Pedagogy and Curriculum Principles
We believe that children achieve well academically when they have access to the knowledge they need to create thorough pieces of work.
To support this, we recognise that generally the teacher is the most knowledgeable person in the classroom and has a responsibility to pass that knowledge on to their pupils. This can happen through explanation, demonstration and asking pupils to carry out focused tasks that ensure they are secure in that knowledge. Pupils are then expected to apply that knowledge in a variety of ways that require extended independent effort, for example through a longer piece of writing.
We see learning as happening over time, and not necessarily in separate blocks of individual lessons. Teachers plan and teach opportunities for learning to happen in sequences of lessons, rather than in individual lessons themselves. The length of each sequence will be dependent on the subject being taught and the type of application that pupils will be asked to carry out at the end of the sequence. This means that some individual lessons will involve consolidation of existing knowledge rather than the acquisition of new knowledge, and we recognise that this is an important step to building long-term learning. This will be particularly relevant during the ‘Practice’ phases of learning and we value those opportunities.
Mastery for All
We start our teaching from the position that all pupils are capable of achieving at least age-related levels. Having this high expectation of all pupils permeates our practice. Work should not therefore be ‘differentiated’ to be easier than the age-related standard. Instead, pupils should be offered resources that make the age-related work accessible. This may include equipment, the support of an adult, extra time to complete the work, pre-teaching of a concept, or other strategies deemed suitable by the teacher. It is not acceptable to simply offer pupil’s work that is of an easier standard.
If, having attempted the appropriate approaches, a pupil is falling behind age-related expectations, the support of other professionals will be sought. The Inclusion Manager or SENDCo will advise on further resources or strategies that are available, and will ask for assessments of need to be carried out. Please refer to our SEN Policy.
Assessment for Learning
‘Assessment is the process of gaining insight into what our pupils know, understand and can do as a result of what we have taught them,’ (Mary Myatt). We consider that assessment is the connection between teaching and learning. Teachers at Gorefield clearly know what is being taught and use our next steps in learning system, low stake quizzes, questioning and talking to the children to know what children have learnt and what needs to be retaught. Careful consideration is given to the illusion of knowledge. This is where children and teachers believe they have depth and breadth of knowledge they are just familiar with. Based on this the key knowledge from what has been taught is continually included in subsequent lessons to encourage retention in the long-term memory. More can be read about this in our Teaching and Learning Policy as well as our Marking and Feedback Policy.
‘Deliberately building vocabulary is one of the most important things we can do as teacher’ (Mary Myatt). Key vocabulary is identified for all lessons at Gorefield because learning about an unfamiliar topic with no prior knowledge is both exhausting and discouraging. We acknowledge that vocabulary needs its own distinct teaching. So, at Gorefield we use a variety of approaches from Mrs Wordsmith, Word Power from Kelly Ashley and strategies such as SEEC – select, explain, explore, consolidate (see an explanation of this here) - from Alex Quigley. Vocabulary is initially displayed in the classroom but this is soon removed so that children are encouraged to store learning in the long term memory as they need to work harder to recall words, definition and uses. All teachers take advantage of the Matthew Effect when teaching vocabulary, making sure that children have a rich vocabulary so that they continue to get richer.
Personal, Social and Emotional Success
Academic success is clearly an important part of our role, and Personal, Social and Emotional wellbeing lie at the heart of being successful academically. Wellbeing for our pupils however remains our ultimate goal, so a pedagogy or curriculum that supports this outcome is crucial.
We recognise that having high expectations of pupils academically can place pressures on them and we need to ensure our pedagogy and curriculum supports them as people. The most important aspect of this part of our teaching and learning is the relationship formed between a pupil and their class teacher. Pupils must feel able to talk to their class teacher about anything they wish and the teacher must deal with any issue professionally and compassionately.
We also recognise that some pupils need more support than this and we work with external agencies to ensure we can give any pupils the extra support they need. Teachers must liaise and build positive relationships with these teams.
We also believe that a curriculum should be engaging to pupils, offer opportunities for creativity, and should, at times, be fun – although we recognise this is a subjective view. Teachers will look for opportunities to build enjoyment for their pupils across the curriculum. Enjoyment can take many forms for different pupils, but an effort must be made by teachers to take this aspect of learning into account. Seeking the views of pupils is an important way of achieving this.
PSHCE is an important part of our curriculum and must be taught throughout the year. Arts subjects must be taught throughout the year and given equal value to academic subjects. A personal development focus is used to supplement these and is promoted through all subjects and interactions.