How to embed effective retrieval practice in your school

Retrieval practice is a feature of high-quality teaching and supports pupils to learn. Understand retrieval practice, and learn strategies and tips to use it effectively across your school.

new on 11 January 2023
School types: All · School phases: All
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Contents
  1. Introduce retrieval practice to reduce re-teaching
  2. Create a culture of retrieval practice in your school
  3. What does effective retrieval practice look like in the classroom?
  4. Boost effectiveness with these top tips
  5. Monitor that teachers are using retrieval practice effectively and consistently 

Introduce retrieval practice to reduce re-teaching

A diagram that defines memory as 'our capacity for storing and retrieving information'. Below the definition the three parts of working memory are shown in sequence. Encoding (acquiring information) leading to storage (maintaining information) leading to retrieval (recalling information).

Retrieval practice is part of the working memory model (see diagram, right). 

When pupils recall information from their long-term memory into their working memory, they get better at retrieving that information. Next time they need to recall it, they will find it easier. 

It also helps prevent cognitive overload for pupils and reduces re-teaching, saving teachers time in the classroom. 

Embedding retrieval practice across your school can help you achieve what the Ofsted inspection handbook refers to as effective "implementation" of the curriculum. Inspectors will consider how the subject curriculum is presented to make sure pupils can transfer key knowledge to long-term memory and apply it fluently (section 212).

Read our jargon buster for more detail about retrieval practice.

Create a culture of retrieval practice in your school

Teachers need to really understand why retrieval practice works in order to use it effectively in