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Teaching and learning policy

Adopted: March 2019

Purpose

This document is guided by core principles, which link to our overall vision and ethos:

  • The need to provide a knowledge-rich curriculum that meets the specific needs of our students.
  • Our high aspirations for academic outcomes.
  • The need to develop well-rounded young people who are independent, resilient, confident, and have a love of learning.

Knowledge-rich curriculum                    

Cromer Academy has adopted a knowledge-rich curriculum and is committed to a programme of teaching and learning through all Key Stages that gives due weight and emphasis to knowledge acquisition. To do this effectively, staff will work together to devise and refine their practice appropriately.

Leaders at all levels should consider the following:

Knowledge helps develop well-rounded citizens: The specifics of what we want students to learn are important. Skills and understanding are seen as forms of knowledge and it is understood that there are no real generic skills that can be taught outside of specific knowledge domains. Students are empowered through knowing things and acquiring powerful knowledge. At Cromer Academy we want students to develop into well-rounded citizens with a host of strong character traits that will emerge through being immersed in a knowledge-rich curriculum.

The knowledge content is specified in detail: Units of work are supported by statements that detail the knowledge to be learned. We do not merely want to ‘cover the Romans’; for example we want children to gain some specific knowledge of the Vikings as well as a broad overview. We want children to know specific things about cells in science, about migration in geography, WWII in history, and so on.

Knowledge is taught to be remembered, not merely encountered: An effective knowledge-rich curriculum embraces learning from cognitive science about memory, forgetting, and the power of retrieval practice. Our knowledge-rich curriculum is designed to be remembered in detail; to be stored in our students’ long-term memories so that they can later build on it. This requires approaches to curriculum planning and delivery that build in spaced retrieval practice, formative low-stakes testing, and plenty of repeated practice for automaticity and fluency.

Knowledge is sequenced and planned coherently: Beyond the knowledge specified for each unit, a knowledge-rich curriculum is planned vertically and horizontally giving thought to the optimum knowledge sequence for building secure schema.

'Cromer 10'

Cromer Academy  exists to provide the highest-quality education for our students. We have a strong focus on ensuring top-quality teaching and learning and, together with our curriculum, will provide a first-class education to the children in our community.

We have a simple way of looking at our lessons at Cromer Academy - putting knowledge at the core of what we do. The students and staff all use the same ten-point list as a guide for their lessons:

1. The start of the lesson
Our lessons will start with the teacher greeting students at the door whilst checking that students have the correct equipment. Students should enter the room in silence as they arrive then stand behind their chairs with equipment and planner out on the desk. Students then wait silently for further instruction.

2. Low-stakes quizzing
We begin the lesson with the chance to re-cap on prior learning through quizzing. The curriculum is our progression model; we know that students have made progress when they have learnt, over time, the core knowledge from lessons.  We check that this knowledge has been retained through setting 6-10 mark knowledge quizzes at the start of every lesson that test the expanding domain.

3. Acting on feedback
Student books are marked in line with the assessment and marking policy. Common misconceptions must be picked up by the teacher through the marking process. Feedback is delivered to the whole class with students identifying where they went wrong. Students are given time in lessons to edit and correct work in purple pen to demonstrate an improved understanding of the concepts taught.

4. High-leverage activities
We have a 'knowledge-rich' curriculum. Lessons will be planned to incorporate the delivery of high-leverage activities. In planning lessons we find the most direct and effective route by which students of different ability can learn core knowledge. 

5. Independent work
Students will ‘apply’ their knowledge independently without teacher or peer assistance. This independent practice phase is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their understanding. Written tasks should be completed in silence.

6. Stretch and challenge for all
Lessons are planned to challenge all students regardless of ability. A classroom where stretch and challenge is embedded is one where students know the standard they are aiming for and have the tools to move their own learning forward by using this feedback to develop their knowledge, skills and understanding.

7. Assessment for learning
Formative assessment occurs throughout the lesson in order to assess understanding and clear up misconceptions. To do this effectively AFL techniques are planned with the goal of maximising participation.

The sequence of learning does not end with a right answer; reward right answers with follow-up questions that extend knowledge and test for reliability. We have a 'no hands up' policy to ensure students are skilfully selected to assess understanding. 

8. Presentation of student work
Student work is well presented with titles & date underlined using a ruler, written work in black pen and diagrams in pencil, any mistakes are crossed out with a single line through it. No work should fall out of the books.

9. Review
Effective lesson plenaries are evident that enable the teacher and learners to evaluate the levels of understanding within a lesson. Teacher should use this as a tool to inform future planning.

