THORNHAM ST. JAMES’ C.E. PRIMARY SCHOOL

TEACHING AND LEARNING POLICY

 

 March 2018

Aim

Our policy aims to ensure that pupil achievement is maximized at all times and to provide all staff with a framework for the highest quality of teaching and learning.

This policy influences all other school policies, but should be read in conjunction with the Assessment and Marking Policies.

 

Roles and Responsibilities

It is the responsibility of all staff to facilitate the provision of the highest quality teaching and learning in order to enable all children to achieve the highest standards possible in basic key skills and all other areas of the curriculum.

 

Rationale

We recognise learning as a social process and therefore a ‘total experience’ model is suggested which embraces both school learning and learning within the context of the wider community. This policy seeks to guide what children can do, what teachers can do, how well time and the curriculum can be managed and what we as a school can do to create effective and well-managed learning environments through which the individual needs of every child can be met.

At Thornham St. James we believe that all individuals should have equal access to a high quality education. Learning is recognized as a life long process, which best occurs in an inclusive environment. By experiencing a variety of methods, approaches and key skills that can be transferred to all curricular areas, learners will extend, develop and adapt their knowledge, understanding, skills and attitude. This ability to learn throughout life and adapt creatively to new scenarios is an essential feature of 21st Century life.

 

Self-awareness

Effective organisations are self-aware, knowing clearly what they are trying to achieve and understand the extent of their means of doing so. Our teaching and learning policy depends on raising the levels of self-awareness among all at Thornham St. James, encouraging them to focus, with increasing precision on the processes of teaching, learning and assessment. This is achieved through a two-way process of assessment of learning and assessment for learning, thereby enhancing pupil performance and so raising quality. Above all, we believe that self-awareness involves the development of a clear, corporate vision of the qualities we aim to produce in our children.

 

Key Aspects of good teaching and learning

The Primary Strategy: Excellence and Enjoyment, summarises the features of good learning and teaching as follows:

  • Ensure every child succeeds: provide an inclusive education within a culture of high expectations
  • Build on what learners already know: structure and pace teaching so that students know what is to be learnt, how and why
  • Make learning vivid and real: develop understanding through enquiry, creativity, e-learning and group problem solving
  • Make learning an enjoyable and challenging experience: stimulate learning through matching teaching techniques and strategies to a range of learning styles
  • Enrich the learning experience: build learning skills across the curriculum
  • Promote assessment for learning: make children partners in their learning

In addition to these features we know from the research of Professor Charles Desforges that other key levers for achievement include:

  • Learning how to think
  • Learning how to think about how you think (Meta-cognition)
  • the importance of talk
  • the involvement of parents
  • Effective lesson design
  • Cross-curricular learning

We are committed to integrating these key features into teaching and learning across the curriculum at Thornham St. James’ School.

 

Empowering Learning

Through the application of ‘Non-Negotiables’ and by giving them greater responsibility for their own learning, we encourage children to be resilient, reflective, confident and independent learners.

 

How is this evidenced at Thornham St. James?

At Thornham St. James effective teaching and learning is characterized by:

  • High quality relationships – teacher/pupil and pupil/pupil interaction
  • Effective behaviour management strategies
  • Creation of anxiety-free learning environments – energized and relaxed learners!
  • Culture of risk-taking
  • Broad range of teaching and learning methodologies applied
  • Teachers explicitly helping the learner to understand their preferred learning style
  • Clear and effective planning, incorporating key skills – short term planning derived from schemes of work used to drive lesson objectives
  • High degree of preparation and use of appropriate resources
  • Clear exposition supported by effective questioning and time for reflection
  • Regular modeling in order to demonstrate high expectations
  • Well-deployed, well informed and highly skilled support staff
  • Activities which develop a range of Key Skills: communication, learning to learn (empowering learning), working with others, application of number and Computer Skills
  • Flexible grouping, such as individual / paired / small groups (friendship / like-ability / different ability / whole class)
  • Opportunities for peer learning emphasized
  • Oral skills – pupil-talk recognized as a key skill of processing learning
  • Opportunities for recap/reinforcing and practicing concepts maximized
  • Effective plenary – time to review, assess and reflect upon progress, reinforce key ideas and concepts
  • Next stage (beyond the lesson) outlined and identified, with ‘next steps for learning’ discussed and agreed with the children. Evaluations inform future planning

 

Conditions for Learning

  • ‘brain-readiness’, ‘brains on’: pupils should be relaxed and comfortable, experiencing conditions which are predisposed to learning (Maslow)
  • pleasant, stimulating and well-resourced environment
  • emphasis on building self-esteem where every child feels a participant
  • links between home and school, as well as the wider community maximized. (See school website)
  • effectively deployed staff
  • learners’ own ideas sought and time given for reflection upon their own learning, e.g. ‘SIT’ time - self-improvement time

 

Lesson design

Teachers plan teaching and learning across a coherent sequence of lessons.

