-free starters and plenaries.

Here are just a few ideas of flexible and adaptable strategies that can be used in lessons, as starters or as plenaries:

  • Last lesson learning (LLL) post-it note.  Hand out at the door.
  • This lesson learning (TLL) post-it note.  Hand out in class.
  • Thunks – questions with no answers e.g. is the past closer to the present than the future?
  • Mnemonics.
  • Key words – write down as many as possible in 2 minutes.
  • Students set a reflection question.  Answer their own, or peer swap.
  • Write an email/note/summary of the lesson for an absent peer.
  • Quiz – students write questions on slips of paper, and you then choose a set to make a quiz.
  • Draw it!  Visual representation of the lesson’s learning.
  • Metacognition – display an image/diagram/quote etc. students respond with ‘I am noticing’, ‘I am thinking’, ‘It reminds me of’, ‘I am learning.’
  • Keyword definition – you call out key words, they define them.