WRAT CPD Blog – TLA Updates

Updated: Feb 5

Michelle Minton, Rebecca Ashraf, and Alex Halpin – Teaching, Learning and Assessment Links


Our TLA Links provide perspectives on Teaching, Learning and Assessment at each of our secondary academies.


Michelle Minton - TLA Link at Leeds West Academy


Unexpected Inspiration for Designing a Curriculum

“How powerful it would be if every child was taught with the collective expertise of the whole system” (Weston and Clay, 2018)


Whilst deep in a rabbit hole of research, I stumbled across this quote from David Weston and Clay’s brilliant book – “Unleashing Great Teaching”.


It struck a chord with me as it highlights how collaboration across the White Rose Academies Trust and Luminate Education Group can have on the young people we teach.

This makes me feel privileged to work alongside so many professionals as the teaching, learning and assessment link for Leeds West Academy.


Since my appointment last summer, I have fallen victim to an educational book buying habit. As already mentioned, ‘Unleashing Great Teaching’ is a deep and thorough analysis of what expertise in the classroom looks like: how to plan, deliver and monitor impactful CPD; how to engage with experts; and how to grow teachers.

Another page turner has been ‘Teaching WalkThrus’ from Tom Sherrington and Oliver Caviglioli. This succinct ‘handbook’ makes expert pedagogy clear and accessible from seminal research such as Willingham’s ‘Why don’t students like school?’ to practical teaching strategies like retrieval practice and questioning. This book has been particularly useful when supporting NQT mentors and delivering beginner teacher CPD.


As a teacher, you sometimes find inspiration where you least expect it. The most recent ‘light bulb’ moment came in the depths of lockdown, while home-schooling my 5-year-old and stopping my 1-year old from eating crayons and glue.


Perhaps not the perfect environment for an epiphany, but that is where I discovered an engaging (and daily) YouTube science show called ‘Let’s Go Live’ with BBC presenters Maddie Moate and Greg Foot.


Like many parents, this has ultimately designed my home-schooling curriculum. The inspiration came from the presenters explaining complex and abstract ideas like photosynthesis, the thermohaline circulation and geological timescales in a way that my 5-year-old (and I) could understand them!


They used a number of techniques such as linking learning to everyday objects, careful use of vocabulary and analogies, as well as conducting quizzes to check understanding.


This ignited my interest in researching explicit teaching and the art of high-quality explanations, which informed my recent WRAT CPD session.

I would love to hear about how you explain the most complex concepts in your subject…if you feel you can get in touch, please do!



Rebecca Ashraf - TLA Link at Leeds East Academy


Data-driven CPD and High Performance Learning


My role as TLA Link for Leeds East Academy has so far been an incredible opportunity to engage in Teaching and Learning outside of my subject area and delve into academic research around the science of learning, particular the work of High Performance Learning (HPL).


As well as this, I have had the opportunity to plan and deliver CPD within my Academy and across the Luminate Education Group, which has been a truly rewarding experience.

Regarding CPD, I have worked closely with the Quality of Education Team to provide training in response to emerging themes in quality assurance data. For example, I have delivered CPD on assessment for learning, impactful feedback and implementing ambition and challenge in lessons.


I look forward to continuing to deliver CPD at the Academy, WRAT and Group level throughout the academic year in order to engage staff in professional development and see the impact of this in classrooms across the city!


The main part of my role will focus on being part of the team that will lead on implementing High Performance Learning across the Trust. So far, we have engaged in training sessions regarding the theory and research behind High Performance Learning and now we are moving to look at how this will be implemented successfully.


This is a project that I am very excited to be working on because the key principles and values of HPL are something that could be transformative for our school culture and ethos, particularly regarding how pupils’ view their education.


I have also enjoyed having the opportunity to work with my TLA counterparts at Leeds West and Leeds City. We have a TLA group on Microsoft Teams that we use to share research that might be of interest to one another and communicate regularly through email to update on the Teaching & Learning picture at our respective academies.


We have shared local strengths and areas for development and we will refer to these when sharing best practice across the Trust and inform future CPD planning.


To summarise, I am thoroughly enjoying my new role and am finding it to be an amazing opportunity. I love being able to work on Teaching & Learning on a larger scale and am excited to start working more on HPL and see the impact that it has across the Trust.

Alex Halpin - TLA Link at Leeds City Academy


Passionate about Researching Effective Pedagogy


In my new role as Leeds City Academy’s Teaching, Learning and Assessment Link, I have been able to have an influential role in improving practice at Leeds City Academy, the Trust and across the wider Luminate Education Group.


I have thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with some truly impressive experts in their field across the Trust, especially with my fellow TLA Links.

Together, we ensure that we take an open and inclusive approach by gathering teachers’ own advice on what great practice looks like. It is a real pleasure to share this home-grown expertise across the Trust and the Group to ensure improvements are continually made.


One of my favourite parts of this role is the opportunity to provide CPD to help improve practice on topics which I am passionate about such as recall and interleaving. I’m excited to deliver more CPD in the coming weeks and months.


I’ve also had the opportunity to collaborate with senior leaders to identify our school’s strengths and areas for improvement. This means that we are able to provide consistently effective CPD and offer assistance as new themes emerge.


I am determined to ensure that all my colleagues have the opportunity to access a bespoke and well-considered CPD programme which truly tailors to the needs of our workforce.


Exciting opportunities lay ahead for myself, my fellow TLA Links and the Trust as High Performance Learning starts to be implemented. We are entering a unique and academic environment, and this is a great opportunity for us to become world class schools. I will be able to offer support to all teachers during this implementation and will share your feedback to help tailor the implementation to work for our school as it is up to us for how well this system works.


I have always been passionate about researching effective pedagogy but often a busy schedule can mean neglecting this essential element of teaching. However, my role has given me extra motivation as I am now researching for both myself and my colleagues. Therefore, I thought I would use this blog to share a couple of book recommendations and key messages.


Kate Jones, Retrieval Practice


Key points

· Students will forget what you teach them

· You must provide time in teaching to support students to remember

· Recall must be challenging

· Recall should be varied

· Students should be made aware of its importance and use these strategies in their own revision.


Judith Hochman and Natalie Wexler, The Writing Revolution


Key points

· Students find writing difficult, we must teach them explicitly how to

· Students make mistakes in simple sentence structure so we should build from the basics and focus on practice

· Strategies include planning, building sentences from fragments


More reflections from the WRAT CPD Blog


Lessons in Leadership

Curriculum Subject Development

Beginner Teachers

Vulnerable Groups & Co-professionals

Resources & Recommendations

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