Teaching and Learning
Our dedicated teachers are passionate about their subjects and ensuring all our students are given every opportunity to succeed. High expectations permeate the academy as we encourage and support our students to develop a love of learning and an appreciation of the importance of effort. All lessons are carefully planned to engage, inspire and challenge. We understand learning time is precious and we make the most of every moment.
The most effective learning takes place when positive relationships exist between students and their teachers. Our behaviour management system, Positive Discipline, is consistently applied by all teachers and ensures classrooms are controlled, happy and respectful environments where students can flourish.
Our outstanding teachers are supported to continually develop their own practice, as we recognise there is always room for improvement. We provide our teachers with a wide range of professional development support and opportunities to further enhance their exam and subject knowledge. This means a true learning culture exists across the whole academy, for both staff and students.
We have identified 4 teaching and learning priorities pertinent to our academy and to realise our ambition of becoming a top 1% school, therefore providing our students with a truly world class education. These are:
Teaching that creative a positive climate for learning
Teaching that develops at pace
Teaching that is personalised and challenging
Teaching that prepares students for exam success
Each priority has a set of specific criteria that guides and shapes teaching practice in the classroom, and is used to both train teachers and quality assure the standard of teaching and learning across the whole academy.
In addition to creating expert classroom practice we also know it is vital to ensure marking and feedback is of the highest quality. We have therefore established a clear set of marking and feedback criteria. The criteria is based on ensuring teacher time is used efficiently, student independence is developed and the very highest standards are adhered to in terms of presentation, and quality and quantity of work. Thereby giving students the very best opportunities to succeed.
We have developed a number of highly effective teaching and learning methods that are routinely used throughout the academy and help students develop the knowledge and skills required for academic success. These are:
The Purple Zone
The Purple Zone represents the hardest part of every lesson and can last anywhere between 10 and 45 minutes. During the Purple Zone students work independently from the teacher to build their resilience and to ensure they develop acute listening skills. For the first ten minutes of a Purple Zone task the teacher will observe how the students are progressing, making notes on their seating plan and planning what needs to happen next. After 10 minutes the teacher will provide written feedback – advice and/or challenges – for students, to enable them to make maximum progress within the lesson. Students always complete their Purple Zone tasks in purple pen. In practical lessons such as music, drama and during science experiments students will be allowed to work as a team and discuss the task at hand. In written subjects Purple Zone is always conducted in silence. We know this helps students build the independence needed for academic success. We carefully explain to our students it is ok to make mistakes; the most important thing is that they try their very best.
Iterative testing is simply ensuring students frequently re-visit knowledge and skills from previous units of work to embed deep learning. In most lessons students will be quizzed on knowledge and skills from previous lessons, ranging from the last week to the last few years. This helps move information from the short to long term memory and ensure students are well prepared for linear exam, as well as helping them to develop excellent memory skills. At the end of each half term students will sit a formal iterative test, covering a wide range of topics. The marking and feedback of this test helps students understands their strengths and their areas for further development.
High levels of spelling, punctuation and grammar are essential for clear and effective communication. We have therefore developed a whole school approach to written accuracy, identifying the 13 most important standards to master. Your child’s English teacher will identify which 3 standards your child needs to focus on and these are shared with all their subject teachers and the children themselves. In every lesson where written work is taking place students are encouraged and supported to focus on their standards to secure high quality written communication. If any spelling, punctuation or grammar errors are made the teacher will identify these using an orange highlighter. The student is expected to correct these errors in green pen. Errors are often made through lack of careful proof-reading but if errors are being made through lack of understanding the student will receive support from their teacher.
Green4Growth and Metacognition
Green4Growth is when students make improvements to their work following feedback. We understand that written feedback alone is often not enough for a student to be able to make significant improvements to their work, and that is why our teachers plan their lessons in response to how students have performed, so they can provide direct instruction to re-explain or clear up any mis-conceptions identified in the student’s work.
Metacognition is when students reflect on their work, identifying what they struggled with, why they struggled, why it is important to find ways to improve and how they can improve. A useful definition is, “knowledge and understanding of what we know and how we think, including the ability to regulate our thinking as we work on a task. While cognitive skills are necessary to perform a task, metacognitive skills allow us to understand how the task was performed and how we can improve.” Garner, 1987.
Extensive international research has clearly identified the benefits of developing metacognitive skills in young people in terms of both academic success but also in terms of developing higher levels of self-esteem, resilience and independence. Therefore, students will regularly reflect on their work across all subjects.