Teaching and Learning Policy

 

Learning Policy (approved) date: October 2018
Review date: October 2019

 

 

Rationale:

This policy offers clarity about what the expectations of teachers are, working at Lees Brook.

The individual points within ‘Mark - Plan - Teach’ have been included here in more detail to provide context and examples. This policy defines the consistencies and key teaching strategies which will make everyone’s job easier, so that teachers can build up a repertoire of expertise, knowing that what they are doing in these key aspects is the same as what is going on in other classrooms across the school.

Aspects such as the use of UPGRADE lessons and the marking codes must become commonly and consistently applied.

 

One-page summary - 18.09.18

Mark:
Marking and assessment have two purposes. One, students act on feedback to make progress over time. Two; it informs future planning and teaching.

● Teachers must have a secure overview of the starting points, progress and context of all students.
● Marking must be primarily formative and include the use of UPGRADE lessons which are clear about what students must act upon.
● Marking and feedback must be regular.
● The marking code must be used.

Plan:
Planning is a process not a product. It has one purpose; to enable high quality delivery which meets the needs of all students.

● Be clear and precise about the knowledge/skills you want students to learn, not what you want them to do. Break them down.
● Do the ‘so why?’ test. Activities, including homework, must be designed to facilitate learning and not just keep students busy.
● There should be evidence of long-term planning from schemes of work and short-term planning in the
Teacher’s file and/or planner.
● Differentiation should be planned over time to ensure a Quality First approach which meets the needs of all students and groups and maximises the use of any additional adult(s) in the room.
● Every class must have a seating plan on Class Charts that accounts for their profile.
● There should be no dead time. This includes a prompt start, with students purposeful from the beginning, appropriate pace for the intended learning.

Teach:
Teaching is a lifetime’s craft. “Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.” (Professor Dylan Wiliam)

● We are all teachers of literacy and numeracy. The quality of both students’ and teachers’ language, such as in razor sharp instructions and questioning, are significant determinants of progress. Make the implicit explicit.
● Teachers must be explicit about learning outcomes and key words. Learning outcomes must be referred to as part of plenaries throughout the lesson.
● Go with the learning and don’t be afraid to change the plan: the ‘flow’ of great progress is more important than
following a lesson plan.
● All students must be working harder than the teacher over time and be able to use the key strategies.
● Ensure that learning has stuck through the use of AfL strategies, using checks that are incisive, systematic and effective.

 

Mark - Plan - Teach:

Marking has two purposes. One, students act on feedback to make progress over time. Two, it informs future planning and teaching.

1. Teachers must have a secure overview of the starting points, progress and context of all students.
A secure overview means that;

a. The information in subject trackers and SISRA is understood. This includes
i. prior attainment data from KS2
ii. how the student is doing in your subject compared to others
iii. how the student has done in the subject prior to you teaching them etc.
b. Teachers should understand the student’s overall strengths and weaknesses, in examined courses it is mandatory to have a RAP sheet.
c. Teachers should be aware of the context of each class because;
i. of the relationships you form with the students
ii. make at least a mental note of announcements about student welfare, for example at briefings or via e-mail
iii. you liaise with the Head of Year where necessary.
It is important that a student’s context rarely means you should adjust your aspirations of what they can achieve. Sometimes there are events in a student’s life that makes it very hard to learn anything. These students are the exception and not the rule.

Without a secure overview, it is impossible for classroom teachers to form the first wave of intervention and deliver ‘Quality First’ teaching. Marking (including verbal feedback) provides excellent feedback to the teacher as to whether students have learned what they have been taught.


2. Marking must be primarily formative, may be selective, and include use of UPGRADE lessons which are clear about what students must act upon.

Primarily formative means that the focus of your marking must be showing students how they can improve. A summative mark/level/grade often means students spend their time comparing how they have done with their classmates and not on improving their mark. The UPGRADE lesson is designed to direct engagement with what students should improve, but its effectiveness can be diluted if it is not given enough time.
Summative assessments and their frequency should be proportionate to the amount of curriculum time. They should also have formative comments.

The purpose of selective marking is to enable a more precise focus on areas for development, and ensure progress within them. When students have many corrections to make it can be difficult for them to know where to start, and they need guidance to work through it. Indicating thirty spelling mistakes in one page of an exercise book can be demotivating.
Identifying ten within a single section which they get right next time, following UPGRADE practice, is much better. Ignoring a misspelt word can reinforce a problem. Used well, selective marking enables faster progress over time.

Student’s work should be marked in green pen. Self and peer assessment should be completed by students using a red pen so that it is clearly distinguishable from teacher marking. The teacher may also verify the student marking with a comment or initial.

