Where's your head at?

Project based learning, thinking on learning and amazing Art projects

The Passport to Perfection


For the skills we are learning in Pebble to be internalised, understood, reflected upon and improved, we have for several years tried to find the best way of making sure that the evidence for this is created in a way which forms a coherent dialogue between teacher and learner. I think, at last we might have just about got it right!

We use the PLTS as our focus for each Pebble unit, but the same could be done for any learning skills or dispositions you were focusing on. Students embark on a skills week before recording their understanding. This allows students to explore, try out and understand what this skill is.  Firstly, we use a questionnaire- the sort you might find in a teenage magazine. “Your group have to give an embarrassing talk about contraception in PSHE. Would you (a) hide behind a picture and giggle, (b) Think I know this might be embarrassing but, …..” you get the picture. Students get a score dependant on their answer. Each question helps explore different elements of the particular PLTS. They add up their scores and begin to build a picture of their ability in that particular skill, where they are now and what they might need to change to become better.

Students build on this understanding, discuss what they think the key skills of an effective self-manager are and think of examples of how those skills are used. For example ‘Taking Risks’ as part of being an effective self manager. “an example is when you are not sure what to do, try things out and see if you can do it for yourself and if it doesn’t work out, learn from it.”

As a class, we distill the understanding and agree on the skills we believe relate to that PLTS and type this up on the passport sheet.

Students participate in a task which tests their approach to the PLTS on our Friday session, to help them further understand it before their first project.  For the self manager task we design and create personality hats, a task which has a few twists and turns to test their adaptability as well as organisational skills. At the end of this rather fun task, we unpick the skills we have used and begin to map the evidence as you can see below:


I stamp their passports, when I agree that this skill has been demonstrated, but leave if the evidence does not connect to a particular skill.

Here, I have added my own comment about how a student has used a particular skill. Parents are also encouraged to write down evidence if they have seen particular skills being used effectively at home.

The students have responded brilliantly to this document. It makes them analyse the skill carefully and reflect on their own learning incredibly effectively. This passport will now be used throughout first project ‘A Personal History’ where students investigate and create a family tree or a memory book about one of their ancestors. A great project to focus on the key skills of a self manager.


AND…. If that wasn’t enough of a meta-learning paradise, I am using the rather wonderful ‘Class Dojo’ to reinforce the evidence whilst they are working. When I see the particular skills being exercised, I can click on them using my IPhone or PC and add a point, which comes with a nice PING noise! I can also add a negative BOING if they are not showing those skills. Every time students here the noise, they look at the whiteboard to see who’s got it and for what. Funnily enough, students then come to me thick and fast and try to justify why they should get a point. If they use a quality language of learning to explain why, I may yield… IT’S FANTASTIC!!

Just one click from my phone- so simple, so utterly brilliant!

Click below for a PDF of our Passport to Perfection.

passport self manager

Having created this, I can see a direct use for developing a ‘Marginal Gains’  approach to improving learning and understanding. Something to work on…

Also, being a fairly decent reflective practitioner, I have realised the questioning should include a question like;

“If you were an outstanding self manager, what would your learning in and out of school look, sound and feel like?”

Followed by a Scale of good self manager from poor to outstanding, for students to place themselves on.

Followed by, “why have you placed yourself here? What is your evidence? and what do you need to improve on to move closer to outstanding?”

Will add that for Independent Enquirer, our next PLTS focus.

Anyway. Would love your thoughts on this and share what you do in your schools to analyse skills development.

Author: Pete Jones

I am primarily an Art teacher, but over the past 5 years have been co-developing an experienced-based learning programme in the school I work in called Pebble, (short for Project Based Learning). I read extensively on learning and education, and I intend to use this blog to record what is going on in my head as well as in the classroom. Hopefully I will be able to share resources and ideas with like-minded thinkers in the future. The Pebble course runs through the whole of Year 8 for 5 periods a week. I am desperate for our world wide education system to catch up with the way we live our lives. Transformation of what we learn in schools and how we learn in schools is desperately overdue. Pebble is a skills centered curriculum with the focus very much on what students need to be successful learners, giving them valuable, deep learning experiences to boot.


  1. Hi Pete – Kalen from ClassDojo here. Thank you so much for this great post – we really appreciate your support!

    If anyone who comes across this post has any questions about ClassDojo or needs help getting set up with your free account, please let us know at hello@classdojo.com 🙂


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  5. Hi Pete

    Myself and a colleague are taking tentative steps into project based learning within our school. We have been following with interest your tweets and blogs. We have been given the opportunity to do some research into this area and make links with other schools. We love the work you have done on writing and how you have incorporated this with art. Would it be possible to make contact and possibly visit?
    Thank you
    Vicki Brown and Ceri Dolan

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