Metacognitive Strategies 

Metacognition is a set of skills that enable learners to become aware of how they learn and evaluate and adapt these skills to become increasingly effective at learning. ‘Curriculum Intent’ explains why a course exists, what skills it will develop and what possible destinations students could acquire. By developing metacognitive skills, successful learners will have a greater opportunity to reach their chosen goals, utilising newly acquired skills to significant effect.


Courses will typically have some scheme of work or learning plan identifying the order of delivery. Sequencing has become a key Ofsted buzzword that describes how the ordering of activities can better retain information due to a logical cognitive approach. For example, one may teach health and safety before students moving into the engineering workshop or teaching lower-order thinking skills before building evaluative skills. These planners should identify the content being delivered and the embedding of the relevant skills as specified in the course ‘Intent’. 


Three key stages of metacognition:

1) Planning Before a Task

We must stress to students the importance of preparation. However, do we assume they know how to? Good preparation involves:

  • Thinking about similar tasks already completed and the skills and strategies used.
  • Setting clear goals to complete the task.
  • Working out how long a task may take to complete selecting appropriate strategies

If done effectively, individuals will be able to allocate their effort more efficiently.

2) Monitoring During a Task

Students need to assess how they progress on a task to ensure they are on the right path. This self-monitoring is more straightforward if students spend time on the planning stage and know what they want to work to achieve.

3) Reviewing After a Task

After completing a task, students should reflect on what went well and what they would do differently next time. Therefore, ensuring that students learn as much as possible from experience and develop both content knowledge and relevant skills.


Metacognitive Strategies

Metacognitive strategies facilitate learning how to learn. As previously stated, we need to consider whether the skills relevant to the subjects are also developed and the subject content. Below are a series of approaches that can enable the development of metacognition. 

1)    Ask Questions – At the beginning, middle and end of a lesson, ask questions that allow students to reflect on their learning processes and strategies, not just questions on what content they have recalled. We want to create reflective students who question their learning approaches.  

2)     Encourage Self-reflection – Emphasise the importance of personal reflection during and after learning experiences. Please encourage students to critically analyse their assumptions and how this may have influenced their learning. 

3)     Encourage Self-questioning – Enable independent learning by asking students to generate their questions and answer them to enhance comprehension. The questions can be related to meeting their personal goals but also their skill development. 

4.     Take a timeout – It’s very easy to be consumed by getting through a task without thinking about why we are doing it and what we are learning. It’s helpful to stop and reflect on what strategies we are using and their impact on our learning. In addition, whether the lesson is meeting the objectives and overall course intent. 

5)     Teach Strategies Directly – Teach appropriate metacognitive strategies as a part of an induction programme so students can be armed with various approaches to apply to a given task. Also, enabling a greater review of how successful those strategies were. You might share what methods past successful students have used and what positive destinations they have moved onto. 

6)     Promote discovery Learning – When students have some basic knowledge, encourage participation in challenging learning experiences. They will then construct their metacognitive strategies, which they can subsequently review how effective they are. 

7)    Modelling excellence – It’s key to provide experiences where novices can observe the proficient use of a skill from a mentor and then review the metacognitive strategies used. This modelling of excellence is a great way to try what works for others to see if it has the same level of success for us. It is interesting to note that it has become autonomous over time when one is excellent at something. Consequently, they may struggle to articulate what they do so well, believing by now it’s just something that happens. By breaking a strategy down step by step, it should be possible to model and try yourself. 

8)     Solve Problems with a Team – Discussing possible approaches with team members and learning through different methods can help enhance metacognitive strategies.

9)     Think Aloud – Teach students to think aloud and identify their thoughts while performing a difficult task. A knowledgeable partner can then point out errors in thinking, or the individual can use this approach for increased self-awareness during learning. Another approach to thinking aloud is the ‘Walking, Talking Mock’ where the teacher and students work through exam questions, which can help students improve their comprehension of a complex subject.

10)  Provide Opportunities for Making Errors – Allowing students to make errors in and outside of class stimulates reflection on the causes of their mistakes. In addition, because a safe culture is apparent, it helps develop a growth mindset as students won’t fear making errors.


Learning is about experimenting and understanding what works. As teachers, we need to create learning environments that inspire creativity and trial and error learning—ultimately building the necessary metacognitive strategies. If this is successful, we will have a more significant impact on lifelong learning as students will be able to face challenges with an array of tools to navigate their way through successfully. If they are unsuccessful, they know they can try a different strategy next time. 

Author: Dan Beale


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5 ways to ensure the success of your Trainee Teacher.

As a manager, you will understand the importance of recruiting and maintaining good quality teaching staff. By taking on an apprentice, you will have the opportunity to help develop them as a teacher whilst they complete their apprenticeship training. 

Ensure that your apprentice understands your expectations whilst studying and give them regular feedback on how they are performing in their new role. By making sure your apprentice is clear what their role and responsibilities are and outlining any key performance indicators (KPIs) they should be aiming for, you will help support them in their role, giving them support for their role apprenticeship. Ensure that you monitor how they cope with the extra work associated with their apprenticeship and take care of their general well-being.