Student’s work must be marked regularly by the teacher. Each subject area will set out expectations for this reflecting the type of work being produced, the frequency of lessons and the stage of learning of the students. In most cases, meaningful written marking every 2-3 weeks is a reasonable expectation. However, this should be supported by lighter touch marking such as literacy marking or self and peer assessment.

UPGRADE lessons:
Upgrade lessons are only effective if
i. you allocate time for students to complete them (these should take a full lesson to complete – students who are absent may be set the UPGRADE tasks as an additional homework)
ii. you check students have responded to targets fully, and ensure that work is done again if they have not. Do not accept sloppy or half-hearted work. Workload can be reduced by encouraging students to self and peer assess their response to targets.
● Examples of UPGRADE activities and what they might look like are here.

• To complete or improve the original task set
• To improve the quality of work completed to be in line with target grades or beyond
• To complete a challenge task that will extend understanding or level of skill
• To apply a process to a different situation
• To apply understanding to an exam question

TL 1

 

3. Marking and feedback must be regular

If student work is marked regularly, it means they get regular feedback and the opportunity to improve. Marking, as with homework, should be proportionate with curriculum time. The frequency of marking is proportionate to lessons to ensure equality between faculties who see their classes for one lesson a week and those who see them far more often.

If the time taken to mark a class set of books is out of proportion with the amount of time the class collectively spends on responding to the feedback then something has gone wrong. If students do not engage with the feedback there is no impact. Doing hours and hours of marking does not automatically mean this section of the Teaching and Learning policy is being followed.

TL 2

The marking code must be used.

The marking code must be displayed on student books/folders. When used by everyone it saves on time without detriment to the overall impact. The students must feel that their work is marked in the same way across the school. Symbols from the code may be predominantly in the margin in written work; the key is that students understand where they are making mistakes or their work needs to be improved. The same symbols should be used if marking electronically.

No other symbols should be used, such as codes for effort. Marks are acceptable as part of, for example, a test with twenty questions or a sample examination paper. Levels and grades should be commensurate with how they are reported to parents.

The Marking Code:

School Marking Symbols
S Strength
T Target to improve work
Literacy marking symbols
Sp Spelling mistake
P Punctuation mistake
G Grammatical mistake
// New paragraph needed

 

 Teachers should also consider ‘Not Yet’ as vocabulary or annotation to encourage resilience, re-drafting and focus away from summative to formative assessment.

Mark - Plan - Teach:

Planning is a process, not a product. It has one purpose, to enable high quality delivery which meets the needs of all students.

1. Be clear and precise about the knowledge/skills you want students to learn, not what you want them to do. Break them down.

Planning is about hard thinking, not form filling. It is a thinking process. Your habits of thought are of fundamental importance. As obvious as it may sound, a teacher’s planning must consider what you want students to learn first, and spend some time on it, before you give any consideration to what you want them to do. High quality planning requires a bigger strategy than this. All too frequently planning starts with the final question.

1. Where are the students starting from? (secure overview)
2. Where do you want them to get to? (Objectives and Outcomes)
3. How will you know when they are there? (AfL)
4. How can you best help them get there? (Differentiation/AfL)
5. How can they help themselves and others? (Self and Peer assessment)

You should aim for excessive clarity and precision to articulate what you want your students to learn, and what you want them to do so they learn it. Your explanations should be phrased in such a way that students quickly understand what they are aiming for.
Breaking down what you want them to learn can often reveal skills or knowledge they have to acquire which need to be taught.

TL 3

 

“As you reduce the amount of time you spend actually teaching, you can start to observe the learning more”
Jim Smith - The Lazy Teacher

 

2. Do the ‘so why?’ test. Activities, including homework, must be designed to facilitate learning and not keep students busy.

To improve students’ understanding of their own work, it is useful to consider why and how we are planning learning for students. Over-planning can be very common when you are going to be observed. If an activity is not making a significant difference, then drop it.

Activities need to be focused on learning and not control. This can be easier said than done at the start of your career, or in the first few weeks of teaching a class who need some time to gel, but in any circumstances, should be your long term aim. After planning always check that the activities are supporting you deliver the learning you want to achieve, and whether there was a more efficient route of doing it. Ask yourself ‘so why’ about each activity and the length of time allocated.

 

Lesson Objectives:

How often do you question your own learning objectives? The precision of your language really counts in making learning stick; this does not mean that students should copy lesson objectives. Ask yourself again the following questions:

1. Where are the students starting from? (secure overview)
2. Where do you want them to get to?
3. How will you know when they are there?
4. How can you best help them get there?

