Improving learning outside the classroom and addressing workload at St Paul’s Academy

by Emily Tudor

I came to my role as Vice Principal for Teaching & Learning at a time of significant change to the curriculum and the impact it has made on teacher and student workload.

In light of more terminally assessed linear exams, I had to urgently address students taking greater responsibility for their own knowledge and enable targeted, effective homework and revision.

Investing in independent learning:

At St. Paul’s Academy, our students are welcome on site from 7am until 5pm; they have access to computers in a space that’s not always available to them at home. Over the years, we have used various online learning tools and students have had numerous login details, yet learning outside the classroom remained a battle between students and teachers, especially when parents didn’t engage with homework.

In my new role I wanted to streamline our systems and engage everyone with one platform. I reviewed all obsolete or poor value for money licenses and instead saved money by moving to one platform that provides a whole-school homework and resources solution. Doddle had already had a positive impact on teaching and learning in our science department, so we adopted it as our whole-school homework setting and tracking tool.

Reducing workload with self-marking quizzes:
As teacher workload is high on our agenda, we have been delighted with Doddle and the exam board specific resources it provides. Doddle’s self-marking quizzes have dramatically reduced marking time, and our teachers like the detail of the quiz results and the instant attainment overview provided in their markbook.

Collaboration and intervention:

The versatility of assigning through Doddle has made it useful in lots of ways, whether it’s used for targeting certain groups of students for particular exam question practice, setting work for students with extended absence or setting tasks for cover lessons. Notably, the departmental area of Doddle enables Subject Leaders or Key Stage Coordinators to assign resources to their teams to assist with their planning, further reducing workload and promoting collaborative planning.

At St Paul’s Academy, we enter students early for some GCSE exams if they are ready, and Year 11 ‘gain time’ lessons that are used for advanced study or revision of other subjects are now increasingly valuable, with students working through the Doddle ‘to-do’ lists on their devices.

Making Progress:

Many of our teachers are now also using ‘Doddle Progress’ where we can track curriculum skills on flexible personalised learning checklists of curriculum skills, helping students and parents to engage with their learning and direct meaningful improvement at home. Doddle’s diagnostic progress tests inform directed improvement time (DIT) tasks which have really motivated our students and enabled our teachers to implement stress-free low stakes testing.

With the support of Declan Duddy, our E-learning Coordinator, Doddle has been implemented quickly across the whole-school and has been adopted enthusiastically by teachers and students. Parental engagement with homework and revision is improving gradually but most importantly, far fewer are the homework battles and more active are our students in taking responsibility for their independent learning.

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