No grade 1s for Progress Reviews

I love the concept of ‘magical moments’ as a teacher. You know, the ones that leave learners changed. They can be huge, cross-curricula moments that take a lot of planning, or very small ones that just take a little thought. Even better, though are the magical moments preceded by a wonderful cocktail of curiosity and anticipation. Isn’t it a shame that, so often, Progress Reviews don’t fall into this category of experiences. Why do you think that might be?

Teachers of group-based courses often report that they have to balance running a tutorial for their group while trying to complete a series of individual reviews. All too often, they say, this means they have to ‘get through’ the review in 10 minutes, and that it can take weeks to ‘get through’ everyone.

In workbased-land, there’s often more time, but sadly no more magic. I’m generalising here, of course, and only talking about those I’ve observed or been told about. It’s very interesting watching work-based reviews being quality assured. There’s often a list of actions that should happen, and ticks to be placed in boxes. Do people still use that bank of E&D questions, by the way? I remember one reviewer saying: ‘I asked you number 3 last time, so here’s question 4’.

While these two extreme scenarios are very different, there is a common denominator: they’re overly transactional. Do you know what I mean? They’re about getting through a process – one hamstrung by a lack of time, the other by a misguided, perhaps awarding-body driven audit agenda.

But Progress Reviews are not a mere transaction. They’re not just about monitoring and target setting. And they should never be ‘missable’. How might they be different if they were to be Magic Moments? The answer is easier than you might think.

While I genuinely think that the answer is right in front of us, can I ask – have you ever seen an inspection judgement of ‘outstanding’ for a progress review? I’ve been in the inspection game for decades now, and can’t ever remember seeing it. A few months ago, I looked at a batch of 15 Ofsted reports to see what comments were doing the rounds on reviews. Two reports didn’t mention them; 12 were critical.

All we have to do to get them right is ask ourselves: ‘How do we want learners to be different by the end of them’. Set that down in as much detail as you can, but – and here’s a key rule – don’t say anything about how you will achieve it. Breaking the link between the ‘stuff’ you do and the ‘difference’ you want to make is a critical success factor.

And this is what we’ll be doing in this week’s open session on Friday, March 18th. Not only will you begin the process of setting out a Quality Standard for the impact you want to have, but you’ll also use this thinking to then deconstruct a reviewer at work, to determine for yourself the impact she is or isn’t having on her learner.

And for all you group-based reviewers out there, I’ll also share a revolutionary idea for resolving your time issue. Not an idea of mine, sadly, but one arrived at my numerous delegates at the end of this session.

Do please join us this Friday if you can, or tag any of your colleagues who might be interested, and/or share with your own networks if you’re able. Booking details can be found here:

Following on from last week, here’s a few of my favourite wonderfully-off-the-wall feedback comments for this session:

  • ‘Today was like walking along a sandy beach and finding interesting shells to take home and finish covering my gift box for my personal tutors and students.’ Barnet and Southgate College
  • ‘Metamorphosis of a chrysalis to a butterfly. Transformative!’ City College Peterborough
  • ‘I think for me it would be the lightbulb moment of understanding that the main focus and goal of my job is making the difference to a learner’s life and not just their apprenticeship experience.’ JTL Training
  • ‘Stage one: slow sheep, Stage two: curious cat, Stage three: enthusiastic border collie.’ NPTC Group of Colleges

Hope you can join us. Thanks for reading.

Best wishes


#FE #progressreviews #targetsetting #c4cqi #JoyFE #UKFEchat #TonyDavis


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