How I use… student voice

This post is written by Vicki Barnett

This post outlines a few ways that I use student voice to help me support my students, to inform my planning, and to help shape the curriculum.

Year 10 and Year 11

Knowledge Checklists and Feedback:

At the end of a unit, I provide students with a checklist of the knowledge they need to have assimilated for that section of the exam. This is adapted from the exam board specification so students see exactly what they need to know. They work through this as a starter task in class, identifying those topics they are confident on, reasonably confident on and those they don’t know at all.

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Students can then anonymously write on post-its those topics they are unsure about and hand them in at the end of the lesson. I identify where there are trends, and we then revisit those topics in our Monday lessons as a starter task to tackle the areas we struggle with, and refresh our understanding of them. Even if students didn’t put the particular topic we are reviewing on their list, they benefit from revisiting the topic as part of wider retrieval strategy.

Feedback sheets:

At various points throughout the year, I provide students with an A4 piece of paper, and ask them to reflect on their learning so far. On the sheets are a variety of statements, and they have to identify how far they agree with that statement based on their personal experiences (see examples).

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Their responses help inform my approach to forthcoming lessons and support me in providing feedback at events such as Parents’ Evening, or to reinforce praise. I can use their comments to keep them on track, to remind them of areas they have confidence in when they are struggling, and to identify their areas of concern going forward. I am currently working on a similar form to get Y10 students to reflect on their mock exams, which are coming up shortly.

Year 13

Exam Unit Reflection:

As our current Year 13s are our first students to sit the new exam syllabus, I was intrigued to find out their views and opinions on the Cold War unit that I deliver with a colleague. I am also working on a resource for the Historical Association connected to the Cold War, and so wanted to identify the areas that students were struggling with, so I could create something of use.

The Cold War unit incorporates an exam as well as coursework, and so I wanted to see their views on both elements of the course. This is the sheet I used:


I then collated their responses, and used an overview from the year group to help direct curriculum planning for next year.

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Their responses have revealed a key area they struggled with in the coursework that in turn links into their general understanding of the topic overall – historians’ views of events. Consequently, our focus for next year when delivering this topic is on reading, and we are currently exploring approaches to get our future Year 13s to engage with a variety of texts on the topic to help secure their domain knowledge as well as support the demands of the coursework.

Some of their feedback will also be adapted into a handout/presentation to give to Year 12 before the end of the year so they can reflect on how best to appropriately prepare for the demands of the unit.

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