It is likely you will naturally offer your member of staff support, but here are five ways to ensure the success of your trainee teacher:

1. Giving them time to learn and develop

There are many ways you can give support, but the most significant one is supporting them in completing their 20% off-the-job training, including checking if they are logging enough 20% off-the-job hours. Ensure that the timetable allows time for their off-the-job training, for instance, adjusting the timeframe so that your apprentice has 30 minutes to prepare before their lessons start. Ensure that you have enough staff to cover the hours your apprentice will need to carry out their 20% off-the-job when you are doing your curriculum planning.     

2. Allocate a mentor

It would be best if you allocated a mentor so that trainee teachers have someone experienced that they can share any concerns they may have.

This person should also be someone they can trust to give them good advice and steer them in the right direction.  

3. Offering training opportunities

Try to give them opportunities to carry out training in areas where they would not usually be involved to broaden their knowledge and skills further. 

You could look at ways to shadow other teachers to gather tips from them and benefit from some more experienced teaching practice; this will also help other teachers share good practice. Find ways to suggest different training opportunities such as attending conferences, taking part in meetings, and generally giving them exposure to areas within your organisation which could give them a valuable insight into how it works.  

You could set up workshops to assist your apprentice in developing schemes of work and how they should plan for learning. You might also support them by giving them opportunities to build their presentation skills. This will help to prepare for their presentation at their end-point assessment.

4. Help to develop knowledge, skills and behaviours

Your apprentice will have to learn a range of new knowledge, skills and behaviours and any support you can give to them whilst they develop these will help them along their journey. Ensure that you are familiar with the Standard they are working towards to discuss areas where they might need additional support. They will also have to undertake two teaching observations, and helping them prepare for these will help build their confidence in the classroom.

5. Attend and engage in progress reviews

Ensure that you take part in their regular progress reviews to see that they are on target and not falling behind. Remember to give feedback if you see them doing something well. It’s important to build self-confidence in your apprentice and help them grow in their role and take ownership of their work tasks.  

You may be able to help them with hints and tips on practical study skills that will assist throughout the programme and when they are preparing for their end-point assessment. You will have an important role to play when agreeing when your apprentice is ready to finish their practical training and enter the gateway in preparation for end-point assessment.  

Your apprentice is investing a lot of time and energy to develop and progress in their career; try to be the best you can to support them at this vital time. Make sure that they have the best possible experience, which you and your colleagues have well supported.


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Announcing the launch of our new teaching jobs vacancies webpage!

Great news, we have launched a new teaching jobs vacancies page on our Teaching Matters website, as a free value-added service to clients of FE Associates. We created this webpage as a way of thanking our clients for their ongoing custom and support. 


The new teaching jobs vacancies webpage is a free advertising platform that allows our clients to source bettered suited candidates in their recruitment ventures and fill their vacancy roles. Likewise, our Teaching Matters website traffic has grown by 8% week on week since it launched a few weeks ago, ultimately providing our clients with a high traffic platform to fill their teaching vacancy roles.


We spent many hours on the design of the teaching jobs vacancies page to ensure end-users had all the relevant information they needed while on their pursuit of a new teaching role. To view our new webpage, click on the link below to view our new value-added service.


Our Jobs Page


We have made it easy for existing FE Associates clients to get their jobs listed on our new teaching jobs vacancies webpage. Ask a member of your HR team to complete the proforma linked below and return it to our Marketing Manager, Jack Moriarty –


TM Job Request Details


The job will then be uploaded, and you will be notified when your vacancy has gone live on our website, simple!


We are delighted that we can provide this valued added service to our existing clients, and we look forward to promoting your teaching vacancies. 



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Why you should log your 20% off-the-job hours

Have you ever considered why it is essential for you to log your 20% off-the-job training as an apprentice? 

Maybe you think it isn’t important and it is just another task that you have to find time to complete? This is a rhetorical question since you will have to find time to do it anyway.

How great is it to be able to reflect on the new skills you are learning whilst you log your off-the-job hours? This time has been given to you by your employer to learn new skills and behaviours associated with your job role. Why run the risk of failing your course because you haven’t taken the time to log all of the hours of hard work you have put into your training and list the new incredible skills you have developed?

This time taken away from your day job is designed to set you up for success in achieving gateway and your final end-point assessment. You don’t have to be physically away from work; the hours only need to be separate from your everyday role. Being meticulous about logging these hours is essential for you to achieve your apprenticeship and, therefore, your goal of becoming qualified.

It is good practice to complete a training log to remember all of the valuable things you learn on your apprenticeship journey. 

This can then be reviewed by your tutor to establish whether you have any gaps in your knowledge and skills so that they can work with you to address any shortfalls. Your tutor should have shared with you the types of activities that count towards your 20% off-the-job hours. A few of these can include:

  • Researching and writing assignments
  • Revising for your end of point assessment (EPA)
  • Attending online training sessions

You could also develop a reflective log that gives you some private time to write down your thoughts about your new knowledge and skills and work out how you will put these into practice. You may want to share some of the skills you are developing with other people in your team.

