Teaching & Learning
Teaching and Learning Expectations
Children sit next to random talk partners that are changed weekly. Working with different partners prepares them for the workplace as it develops their skills of communication, collaboration and tolerance. Discussion between children, and between adults and children is used as a learning tool as much as possible as it encourages skills of explanation, reasoning, reflection and evaluation, ensuring that the children embed what they have learnt.
Adults use a range of questioning skills and focus on open questions to encourage deeper thinking skills, reasoning and explanation.
Learning Support Assistants work with different children and differing abilities throughout the week. The aim is for children to be able to work independently, without an adult.
Interactive hotboards are used as a learning tool. These are walls that display reminders of methods, vocabulary, good examples and concepts that may help children further their learning. Children use these walls to display their thinking, edit and share their ideas.
There is a skills based Learning Objective for every lesson and the context is discussed with the children. The children self assess against the Learning Objective throughout the lesson.
Children are not set in ability groups as we believe that sitting in pre-determined ability groups limits the children and what they think they can do, as well as what the teacher expects of them. By eliminating ability groups all children have had those barriers lifted so they are able to access learning that suits their individual needs. We aim to have no-one who thinks that they are no good at a particular subject. Sometimes the children surprise themselves!
Within lessons, teachers provide three levels of challenge: Challenge, Extreme Challenge and Ultimate Challenge. Each individual child works at the level that suits them in that particular lesson. In a Maths lesson, for example, a child who is very familiar with telling the time may work on the hardest challenge, whereas in a Maths lesson about spacial awareness and shape the same child may be less confident and try a simpler task. Within the lesson if they then find that they understand they may attempt some of the more complex task. If they had been set in the lower ability group for Maths and given a set task with the others in their group they would have had no opportunity to try more challenging questions and work at the higher level or to work at the pace and level that suited them as individuals. With this approach we find children are not afraid to challenge themselves, try new things and appreciate failure as part of the learning process. They are also able to progress more rapidly within lessons on things they really need to do.
Those working at a higher level are able to access the highest challenges and these are often investigative or involve reasoning, deep thinking or application of skills within a complex problem. All children are expected to progress from their starting points so teachers have to plan lessons that will meet their needs. Senior Leaders track all children’s learning to ensure they all make good progress from where they started.
At Westerings Primary Academy, a range of formal and informal assessment procedures take place, in order to identify further learning needs. Processes include targeted questioning, discussing, analysing written work, marking, observing and talking with the children.
Children self assess written work against the Learning Objective using traffic light system (green: I am confident, orange: I need more practice, red: I didn’t understand).
Success Criteria statements are used to help the children achieve their best and to help them assess, taking ownership of their learning. The children often identify the success criteria for a piece of work, ie, What would an outstanding example of a newspaper report look like?
Peer assessment is used as a strategy for children to develop skills of explanation and reflection. It encourages them to discuss ways of improving their own work.
Adults assess mark books focusing on the Learning Objective and suggesting next steps as well as praising for effort. Feedback is valued as a very important tool in helping children to progress. Some feedback is done verbally. Teachers allocate time during the week for children to work on their next steps and to respond to the teachers' comments, ensuring that they understand how to improve. Practical and outdoor lessons are encouraged, particularly in Maths so work books may not always have written work. Ipads and chrome books are often used, as well as video cameras to record children’s work.
As one of the first primary schools in the UK to be completely cloud-based, Westerings embraces new technology. Children use Google Suite where several children can be editing the same text at the same time and where the teacher also has access. Feedback is instant and a key part to the editing process.
Children write on blue paper for 'Cold Tasks'. These are pieces of work at the beginning of a topic before the children have had any input. It is assessed jointly by peers, the teachers and the children themselves to identify areas of improvement and the teaching focus for the topic. Following the resulting teacher input, which is normally two weeks, the children then produce a 'Hot Task' on pink paper and compare directly against the cold task to see how much they have learnt. This pupil involvement is a key part of the learning process and used throughout the academy. It allows the children to have ownership of their learning and ensures that they learn the skills they actually need.
Teacher assessments are moderated within the whole academy and with other local schools.
Half termly and Termly assessments are collated and matched against the expected progress of individual children. Senior Leaders track the progress of all individual children to ensure that they are making appropriate progress. Senior Leaders and teachers hold Pupil Progress Meetings each term to evaluate the progress of individual children and to plan for interventions, should the need arise. All progress towards targets is reported to Governors and the Academies Enterprise Trust.
Learning Journals are collated in the Foundation Stage (Reception class) as evidence of the children’s progress. We do encourage parents/carers to contribute, emailing any photos or information into school to add to the journal as we appreciate that children learn in all areas of life and may exhibit their knowledge and skills in a variety of contexts. At the end of the year, children’s progress is reported as Emerging (working towards National expectations) Expected (working at average levels) or Exceeding (working at above average levels)
Test skills are taught and children given regular opportunities for unsupported test situations and independent problem solving to demonstrate their reasoning and deep thinking skills as well as their fluency.
Children should know at which level they are working, what they are aiming to achieve and how to get there. This system is introduced gradually from the Foundation Stage onwards and children become more involved in setting and evaluating their own targets as they get older. At Westerings we have set evaluation stems to ensure that the children learn useful language and and give constructive comments.
Parents/carers are invaluable in the target setting process. In the Autumn term, parents/carers are invited to make an appointment one evening to see the child’s class teachers and discuss targets for the year ahead. Suggested areas of action can be discussed. In the Spring Term, a written report of their child’s progress towards their targets in the core subjects of Reading, Writing and Maths is provided, with suggested ways of meeting those targets and things that parents/carers can do at home. In the Summer Term, there is another Parents/Carers Evening and a final summative report is sent to parents/carers at the end of the year.
All targets are set on individual children's previous achievement using National Expectations of good progress and with the aim of all children meeting expected standards by the end of Year 6 so they are ready for the next stage in their education.