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The Exeter Model of ITE

Framework for Dialogue About Teaching

The Exeter Model Framework

The Exeter Model Framework encourages trainees to take account of the whole spectrum of issues that sociocultural theories identify as important in educational decision making. It is designed to aid teachers in reflecting on their work in relation to a specific aspect of practice by drawing attention to a number of interlinked aspects of the context in which they are working. The Framework prompts teachers to interrogate and discuss their practice by asking questions of themselves and each other in relation to their values and beliefs, their knowledge about their subject, about teaching, and about learning, the school ethos and community, and education policy.

To support trainees and teachers, we offer a broad version of the framework, a version with some generic prompt questions, and some specific ‘framework tasks’ with targeted prompt questions focused around key issues such as EAL and Challenging the Gap (amongst others). All of these can be used by trainees individually but, based on our sociocultural theory of learning, we advocate them always discussing ‘framework tasks’ with other trainees and with teachers, to aid their completion. 

This addresses how children learn and develop and encompasses:

  • Theories of learning and development - including understanding the significance of personal, emotional, social, cognitive, linguistic and cultural influences.
  • Progression - helping pupils broaden and deepen their understanding, including support for individual needs.
  • Assessment - understanding the purposes and application of formative, diagnostic and summative assessment.

Generic questions you could ask regarding this are:

  • How did you draw on your knowledge of pupils’ social and emotional development in planning this lesson?
  • How did you use your Professional Studies lecture about How Children Learn?
  • Have you drawn on any specific pupils' cultural backgrounds in this lesson? Were there any issues you needed to be sensitive to?
  • What did you learn about pupil’s language and language development in this lesson?
  • How did you ensure progression from a similar lesson on this topic earlier in the pupils’ education?
  • What evidence do you have that pupils were able to make progress in this lesson?
  • How were you able to support individual needs?
  • What were the assessment opportunities? Which methods did you use and why?
  • How does the structure of this lesson scaffold pupils’ learning?


Add some subject-specific questions, which might be related to the subject as a whole or to a particular topic within it.

This addresses all aspects of the trainee’s subject knowledge and encompasses:

  • Academic knowledge - knowledge, understanding and skills of the subject.
  • Pedagogic knowledge - how to teach the subject.
  • Curriculum knowledge - the relevant Foundation Stage/National Curriculum, frameworks and examination specifications.

Generic questions you could ask regarding this are:

  • Having taught that lesson, is there any aspect of your academic subject knowledge that needs development?
  • What’s the difference between what you needed to know for this lesson and what you wanted the pupils to know?
  • Explain to me how you are teaching this topic? Why?
  • How might you explain this concept to a low ability class?
  • How have your resources for this lesson taken account of social and cultural diversity?
  • What approaches does the KS3 Strategy suggest about teaching this topic?


Select a topic that the trainee is likely to teach within the first couple of weeks of their school-based work and list some questions that would apply to their academic, pedagogic and curriculum knowledge of that topic.

This addresses the ongoing pursuit of improving professional practice and might include consideration of:

  • Research - accounts of research studies and how these can inform practice.
  • Theory - understanding theories of teaching and learning, for example, theories of motivation or identity.
  • Aspirational practice - best practice, including striving towards ideal practice.

Generic questions that you could ask about this are:

  • How has your reading or the University course helped you to prepare for this lesson?
  • Was there a key piece of research that has particularly influenced you?
  • Was there a particular theory of teaching and learning that informed the preparation for this learning?
  • How did the theory work in practice?
  • How might you research this further in terms of academic reading?
  • How might you enquire into this further in your classroom practice?
  • What were you aiming for as best practice in this lesson?
  • Was there any gap between your classroom practice and aspirational best practice in terms of the way the peer assessment [group work; teacher interaction...] worked? Can you account for this?

