Dixons Academies Trust | Practice
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Dixons Academies Trust


We develop teacher talent through disciplined, deliberate and intelligent practice and coaching. For example, we practise key techniques collectively as a staff twice every week during Morning Meetings and engineer more tailored practice during one-to-one coaching sessions.

  • Teachers face a very steep learning curve after qualification. After two or three years, teacher learning curves become notably less steep meaning that an additional year of experience makes a smaller contribution to their expertise.
  • Teacher training is almost entirely front loaded. This means that instruction in different teaching techniques, from the basics such as classroom management, through to advanced skills, such as assessment design, are delivered at once, prior to QTS.
  • By the time teachers are ready to start integrating more advanced techniques into their repertoire, they are often years away from their formal (front-loaded) training and will likely have forgotten the content of those parts of the course. Indeed, they may have written them off as unworkable after struggling to combine them with other skills early on, before they had the necessary spare bandwidth in working memory to try and assimilate them.
  • Inset days and observations or mentoring are used to deliver additional advice, but this is not comparable, for example, to the staged, supervised and examined sequence that clearly scaffolds progression through a medical career.
  • However, the best schools provide an environment where sustained teacher growth is possible; more supportive schools make experience an even more powerful performance enhancer.
  • Learning the skills of teaching, or any other profession for that matter, requires deliberate practice. Only in the schools that provide sustained opportunities for training, practice and feedback can teachers continue up their learning curve.
  • The PGP is our commitment to helping teachers to keep learning.
  • We each have three basic psychological needs. We need to feel competence in the sense of demonstrating and improving our abilities, relatedness in the sense of being valued, respected and desired by others, and autonomous in the sense that we are the authors of our own actions.
  • When these three things – sometimes referred to as nutrients – are present, humans express their natural, intrinsic motivation to develop and grow. Teachers need a sense of autonomy, but this does not mean leaving teachers free to do things that undermine collective organisational structures or student learning. As a first step, we encourage every teacher to set his or her own performance priorities for the coming year. The role of school leaders is to support teachers in crafting plans that really will improve their practice.

We are indebted to Rebecca Allen and Sam Sims’ The Teacher Gap (2018) in helping to shape our understanding of the power of practice.

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