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Learning and Teaching Policy

As the Insch School Vision states, the expectation is that:
At Insch School we celebrate diversity and inspire all our young learners to reach for the stars and achieve their very best. We strive to create an inclusive and nurturing learning community. Quality learning and teaching is at the heart of all that we do.
This policy is designed to help meet this aspiration. In addressing what is the core of the education process its significance is clear. It has implications for all members of staff, as well as for pupils and their parents.
It is intended that this policy be used in the following ways:

  • as a reference on the underlying philosophy behind effective learning and teaching
  • as an indication on current thinking on good practice
  • as an aid to self-evaluation in the area of learning and teaching.


Setting the context

Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum from 3 to 18, firmly focused on the needs of the child and young person and designed to enable them to develop the four capacities. The changes brought about by Curriculum for Excellence should lead to improved quality of learning and teaching and increased attainment and achievement for all children and young people in Scotland, including those who need additional support in their learning.

Building the Curriculum 3

The 3-18 Curriculum for Excellence aims to ensure that all children and young people in Scotland develop the attributes, knowledge and skills they will need to flourish in life, learning and work. The knowledge, skills and attributes learners will develop will allow them to demonstrate
these four capacities:

  • Successful Learners
  • Confident Individuals
  • Responsible Citizens
  • Effective Contributors

The 4 capacities lie at the heart of Insch School’s Learning and Teaching Policy.
Building the Curriculum 1-5 form the rationale of our learning and teaching practises. Aberdeenshire Council’s a Curriculum Framework 3 to 18 Entitlements describes the range of experiences our young pupils have at Insch School.
These are:

  • a coherent 3 – 18 progression curriculum particularly at points of transition from nursery to P1 and P7 to S1.
  • Cultural experiences
  • Environmental experiences
  • Health and well-being experiences
  • Creative and enterprising experiences and
  • Vocational experiences.

The curricular areas that we teach in accordance with Curriculum for Excellence are:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Health & Well being
  • Social Studies
  • Sciences
  • Technologies
  • Expressive arts
  • Religious and moral education

Curriculum Design
Our curriculum is designed on the basis of the following 7 principles:

  • Challenge and enjoyment
  • Breadth
  • Progression
  • Depth
  • Personalisation and choice
  • Coherence
  • Relevance

Curricular Levels
Curriculum for Excellence defines five levels of learning.

LevelStage
EarlyThe pre-school years and P1, or later for some.
FirstTo the end of P4, but earlier or later for some.
SecondTo the end of P7, but earlier or later for some.
Third and
Fourth
S1 to S3, but earlier for some. The fourth level broadly equates to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 4.
The fourth level experiences and outcomes are intended to provide possibilities for choice and young people's programmes will not include all of the fourth level outcomes.

Good Practice Examples
For teachers to meet the needs of all learners a wide range of strategies are needed. Examples of good practice in this area are illustrated below under the headings and linked closely to the relevant Quality Indicators (QI’s):

1.1 Improvements in Performance
2.1 Learners’ Experiences
5.1 The Curriculum
5.3 Meeting Learners’ Needs
5.9 Improvement through Self-evaluation

1.1 Improvements in Performance/Expectations and Promoting Achievement
Teachers should:

  • Project high expectations for all learners
  • Display awareness of the needs of all pupils from those who require additional support to the gifted
  • Provide a range of activities for personal and wider achievements and recognise these achievements
  • Promote an ethos of achievement through highlighting learners’ successes
  • Insist on high standards of behaviour and promote a climate of mutual respect
  • Foster leadership at all levels
  • Ensure next steps are followed to allow all pupils to achieve and progress

SMT should:

  • Have regular focus for learning conversations.
  • Analyse standardised assessment data with teachers and plan for progression and next steps.
  • Track pupil progress and attainment to ensure it increases/maintains at a consistently high standard.
  • Track achievement in a range of activities for personal and wider achievements.
  • Encourage responsibility at all levels.

