Pupils pick things up at different speeds. It’s a natural part of learning for us all, and it’s just as natural for some to speed ahead and others to take longer to pick things up. As teachers, it’s our job to set out a plan so that latter group of pupils can stay on track.
Intervention is an important part of helping every pupil maximise their potential, but it can be difficult to know exactly what actions to put in place that will make a significant contribution.
That’s where we come in. In this article, we’ll give you a few pointers on how you can get an effective intervention strategy in place.
Intervention strategy tips and techniques
- Identify which pupils need support
- Establish the pupil’s needs
- Conduct a thorough planning process
- Train everyone involved
- Choose the right action
- Give effective feedback
- Monitor progress regularly
- Start small and scale-up
- Evaluate success
1. Identify which pupils need support
Assessment and monitoring of performance are a regular part of every teacher’s life. Review test results and assess each child’s position in relation to where they should be at this part of their educational journey. If they are some way behind, they may need to be part of your next intervention strategy.
How you approach intervention will depend on how many children need it. Your tactics for one or two children will be very different compared to an entire class – so it’s important to establish numbers before you press ahead.
2. Establish the pupil’s needs
Intervention has no one-size-fits-all approach. Different requirements call for different strategies to be used, so it’s vitally important you establish the needs of pupils before you make a start.
Take the time to assess a child’s knowledge, understanding, and skill-level against where they should be, helping you tailor your strategy to make gains where it is required.
3. Conduct a thorough planning process
Planning is an often-overlooked part of intervention, but it can make or break your entire strategy. In an Ofsted report into National Strategy intervention programmes, their top recommendation was to “ensure that schools understand the importance of thorough identification of pupils’ needs and careful planning of programmes to meet those needs.”
They also pointed out that less effective intervention often comes down to insufficient planning. In the end, it leads to booster or revision sessions that don’t address the correct weakness. Throughout the planning process, make sure you’re asking yourself:
- Where do pupils need to be at the end of the intervention?
- What action will get them where they need to be?
- What resources do I need to get them there?
4. Train everyone involved
Another significant recommendation from the Ofsted report was around training. Teaching assistants and all other members of staff need to be briefed on the objectives of the intervention programme and the strategy involved. Each time you roll out a new intervention programme, training needs to take place again.
Teaching assistants appreciate clarity, and this can bring them the confidence they need to do their job correctly.
5. Choose the right action
There are many different actions you can put in place, but it will all depend on the needs of the pupils, the nature of their knowledge gap, and the capacity you have within the school. The four pre-implementation pointers from above should give you plenty of insight into what action needs to be taken.
Head down to types of intervention for a list of common intervention tactics that you might make use of after the planning phase.
6. Give effective feedback
This may be a specific part of your overall intervention strategy, but all pupils will benefit from direct, targeted feedback. It doesn’t need to be a long, formal discussion about that pupil’s performance, but make efforts to provide more regular check-ins with the child to give brief, pointed feedback.
7. Monitor progress regularly
We can draw on the Ofsted report again here to point out the importance of monitoring how your intervention is going. The executive summary said that the regular monitoring of provision and pupil achievement along their intervention journey was a key part of determining the overall level of success.
Check-in with pupils throughout to monitor progress. If they aren’t making significant gains, look to adapt your strategy and try something different.
8. Start small and scale-up
No matter how much you plan your strategy, problems will crop up that you couldn’t have accounted for. If you roll your strategy out across dozens of pupils, it can be costly to make changes and difficult to gather representative feedback.
Many teachers find it easier to start in small, controlled groups where they can test out their plans. There, you can gather direct feedback and make any amends before you roll the plan out more broadly.
9. Evaluate success
Whether it’s deemed a success or a failure, each intervention should be evaluated after it’s completed. Over time, you will learn more about what works and what doesn’t. Evaluate each programme and adapt and combine your most successful techniques to constantly improve the outcomes each time.
Types of intervention
- 1-to-1 tuition
- Small group tutors
- Large group boosters
- Online revision and homework
1. 1-to-1 tuition
This form of intervention is one of the most resource-intensive and difficult to pull off in modern educational settings. An individual child receives dedicated tuition from a teacher, often in additional after-school sessions (although it can still take place in-lesson).
1-1 tuition can be one of the best ways to deliver effective intervention. The teacher can identify specific knowledge and skills-gaps and tailor their approach. This can then be adapted on the fly as the pupil responds to each teaching strategy. If you have the resources and time available, or your intervention only covers a small number of pupils, 1-1 tuition can be an effective strategy.
2. Small group tutors
Almost all schools won’t be able to commit to tailored teaching on a 1-1 basis, but you can get many of the same benefits in small groups. During the planning phase, group children by the areas they need to improve, helping you develop relevant intervention resources.
These small groups still offer pupils the opportunity to ask questions and get the time they need with you to close their knowledge gap.
3. Large group boosters
If you find your resources stretched, or you have lots of pupils you need to support at any time, larger booster type sessions may be a more sensible option. You will likely lose some of the benefits you get from holding smaller sessions, but as teachers, we are all too aware that we have to make do with the resources at hand.
With booster sessions, you can allow everyone to brush up their skills.
Effective feedback will probably be part of most intervention strategies, but you could choose to use it as the very core of your plan.
If you find a pupil is occasionally straying in concentration or taking a little longer to pick things up, they may only require a little more of your attention to keep them on the right track.
You can do the majority of this in class: ask them relevant questions as they complete a task, bring them over to your desk to talk through a completed worksheet, take some extra time to provide written feedback on work. These occasional cues may seem small, but it may be all you need without having to adopt a more time and resource-intensive method of intervention.
5. Online revision and homework
Depending on that child’s work ethos, you could develop an intervention programme that’s predominantly carried out at home. Homework is one of the most effective ways to reinforce things that have been taught in school. For any pupils that have failed to pick up a particular concept, hand them some homework to help it stick.
This type of intervention can come in the form of worksheets you’ve created, or by recommending relevant online resources like TES or Twinkl. For younger children, you’ll need to get parents involved, as they will be the ones sitting down with their child to carry out your intervention strategy.