At the end of a carefully structured literacy lesson Year 1 pupils use ‘Callum the Cat’ to reflect on their learning and explain to each other what they have been able to do.

These enthusiastic and lively pupils are only half way through their third term since starting school. Their teacher uses all sorts of positive strategies and visual prompts to help them maintain their concentration. Shared reading of speech bubbles on a poster of familiar characters ensures that pupils know that the focus of the lesson is about using capital letters and full stops and remembering to join their letters when writing. During their independent work one group has a toy black cat sitting on their table. As they make their sentences they are chatty and handle the toy. A teaching assistant monitors and supports them. Towards the end of the lesson when their teacher makes the visual signals, which are part of her consistent behaviour management strategies, pupils tidy up their tables quickly and return to sitting on the carpet. Instead of the routine practice often observed in plenary sessions where pupils “show and tell” what they have been doing, the little boy holding ‘Callum the Cat’ is asked to tell the rest of the class what Callum has been learning this morning. He explains confidently that the cat has been using capital letters and trying to use full stops properly. This prompts others to want to talk about their work. This demonstrated an excellent way of enabling such young pupils to reflect, and begin to develop early self-evaluation strategies, which are such an important element in the development of self assessment and the use of independent learning strategies.