Teaching & Learning

Having high expectations

High expectations are an integral part of the teaching approach at North Ormesby Primary Academy. High expectations enable children to achieve the best possible outcomes in both their academic achievement and their wellbeing - exactly why this applies to all. Appropriate and ambitious challenge is threaded throughout school for all pupils, allowing children to develop their curriculum knowledge, promoting our curriculum fundamentals of excellence, enjoyment and enrichment. It is a strongly held belief that no child should have a ceiling put on their learning, they should always be striving to excel and find their own remarkable. Striving towards excellence is underpinned by the need for high expectations. Having a culture of high expectation, allows aspirational targets for the future.

Alongside an ambitious and challenging curriculum is the necessity to set high models of behaviour and ways in which to effectively respond to peers and others they may encounter. High expectations are set for exemplary behaviour, which also allows children to develop their resilience in social situations- a key driver in enabling the whole child to flourish. As a result, the tone is set for when children are away from school in the community and wider world in order to be positive role models.

Paramount to this approach at North Ormesby Primary Academy, is the absolute belief that high expectations are for all, this includes both staff and pupils. Both staff and pupils thrive in settings which constructively challenge thinking, continue to develop individuals to be the best they can be and truly ready them for a remarkable future.

Teaching excellence

Teaching excellence is not about gimmicks or one-off lessons. It is a combination of the strong relationships between learners and teachers and strong pedagogical knowledge to ensure all lessons have impact.

Sequencing of learning is key; not only within a lesson, but also a unit of work and then extended to how that learning is building on key threads and concepts. Expertise and excellent subject knowledge are fostered throughout school, and if required support is facilitated by cross phase cooperation and CPD.

High quality resources are vital and as such, are provided to teachers to enable them to focus on the main task at hand: the very best teaching and learning on offer.

Developing a love for learning

At NOPA it is important to us that we encourage and provide opportunities for all of our children to grow their ‘Love for Learning’ by acquiring new levels of knowledge and skills, developing a desire and passion to learn. Not just for learning’s sake but through a curiosity which motivates them to seek new information and hold onto it and then be motivated and persistent to expand on it through challenges and setbacks, in order for them to aspire towards and achieve their ‘Remarkable Self’!

Children are naturally inquisitive, so at NOPA we draw on this by offering an immersive, enriching curriculum that promotes strong behaviour for learning throughout the school day, where children can learn and discover new knowledge whilst retaining it through retrieval practice. They learn how to become resilient, from being passive to ‘loving challenge’, just like TIM our school ambassador. They develop metacognition processes to plan, monitor and assess their own understanding and performance, so that they become ‘thinkers’ as well as ‘learners’. We also offer opportunities to feed a hunger for learning and provide new experiences beyond our school walls and hours, with virtual/live visits and/or visitors, through after school clubs and via our virtual learning platform, ‘Virtually NOPA’.

Our NOPA family pride themselves on building a school to be proud of, one that children love to run through the gates on a morning, love to learn throughout the day and continue that love of learning at home and throughout their lives as they grow and become knowledgeable, resilient, motivated adults.

An offer for everyone

At NOPA, inclusivity is at the heart of everything we do. We firmly believe in personalised learning, not labels; access to the very best support is for all, whether that be using our own experts within school or utilising the strong links we have built with external agencies or through the use of aids and resources. We are extremely proud of our diverse roll and our equitable approach to teaching, learning, pastoral support and the physical environment ensures that all children thrive; for example our use of flexible seating facilitates creativity, collaborative learning and gives children autonomy over where and how they learn best.

We understand that every child has talent/skill and our curriculum is designed to identify and nurture. It is wider than just academics; we focus on the whole child (self pathway) as well as their talents and interests (passions pathway). We are passionate about building positive relationships with all pupils and their families; relationships built on trust, transparency and mutual respect mean our children get the very best support available and we work closely with professional partners to make sure we leave no stone unturned when trying meet the needs of every NOPA child.

A well-balanced learning diet

As enjoyment lies at the heart of all our learning at NOPA, we work to ensure children are accessing a balanced diet through the variety of learning opportunities that we offer. We want learning to be fun, exciting and engaging, where pupils are given choice and ownership of their learning in creative and innovative ways. Using a combination of digital and ‘analogue’ approaches to learning allow for children to access and express knowledge from varied angles and become confident with a wide range of methods.