The model for most lessons is:

 

 REVISIT            REVIEW          TEACH          PRACTISE        APPLY

 

This sequence may be ‘stretched’ over more than one lesson.

All lessons should have clear learning objectives, which are distinct from any tasks that might be set, and which are made clear to the children. Children should be able to articulate what the learning objective of the lesson is and whether or not they feel they have achieved it. Success criteria should also be clear, enabling children to evaluate the extent to which they have achieved the learning objective. 

Teachers should plan lessons which are interactive, engaging and of a good pace. Teachers should plan activities that appeal to a range of learning styles, visual, aural and kinaesthetic. Computer skills should be used to enhance learning across the curriculum where appropriate, in other words where the use of ICT transforms the learning, or facilitates the achievement of the learning objective in a way that would not be possible without it. Questioning in whole class sessions and work and activities set for the guided/independent session, should be clearly differentiated according to the learning needs of all pupils. 

 

The Importance of Talk

Effective language acquisition in early childhood and the primary years is pivotal to learning across the curriculum and in all aspects of life. Providing opportunities in all subjects for children to talk about their learning through dialogue with ‘Talk Partners’, in groups and with adults is key to developing conceptual understanding.  High quality talk is crucial for effective learning and teachers integrate the Speaking and Listening objectives in teaching and learning across the curriculum.

 

Assessment for Learning (AFL)

The principles of Assessment for Learning should be integrated into teaching and learning. These are:

  1. AFL should be part of effective planning for teaching and learning
  2. AFL should focus on how children learn
  3. AFL should be recognised as central to classroom practice
  4. AFL should be recognised as a key professional skill for teachers
  5. AFL should be sensitive and constructive because any assessment has an emotional impact
  6. Assessment should take account of the importance of learner motivation
  7. AFL should promote commitment to learning goals and a shared understanding of the criteria by which they are assessed
  8. Learners should receive constructive guidance about how to improve
  9. AFL develops learners’ capacity for self-assessment so that they can become reflective and self-managing
  10. AFL should recognise the full range of achievements of all learners

Cross Curricular Learning

Teachers are encouraged to plan learning which takes advantage of strong and meaningful links between subjects.  Rigorous and high quality teaching of

Literacy and Mathematics is at the heart of our broad and rich curriculum, which seeks to build skills and concepts in progression. Teachers are encouraged to make strong and coherent links from literacy and mathematics to a limited number of other subjects, and to ‘block ‘ work to make effective use of time. Our schemes of work are a starting point for creative planning and not a straight jacket.

  

CONCLUSION

At Thornham St. James the outcomes of effective teaching and learning, as identified in this document, should be:

  • a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction
  • good progress across the key stages
  • positive embracing of change
  • resilient, confident and independent learners

Effective teaching and learning is not, however, the sole domain of the school. To maximise teaching and learning opportunities, links and partnerships with both the parents and the wider community need to be maintained and developed. To this end, we continue to develop a fully functioning school website.

We should also seek to engender a love of learning – what Tim Brighouse has referred to as a ‘Surprise into learning’ culture. Situations in which children are totally absorbed in the task-in-hand are essential for skills and concepts to enter long-term memory. Effective teaching and learning is not, therefore, about coverage, but rather about acquisition and application. The writer Milhaly Csikszentmihalyi described this process of total absorption as ‘Flow Theory’. If we can find ways of ensuring that pupils are ‘inflow’, then their learning experiences can only be enhanced.

Through reflective teaching methodology, good quality teaching can become even better. Appendix 1 outlines Ofsted criteria for effective teaching and learning. Further information can be found in the sources quoted within the document and in the additional information given at the back of this document.

 

 Reviewed and revised by:

 A. Tomlinson