This addresses the contextualised nature of teaching and learning through considering:

  • School and national policies - how members of the school community interpret national policies and how the values of society impact on the school.
  • Attitudes, expectations and ethos - understanding the ethos of the school and the part that pupils, teachers, governors and parents play in creating this.
  • Working with others - how to work collaboratively with school colleagues, parents and external agencies.

Generic questions that you could ask include:

  • In teaching this lesson, were there any differences between your expectations of the class and the teachers’ expectations?
  • Could you see any way that school policies influenced the way you taught that lesson?
  • Did you use the school behaviour policy to support your behaviour management in this lesson?
  • How did you plan for working with the Teaching Assistants in this lesson?
  • Is there a homework policy which enables communication with parents over homework e.g. through planners? Does this work? Have you experienced different practices in other schools?
  • Are there any conflicts between what you want to do in a lesson and the ethos of this school?
  • How do you work out what the ethos of the school is?
  • How has your school interpreted the ECM agenda?
  • Does the way we have implemented the national strategy differ from your experience of it in other schools?
  • Do you think the problem you have encountered here is in any way related to differing attitudes or expectations between you and the class teacher?
  • Could you have made more use of the information from the SENCO to help Child X?

This addresses the complex ways in which underlying values and beliefs influence approaches to teaching and learning with respect to:

  • Trainees - for example, assumptions about expectations according to class or gender.
  • Teachers - for example, views about pupil learning or behaviour.
  • Pupils - for example, assumptions about particular subjects.

Generic questions you can ask about this include:

  • Did any of your own beliefs about xxx influence the teaching decisions you made in this lesson?
  • What do you believe about noise levels in the classroom? Do the pupils agree?
  • What do you think the pupils value about what you taught?
  • What values and beliefs are conveyed through your behaviour management strategies?
  • What assumptions do you think I have made about this class from the way I teach them?
  • What do you believe the pupils think your values are?
  • Do you share your values about this topic with the pupils? Should you?
  • Did you have any preconceptions about anybody in this group? Did this influence how you taught them?
  • What values and beliefs relating to how children learn and develop, written or unwritten, do you share with those you work with?
  • Were there any gaps between what you believe about how you should teach this topic and how you actually taught it in the lesson? If so, can you account for the gap?

These should be exemplified throughout the framework. Dialogue should consider:

  • Professional attributes - understanding how to be a professional and the requirements of professional behaviour.
  • Professional knowledge and understanding - having appropriate intellectual knowledge and understanding to be a critical, competent and informed teacher.
  • Professional skills - having appropriate teaching and interpersonal skills, both in the classroom and as a colleague within the school community.

All aspects of conversations about Initial Teacher Education should include questions such as:

  • Which standards are you addressing here?
  • Which standards do you want to focus on this week?
  • How did XXXXX help you to address standard Q?

In addition to the constant relating of training to the Standards for QTS, the following questions may act as prompts:

  • What do you understand by professional behaviour?
  • What aspects of professional behaviour do you demonstrate in tutorial sessions?
  • How would you deal with an accusation about a slip in your professional behaviour?
  • What can the school do to ensure that you understand our expectations of your behaviour?
  • Are there areas of professional behaviour that we could train you in?
  • What interpersonal skills have you demonstrated in conversations with pupils this week?
  • What professional skills have you observed in others this week?
  • What have you learned this week about ‘being a teacher’?
  • How are you developing your ability to take on board constructive criticism?
  • How are you developing positive working relationships with others?
  • What teaching skills do you want to address this week?
  • What do you want to see demonstrated that will improve your professional skills this week?
  • Which standards have you addressed this week and feel that you have improved on?
  • Are there any standards that you do not understand?
  • Are there any standards that you are concerned that you have not had the opportunity to address yet?

These tasks are designed to familiarise you with the Exeter Model Framework and also to focus on how this can be used in a subject specific way.

  • Talk through a recent lesson in terms of the hexagons
  • Using a blank hexagon put a subject topic in the centre and then detail the questions that it would be appropriate to ask under the various headings.
  • Plan a lesson ensuring that you give consideration to each of the hexagons