Boosting pupil performance 

Jacqui Keepin shares some tips in her second article on boosting pupil performance which covers transition and progression across the 11-14 and 14-16 age phases.

Boosting pupil performance
This is the second article from Jacqui Drew on boosting pupil performance which covers transition and progression across the secondary age phases.

Jacqui’s first article highlighted using memory retrieval to boost pupil performance. The article can be found here.

Transition from 11-14 to 14-16 years 

When teaching pupils we are helping them to acquire essential life skills, as well as develop their confidence and capabilities of working with different ingredients and equipment. We are also developing knowledge and understanding of where foods come from and why we need food, including food groups and the need for balance and variety.  This means that when they reach the end of their compulsory food education, and decide not to choose a ‘food’ education or career path, it is hoped that they have some skills and experiences for the future and are able to make healthier choices 

Having been a food teacher myself for many years, I know that my approach to 11-14 years lessons would have been to include as many hands-on practical activities to develop pupils’ love of food; enable them to acquire, develop and secure food skills and apply their theoretical knowledge. Facilitating pupils to ‘achieve’ can be a big boost to their performance and enhance their learning, which furthermore will help maintain their enjoyment of lessons and hopefully encourage them to study the subject further at 14-16. 

When pupils go through the transition from 11-14 years to studying for qualifications, it could be said that learning tends to follow an expected path, or progression, where recipes become more complex/more precision is demanded, and theoretical knowledge can be applied to a wider variety of situations.   

Consider this in terms of practical outcomes being produced by pupils at 11-14 and 14-16 years, the progress made is clearly identified in these recipes:  

  • Cheese topped cob loaf progressing to Cheese, caramelised onion and pesto stromboli.

The Cheese, caramelised onion and pesto stromboli produced at 14-16 demonstrates more complex flavourings (making caramelised onion and pesto) and advanced, accurate shaping techniques when compared to the cheese topped cob loaf, therefore progression is quite easy to identify. 

  • Apple crumble progressing to French apple tart.

 The Apple crumble demonstrates key food skills and encourages the handling of basic ingredients and equipment.  Progression can be identified, when compared to the French apple tart (sweet shortcrust pastry, lined in a dish and baked blind; apple puree filling decorated with finely sliced apple and glazed), which is a more complex recipe requiring a wider range of food skills, more steps and more ingredients.  

So having already been given the opportunity to build a foundation level of knowledge, and application, at 11-14 years, pupils will widen and deepen their subject knowledge and food skills at 14-16, if they are challenged to do so through recipe choices and food science experimentation. This also allows them to further their understanding of the functions and properties of ingredients along with the application of nutrition and sensory science.  Therefore, during these two age phases pupils should have made progress and be showing progression. 

Progression and extension across 11-14 and 14-16 years 

In order to boost pupil performance, it is important that progression, or progress, is recognised and acknowledged.  According to the dictionary a definition of progression is ‘The process of developing or moving gradually towards a more advanced state’. But we must remember that progression or making progress is not always steps forward - it can also include steps back until a fact or key concept is remembered or a new skill is comfortably acquired, developed and secured.  

It is important to consider that individual pupil progression will vary, and that progression is not just based on demonstrating an improvement in theoretical knowledge.  During a practical activity, progress or progression for a pupil could be mastering a food skill that they have struggled with, for example finely dicing an onion.  It could also be the improving of their time management skills. For example, the first time the pupil completes the making of their dish, and washes up and cleans the kitchen area, meeting the time deadline set by the teacher.  

In a situation or activity where pupils are questioned directly, progression could be shown by the normally silent, uncommunicative pupil actually attempting to provide an answer for a question, the answer may be incorrect, but they have had a go.  For teamwork, it could be making a valid contribution to a discussion or working together with another pupil to complete a task when their normal preference would be to work individually.   

When considering the improvement of theoretical knowledge, it could be the achieving of a higher mark in a class test than previously achieved. This could be a new test or the same test that has been re-taken to determine if knowledge has been stored in the memory for accurate recall.  Another example could be demonstrating an improved approach to answering an essay style exam question set.  One important point to keep returning to is, whatever the achievement, it should be praised, praising can lead to greater motivation which in turn boosts performance. 

However pupils demonstrate progression, the ultimate aim is that they should all: 

  • know, recall and apply more (know that, know how); 
  • be able to set new goals;
  • be more skilful than when they started​; 
  • identify problems and rectify them;
  • develop personal autonomy, manage themselves and resources​.

To enable this to take place, Schemes of Work/Learning (SoW) and lesson plans should build in progression. The Core competences for children and young people aged 5-16 are an ideal place to start.  The Competences represent core skills and knowledge around the themes of Diet (food and drink), Consumer Awareness, Cooking (food preparation and handling skills), Food Safety and Active Lifestyles (physical activity). They aim to help children and young people to develop the skills and knowledge to make and implement healthy food choices.  

Finally, once SoWs and lesson plans have been written, it is useful to consider how progression can be evidenced outside of recording pupil’s marks for written work and tests.  A number of ways for evidencing progression include: 

  • before and after post-it notes (stick on the board or in their books)​;
  • flipped lessons​;
  • Food a Fact of Life Learning Journey booklets, Cooking and Nutrition years 7, 8 and 9; 
  • Licence to Cook practical observation sheet​;
  • regular skill or knowledge diary;
  • self or peer assessment – based on Licence to Cook observation sheet and Core competences​;
  • silent demonstrations - with an independently made, successful dish made by the pupil;
  • use of ‘team leader’ or ‘food inspector’ roles during paired or group work​.

In conclusion, effective transition, progression and extension can enable pupils to acquire, develop and secure food skills, build and apply theoretical knowledge and ultimately, boost their performance. 

Further sources of information and support 

  • Progression has also been built in to the Food -  a fact of life Schemes of Work to enable pupils to acquire, develop and secure knowledge and skills from 11-14 years.
  • For more information about Schemes of Work/Learning and lesson planning, why not watch Roy’s webinar recording here?  The accompanying presentation can be found here.
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