Making Every Primary Lesson Count

Six principles to support great teaching and learning

By: Mel Scott , Jo Payne


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Size: 216 x 135mm
Pages : 168
ISBN : 9781785831812
Format: Paperback
Published: June 2017

In Making Every Primary Lesson Count: Six principles to support great teaching and learning, full-time primary teachers Jo Payne and Mel Scott share evidence-informed practice and gimmick-free advice for ensuring that every lesson makes a difference for young learners.

Written in the engaging style of Shaun Allison and Andy Tharby's award-winning Making Every Lesson Count, the book is underpinned by six pedagogical principles – challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning – and provides simple, realistic strategies to develop a culture of growth and excellence with pupils.

Jo and Mel advocate an approach designed to cultivate a growth mindset in the classroom and guide children towards independence: motivating both teachers and pupils to aim high and put in the effort required to be successful in all subject areas. The authors also offer tips from across the Early Years and Key Stages 1–2 phases on how to implement effective routines and procedures so that pupils are clear about what is expected from them in the classroom.

Making Every Primary Lesson Count is for new and experienced teachers alike. It does not pretend to be a magic bullet. It does not claim to have all the answers. Rather the aim of the book is to provide effective strategies to bring the six principles to life, with each chapter introduced by two fictional scenarios rooted in situations primary teachers typically encounter and concluding in a series of questions to inspire reflective thought and help you relate the content to your own practice.

In an age of educational quick fixes and ever-moving goalposts, this precise and insightful addition to the Making Every Lesson Count series will have a high impact on learning in the classroom: enabling pupils to leave primary school as confident, successful learners equipped with the skills and knowledge required of them.

Suitable for all Early Years and primary teachers.

Picture for author Mel Scott

Mel Scott

Mel Scott is an MFL and English specialist who currently leads a year six team at Vale School. Prior to entering the teaching profession, she worked in industry using her language skills in areas as diverse as buying and copywriting. She has a particular interest in raising the level of children's engagement in and enjoyment of writing. @melscott123

Picture for author Jo Payne

Jo Payne

Jo Payne is a Deputy Head Teacher. Although she specialised in primary languages during her teaching degree, she is particularly interested in how technology can enhance pupils' learning. She writes a blog, MrsPTeach, on which she shares ideas about many subjects within education, including: feedback and marking, whole-class reading and maintaining a healthy work'life balance as a teacher @MrsPTeach.

Click here to read Jo Payne’s blog.


  1. "My reading viewpoint

    I was lucky enough to hear Jo Payne keynote and speak in a workshop at Southern Rocks in February 2018, where she spoke of some of the strategies from this book. Her discussion and passion was enough to make me want to read and discover more.

    I read with the viewpoint of a) sharing ideas with the primary teachers I work with in my current role and b) continuing to develop my understanding of teaching in primary.


    This book is one in a series of books -˜Making every [insert phase/subject] lesson count' and, as explained in the book, this particular tome is borne of the -˜Making every lesson count' book. This book takes the areas explored in this book and applies this to a primary setting, considering the research as well as offering practical tips and advice. I really like the fact that the examples contextualising the advice cover a range of primary subjects - not just the core subjects but elements like Art as well.

    The themes covered in the book are challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning. Each chapter explains what the terms mean, what research says and then offers a huge amount of practical advice and takeaways to enhance practice in the classroom. I enjoyed the layout of the chapters, making them easy to read and the reflection questions at the end are incredibly useful. It also has actual examples of activities which you could very easily try out the next day which, for me, is a great plus in an edu-book.

    To be honest, little of the research and -˜big idea' advice was new to me however this does not mean I didn't learn from the book. If I were teaching tomorrow, I would have some really great practical activities and tweaks on my teaching to implement. If nothing else, it refocused my attention on what was really important in a primary classroom.

    It's also worth mentioning the length of this book. It is relatively short and I read it in around five hours. It is jam-packed with suggestions though meaning that, in my view, it has a great time to impact ratio!

    My key take aways

    1. Get the underlying elements right, and great teaching will follow. To be honest, I was a massive advocate of this anyway - I believe in consistently good teaching, not aiming for outstanding with bells and whistles teaching. The book consistently suggests that focus on the six areas considered in the book means that teaching will be more effective and I could not agree more.

    2. The CPA approach in mathematics is really important. Again, in my line of work this is something I firmly believe in. However, it was great to read this advice in a non-maths specific book.

    3. Modelling and questioning takes thought and pre-planning. I often think that experienced teachers do not need to put much thought into preparing modelling and questions to ask - it just comes naturally, right? The sections in the book devoted to this served to remind me of the importance of both. Modelling needs careful thought to ensure that steps are covered and as -˜experts' we often forget these as a process is more automatic for us. Jo and Mel gently remind me of the important things to consider when modelling and the importance of considering questions - research suggests that “typically only 8% of questions are of an open, higher order nature” (research from Ted Wragg, p.135).

    4. Practice grids are a thing I want to try. Jo and Mel clearly explain the importance of practice and one of the suggestions (p.103-104) is a practice grid providing opportunities for pupils to consolidate skills. There is a great example of one in the book, but essentially it is four boxes (which may be colour coded to show the concept - love this for making connections) which pupils do regularly to develop their recall. I really like these as they are simple but potentially incredibly powerful.

    I think you should read this book if-¦

    - You are a trainee teacher looking to develop an understanding of elements fundamental to effective teaching
    - You are an NQT or early-career teacher wanting to develop your practice
    - You are a primary teacher looking for practical, tried-and-tested tips and activities to put into place immediately."

