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Teaching and Learning

We have a very clear ideology around teaching and we expect the majority of lessons to feature certain elements that we believe will enhance our traditional and academically rigorous curriculum. We believe this approach will help all pupils, whatever their need or ability, flourish and reach their potential.

Although all elements might not appear in every single lesson, many of them are expected to appear in most lessons.

Pupils work in a calm, purposeful environment  

The school demands a calm, purposeful environment for learning in all lessons. A didactic approach is implemented in all lessons, the teacher is the expert in the room and will be central to the learning. Pupils work independently and silent working is common.

All lessons are academically rigorous, using high-quality resources  

All teachers are leaders of knowledge in their specialism and design academically rigorous lessons. The teacher scripts challenging questions and asks them within a ‘no-opt out’ culture. Cold call is used throughout to test student knowledge and understanding. Less able pupils are supported to meet the required academic standard and are not excused from the rigour imposed by teachers. All pupils are supported, no child is left behind.

Pupils are presented with opportunities to be inquisitive and master knowledge

Pupils are ‘cold called’ to ensure all are paying attention and learning. Staff share new knowledge in every lesson and pupils are regularly tested. If a teacher is talking, pupils 'track the teacher' and are sanctioned if they are not. If the whole class is reading, pupils follow the text on their own book and should expect to read. Teachers present exciting content that hooks and presents intrigue. Pupils are expected to contribute to debate and discussion.

Pupils read aloud in lessons, as a part of our ‘no opt out’ culture  

All pupils read aloud every day. Teachers pause the reading and ask comprehension questions to the class through cold call or low stakes quizzing. Teachers deliberately and frequently expand students’ vocabulary. This is regularly tested.

Pupils produce extended writing in the majority of lessons

Teachers provide opportunities for clear, organised pupil writing. This could be formal essays, shorter paragraphs, redrafting of previous answers or equivalent. In subjects where this extended writing is less appropriate (such as maths, music or art) pupils produce extended tasks which practise key knowledge and processes.

Teachers provide exemplar work to the whole class, who then practise and redraft individually

Teachers are explicit about what they want pupils to do, setting out the key steps that pupils will have to repeat in order to complete a task successfully. Teachers check that pupils understand those steps and then provide them with opportunities to practise and master. Exemplar work and redrafting help to provide clarity for all learners, assisting them to achieve their very best.

Pupils receive detailed feedback in every lesson

Feedback can be written or spoken, but the feedback is recorded by pupils in their books in a green pen. They then act on this feedback by adding to their work, repeating the task or redrafting. Students must master tasks before moving on and the teacher is vigilant in checking understanding. Misconceptions are tackled swiftly.  Incorrect spelling or poor use of punctuation is corrected and when speaking pupils are asked to repeat their response if it is not a well-formed sentence. ‘Call and response’ and recital in lessons is commonly used to promote high-quality speech and language. Similarly, teachers comment on and improve pupil’s written style through ‘live marking’, particularly in developing more complex styles.

Frequent low-stakes quizzes are used to test prior knowledge and link to new content  

Often, quizzes take place without revision as they then assess pupils’ long-term memory rather than what they have just crammed. These are often done in the backs of pupil books. As a rule of thumb, quizzes are conducted on a daily basis.

Pupils are taught to retrieve knowledge from memory

It is better to ask pupils to complete a task from memory. This supports students in self-study and helps them to become ‘exam ready’. We provide scaffolds and one-to-one support for pupils who require help and support - no child is left behind at Mercia School.