Varying the teaching setting is also an integral part of keeping learning fresh for the children, and so we utilise outdoor learning opportunities where possible. Within our classrooms, our use of flexible seating gives children a choice of different working areas and peers to collaborate with. In addition, our designated learning areas give children subject-specific environments to immerse themselves in, outside of the classroom. For example, our ‘NOPA Museum’ allows children to step into the role of historian, whilst our ‘Art Studio’ allows them to become artists. This diverse combination of learning opportunities and environments suits the needs of all children, whilst simultaneously quelling the mundane, and keeping learning exciting.

Developing independence and interdependence

Independence and interdependence are integral elements of the teaching approach at NOPA. Ensuring children become independent and interdependent learners is equipping them with the abilities needed throughout their school life and beyond. Through challenge in their learning, children build resilience and develop skills in critical thinking and problem solving.

Teaching is engaging and allows for children to be creative and make their own decisions on how to prepare, organise and present their learning using a wide variety of media, including digital technologies. Teachers facilitate interdependence, planning tasks so that children encounter opportunities to relate to each other; collaborating and communicating to achieve a shared and mutual understanding. Teaching allows for children to be innovative; encouraging them to think of new ways and be true leaders of their own learning.

Being creative and innovative

Being creative and introducing new ideas is one of the most exciting parts of the teaching and learning at NOPA. We firmly believe in capturing the imaginations of our pupils and trying our best to keep learning interesting and engaging by bringing the most up-to-date resources and ideas from educational research into the classroom to allow students to experiment and learn new skills.

We do this in many ways but most notably by having 1:1 iPads for every child which allows them to experience the wider world right from their classroom - access to knowledge is literally in their hands and the iPad becomes a window as much as a screen! As well as being fully loaded with apps that have been carefully chosen after being trialed for impact, our devices allow brand new encounters through VR and AR to support areas all across our curriculum. To extend this progressive, technology-based learning even further, we have an incredible offer through online learning (Virtually NOPA) and children are encouraged to use this in their own time to continue their learning.

Our dynamic, key-question led curriculum encourages a project-based learning environment where students can take ownership of their own education by making choices about what they learn to showcase them in their very own topic portfolios, each book being as individual as the pupil in charge of its construction.

The school environment in itself (indoor and outdoor) is also an innovative tool for education that immerses our pupils, staff, parents and visitors into everything we are learning about. From our creative classrooms with flexible seating, to our courtyard learning village and our remarkable story garden, every space in our school has been designed to further culture that richness of knowledge and understanding through visual and interactive means, ensuring an environment primed for scholastic excellence.

Striving for depth

At NOPA, teaching and learning is designed to allow children to explore subjects and content in depth, whether this be in Maths as they move through the Mastery Flow Model or in History/Geography where children synthesise acquired knowledge through the creation of their own non-fiction ‘topic portfolio’ pages.

The goal for all of our children in the skills and knowledge they are taught/learn is 'automaticity'; the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. Learning in this way, supported by regular retrieval practice, allows children to improve their ability to remember and recall.

Our Curriculum Flow Model ensures children progress through their learning, across all subjects, in a way that supports the long term retention of subject-specific concepts and content. Children then achieve depth by creating content in a myriad of forms, including digitally through the use of a variety of iPad applications - in doing so, children truly become ‘masters’ of their own learning.

In addition to all of the above, we place high value on teaching our children to be metacognitive in their learning journey with us. We teach explicit sessions where the children learn a new skill alongside their peers and teachers, training in what it means to be reflective and understand how they best learn. We see excellent gains in independence skills and on the strategies children use when they get ‘stuck’ with their learning.

We also place value on using retrieval practice as a powerful means of helping children to remember key content and knowledge across the curriculum. We know that when children learn more, they remember more and thus, can do more - retrieval practice helps children make more schematic connections, strengthens their retention and increases their confidence.

The cornerstone of any excellent teaching and learning model, feedback and assessment are absolutely imperative to help children understand where they are in their learning journey and also inform teaching staff on how to ensure each child is getting the best learning offer. We’ve worked hard over the years to sharpen our ability to give feedback at the point of learning and in making certain we are as succinct and clear as possible.

We try to involve others as much as possible in the feedback process, strengthening their ability to be analytical and a ‘critical friend’. We take full advantage of the efficiencies using technology for feedback and assessment offers; children can get instantaneous data on their performance and as practitioners, we can share this information quickly across classes, the school and at Trust level. This is very powerful when looking at comparisons and monitoring progress.

At NOPA, we spend a lot of time and resources on making our learning environments as powerful as possible, immersing the children in their topics and subject content. Classrooms are rich in interactive material, knowledge and vocabulary. It isn’t just about the physical spaces in school though, we also immerse children in subject richness by exposing them regularly to (sur)real experiences, particular through the use of technology like virtual reality but also through external subject experts.

How do we know that what we do actually makes a difference?