Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice.
We use Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012) to develop our teaching practice:
- Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning
- Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step
- Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students
- Provide models
- Guide student practice
- Check for student understanding
- Obtain a high success rate
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
- Require and monitor independent practice
- Engage students in weekly and monthly review
In order to allow the mastery approach to be effective (i.e. children learn what they are expected to in the year they are expected to), early catch up is essential: we aim to promptly identify and support pupils who start secondary school without a secure grasp of reading, writing and mathematics so that they can access the full curriculum.
Everything from which children learn in school – the taught subject timetable, the approach to spiritual, moral, social and cultural development, the co-curricular provision and the ethos and ‘hidden curriculum’ of the school – are to be seen as part of the school curriculum. Our principle of ‘Education with Character’ is delivered through the curriculum in this broadest sense.
With thousands of pupils across United Learning following the same curriculum, we have been able to devleop common assessments in most subjects. These are summative assessments which allow pupils to demonstrate their growing understanding of their subjects and teachers to assess the impact of their teaching. These summative assessments are typically taken once or twice a year, enabling teachers to focus on formative assessment from lesson to lesson.
Our formative assessments are designed to support students in achieving fluency in each subject. This means that in lessons pupils are quizzed on prior knowledge in order to embed this knowledge in their long term memory. This frees up their working memory to attend to current learning. We are particularly conscious of the role that literacy and vocabulary plays in unlocking the whole curriculum. Our teachers explicitly teach the meaning of subject-specific language, and we expect lessons to contain challenging reading and writing. Knowledge organisers provide students with key information in each subject, enabling them to develop their understanding of key concepts outside of their lessons. We also encourage all pupils to read widely.
Every child has an equal right to a challenging and enlightening curriculum. By teaching this curriculum well, and developing effective habits in our pupils, we bring out the best in everyone.