The General Teaching Council for Scotland

Enhancing professionalism in education since 1965

It's all about impact

Professional John Hattie

In November, Professor John Hattie from the University of Melbourne delivered his internationally-renowned Visible Learning research in front of a packed auditorium. We share some of his fascinating research findings and key advice for Scottish educators

The minute you entered the EICC in Edinburgh there was a buzz of excitement and anticipation. From people browsing through the vast range of books on “excellence in education”, to wee huddles of educators discussing what’s making a difference in their schools.

Everyone was there because they wanted the very best for our young people and wanted to know what else can be done to promote excellence in their schools. Graeme Logan’s presentation on education in Scotland provided a great overview of the current progress throughout the country. There was a clear focus on equity for all learners and using data wisely to capture and enhance impact. “Define it, own it, change it” was an excellent bedrock to underpin improvement in school. When Professor John Hattie took to the floor, it was immediately obvious that the audience was totally captured after just one sentence.

It takes seven years to turn a school round from being in the bottom 10 per cent to the top 10 per cent.” What a start! I was already wondering how many of our lessons had such a great hook and I was also searching my brain to find all the ingredients that would pull this fact together. As the years of data were shared, it became clear that one of the biggest effects on learning is the inspired and passionate teacher who knows the impact they make on their students. These teachers work together with pupils as evaluators of impact and ensure their young people are moving towards explicit success criteria. A whole school approach of Visible Learning is clear and pupils know how to learn. High expectations are set and effective feedback is shared so pupils know what and how to extend their learning and know what progress looks like. The power of passion and teachers’ collective expertise is vital.

The emphasis on teachers working together to evaluate their impact and a shared purpose to improve must be evident in every school. Is there excitement and joy in teaching in your school? Is there regular chat about the impact of what you do? The whole day was completely inspirational and I feel honoured to have been part of it. Now it’s time to go back to discuss the impact of our latest learning challenges in school!

Jane Nimmo, Edenside Primary School, Kelso

Jane won a ticket (as part of our competition) to the conference along with two other teachers (Rachael Aitken, Methilhill Primary School and David Wight, PE Teacher, Clydeview Academy).

View our Storify of tweets from the day:


Don't look for the silver bullet overseas. Ignore Finland, Shanghai, Singapore. Recognise excellence in Scotland

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I don't care about how you teach but I do care about your IMPACT

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Professional learning questions

  • Do we have a shared narrative about learning?
  • To what extent are we teaching children how to interpret feedback?
  • What collectively do we believe to be a year's worth of growth of each child?
  • How good are we as teachers at publicising our expertise?
  • How do we see ourselves through the eyes of our children?
  • What do we mean by IMPACT in our school?
  • How do we find the evaluative evidence that shows we are making a difference?
  • To what extent are we focusing on the things that matter and make a real difference?
  • are we too obsessed about structural change and structural issues, which are known to have little or no difference?

Self-reflective questions

  • To what extent do I collaborate with my peers and my students about my conception of progress and the impact I am having?
  • To what extent is my expertise making a difference?
  • How and to what extent do we make the impact of our learning the focus of our professional conversation?
  • How do I get others to help me reflect on my impact?
  • When teaching my pupils, how long do I talk? How many questions do I ask?
  • How much feedback does a child in my class receive in a day?

Professor Hattie's latest research shows the influence teaching practices can have on student achievement

Download the full summary here:

Visible Learning: influences on student achievement 

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Teaching Scotland

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Editor contact: Evelyn Wilkins

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