Guided Learning .. Redbridge shares

August 15, 2013
Glyn Barritt

Redbridge CC logo As part of Vision 2040, Headteacher Jason Ashley and his colleague Helen Jones at Redbridge Community School share the impact of Guided Learning sessions …

What is guided learning?

During a guided learning session the teacher works directly with a small group of pupils of similar need or ability once the main ‘shared’ teaching has concluded. The teacher works with a small group of about six pupils, grouped according to their ability or particular learning needs usually for about twenty minutes whilst the rest of the class work independently.

In a guided learning session, the emphasis is on supporting pupils as they apply new learning, identifying and addressing misconceptions in order to help them to become independent learners. A distinctive feature of the teaching is that it consolidates, through targeted support, individual pupils’ learning at the point of application.

The teacher plans the guided session in order to steer pupils’ learning in a way that is not always possible in the whole-class situation. There are opportunities for pupils to interact with each other, work independently and reflect on their learning.

Key messages about guided learning

  • It is a personalisation strategy for all pupils, not just the least able or gifted and talented.
  • It enables teachers to identify barriers to learning and misconceptions – and provides an opportunity to address them early within mainstream lessons.
  • It links directly to assessment for learning, both in order to identify pupils’ needs and to provide a rich source of information to support pupils further.
  • It differs from group work in that the teacher steers the learning, supporting pupils to apply their learning and develop independence. When teachers use guided learning, the focus is on the application of skills taught in the main part of the lesson, thus sealing pupils’ learning.
  • It’s about ‘keeping up’ rather than ‘catching up’ as it enables teachers to plan support for small groups of targeted pupils rather than waiting for them to get stuck.
  • It provides an opportunity for teachers to expose pupils to transferable skills and strategies and to support them as they apply them in other contexts and subjects.


Pupil independence has improved as cited in this year’s Department Review process. Guided has been used by numerous colleagues and has enabled several colleagues to move their teaching to the next grade. Colleagues took “risks” and delivered guided lessons during their department reviews.

Pupil feedback has been particularly powerful as a way of engaging other colleagues. Redbridge students have found Guided enjoyable and they can also articulate how it has aided their progress. Pupil responses have been rewarded and share with staff.

Evidence file so far… Pilot Group – English

One of the initial ambassadors for Guided Learning was 2nd in English. The grid below comes from Sam’s evidence file and shows the impact a guided session had on some Year 10 pupils for a specific piece of work they were writing.


Grade before guided learning

Grade after guided learning



















After the guided session Sam also felt that students had demonstrated more confidence in answering questions in class, during activities and in work in exercise books.

Below is a piece of writing about the character of Crooks completed by a student before guided work.

Before Guided Learning

“Cause I’m black. They play cards there, but I can’t play because I’m black. They say I stink. This quote tell us Crooks is lonely and he feels left out because he’s black. They’re saying if you you’re black you are different”

Here is a response to a different character after guided intervention.

After Guided Learning

“Steinbeck shows that Curley’s wife desires to be beautiful to be like a Hollywood movie star. For example “she had full and rounded lips”. This suggests that she takes pride in her appearance and wants to be like a Hollywood actress. Her lips were ‘full’, this also suggests she’s pretty”

All the lead guided learning teachers have evidence of how progress has improved because of the use of guided sessions.

During the two visits by the external organisation some of our pupils were interviewed. Below are just some of the comments they made about being involved in a guided lesson.

Student comments at Redbridge Community School

“If you are struggling with something the teacher can focus on you and help you to catch up”

“If you are on, say, a Level 6 the teacher can show you exactly what you need to get a Level 7”

“As there are less people you are less embarrassed to talk”

“During the guided session the teacher walks you through and you move on together”

“If you are not in the guided group it gives you time to do some challenges on your own”.

Teachers’ comments: INSET evaluation

“I did not believe that Student A could work and engage like that, having time with him for the question and answer session made me challenge my own practice.”

“I feel my teaching is better and that progress from the class has improved.”

Our own research shows: SAMPLE size 120


Stated they felt more confident in their learning


Stated they enjoyed these lessons more than their other lessons


Felt that they understand the work better when the groups are guided


Felt that they are more confident when asking the teacher for help


Felt that they are more motivated in their subject


Felt that they are making more progress in their subjects

Implications for future practice

  • Second year of the project to continue to be led by Helen Jones
  • Original SIG members to conduct a research project with KS4
  • Secondary SIG members to become NQT Guided buddies
  • Key Middle Leaders to be in the SIG for 2013 – 2014 and led by a current Guided Outstanding Practitioner.
  • Guided used in transition work in the next academic year.

Jason Ashley ] Jason Ashley is Headteacher of Redbridge Community School, in inner city Southampton. Redbridge has been rated outstanding on four separate occasions and we are determined to gain our fifth when it presents.