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Supporting and evidencing professional learning


Individual Learning Needs and Action Planning

The Partnership has a policy of differentiated provision for all Student Teachers, based on individual starting points, previous experiences and needs. Needs are audited at specific points during the course. This process starts at the recruitment and selection stage and is supported by the documentation in each Student Teacher’sProfessional Learning Record (PLR).

The PLR contains all the key documents to support Student Teachers in meeting the Teachers’ Standards. It is a written record which enables Student Teachers, PCMs, Mentors, Link Tutors and Course Leaders to monitor and assess progress to achieving Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) and making the transition into the first post. At the start of the course the Student Teachers share information about their prior experience in their Initial Profile. This is used by Tutors to support the Student Teacher in identifying their priorities at the start of the course for professional learning and developing appropriate individual targets. These are identified in the Foundation Phase Initial Needs Analysis.

This is then shared with the Mentor by the Student Teacher and used to structure the timetable and professional learning activities to support the Student Teacher in meeting their needs throughout the placement, taking into account the context for learning offered by the school. On a weekly basis the Student Teacher and Mentor meet to review progress and record targets mapped against the Teachers’ Standards for the following week on the Weekly Professional Learning Record (WPLR). Evidence of the range of professional learning activities undertaken in addition to classroom teaching is used to support this discussion. At the interim and end of phase, the Student Teacher and Mentor reflect on the progress made and use the Grade Descriptors to report on progress towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards in the Profile document. Targets are recorded to support professional learning and identify the activities that will provide the Student Teacher with opportunities to become an outstanding practitioner. As with the Foundation phase, the planning at the start of the Development and Consolidation phases between the Student Teacher and Mentor is underpinned by the Professional Learning Action Plan (PLAP) which documents their key foci, targets, action and support required.

Alongside this, Subject Tutors meet with Student Teachers termly and more often if the Student Teacher requests it, or if the Tutor has a particular concern that needs to be discussed. Tutorial support is offered in a range of ways: face-to-face, by telephone and email.

 The Professional Learning Record (PLR) 

The PLR contains all of the key documents to support the Student Teacher in meeting the Teachers’ Standards and to record, monitor and assess progress on route to achieving QTS and making the transition into first post. The following sections of this guidance provide information on each of these key documents. Templates for these documents can be found on BBL and on the website.

Initial Profile - Guidance

The Initial Profile allows the opportunity for the Student Teacher to provide key information which enables the University to take their needs and prior knowledge into account from the start of the course. This is to be completed and uploaded onto BBL.

Foundation Phase Initial Needs Analysis - Guidance

This Initial Needs Analysis helps to identify strengths and areas for development which can then be used to inform planning for Student Teacher progress and development by the Mentor in their first placement school. This should be completed prior to starting FSE and should be shared with the Mentor (in hard copy) on the initial days of school experience. 

 Lesson Observation and Lesson Feedback

The Brunel Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Partnership is committed to ensuring that Student Teachers receive high quality feedback on all lessons, to appropriately support professional learning across the Foundation, Development and Consolidation phases of their programme and also transition into their first post. Therefore, the role of observing staff is crucial in scaffolding the Student Teachers’ learning by collaboratively negotiating and setting targets with associated actions which help them to deliver high quality lessons to enhance pupil learning. The feedback should focus the Student Teacher on the impact their teaching has on the quality of pupil learning.

Lesson Feedback Record (LFR) - Guidance

In each phase of the programme observers should use the Brunel ITE ‘Lesson Feedback Record’ (LFR). The Student Teachers must provide the observer in advance with appropriate documents to support the observation process. These are detailed at the top of the proforma in Section A. In order to ensure that the relationship between the planning process and lesson delivery is firmly embedded in the learning process for the Student Teacher, it is crucial that in all lessons the observing teacher annotates the lesson plan provided.

The LFR is completed as follows:

  • Foundation phase: a minimum of one LFR per week;
  • Development and Consolidation phase: a minimum of one LFR per week

The Student Teacher completes the information set in the table (up until the first summary comments box) in advance of the lesson. They use their WPLR from their last meeting with the Mentor to provide some Teachers’ Standards related foci to inform the observation process. These weekly foci appear in all lessons observed that week. The Student Teacher will also provide Teachers’ Standards related foci specific to the particular lesson and class of pupils. The number of either weekly or lesson related foci are not set and should be determined by the individual needs of the Student Teacher. The number of rows provide in this table can be adjusted accordingly.

ITE Lesson Feedback record

The LFR requires observing staff to comment on how the Student Teachers’ planning has taken account of prior assessment of pupils’ learning, either through the completion of the assessment and evaluation on the back page of the last lesson plan or through the marking and assessment of pupils’ work.The Lesson Feedback Record prompts observing staff to comment specifically on pupil progress and achievement in relation to the intended learning detailed on the lesson plan and the contribution of teaching to this learning. This is to support Student Teachers in focusing on pupil learning as an indicator of the quality of teaching in the lesson.

There is a section for the observer and Student Teacher to record overall strengths in the lesson with direct reference to the Teachers’ Standards foci for the lesson as well as the Teachers’ Standards (list provided by the Student Teacher).  

Finally, in order to support Student Teachers in aspiring to meet the Teachers’ Standards generally at a high level on the Profile document and to teach high quality lessons, they will require precise targets and actions. Observing staff need to agree these targets and actions collaboratively with the Student Teacher and ensure they are again written with reference to the Teachers’ Standards foci for the lesson and the Teachers’ Standards generally.

