Uphill Primary School
Teaching and Learning Policy
This policy should be taken as part of the overall strategy of the school and operated within the context of our vision, aims and values as a ‘Learning without Limits’ school.
The School Aims
We aim to:
Embed an ethic of excellence that promotes scholarship, craftsmanship, quality, standards and character throughout our school.
Support children in their own personal beliefs and engender British Values, whilst equally celebrating diversity.
Educate everybody so that every child has the knowledge and skills they need to lead a flourishing life; and have the disposition to help others’ to do so.
Ensure that whenever our children look back on their time at Uphill school, they will do so with positive regard for the experience and opportunities they received here.
The Big Curriculum Picture
We believe that in order to achieve our aims, it is important that we develop all the opportunities for learning and teaching in the life of our school. Children at Uphill will learn in school in three planned, well-used and carefully managed contexts: lessons, routines, events; in addition to learning at home.
Lessons - Lessons at our school are carefully planned using the children’s prior knowledge, which is ascertained through teacher assessment and the use of ‘checks for understanding and protocols. Teachers use their knowledge to backwards plan lessons as a sequence of stages that aim to bridge the gap between where the children are in their current learning and where we plan to extend them to reach and understand new learning. We make this process of learning with children visible through a ‘loops of learning’ display.
Principles of Assessment for Learning (AfL) and our 7C’s Expert Teaching criteria are seen as essential for bridging the gap between children’s current and new learning. Therefore lessons include certain key characteristics such as, explaining at the start of each lesson why we need to learn what is planned (clarity); sharing possible learning intentions and success criteria or steps to success with the; checking-in throughout the lesson against these success criteria or remember to’s using ‘checks for understanding’ and our protocols (consolidation); using rich questioning to develop thinking or assess progress (confer and challenge); using different classroom organisation or teaching styles at different stages in the lesson; grouping children according to what type of learning is taking place (not fixed ability groups); holding a check-out / exit review to check on the actual learning that has taken place (consolidate); explaining what the next steps will be in the learning sequence to make connections in children’s thinking (clarity).
- Routines – We value the extent to which our daily routines can influence the children’s perception of the place in which they find themselves each day. We regularly plan and evaluate to ensure we are sending clear messages to children, and other adults associated with our school, about the sort of place Uphill is becoming as a school. Routines for school assemblies, the start of the day, lunchtime, playtimes, moving around the school, access to the library, IT and research suite and extension work out of school, all support the development of a joyful, respectful, caring and emotionally and physically safe school for all pupils.
- Events – We arrange many events for our children in the acknowledgement that both curriculum content and personal qualities will be best developed through first-hand collaborative experiences. Performances; visits out of school; visiting ‘experts’; first hand experiences within school; and involving the local community play a key part in our curriculum design and support us to ignite a love for learning that lasts a lifetime.
- Home – We acknowledge parents as their child’s first and most enduring educator. We are also aware that children spend only 15% of their childhood time in schools and that the learning that takes place at home has an immeasurable impact on the outcomes for our children. At Uphill, we aspire to foster a partnership between school-based learning and home-learning through an open-door policy; curriculum development evenings; parent consultations and questionnaires on learning and the curriculum; reading logs; age appropriate extension work; parent helpers in school and parent experts.
The Key Elements for Learning and Teaching
Each of the contexts for learning we develop at Uphill – lessons, routines and events – is underpinned by some key elements for learning.
- Approaches to learning – Children will experience learning approaches that best develop the full range of children’s learning repertoires. Children are encouraged to feel that they are active partners in their learning through the development of respectful teacher-learner relationships that listen to what children have to say and offer in the active pursuit of Agency, one of our core values. They also undertake a significant amount of collaborative learning in the acknowledgement that learning is a pro-social process.
- Skills – Children are given opportunities to think systematically, manage information, learn from others and help others to learn. They are encouraged to think about ‘learning to learn’ skills through making use of the National Curriculum Key Skills, which recognises the importance of meta-cognition to attainment. Children are encouraged to develop confidence, self-motivation and an understanding of the learning process. Teachers have a clear knowledge of the skills that are important for children at each phase of their development and for subject specific skills, and this supports us to teach children effectively and accurately.
- Purposes – We understand that children learn more when there are meaningful purposes for their learning and a clear understanding of why they are being asked to do an activity. We therefore aim to share with children these purposes at all times.
