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Lesson Study

What impact will using RAG mats have on the engagement and the focus of Year 11 students (particularly disengaged boys)?

Subject Area: Media

Teachers: Gemma Gray (GGR), Clair Denman (CDE)

Enquiry question

What impact will using RAG mats have on the engagement and the focus of Year 11 students (particularly disengaged boys)?


We knew that students were not engaging as well at the start of Media lessons, particularly at the start of lessons in IT rooms. Both CDE and I had challenging groups in terms of behaviour and also wanted to create tasks that would engage and shift the focus onto students, so we used the school’s RAG approach to plan.

Other colleagues such as MSA had used RAG in similar ICT based lessons and had found this successful.

The aim was to give clear sheets that could be grasped immediately and acted upon, using key words to break down tasks for them to work on (linked to the exam topic/questions) and then use RAG to get students to identify strengths and areas for improvement. We then aimed to gradually remove some of the scaffold as the lessons progressed and they became more comfortable.

RAG mat 1 RAG mat 2 RAG mat 3 ggr


Powerpoint templates of the mats available here:

RAG mat 1 RAG mat 2 RAG mat 3 ggr



RAG mats were initially very scaffolded with lots of key words and prompt questions. This was to get students used to the tasks and to promote confidence prior to the exam. It also meant they had something to work on immediately at the start of the lesson without much teacher intervention or a slow start to the lesson (through whole class talk).

We modified the mats as lessons progressed to enable students to work with less key terms and less of a scaffold, to promote independent learning and exam-readiness.

The key ingredients for success were: being clear on the exam criteria, being explicit with exam terminology and allowing time to RAG and for students to reflect on their learning and what they needed to work on for the exam, making exam expectations clear.


I evaluated the impact of our enquiry project by noting how the students gained in independence and in focus. What was most noticeable was that in this challenging group (GGR), the RAG mats made students take more ownership of their work. It became evident that some of the ‘trickier’ students, who often wasted lesson time, discovered that they had a lot left to do and work on in time for the exam. For some students, these activities were sobering and made them aware that the exam was something they needed to take seriously and focus on.

CDE’s year 11 Media group were a parallel group I compared to. We initially paired together as she also had issues with focus and behaviour in her challenging Media group.

Ongoing evaluation made it very clear that I needed to do more to hand over the learning to students and give them the chance to be more reflective prior to the exam. While I was working through example papers prior to this study, having the RAG mats made it clearer and was a suitable challenge for the group.

What was your experience of the enquiry process?

In terms of helping support my teaching of the new subject, Media, it was useful to be part of this process to improve my teaching and also to collaborate more and share ideas for teaching and learning. I found it helpful to have the structure in place and be able to demonstrate the high level of expectations for this exam – as many chose Media thinking that it would be an easy option.

In honesty, I would have found this more useful and helpful for me personally, if I had done this with an English class, as this is my subject specialism. This is why I have decided to work on a lesson study with JPE during summer term (now) to take this further in my teaching.

Further work, sharing & dissemination

I am in current collaboration with JPE to work on joint planning for a parallel year 8 English group for a comparative poetry assessment. We will look at how similar ability groups can be stretched and challenged through effective pre-assessment planning tasks.

I have used this prior knowledge and experience of doing lesson study in Media to do this joint planning to work with JPE and share the lesson study approach across subjects.



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