As part of your training log, try breaking the overall number of hours needed into a monthly target so that you can add these up as you go along. This way, you will be able to see if you are achieving your target. Remember, 20% off-the-job is the minimum you will need to achieve overall success at the EPA and using a log to track your progress is an excellent discipline to adopt.

You have an excellent opportunity to study for your apprenticeship. 

Your employer has invested time and money to enable you to progress your career. They have even given you time off to study! By logging the hours you are taking to learn, you can track your progress and work towards your EPA, knowing that you have everything covered to show that you are occupationally competent in your chosen career. 

Take the time to make your apprenticeship work for you, record the steps you have taken along the way to success and take pride in the new knowledge and skills you are gaining.


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Great news, our new website is live!

After weeks of research, planning and many hours of hard work, we are proud to announce the launch of our new website.

Our goal is to provide visitors with an easier way to learn about our unique suite of innovative and ambitious National Training Programmes, funded by the Levy for Teachers and Quality Professionals in Further Education and Skills.


Our current and prospective clients can find helpful information about our programmes on the homepage of our new website. We have also included further information for employers, a webpage to provide clarity on apprenticeship funding and how this applies to your organisation and a link to the blog section on our homepage, so that you can keep up with the latest Teaching Matters news.

Our Pledge

We endeavour in the pursuit of developing the highest standard of Teachers, Leaders and Quality Professionals in the Further Education and Skills sector. Our Teaching Matters Coaches, Lecturers and Support Team work around the clock to deliver programmes that develop Trainee Teachers and Quality Professionals to be more employer-focused and inform their working practices. Our Quality Practitioner Level 4 Apprenticeship is a personal highlight of our programme offering to develop individuals skills as a quality professional through training with a national network of quality experts. Throughout the apprenticeship, individuals will develop a range of knowledge, skills and behaviours and learn:

  • How to contribute to the formulation of the quality strategy
  • The management of learner and employer satisfaction activities
  • Deployment of quality policies and governance
  • How to guide teams to improve quality, competence and performance
  • To plan and conduct audits and other assurance activities
  • How to develop quality control plans for outstanding practice
  • To guide the use of methods and tools to improve quality performance
  • To solve problems such as non-conformance and overcoming challenges
  • Practical application of quality risk management and mitigation

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We hope you find the new website fresh and modern; we worked hard to make sure it contains valuable information to assist you with your enquiries and needs. If you have any questions on any of our programmes, contact us via the enquiry form linked below or call 01454 617 707.

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Rethinking Teacher Training in Further Education

As colleges and training providers face the challenges of responding to a post-Covid-19 world and the development and delivery of the skills that are going to achieve the ambitions of the Build Back Better agenda, it has never been more critical to invest in the skills and training of teachers and trainers in further education (FE). Teaching staff need the skills, confidence, and commitment to advance learners’ skills, aspirations, careers, and high quality, expertly informed teacher training is crucial to this.

The recently published Skills White Paper makes a compelling case for supporting outstanding teaching and ensures that initial teacher education in FE is driven by quality, attractive and accessible training routes. Therefore, colleagues new to teaching in FE and serving teachers needing to upskill need to have access to contemporary programmes of teacher training that build the knowledge, skills and behaviours that ensure outstanding classroom practice.

Therefore, here at FE Associates (FEA), we launched the first national Level 5 Learning and Skills Teacher Apprenticeship Standard, bringing teachers from across the sector to learn and develop collaboratively and confidently. Through our new  Teaching Matters division, this new innovative approach to teacher development in further education focuses on building the skills of dual professionals through the expertise of leading teaching and learning experts such as Deborah McVey and Annie Pendry, who work with trainees to hone their teaching skills through the development of a national community of teaching practice.

In addition, individualised coaching support provided by leading practitioners, many of whom with current inspection experience, ensures trainees are supported by those at the forefront of quality assurance and improvement.

Many levy paying sector employers are not fully utilising their apprenticeship levy, so this is a golden opportunity for colleges and training providers to build their talent pipeline, drive excellence, and utilise their levy.

The development of FEA’s Teaching Matters division and the introduction of the nationally offered Level 5 Apprenticeship Standard for trainee teachers in FE is the brainchild of FEA Commercial Director Dave Sykes, who commented: “All of us at FEA are passionate about driving the quality of teaching and learning across the sector. We have a well-established track record in training and development and Teaching Matters, and apprenticeship delivery was very much a natural progression for us at FEA.”

Donna Clifford, Programme Director, considers the Teaching Matters Level 5 Apprenticeship Standard unique. It identifies the opportunities trainees have to learn from true experts alongside teachers from across the sector and the chance to gain a view informed by a wide range of practice.

Since launching Teaching Matters and securing a place on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers, the Teaching Matters offer has been extended to include a sector-specific Level 4 Apprenticeship Standard for Quality Practitioners and a broader range of teacher development programmes.


If you have any questions about Teaching Matters programmes, contact us via the enquiry form linked below or call 01454 617 707.

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