‘To support each and every child to love learning and become the very best that they can be.’
Senior Leaders, staff, the Local Governing Board (LGB), ECMAT, Ofsted, parents and children are constantly involved in the evaluation of the Academy’s performance. This ongoing process of self-evaluation supports the senior leadership team to identify key priorities for Academy development for the coming, and future years, to ensure that we continue to provide the very best education for the children of our community. The school’s vision statement lies at the heart of this improvement plan. All stakeholders are fully committed to improving teaching and learning in order to consistently improve outcomes for our pupils and allow them to become the very best that they can be.
The Characteristics of Effective Teaching & Learning
Learning is the purpose of our Academy. High quality teaching and learning is intrinsic to all that we do to enable our pupils to develop a love of learning and become the very best that they can be. At The Orchards, we have worked hard to embed the Characteristics of Effective Teaching and Learning, as we see them, into our everyday practice from Pre-Academy right through to Year 6 in order to build a high attaining environment. In order to develop children who persevere as learners, who relish challenge and continually try to make improvements, we believe that the following are non-negotiables:
We believe that one of the most important characteristics of effective teaching and learning is all staff having consistently high expectations across all areas of the curriculum. This includes high expectations of Literacy and Numeracy skills across the wider curriculum to ensure basic skills are not only embedded, but extended also. Connections in learning are vital for children to put their learning into context, making links across Geography, History, Art and the entire wider curriculum. At The Orchards, we aim to develop children who can talk about and explain how their process links to a previous experience, drawing on knowledge and experiences that are not immediately related to their activity, in order to solve a problem and think critically.
Quality planning is fundamental for effective teaching and learning. Teachers must have comprehensive knowledge or skill in the subjects in which they teach and must have complete awareness of the prior attainment of all pupils for which they teach. Planning must arise from this knowledge, which will result in learning tailored to individual needs. Teachers will use skilful questioning, arising from what they know about each child, to fully engage children and further their learning at a brisk pace; throughout a lesson and over time.
In every lesson, learning goals are to be made explicit, with the learning put into context and clear success criteria generated and discussed with the children. Learning journeys must be evident in the environment with children being able to access working walls for support throughout the unit of work. The learning journey will enable children to see their learning in context, whilst making connections between prior and future work. The learning environment must display examples of excellence. At The Orchards, we use WAGOLLS to show children ‘what a good one looks like’. These demonstrate to the children, a concrete example of excellence that is dissected and analysed in terms of what makes it ‘a good one’.
High quality teaching in Maths will follow the concrete, pictorial, abstract model. We believe strongly that children learn best when they have the opportunity the explore the concrete and pictorial aspects of Maths, before moving on to the abstract. Only once a child has demonstrated that they have a solid understanding of the “concrete” and “pictorial” representations of the problem, can the teacher introduce the more “abstract” concept, such as mathematical symbols. A skilled teacher will move back and forth between each representation to reinforce concepts. Children have the opportunity to apply developing learning as well as demonstrate compound learning over time. Application, reasoning and fluency should be planned for across the whole curriculum.
Effective learning can only come from a teacher who is skilled in their use of questioning and AfL and are able to really ‘pull’ learning out of the children and take it forward. Solid AFL involves children becoming more active in their learning and starting to ‘think like a teacher’. They think more actively about where they are now, where they are going and how to get there. Peer and self-assessment is intrinsic in this; children ought to be able to see their learning in context and set themselves future targets for development. Effective teachers integrate AFL in their lessons as a natural part of what they do in order to close gaps.
Quality feedback is central to children’s effective learning. It clarifies what the child has done well and selects the very best next steps for learning. This is a two-way process between teacher and pupil; the children must respond to any tasks in their books which are designed to take their learning forward, and this should lead to evident progress in future work. We want to develop children who are intrinsically motivated – achieving things for themselves; not for adult praise.