The Brunel ITE partnership has identified that regular high quality written and verbal feedback is crucial to the development of Student Teachers. On this basis, the professional learning process is underpinned by verbal feedback through post-lesson professional learning conversations (see below) and annotated lesson plans being provided after every lesson.

The written feedback is extremely important in supporting the dialogue between Mentor and Student Teacher during the weekly professional learning meeting, in helping to shape future targets and actions for the following week. The agreed weekly targets and actions will inform the foci to be written into all the lesson feedback proformas for the following week. This will be a cycle of learning for the Student Teacher and help them to constantly extend and improve their practice. 

Post-Lesson Conversations

The post-lesson conversations between the observing member of staff (usually the Mentor) and the Student Teacher are crucial to the process of reviewing progress and setting aspirational targets for professional learning practice to support the teaching of high quality lessons. It is very important that the observer offering verbal feedback after the lesson supports the Student Teacher in analysing their own practice through the use of effective in-depth questioning, rather than providing a summary of the lesson or ‘tips for teachers’. This does not prevent the observer from sharing best practice with the Student Teacher. However, we would recommend that discussion and questioning should include:

  • What do pupils know/what can they do that they didn’t know/couldn’t do at the start of the lesson?
  • How did the lesson intend to build on the pupils’ prior learning?
  • What learning has taken place against the Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)? What proportion of pupils achieved your ILOs?  Why?
  • Did all pupils make progress? What comments do you have on the progress of the groups in the class (able, SEND, EAL, FSM/PP)? What evidence do you have of the learning?  How do you know they have learned in the way you describe above?
  • How did you use questions to check and support learning, as well as extending learning?
  • What were the key areas of subject knowledge required for this lesson?
  • What are the possible/common misconceptions?
  • How did the pupils respond to the learning activities?
  • How did the pupils respond to you?
  • What do you feel was positive? Strengths related to the Teachers’ Standards?
  • What would you like to work on? Targets related to the Teachers’ Standards?
  • What was the relationship between the lesson planning and delivery? What do you need to consider in future planning?
  • What are the implications of this in relation to identifying Professional Learning Activities?

 Weekly Professional Learning Meetings

The Student Teacher’s timetable should include a ‘Weekly Professional Learning Meeting’, with the Mentor.  This will include reviewing activities to support the Student Teacher in an identified area for development.  The Professional Learning Activities contain details and exemplars of activities which the Mentor and Student Teacher can negotiate and undertake based on the individual learning needs.  These activities will focus learning effectively.  They provide evidence for professional learning and progress towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards, which support the effective completion of the Profile.

The Weekly Professional Learning Meeting will include a review of progress in relation to the Teachers’ Standards to provide regular feedback and target setting throughout the school experience. This meeting is a time to agree the focus for the learning and lesson observations during the coming week. It is also an opportunity to review the teaching for the coming week and to ensure that planning is appropriate.  This provides the Student Teacher with time to make adjustments and improvements as and where necessary.

In order to record evidence of progress it is a requirement to use a Weekly Professional Learning Record (WPLR). 

Best practice for using the WPLR is as follows:

Weekly meeting doc

Professional Learning Action Plan guidance (PLAP) - Guidance

An action plan is completed following each end of phase assessment to support target setting and Student Teacher progress towards meeting the Teachers’ Standards at the highest level. Once the Foundation Phase profile has been completed, the Student Teacher reflects on progress during this phase and completes the first part of the PLAP. Following a meeting with the Mentor, and having had discussions about specific learning needs arising from progress to date, the second part needs to be completed collaboratively. Progress towards each of the Teachers’ Standards is to be considered and appropriate targets and actions set in order to support the Student Teacher in meeting their target grade. 

 Professional Learning Activities

Over the last few years there have been increasing expectations on schools involved in ITE to take more of a lead role in providing professional learning activities for Student Teachers during school based work.  Within the Brunel Primary Partnership, school colleagues have developed many innovative and effective methods of helping Student Teachers meet and provide evidence for the Teachers’ Standards.  All activities should be written up in a relevant and appropriate format, the Standards reference(s) noted at the top and filed as appropriate in the School Experience. The PLAs can be accessed on the webpages, or via BBL in the PLA Handbook.

The Partnership recognises that in order for all schools to play a full part in the Professional Learning process, a support programme based on these learning opportunities needs to be in place.  This will help Mentors share the good practice that exists as well as developing more opportunities for learning within the school context. The purpose of this task booklet therefore is to:

  1. Help Mentors devise a Professional Learning programme for their Students Teachers based on the Teachers’ Standards with particular reference to the Student Teacher’s target within their action plan
  2. Enable the Student Teacher to gather evidence of progress in a particular Teachers’ Standard area as part of a portfolio to support the Profile

It must be noted that the Mentor may consider it beneficial to the Student Teacher’s learning to undertake a particular activity on two or more occasions.  It is the responsibility of the Student Teachers to keep the evidence of these PLAs together with Mentor comments/signatures in the relevant section in School Experience File 1.

Please note that permission must be sought from the Student Teacher, teacher or Mentor to video any activity and that pupils must not be identifiable in the video e.g. faces are not shown.

 NQT Support and Provision

Brunel University London is committed to ITE and continuing teacher education, offering a range of post PGCE qualifications, as mentioned in the ‘Welcome’ part of this guidance, to ensure high quality support for the new generation of teachers. The Teachers’ Standards strengths and areas for development identified on the Consolidation Phase profile are used to highlight focus areas for the Student Teacher about to begin their first post as a NQT and these are noted in the Transition Plan. During the NQT year, the University continues to support the development of NQTs by arranging events for NQTs, offering subject specific support and disseminating key messages via email circulars and the Brunel University London website.