10. End of the lesson
Students must be ready to leave just before the bell to ensure that they are punctual to their next lesson. At the end of the lesson, students leave in silence. They then quickly and sensibly proceed to their next lesson.

Planning 

All staff should have access to a long, medium, and short term plan for the subjects they are teaching. These should be centrally held by the HOD and shared with teaching staff. All lessons - whether singles or doubles - have a rhythm to them and include 4 distinct sections which should be reflected in planning:

  • The 'Engage' stage with work to be completed as soon as they enter the room - this takes the form of a low-stakes, 6-10 mark knowledge quiz.
  • The 'Explore' stage where the new curriculum content is delivered. 
  • The 'Apply' stage where the students apply this knowledge - this can be via exam questions, written work, practical work or other application (this should be independent student work wherever possible).
  • The 'Review' stage involving a review of learning.

We do not use learning objectives in lessons. Learning objectives are limiting by their very nature, not to mention time-consuming for the teacher to put together and students to write down. It is essential that teachers know what they want students to understand within a given time frame (lessons are not always a suitable time frame with which to measure understanding). 

Teachers should share with students the topic being taught that lesson and why they want students to learn the concept/knowledge being taught.

Go with the learning

“Go with the learning” means teachers have the freedom to teach and veer off from lesson planning when necessary to ensure learning takes place. It is about valuing practice where a teacher intuitively recognises whether students have learned what they have been taught and adjust the lesson accordingly. This freedom is far more important than following an over-detailed lesson plan. This still means that planning needs to be thorough, otherwise there is nothing to veer away from. 

The point of a lesson is to maximise learning, not deliver the plan. ‘Go with the learning’ ensures ‘flow’ in the delivery of teaching and of learning. 

Meeting the needs of all learners

Different students have different needs, related to influences both within and beyond the classroom. It is essential that all student needs are considered when planning lessons to ensure that every student makes progress. 

SEND expectations

All teachers are teachers of students with special education needs and therefore must when planning lessons consider the needs of SEND students.

Students with SEND must not withdraw themselves from lessons. Only under exceptional circumstances will an SEND student be withdrawn from a lesson by the SENDCO or TA as directed by the SENDCO (e.g. Annual Review meeting). Teachers will be informed in advance. For further information regarding SEND students please see the school SENDCO.

Teachers are required to make reasonable adjustments for students with SEND.  The SENDCO has a grid of suggested adjustments for the major SEND conditions and can help teachers with these. There is a system in place for teachers to refer students for investigation into SEND needs and this is made available via the SENDCO.

Pupil Premium (PP) expectations

One of our key aims is to raise the attainment and progress of students in receipt of Pupil Premium so that their performance closes the gap between them and their non Pupil Premium peers. To support PP students in making progress teachers should:

  • Use tracking data robustly and rigorously to ensure need for additional intervention is identified and acted upon earlier.
  • Provide additional learning experiences and opportunities to PP students.
  • Build and develop the skills for lifelong learning.

The academy receives extra funding to improve outcomes for PP students. Any member of staff who wishes to run a project or set up a programme to enhance the learning experience of PP students should contact their director of progress. 

Heads of department will be asked at the beginning of the academic year about the extra resources they wish to provide for PP students.

AG&T expectations

Those who are gifted and talented will be identified by teacher assessment and the effective use of data and evidence from primary school.

Teachers should ensure that students in their classes who appear on the Able, Gifted and Talented register are recorded on seating plans and given appropriate tasks to stretch and challenge. The register will be reviewed annually by heads of department in liaison with subject teachers.

EAL expectations

With the appropriate support EAL students can make outstanding progress.

Teachers can help EAL students to access the curriculum by using simpler texts and materials that suit children’s ages and levels of learning and provide support through ICT, a range of media, dictionaries and translators.

Assessment

Regular assessments are made of students’ work in order to establish the level of attainment and to inform future planning. Students should be aware of the standard of work they are completing and at what grade they are working.

The aim of formative assessment (Afl) is to give students clear guidance about how to improve their work and how they have been successful. Formative assessment allows students to reflect and then put in place strategies to improve. 

Summative assessments will be carried out termly. At Key Stage 3 these are carried out in line with Departmental schemes of learning. Summative assessments are marked as a %. To ensure an accurate and consistent approach to summative assessments departments will meet on a regular basis to moderate work. At Key Stage 4 they will be assessed using past papers from the exam board and may be carried out on a more regular basis.