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Engaging pupils and parents in excellence for all

Pupils as leaders of learning: Learning detectives

One secondary school developed the skills of a small group of Year 9 pupils in identifying what good learning could look like. From this beginning, the post of 'Learning detective' was developed, to enable successful applicants to take on a formal role in developing learning across the curriculum. The Learning detectives materials are provided by the school for you to review and adapt.

Cameo of practice

Year 9 pupils showed good skills in critiquing their own learning and were then trained to observe and comment constructively on the learning that was taking place in their own lessons.

Pupils were also given guidance on providing constructive feedback on learning to the class.

Teachers were impressed at the impact this had on their lessons and the classes' positive response to the feedback. As a consequence, the school decided to create a formal post of 'learning detective'.

Interested pupils could submit an application and then be interviewed for the post (see adapted job and person specifications in Progression skills module 6: Capturing success (Ref: 00458-2010PDF-EN-01)). Their job was to observe, in pairs, a class other than their own but in the same year group. They were expected to provide feedback to the learners and some pointers for improvement. The following half-term they would return to observe the same class in a different lesson and see what progress had taken place.

The learning detectives found this whole process highly empowering. The experience of being interviewed for a job was entirely new. They felt responsible and respected by the teachers and the other pupils. They felt it was good experience for the future.

Teachers noticed that the class listened attentively to the positive feedback and responded well to the suggestions.

Key questions to consider

  • Could your pupils be trained in a similar way to support the improvement of learning?
  • With which pupils would you trial an approach like this?
  • How would you engage teaching colleagues in the process?