Conference Style Teaching: an update

Social sciences teacher Yasmin Chowdhury revisits her #5MinResearch project with an update on its impact:

So it all started in February and it’s now June. The amount of progress my students and I have made through Conference Style Teaching (CST) is a little bit amazing. It was originally meant to be used with Year 13 only, but as it was really successful, I couldn’t help but try it with the year 12s too, and neither I nor the groups have looked back since!

The Question Grid

It did initially start off with boardroom layout and a few teacher pointers here and there to push my students into a discussion, but it has now ended up being fully controlled and facilitated by the  students, who are able to successfully use the Question Grid to assess each other and themselves.

The Question Grid (QG) is a little life saver – it is student and staff friendly, not only allowing students to create questions and deepen their knowledge, but it can also be easily used by me to differentiate and assess understanding.

Below is the Question Grid I used (thanks to @dandesignthink). You’ll notice coloured circles on the grid – the Red circle represents questions that all students / lower ability students will be able to answer. An example question could be: What is Mednick’s study about?  The Orange circle represents questions middle ability students / most students will be able to answer for example: If you replicated Mednick’s study, who can you have as your participants?  The Green circle indicates questions that higher abilitystudents should be able to answer for example: How is this study useful for psychology?


At first, I would use this myself in order get discussions flowing, and target certain students for questioning, but as the students got increasingly confident they were able to use the grid themselves. It can be adapted to suit your grade boundaries and subject and so is a very flexible and versatile resource. I am currently in the process of getting this laminated and stuck onto the tables so that my KS4 classes can also use this.

Pose Pause Pounce Bounce

Another technique that I started to use whilst trying out CST is Pose Pause Pounce Bounce (PPPB). This post from @TeacherToolkit explains how it works in more detail.

Again, I was able to facilitate the lesson by posing a question to the class, and then bouncing answers onto another student to give their opinion, which in turn promotes communication and turn taking, not to mention debating skills and responding with contrasting ideas. You can make it as hard or as easy as you want, as long as your students are aware that they could be picked and so an answer should be ready.

Tips on Using Conference Style Teaching

  • Ideal to use with a group once you have established a good relationship with them
  • Don’t be afraid to let go of the reins and let the students lead – ultimately that is what you want
  • Definitely ideal to use with small groups
  • Keep bouncing questions off each other to keep the debate / discussion going
  • For essay purposes – make sure students are recording points
  • Do a verbal PEE (Point Evidence Explain)
  • There should be an element of independent reading and annotating (especially if an exam group KS4 / KS5)


  • Inclusive, Lively
  • Promotes higher-order thinking skills
  • Increase in self esteem /confidence
  • Discussions were longer and more detailed.
  • Stretches HAs and MAs
  • LAs get to elicit information from others
  • Deepening understanding


Year 12 – mixed ability – hated talking and contributing, same students all the time.

  • 100% of students consolidated and improved on their current grade (SP1-SP2)
  • 100% of students improved their grade overall (SP1-SP2)
  • 16% of students improved by one grade from (SP1-SU1)
  • 50% of students improved their grade overall (SP1-SU1)


Year 13 very able students – They were not being challenged or stretched

  • 33.3% of students improved by one grade (SP1-SU1)
  • 66.7% of students consolidated and improved on their current grade (SP1-SU1)
  • 100% of students improved their grade overall (SP1-SU1)
  • 50% of students improved by one grade (SP1-SP2)
  • 50% of students consolidated and improved on their current grade (SP1-SP2)
  • 100% of students improved their grade overall (SP1-SP2)

Student voice



About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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