This course offers guidance on teaching strategies which help pupils acquire, retain and apply essential knowledge. It draws on cognitive research to enable participants to apply theories of metacognition, spaced and interleaved practice, and retrieval in the classroom. We will also cover practical issues such as feedback, questioning and purposeful group work and we can help pupils become more independent in their learning. The course key topics covered include:

  • Metacognition: helping learners plan, manage and evaluate their learning
  • Retrieval practice: storage and retrieval memory; low-stakes testing; rethinking revision
  • Spacing and interleaving: organising the curriculum to support retrieval of knowledge; interleaved revision practice
  • Improving questioning
  • How to make group work purposeful
  • Understanding the barriers to independent learning
  • Building an independent learning culture
  • Ensuring effective transition: primary/secondary and GCSE/Post 16


As a result of attending this course, participants will be able to:

  • Gain understanding of and apply research on cognitive science to teaching practice and subject/school leadership
  • Understand the influence of cognitive research on the new Ofsted framework and apply this learning to their curriculum planning and delivery
  • Gaining practical insights into improving classroom practice
  • Understanding and overcome the barriers which stand in the way of independent learning
  • Headteachers and senior leaders
  • Pupil Premium co-ordinators
  • Subject, pastoral, SEN and inclusion leads
  • Virtual School heads/leaders; Governors
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


Session 1
Understanding and applying research into cognitive science

  • The influence of cognitive science on the 2019 Ofsted framework
  • Metacognition and self-regulated learning: helping pupils gain knowledge of task, strategies, self in planning monitoring and evaluating their learning
  • Retrieval strategies: Ebbinghaus’ ‘forgetting curve’; Bjork’s theory of disuse; retrieving and connecting knowledge through frequent testing; cognitive load theory and memory
  • Effective ways of organising, presenting and structuring learning; dual coding
  • Spacing and interleaving: how to organise your curriculum/schemes of learning to maximise learning

Session 2
Teaching strategies to improve independent learning

  • Effective planning: for teaching, home learning and feedback
  • Practical approaches to organising, presenting and structuring content:
  • Questioning: improving the repertoire
  • How to make group work effective: making pupil talk purposeful
  • Classroom organisation: seating plans and layout
  • Assessment: effective marking, whole-class feedback, verbal fedback

Session 3
Practical approaches to support independent learners

  • How to create a culture of independent learning in your classroom/department/year group/school
  • Understanding and tackling barriers to independent learning
  • Promoting resilience: evaluating ‘growth mindset’ approaches
  • Enabling aspiration and progression to the next stage of learning

David Birch

David Birch is a former secondary headteacher and LA school improvement partner who now works as an independent adviser. He was also an associate director of the National Education Trust for 9 years and closely involved in working with schools on improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, whole school literacy and leadership reviews. He chairs and speaks regularly at national conferences and contributes to educational books and journals. He is an experienced trainer on a wide range of topics and has developed several online training resources. He is also a senior examiner in A Level English Literature.

Quality of Education