Motivating Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Teaching Assistant Rhonda Lawry-Griffiths carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in English lessons. This is her review.

Research Question

Will the use of visual stimuli help to sustain and increase motivation in boys?


Use of visual prompts to help engage interest in lessons, eg students drawing, computer images and maps.

Summary of what you did to adapt your  practice.

Use of visual stimuli wherever possible in lessons.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Accelerated reader testing was used for Year 7 students. A staff peer debrief was used to reflect and evaluate at the end of the research project. Discussions were held with students that were in the class.

Summary of the impact so far

The Year 7 students, especially the boys, were more willing to share plot summaries from previous lessons. They were able to recall main events from the material and read more carefully, confidently and accurately. Where a map was used to plot countries from a story-line the boys eagerly participated.

Performance of Boys Research 2017/18

We have included examples of the research carried out by staff last year looking at improving the performance of boys.

Technology teacher Tris Rogers carried out the following research with the aim of identifying ways of removing the gender gap in performance. This is his review.

Research Question     

Does using regular testing and feedback raise performance?


Regular weekly testing, peer or self assessment and feedback. Time given for students to make corrections.

Summary of what you did to adapt your practice

Students were given a spelling test of key words once a week; there has been no expectation of practice or revision at home. The same words but in a different order were repeated approximately four times or until a noticeable improvement was seen in the results, at this point new words were added to the bank of words which they were expected to know. Students marked their own or peers’ work and then had to make corrections before moving on to the main lesson task.

How did you test and review the impact of your research?

Results of the test were recorded on a spreadsheet, which was shown to pupils. It was colour coded to show any increase or decrease in performance which makes it easier to see from the back of the class. It is also a quick and simple way to reward Vivos (behaviour points) for consistency or improvements from their previous results.

Teaching assistants and a technology technician have all commented on the way the pupils have taken to the regular tests and often remind me when it’s test day.

Summary of Impact so far

There is a definite pattern showing improvement for most pupils, in a class of 25 there were two who showed little improvement or drops in results if given a week or two off. Retention of knowledge for most was good and even after a ‘break’ the results were still showing improvements over the original data.



Improving the progress of more able students

One of the priority areas we have as a school is ensuring that our most able learners make progress in line with their targets. These are the students that are described as High Ability on entry to secondary school. Currently these students don’t make as much progress as students in the Middle or Lower ability bands. When we look at the number of students that are High Ability, they are increasing in every year group from y11 to Y7.

As a school with a proud list of alumni that have gone onto achieve great careers our key questions was ‘How can we ensure that all students meet their potential’. A closer look at the data highlighted that this action research area crossed over with the others – the most likely High Ability students to underperform are male, pupil premium students.

Again this is not an issue specific to our school and there is a lot of current research into why some High Ability students fail to make the same progress as others. A report by the School Mobility and Child Poverty Commission in 2015 identified a ‘glass floor’ in British society, less able, better off students are 35% more likely to become high earners than bright students from low income families. Again, the key question for us is how can we ensure that all students meet their potential – regardless of their background.

We wanted to make sure that as a school we were providing enough challenge, that we weren’t teaching to the middle and that we hadn’t underestimated what our students could achieve.

The research leads for this area are James Perry (Deputy head of Sixth Form) and Nina Elliott ( head of Languages).

What makes a difference?

  • Language: Increase the use and application of subject specialist language.
  • Questioning: Increase the use of differentiated questioning, higher order thinking and oracy within the classroom.
  • Modelling and Feedback: to ensure all students know what excellence looks like. Provide opportunities to make their work excellent. Students consistently responding to clear and transparent feedback.
  • Challenge: Increase expectation for more able students at all levels. Develop Lead Learners in the classroom. Flipped learning – no note taking in post 16 lessons!
  • Teach to the Top – Use department time to plan and create challenging resources together such as “impossible questions’.
  • Build challenge into day to day routines – support more able students to develop self-regulation and use their talents.
  • Competition and motivation – many high ability students want to beat their rivals.
  • Aspiration – students who know what they need to achieve are more motivated.
  • Language and communication in the classroom – using higher level language consistently encourages students to do the same.
  • Peer challenges – they are often tougher on each other than the teachers!

One of the key – mantras that come out of the action research was ‘Take away the spoon‘.

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