    Click here to read the review on Lisa's blog.
  2. This is an excellent book, within which  the authors have linked their extensive practical experience with a wide range of research material to discuss strategies to promote more effective teaching and learning. They focus upon what they consider tro be the six key features of promoting outstanding practice; challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, questioning and feedback.   Teachers and support staff seeking fresh ideas or new to teaching will find the text full of realistic practical ideas which are both challenging and supportive.

    The authors have successfully linked the findings of researchers such  as Carol Dweck on growth mindsets, the Heath brothers on feedback, Michael Tidd on checking and marking, and Dylan William on formative assessment to their practical application within classroom settings.  In this respect readers will find the section on speedy marking to reduce the amount of time written marking of books takes an excellent pragmatic example to reduce workload.

    Jo Payne and Wendy Scott have produced a book which should be  available within all centres of learning and teacher training centres with its wealth of ideas to promote outstanding practice.
  3. To write a book about effective classroom practice without once mentioning Ofsted, national testing or the Department for Education is no mean feat, and this book should be celebrated for that alone. After all, the goalposts imposed on us change so often, but good teaching will always be good teaching.

    But, Making Every Primary Lesson Count deserves to be recognised for more than just that. This is a no-frills, plainly-written book (and I mean that VERY positively) containing what I'd call sensible advice about how to make the most of those few hours in a day when children are supposed to be engaged in learning.

    As an experienced teacher I found myself nodding along - I recognised that much of the content reflected the way I have learnt to teach over the years, often in spite of the way I've been told to teach. I also made plenty of notes - this old dog is always willing to learn new tricks, and  as Jo and Mel share examples from their own practice, and that of others they've known, there is plenty for even the longest-toothed teacher to glean.

    Next year, I'll be mentoring three NQTs and two SCITT trainees - I certainly read this with them in mind. In fact, the book is being delivered straight into the hands of one of those NQTs who will also be working in my team next year. I wish I'd had this as an NQT - I might not have had to spend 10 years trying to get my approach right if I had!

    The book is just the right mix of summary of evidence from research, comment on what works from experience, and solid, tried-and-tested, practical ideas to use in the classroom - the sort you could take away and try the next day without any difficulty. It comes across as academic but accessible, which for the majority of the workforce, is absolutely perfectly pitched.

    Making Every Primary Lesson Count has something for new and old teachers alike and is worthy of a place in your CPD library, whether that's your personal one, or your school's. This easy-read would not be a bad volume to spend the summer holidays reading - one chapter per week and come September you'd be ready to spin those plates once more, giving you the best shot at making the most of the children's time with you.
  4. I really like two specific things about this book. The first thing is that at its heart is a list of six important principles: challenge, explanation, modelling, practice, feedback and questioning. The discussions around these educational touchstones create a very useful guide which transcends top tips and quick fixes - inviting the reader to think for themselves. The second thing is that it is written by two teachers at the top of their game. Jo and Mel have produced a book that avoids empty preaching and instead offers relevant signposting for the hard-working teacher of today. An important addition to the primary teacher's bookshelf.
  5. What makes Making Every Primary Lesson Count special is the way it is rooted in theory yet packed full of practical examples. Drawing on their extensive first-hand experience, Jo and Mel show how teachers can turn evidence-based approaches into everyday classroom practice and demonstrate that great teaching isn't about tricks or gimmicks - it's about applying a set of core principles consistently well.

    Regardless of whether they are NQTs taking their first steps into the classroom or experienced professionals refining their skills, this book will help all teachers take their practice to the next level.
  6. Jo and Mel have done a great job of bringing together research and practice for primary teachers. Each chapter contains useful strategies for creating a more effective learning environment, making good use of the best theory and research without ever forgetting that primary teaching is essentially about the relationships between teachers and their students in the classroom. New teachers will find it a great source of ideas for tackling the key aspects of great teaching, and more experienced teachers will recognise much and pick up a few new ideas along the way.
  7. Making Every Primary Lesson Count is a highly accessible, practical book for primary teachers which makes constant reference to relevant, current and powerful research evidence.

    Its framework provides an essential underpinning of what matters most: challenge, explanation, modelling, deliberate practice, questioning and feedback. The authors have taken all that we currently know about children's learning and woven it into highly practical strategies. Each chapter begins with two real-life scenarios which are then fully analysed and developed. We are not only shown how key research informs us of how we need to teach, but are also given a range of well-sourced practical strategies and ideas.

    Several threads run through the writing: the ethos of a growth mindset and the importance of struggle; the framework of formative assessment; high expectations for all with no false ceilings; and the need for clarity, practice and modelling. These ideas, if followed, will go a long way towards helping teachers, as the authors say, “guide children towards independence”.
  8. Filled with relevant anecdotes and practical examples, Making Every Primary Lesson Count explains in detail how to get the very best from every pupil in your care and makes you reflect on the visible difference you can make as a teacher. 

    Now needed more than ever, this important book will help transform lessons from being dry and functional to serving an actual purpose.
  9. Using the familiar format of Making Every Lesson Count, Jo and Mel have brought a practical wisdom, rooted in primary classroom practice and experience, to this excellent book. A teaching manual full of invaluable guidance for primary practitioners, the values of excellence and growth have been exemplified in each chapter.

    Whether you are beginning your teaching career or looking to review and renew your practice, this book will help, support and challenge you in equal measure. Keep it to hand rather than at the back of your teacher's cupboard.
  10. Making Every Primary Lesson Count is a boon for all those interested in honing their classroom skills by finding out more about the science of pedagogy. It uses key research to produce a range of practical tips and ideas which have been used effectively in school settings.

    This book is both engaging and highly readable.

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