The PiXL (Partners in Excellence) Club are a collaboration of over 1300 schools across the UK and abroad, who share a common goal to raise standards and inspire students, through purposeful and vibrant conferences, networks, training opportunities and sharing online resources. To join the club an annual subscription of just over £3000 is required, and this gives full access to the PiXL’s expertise and network. This cohesive approach has lead to significant improvement in headline figures.
PiXL was founded in 2008 by its current chair Sir John Rowling, a former teacher with 40 years teaching experience, 19 of which as a high performing Headteacher. The PiXL Club comprises, primary and secondary schools, as well as sixth form college’s, international schools, and PRU’s.
PiXL's numerous acronyms include:
RSL - Raising Standards Leaders
PLC - Personalised Learning Checklist (also called Covey Compelling Scoreboard)
WTM - Walking, Talking Mocks
QbQ - Question Behind the Question
DTT - Diagnosis, Therapy and Testing
AOPE - Aims, Objectives, Purpose, Evaluation
MAT - More Able and Talented Scheme
KPI - Key Performance Indicators
TRIP - Tough Realities Improvement Performance
PPEs - Pre Public Examinations
WIG - Wildly Important Goal
PAT - Progress and Attainment
MSiG - Marginal and Significant Improvements Group
The PiXL website is in essence a portal to booking courses and conferences, contains case studies and has a link to Huddle, a cloud based platform that contains all the shared resources for Maths, English, Science, History, and Geography. Additionally the website contain other useful material such as example PLC’s, motivational presentations, PPE’s and data tracking proformas. The most recent development is with a student website for English, Maths and Science, which contains interactive PLC’s for Maths and Science.
Students are given a PLC (Personalised Learning Checklist), which is a tracking sheet that contains the key content and skills objectives for a subject, which the students have to achieve. An example of a science PLC is available here. Students complete an assessment(s) or tasks termed knowledge tests to ascertain the extent of their knowledge and understanding, this is the diagnosis aspect. With reference to the PLC students will be given specific guidance, teaching and questions to complete. This is the therapy component and is the intervention stage, which I’ve personally found is most effective when integrated into lessons, or personalised homework, supported by parents throughout the year.
Other therapy models include out of classroom hour sessions during lunchtime or after school, which are incentivised through refreshments, use of iPads and mobile devices, which can inaccessible during the school day through being booked out for other lessons, house points/merits in line with the schools reward policy or more tangible rewards such as gift vouchers, if a sustained degree of progression is demonstrated. One of the greatest advantages of holding out of hours sessions is that students have the opportunity to seek assistance from a range of teachers and specialists. They can work in groups who share similar difficulties, regardless of setting and year groups. The climate is more relaxed and highly focussed, and the students can choose how they learn, be it through a whole range of independent methods or a more teacher interactive approach. Therapy may also mean covering the topic again if the students have large gaps in their knowledge or misconceptions.
PiXL gives support and guidance on many other learning strategies, some of which are marginal, small improvement gain, others are more significant, and have a greater impact. The following are some examples:
- Walking talking mocks, students guided through a mock paper explaining how to approach each answer, and how to answer it. There is a PiXL You Tube channel for these
- Collapsed timetable days to complete controlled assessments, extended pieces of work or in depth study, weekend revision days or Easter school or sessions during half term
- 1:1 targeted sessions
- Sharing of strong teaching and learning practice and expertise from across the school and local area, through teacher professional development,
- Focusing on exam technique
- Effective use of student achievement targets in staff Appraisals,
- Investment in a data expertise team and a RSL (Raising Standards Leaders),
- Use of fine level grading
- Making mock feel real - followed up with student specific targets and creation of the results day
- 7:30 exam warm up sessions – pre-exam session to remind students of the key components of the exam and format
- Visible leadership as motivators, a celebrators of success, enforcers of standards and expectations and advocate of achievement through dedication, perseverance, and determination
- Getting the exam room right – nothing is left to chance, students to be fully aware of the exam duration and behavioural expectations
- Communicate the strategy with parents – essential for forming a supportive community of positive achievement
- Instilling and reinforcing a strong sense of moral purpose across all staff
- Study residentials, specifically for English and Maths
- Strategic and tactical KS4 curriculum offer
- Effective tracking system for every measure (5ACEM, PP, 3+LOP, 4+LOP, Progress 8)
- Using volunteers to support – local universities, former students to share experiences, businesses, local professionals
- Internal exams in all year groups – particularly important in light of the removal of modular exams, and the need for students to prepare for lengthy terminal examinations
- Master photo board to track headline progress of students – communicating to the staff the vulnerable students in terms of achievement
- Pizza revision classes – evening revision sessions with refreshments
- Parent revision support sessions – demonstrating to parents what we provide to the students to revise, what material and techniques are available and how they can support the revision process at home
- Providing refreshments before the exam – free water and fruit given to the students
- Exam dates in students phones – ensures students are fully aware when each exam is, the duration and the topic (Google Calendar is very good for this).
Recommendations are to focus on two or three high impact core strategies, and then build in the marginal gains when the high impact approaches have been fully established, and implemented.
There is a huge array of items that can be implemented to improve outcomes, and the above is only a selection, and a brief overview, none of which is revolutionary by itself, or novel by any means, but consistently implemented can lead to success. With the radically new educational reform upon us, schools need to provide students with the maximum support they can, through an ethos of “we will succeed together”, to assist them through a more rigorous curriculum, which unfortunately does not meet the needs of the 21st century learner or society.