- Audiences – With clear audiences for their work, children have a real purpose and are able to employ an appropriate approach. We aim to exploit the use of ‘audience’ within and outside our school to ensure our children’s learning becomes as relevant as possible, as often as possible. All our cross-curricular projects have a performance of understanding that ensures the children maintain a focus on a sense of purpose and their audience throughout their project.
- Relationships (Care and control)– in order for our children to value themselves, their families, other relationships, the wider groups to which they belong and the diversity in our society, we have to give them varied opportunities to get on with others, understand themselves and take responsibility. We actively encourage relationship building, as we believe this is the best way to secure a strong learning culture and community. We believe relationships are the fundamental context for learning to happen and we aim to cherish our relationships.
- Assessment – We believe that children learn best when learning is planned based on what they already know, understand and can do. We use a range of assessments to inform us at key points about the progress of individual children and cohorts. We use a whole school approach to monitoring children’s progress towards Age Related Expectations using our Learning Checkpoints Monitor which is aligned to the National Curriculum Programmes of Study. This then raises questions and hypotheses that help to inform teaching strategies, coverage, depth, resources and possible next steps for our school development planning. When our children know where they are in descriptive terms (not numerical levels) and what they need to do next to improve their current learning or work, they are clearly and confidently involved in for Learning (AfL). We believe this is a key aspect in self-motivation for our children and ultimately in ensuring all children learn without limits.
The Essential Components of Learning and Teaching in Our School
We consider there to be three essential components of learning and teaching that support us to achieve our schools aims – teaching style; environments; codes for behaviour.
Teaching style – We aspire to develop independent thinking and encourage inquiring minds. This requires a range of teaching styles throughout the day or lesson. We aim to offer children a carefully planned balance ranging from whole class teaching through to individual exploratory work, passing through interactive group work or interactive whole class teaching on the way. What we believe is important, is that the teaching approaches employed are the most appropriate for the learning event. In this way, we ensure that the aims of our school are most effectively met.
Environments – We consider that the learning environment is instructive and has the potential to be an additional ‘teacher’ in the classroom and around the school. Children learn best when the environment in which they find themselves is well ordered and well managed, and where there is clarity about quality, craftsmanship, scholarship and standards. Learning environments are carefully planned in order to fully exploit the learning potential and develop personal qualities. Children are expected to contribute positively to the shaping of the school environment and participate in its development. The environment at Uphill aspires to stimulate children’s minds, connect school to home, challenge their thinking as well as affirm it, celebrate their loops of learning, review learning and record their creativity and imagination.
- Codes for behaviour – As we require children to work for different purposes, with different people and audiences, using different skills and different approaches we appreciate that appropriate codes of behaviour have to be expected. These codes are based upon unconditional positive regard for each other and are negotiated with the children in order to achieve absolute clarity in understanding what is expected. Children will be taught overtly what it means to self-regulate and teachers will be vigilant in looking at what potential barriers there may be for children, working with children and colleagues to modify or remove any barriers (control and care).
Using Resources for Learning and Teaching
We understand that in order to achieve our aims in learning and teaching, it is essential that we arrange resources effectively and to good purpose.
- Space – We use space (large and small) throughout the school effectively as a key element of effective teaching.
- Furniture – we aim to give careful thought to furniture, how it is placed, how it is used and who uses it, in order to create the opportunity for learning to be as successful as possible. Our classrooms are designed to be agile and flexible as well as homely with vernacular qualities. This means children are in the best states for being calm, alert and ready for learning.
- Time – We aim to develop approaches to time that allow for flexibility, for limits, for children to be given longer for reflective experiences or be demanded upon so that they work to a deadline. We believe this will support children to develop a sense of control and responsibility within their own work and a passion for thinking things through and producing work of exceptional quality, through re-drafting and seeing others’ work of quality (Tribute Work and WAGOLLs) and gaining self-confidence.
- People – learning at Uphill will often take place with many adults. Children will work with their teachers, teaching assistants, local ‘experts’, school meal supervisory assistants, parents and students in classrooms. We believe it is essential that all these people understand how they can influence children’s learning and that the children also know how to make best use of adult support.
- Materials and apparatus – If our children are to use new skills for the right purposes to develop the right approaches, then it is essential that they learn how to use apparatus and materials. They need to learn what they are for, how to use them effectively and where to keep them. Children at Uphill are encouraged to be independent in their use of materials and resources, once potential uses have been safely modelled and explored with them.