Teaching and Learning for Secondary Schools

On this page you can find the latest thinking and learning for Secondary phase. 

As we navigated the COVID-19 pandemic, a number of schools dealt with the challenge of delivering their curriculum remotely. As learners return to the classroom, many schools will be need to be prepared in the eventuality of a local lockdown or isolated outbreaks. On this page you will also find information on recommended approaches to assist with home learning, alongside case studies of how these approaches might be applied in such outcomes.


Supporting remote teaching and learning at Secondary phase


On this page you will find two resources:

  • A guide to using Rosenshine’s principles for planning remote learning activities.
  • Case study examples of what 5 schools have been doing to establish home learning for their students. 

We hope that you find these ideas and resources useful.  Teachers often say that wanting to make a difference is a key motive. You are certainly doing that. Thank you.

Rosenshine’s principles

As we move from the ‘survival’ approach of phase 1 (pre-Easter break) into a ‘sustain’ phase over the coming weeks, we will be increasingly mindful of the ‘learning impact’ of what we plan, and how we support students to not only engage but to learn whilst they are at home.  As our commitment to evidence-based teaching and learning grows, many schools have used Rosenshine’s principles (see below) as a framework for effective practice. 

Below are 5 of Rosenshine’s principles with suggestions as to how they may be applied to planning for remote learning:

Begin every lesson with a review of prior learning (Rosenshine principle 1)

  • A low stakes retrieval practice quiz to test memory at the start of most lessons
  • Explicit explanation about how prior learning (last lesson, last topic, last term, last year) form the ‘building blocks’ of what we are thinking about now
  • Be explicit - clarify any common misconceptions that underpin today’s learning so that students have the best chance of success

Present material in small steps (Rosenshine principle 2)

  • What is the MAIN learning right now?  Chunk learning into clear segments so that students can really understand this ‘part of the whole’.  Be even more explicit that you would be in the classroom.  Make sure explanations are clear, give examples, and then pose a question for students so that they can PRACTICE. ‘Chunks’ of learning may be around each of your learning objectives or ‘steps’ of the lesson
  • Does this ‘chunk’ require teacher modelling?  If so, apply the ‘I do, we do, you do’ approach (teacher models, students have a go with teacher support – perhaps through steps/questions, and finally, students try without support)
  • Be ready to build in more ‘practice’ time than you would in the classroom where this will help to deepen understanding
  • Provide EXPLICIT explanation about how one ‘chunk’ of learning leads to the next (“now that we can… we are going to use that to…”)

Ask questions (Rosenshine principle 3)

  • Whilst it is not feasible to provide feedback in the way that we do in the classroom, getting as much feedback from students about their learning will help us to shape how we plan for next steps
  • Where you can use technology to get AfL responses this will help.  It may not be possible to get this feedback ‘live’, but even collating it after the lesson will inform your next step plans
  • Ask basic questions all the way through the lesson to keep consolidating and getting the ‘building blocks’ as secure as possible

Provide models and scaffolds (Rosenshine principle 4)

  • We model constantly in classrooms, both formally and informally. We share examples with students, and they share examples with each other.  Modelling will need to be a feature of most ‘chunks’ of remote learning lessons.  Students who are rushing through their work make assumptions.  Clear modelling for students as they work at home will help ensure that students think in the ways we want them to. (You may like our ‘metacognition as part of a lesson routine’ research article on the SAfE website)
  • When planning, be even more aware of the misconceptions that are possible and use scaffolds and modelling to avoid these. 
  • Because students are learning remotely, be ready to scaffold for students who did not need it in the classroom.  Whilst we are not necessarily changing the content of lessons, we do have to think about HOW students access this content.
  • Set a piece of work and next lesson, provide a model of how you would approach it so that students can revisit and improve their example

Engage students in weekly and monthly review (Rosenshine principle 10)

  • Review is closely linked to point 1. Above.  Activities that make sure that students review the learning is vital.  This helps them to make connections between ideas that have been building over time.
  • Perhaps asking students to create a memory map so that they can demonstrate their understanding of how different aspects of learning are connected, and to build the all-important schema that is vital for memory and recall.
  • Students could make revision resources for ‘chains of learning’ that fit together over a week and then over a series of weeks



Case Studies – What are some of our schools trying?

Mark Rowland’s article ‘Distance learning through the lens of disadvantaged pupils’ provides an excellent insight into the key issues for disadvantaged (and all) learners, and offers strategies for consideration.  The Chartered college article ‘online, distance and home learning: selected reading’ includes various commentaries on the challenges that we face.

Mark Rowland offers 15 strategies that may be particularly useful to consider.  Below you will see each strategy.  If you click on a strategy, you will be taken to a page which provides a summary of what 5 Surrey Secondary Schools are trying.

Offering ‘case study’ examples is a way of sharing what is happening, rather than definitive ‘best practice’.  Until the research is conducted and evidence gathered, we simply do not know what excellence is.

Mark Rowland offers 15 strategies that may be particularly useful to consider. 

Below you will see each of these strategies. We have gathered summaries from 5 Surrey Secondary Schools as case studies.

Please click on a strategy to be taken to a summary of what 5 Surrey Secondary Schools are trying.


The 15 Strategies - Click on a Strategy for Our Case Study Summaries



8. Use rigorous assessment to ensure that any distance learning addresses historical gaps. When schools reopen, high-quality diagnostic assessment will become more important than ever.

It is reasonable to expect that some pupils will have learnt more than others during school closures, for lots of complex reasons. Communication and record-keeping are even more important with pupils out of school.

9. Consolidation of knowledge should be prioritised over learning new content. It’s not possible to work independently on things you don’t know about. Because of external pressures, families may not be able to support the learning of new content. 

10. Scaffolding, modelling and worked examples become more important than ever.

11. It is important that pupils focus on achieving their personal best in work, rather than comparing themselves to others, especially if communicating online. Strategies such as cumulative quizzing can be really effective. 

12. Encourage pupils (of all ages) to read aloud regularly and frequently. Provide access to reading material and free audio books where possible. Reading is an opportunity for broadening horizons and cheating confinement. But provide structure and guidance, themes and sequencing where possible. 

13. Conversations and discussions are more important than word exposure for language development.

Interactions with words are critical: 


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