 

Homework:

Homework is part of curriculum planning, including schemes of work and is an extension to the students' learning day and contributes to raising achievement. Homework is also an opportunity for students to develop their ability to work independently, to research and to extend their learning.
Homework can take the form of separate tasks set each week, and it can also consist of a project, or a menu of tasks to be completed over a defined period of time. The amount of homework expected to be set by faculties should be in proportion to curriculum time.

The default expectation is that students have one week to complete a homework. This enables students to organise their own time and avoid bottlenecks where multiple tasks have to be completed on the same day. This will prepare students for further and higher education and the world of work, where competing urgent deadlines can sometimes conflict.

Teachers should ensure that students make reference to the homework in their planner as a prompt, even if they do not always write it in full. Details and deadlines should also be completed on Class Charts. This is a primary way of engaging parents. Submission of homework is also recorded on Class Charts.

The purpose of the student planner is to develop independence and resilience in managing their learning. Students should capture both what they have done and what they plan to do over the week. This could include the book they are reading and work they have carried out, such as revision or research, that was not set as homework.

 

Frequency of homework:

In the planner students are asked to record homework/revision. It is the student’s responsibility to ensure they complete the required number of hours per week, even if the homework has not been set or they have been absent. It is important that good work routines are established in year 7 and maintained throughout, rather than students having to learn new ones when it is too late towards the end of year 11.

Year 11 students will have personal statements, CVs and other administration tasks to complete in addition to studying for courses.

 

3. There must be evidence of long-term planning from schemes of work and short-term planning in the planner.

 We do not expect teachers to produce individual lesson plans for observed or unobserved lessons, but we do expect ‘evidence of planning’ over time. The teacher file must contain the difference between the scheme of work/medium term plans. With rare exception, your planning for the day should be completed before the start of the school day. The teacher file should be available if requested

The’ 5-Minute Lesson Plan’ is a useful tool for recording cognitive thought and removes the need for laborious writing. The teacher file and schemes of work are also valid sources of information. There are different formats you may use, but there must be evidence of teaching over time.

TL 4

 

4. Differentiation should be planned over time to ensure a Quality First approach which meets the needs of all students and groups and maximises the use of any additional adult(s) in the room.

What is Quality First?
The great impact on learning is the teacher and the quality of teaching. High quality teaching, including appropriate differentiation, is the first wave of intervention.

TL 5

The second form of differentiation, is marking students’ books and planning lessons with thought and adapting planning to the needs of individual students and groups in the lesson. Based on lesson observations and staff feedback, we find that this is the most challenging aspect of teaching in the school.
It is therefore vital that all teachers adapt a ‘differentiation over time’ approach rather than attempting to meet the needs of individual students in one-off lessons through time consuming methods. This is not sustainable, nor effective on teachers workload and productivity.

 

The ALS program provides an opportunity to develop skills in differentiation as well as joint planning and coaching.

 

5. Every class must have a seating plan on Class Charts that accounts for their profile.

Key points:
a. It offers differentiation possibilities and is therefore a wave one intervention for Quality First teaching.
b. It is evidence that a teacher has processed the data available for the class.
c. Where students sit should always be up to the teacher, it is part of establishing authority over a new class. “We always work better when we sit together sir/miss” is most frequently an indication that they do not.
d. Changing the plan at the start of each term is easy in Class Charts, new dynamics can keep it fresh.
e. A boy/girl seating plan rarely fails, difficult though it can be to implement in the more boy heavy year groups.
f. It is easily accessed by another member of staff whom you may need to help with the class, such as a pastoral leader or your Head of Department.
g. Class Charts can show you things you may have inadvertently missed such as whether all your pupil premium students are sitting together at the back, and can also act as a permanent reminder where the HA student who wants you to forget about their high prior attainment is sitting.

 

6. There should be no dead time. This includes a prompt start, with students purposeful from the beginning, appropriate pace for the intended learning

1. Leave the room on time, and tidy, for the next person.
2. Meet and greet at the beginning of the lesson so that the lesson gets off to a prompt start
3. No waiting for others to arrive. It is the latecomer’s responsibility to catch up.
4. Consider the amount of ‘teacher talk’ time.
5. Little or no copying, particularly lesson objectives.
6. Time efficient methods, e.g. cutting and pasting can be very time-consuming.
7. Admin tasks can be invisible and inaudible.
8. Consider the transition from one activity to the next.
9. Check learning effectively and avoid wasting time on things already learned.
10. ‘Unallocated’ lessons to address gaps identified by the assessment
11. Use timings for activities and parts of activities to ensure a good pace
12. Appropriate pace, depending on what you want them to learn and the activity in hand.

 

Mark - Plan - Teach:

“Teaching is a lifetime’s craft. “Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.”

