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Teaching and learning policy

Adopted: October 2015

The Thetford Academy recognises that highly effective teaching and learning is the most sustainable way for pupils to achieve well and develop the knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes that will support them through their lives.

The purpose of this policy is to share and develop a professional knowledge and understanding of the principles of good teaching and learning. It will provide a shared language for all staff to talk about and develop their own best practice in classrooms. It also conveys high expectations and provides consistency in our approaches, ideas, techniques and support in lessons across the whole Academy.

Principles

Teaching and learning at the Academy is underpinned by the following cornerstones of planning (TTA5):

  • Clear success criteria
    • WAGOL displays with visual graded examples
    • SOLO taxonomy
    • Learners are able to identify goals and what success looks like
  • Challenge and differentiation
    • Fertile and Seed Question present relevant and engaging challenges for learners
    • Learners experience failure and show ‘grit’ on the path to success
    • All learners have access to resources that allow them to achieve ‘Extended Abstract’
  • Assessment to inform planning and next steps
    • Growth mindset feedback which is subject specific
    • Self- and peer assessment
    • Written and verbal feedback focuses on closing gaps
  • SMSC
    • All learners are able to develop ideas and share opinions
    • Real world application of learning
    • Awe and wonder
  • Attitudes to learning
    • Passion for the learning journey
    • Ratio of rewards to sanctions of 3:1
    • Positive relationships

Teaching should be:

  • Well planned – with a clear structure to lessons
  • Interactive – involving the pupils in their learning
  • Motivating – engendering enthusiasm for the subject in the pupils
  • Differentiated – to provide challenge for all learners
  • Informed – by what pupils know, understand and can do
  • Evidenced based, using the best evidence available about effective techniques for learning
  • Engaging and enjoyable
  • Encouraging excellent levels of behaviour to support learning Teachers recognise that:
  • Every pupil brings their own goals and aspirations to the classroom. These need to be known and understood before effective learning can take place.
  • Learners need to develop a positive image of themselves as effective learners.
  • Learners make great progress in an environment rich in language
  • There is a need to raise achievement by using prior attainment data to set challenging targets to allow pupils to make outstanding progress
  • Where ongoing underachievement exists in either teaching groups or vulnerable groups that the appropriate interventions are planned to raise achievement and make outstanding progress
  • Learning is more effective in a safe and secure learning environment
  • That where appropriate opportunities exist for social, moral, spiritual and cultural elements should be explored and shared
  • Teachers continue to develop and learn throughout their careers

Planning

Planning in all curriculum areas for all year groups must be supported by:

  • Schemes of learning – using the Academy format. Any variation of this must be approved by the assistant principal (teaching and learning)
  • Progress grids
  • Fertile and Seed Questions that students are working to explore and answer

Planning for teaching should include:

  • A focus on knowledge and concepts to be understood
  • Clear teaching activities
  • Clear explanation of what the pupils should be doing
  • Appropriate subject related vocabulary
  • Activities differentiated for groups of pupils
  • Assessment opportunities for identified groups of pupils
  • Appropriate questioning techniques to develop learning
  • Resources to support and reinforce learning
  • Homework that reinforces and extends what has been learnt in the lesson.

Planning for learning should include:

  • Clear learning objectives set using the Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes (SOLO) method
  • Opportunities for all students to explore spiritual, moral, social and cultural (SMSC) themes
  • Opportunities for collaborative working in pairs or groups and independent study
  • Making links between lessons on a similar subject
  • Opportunities for pupils to ask questions and contribute to whole class discussion
  • Opportunities to explore, investigate and research
  • An opportunity for developmental growth mindset feedback to allow further learning and close gaps.

Lesson structure and time allocation

Lessons should follow the learning cycle as included on the lesson planning sheet with the following components:

  • Starter– connections to prior learning and lesson focus: (engage, intrigue, motivate)
  • Main body of the lesson – activation phase: (input and accessing new knowledge)
  • Main body of the lesson – demonstration phase: (learners demonstrating understanding of new knowledge – mastery)
  • Plenary – review and consolidate: (pupils seeing the progress that have made, seeing their knowledge in a new light, placing their knowledge into the big picture – making connections)

Each class should also have:

  • A seating plan – clearly displayed on the classroom wall for students to clearly see where their allocated seat is
  • A data rich seating plan – including information about prior attainment, targets and individual needs (this is not to be displayed or shared with students)
  • A raising achievement plan

Interactive lessons

Teachers should use a variety of skills and techniques to ensure genuine interaction between teacher and pupil, such as:

  • Effective questioning using different modes of questions to elicit different types of information
  • Planned opportunities for discussion in pairs and groups
  • Effective use of the plenary session to allow pupils to explain their thinking and to assess levels of understanding
  • A variety of activities that stimulate pupils’ thinking

Motivating pupils

Teachers should use a mix of strategies to motivate and encourage enthusiasm for the subject including:

  • A variety of learning activities
  • A variety of teaching styles
  • A variety of resources and artefacts

Differentiation

Teachers should employ a variety of strategies for differentiation; these should include differentiating by:

  • Resource – using ICT, a variety of media and study guides at all times ensuring readability
  • Response – using clear objectives, accessible questions and explicit assessment criteria
  • Support – using other teachers, LSAs/LSTs, EAL support staff and other pupils effectively
  • Task – using a variety of tasks matched to pupils abilities with some choice so that all learners have the opportunity to reach the highest outcomes

Allocation of LSAs

Pupils with more severe SEN/D concerns will continue to have the recommended hours of support. Where the Academy and staff recognise an SEN/D concern teaching staff have to bid for their additional support under the following categories:

  • Reinforcement
  • Assessment
  • Mediation
  • Intervention

The achievement of these pupils is monitored every half term to ensure that these categories are effective.

The use of assessment

Assessment should be an integral part of the everyday work of teachers. It should be used to:

  • Inform the short-term planning cycle
  • Inform teachers about the progress of pupils
  • Inform pupils how well they are doing and what they need to do to improve
  • Enable pupils to undergo self assessment, an integral part of assessment for learning
  • Provide information for Pupil Track and parents
  • Provide information for the curriculum leader to monitor and pass onto the next teacher.

Classroom organisation and management

Teachers should organise and manage classrooms to include:

  • Appropriate grouping of pupils
  • A stimulating learning environment
  • A variety of ways of working involving individual, pairs, group work and whole class
  • Effective use of resources
  • Modelling good examples of work.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring teaching and learning is the responsibility of curriculum leaders and senior leaders.

  • Curriculum leaders monitor the quality of teaching and learning and support teacher development within their areas.
  • Senior leaders monitor the subject areas they line manage according to the monitoring calendar.
  • Audit teams provided by the Inspiration Trust will review the standard of teaching and learning at Thetford Academy.
  • Teaching and learning will be reviewed annually and reported back to the governors through the relevant sub-committee.
  • The development of teaching and learning is the responsibility of curriculum leaders and the senior leadership team.

The quality of teaching and learning is evaluated through performance management observations, SLT drop ins, pupil achievement and areas related to the teaching standards.