Leeds East Academy

Red Zone Learning

Silent Independent Practice for Examinations

At Leeds East Academy we are passionate about high-quality Teaching and Learning. A key element of teaching is to ensure that our students are fully prepared for the demands of the new GCSE examinations. To support our students to be successful in exam conditions throughout the year, there has been a whole-school focus in lessons on pupils practicing exam questions and working under exam questions during a new initiative we have introduced called the Red Zone, which is silent independent exam practice.

Red Zone is a term used in American Football for the space from the defending team's twenty-yard line to the goal line. An offence is considered to have a high probability of scoring when players enter the Red Zone, because they are within field goal range for most kickers, and only have a short distance to go in order to score a touchdown.

Although the players have a high probability of scoring in the Red Zone the players have to demonstrate a huge amount of resilience and sporting excellence to achieve this. It is the most challenging area of the pitch to play in due to the defence applying the most pressure and the offence having limited space in which to move.

Red Zone activities should mirror this ethos as all activities planned for this point in the lesson should generate the opportunity for pupils to demonstrate our academy values of resilience and excellence.

Students have responded positively to this initiative and Year 11 students commented that:

Red Zone has really helped us to prepare for the exams as the tasks delivered enable us to practice working in silence and without the help of the teacher. These conditions are the same as those we would experience in a real exam and because of this we feel fully prepared for the real thing.

Another Year 11 also commented: 

The tasks in Red ZooZne are challenging and take us out of our comfort zone, it replicates the situation we would be faced with in an exam.

Mrs Carrie, Vice Principal Raising Standards, noted that the principles behind Red Zone are firmly rooted in evidence-based research. Pupils not being able to ask for help during this point in the class helps students build up their confidence when tackling challenging concepts in a safe environment where they are able to make mistakes. All Red Zone activities are then reviewed to ensure any misconceptions are addressed so that students make good progress over time.

The main principles underpinning Red Zone are:

  • Students must not receive help during a Red Zone activity. This is why the; teach, model and practice structure is crucial for preparing students to be successful.
  • Not all Red Zone activities have to be the same and they must be personalised for the students so they can access the work and achieve success. Students must be given an element of choice and be guided towards the appropriate activity through the use of data to inform planning.
  • Discussion must not form part of the Red Zone activity. Should students have any questions they must make a note of them in green pen.
  • Pupils should be making mistakes in the Red Zone and this is why the marking of Red Zone is crucial
  • Mistakes are important as this signposts the level of challenge evident in the work
  • Mistakes and misconceptions must be identified by the teacher with the opportunity for students to correct them built into lessons to show effective teacher assessment and progress over time.
  • Students must have the opportunity to improve Red Zone activities.

Mr Stokes adds: "We are extremely excited about this new initiative and feel confident this will have a significant impact on the achievement of our students in the new and demanding exam regime."