(Professor Dylan Wiliam)

 

1. We are all teachers of literacy and numeracy. The quality of both students’ and teacher’s language, such as in razor sharp instructions and questioning, are significant determinants of progress. Make the implicit, explicit.

Speaking

Oral rehearsal in preparation for writing tasks is essential. The opportunity to rehearse their writing by discussing their ideas with a partner or small group in standard English, not only improves their content, but their literacy.

Key Strategies such as Think-Pair-Share, triad work, group discussions, presentation and more can provide students with an opportunity to practice what they will write.

TL 6

 

Writing

Modelling is a key teaching strategy that, when coupled with high expectations, supports students to make maximum progress.

By using a metacognitive approach and explaining or demonstrating to students what is expected of them, students are better able to respond effectively to tasks.

TL 7

 

Numeracy

We are all teachers of numeracy. Numeracy includes significant aspects of what is taught in mathematics but also includes the ability to use numbers and solve problems in other subjects and in real life.

A strong mathematical grounding is beneficial for a wide range of subjects, including the STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) but also geography, computing, art, PE, economics and so on.

When you are teaching something numeracy related, you should make it explicit you are doing so, to enable students to see the relationships between subjects.

 

2. Teachers must be explicit about learning outcomes and key words.

 

Students must know the knowledge and skills you want them to learn and the language they are expected to understand and use. Having said that, there are different ways of being explicit.

The standard approach is to have the learning outcomes and key words on the board at the start of the lesson and referred to when appropriate throughout the lesson, particularly at the end. They should not copy it down. This is a ‘control’ activity, not a learning one. Copying is definitely not a ‘prompt start’ to learning.

More sophisticated variations that can aid learning include doing one of

● asking for a reminder of the previous lesson’s learning outcomes and key words, the class then speculates what they will be this lesson.
● complete the first activity, then ask the class what they think the learning outcomes are.

Key words mentioned at the beginning and never again serve no purpose. If your high expectations are represented in your language, at least some of the keywords will not be commonly understood by the class and will play a very significant role in your lesson. It is a high level teaching skill to be able to build your lesson around one or two keywords. By definition the number of keywords should be small, no more than two or three per lesson.

 

3. Go with the learning: the ‘flow’ of great progress is more important than following a lesson plan.

“Go with the learning” means teachers have the freedom to teach and veer off from lesson planning when necessary to ensure learning takes place. It is about valuing teachers who intuitively recognise whether students have learned what they have been taught and adjust the lesson accordingly. This freedom is far more important than following an over-detailed lesson plan, a tick box culture or pleasing the imaginary inspector. This still means that planning needs to be thorough, otherwise there is nothing to veer away from. ‘Winging it’ might be possible in experienced hands, but is not desirable, and is definitely unprofessional.

Many lessons do not work out the way they were intended. Sometimes knowledge and skills do not stick, activities need to be shortened/lengthened or done in a different order. The point of a lesson is to maximise learning, not deliver the plan. ‘Go with the learning’ ensures ‘flow’ in the delivery of teaching and of learning.

 

4. All students must be working harder than the teacher

Ultimately it is the students who have to perform in the examination, the controlled assessment, the job interview and in their working lives. Your students must have the expectation that when they come to your lessons they will think and work hard for sustained periods. This does not mean that whole class teaching is discouraged, or that you are expected to be a facilitator but over time the students must work harder than you.

Your planning is key to this, particularly the lesson structure and how you adapt longer activities while teaching. The start of the lesson can set the tone. Your students come in and immediately start working unprompted while you meet and greet. When new to teaching or a new class you may well feel for some time as though you are the person working the hardest. It should be your ambition to reverse that. This is a key part of student self-regulation. Do not pander to it, challenge it. Teach the learning behaviours you want to see.

 

5. Ensure that learning has stuck, through checking that is incisive, systematic and effective.

 

If learning is planned for, teachers should be able to gauge if learning has taken place. However, it is not always as easy as that. Learning cannot always be seen. It is therefore vital, that teachers can confidently and accurately use teaching techniques to gather a secure overview as to whether ‘learning has stuck’ or not. All teachers should be confident to test whether ‘learning has stuck’ using systematic and incisive techniques, frequently based on questioning.

Far too often teachers make the assumption that teaching something means it has been learned. This feedback is absolutely essential to ensure students make strong progress over time. Every teacher has had the experience of writing the same comment in every book or seeing the same mistake in every exam paper, because learning was not checked effectively.

Ensuring learning sticks begins with your planning. If you have planned your lesson so that the main activities are as long as possible this enables you to get around the room and monitor progress.

 

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