2.1 Learners’ Experiences

Teachers should:

  • Promote a sense of fairness and equality
  • Take steps to engage all learners regardless of their background, race or gender
  • Reduce barriers to learning through identification of and response to learners’ needs
  • Create a positive learning environment; engage with learners to ensure their motivation and involvement
  • Employ a varied and considered range of approaches to support different learning styles
  • Identify and respond to learners’ strengths and weaknesses
  • Encourage all pupils to be responsible and contribute actively to the life of the school and the wider community.
  • Ensure learners feel safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, included, respected and responsible and help to develop these qualities in others.

SMT should:

  • Listen to the pupil voice – regularly meeting with focus groups of children with a specific focus e.g. Maths
  • Use pupil voice ideas to feedback to all staff and create next steps.
  • Engage pupils in conversations about what they are learning and why they are learning it.
  • Pupils should be able to talk about the attributes, skills and knowledge and show their progression through them.

5.1 THE CURRICULUM

Teachers should:

  • Aim to achieve the best outcome for each child through partnership between pupils, parents, staff and the wider community
  • Ensure that a clear rationale exists with regard to the design of learning experiences
  • Implement a curriculum which allows all pupils to be challenged and given opportunities for progression
  • Review the curriculum on a regular basis
  • Ensure that, at times of transition, learners are fully supported
  • Ensure our learners are creative, enterprising and prepared for the world of work and their future careers.

SMT should:

  • Ensure all stakeholders are aware of the curriculum rationale based on shared values.
  • Encourage all staff to be leaders of learning.
  • Ensure quality learning and teaching experiences are being delivered (Quality Assurance calendar)
  • Evaluate learning and teaching against the increased expectations
  • Work with all staff to develop and refresh the curriculum on a regular basis

5.3 MEETING LEARNERS’ NEEDS

Teachers should:

  • Plan and deliver purposeful learning experiences
  • Match learning activities to the needs of individual learners and groups with differing abilities or aptitudes.
  • Ensure the pace of learning is appropriate
  • Be aware of and respond to information on learners’ needs
  • Work closely with parents and partner agencies to meet learner needs.

SMT should:

  • Audit a random selection of pupils randomly to ensure their needs are being met using the 8 well-being indicators (safe, healthy, active, nurtured, achieving, respected, responsible, included)
  • Engage in deep, reflective conversation with all staff about how they are meeting specific needs.
  • Use data analysed from standardised assessment to question how we are meeting specific needs.
  • Ensure Individualised educational programmes and coordinated support plans contain appropriate learning targets for our learners. Parents and learners are involved, where possible, in reviewing learners’ needs and learning plans.

5.9 IMPROVEMENT THROUGH SELF-EVALUATION
To ensure effectiveness in Learning and Teaching a rigorous, planned programme of evaluation needs to take place. All stakeholders have crucial roles to play in this context.
Emerging from evaluative exercises should be confirmation of good practice and, if needed, specification of strategies to pursue in order to improve quality. Staff development needs may also be identified as a result of this process.
The creation of a culture which values open and honest reflection is fundamental to success in this area.

A FRAMEWORK FOR EVALUATION OF LEARNING AND TEACHING
A framework for evaluating Learning and Teaching should include the following:

Fixed Points

  • INCAS Data analysis and next step formation
  • ePIPS Data analysis and next step formation
  • SQUIP Schools Quality Improvement Planning
  • Quality Assurance Calendar
  • Annual Review with all staff

Ongoing Processes

  • Classroom observation/supporting visits
  • SMT presence in all classes
  • Scrutiny of pupils’ work
  • Learning conversations with staff
  • Review of feedback from pupils
  • Review of planning by teachers
  • Moderation activities between stages
  • Regular meetings with the pupils (Pupil Voice opportunities)
  • Audit of variety of teaching methodologies
  • Parental views sought and shared

Practical Steps to Support Learning

  1. Sharing Learning Intentions
  2. “Learning intentions and success criteria have become paper exercises in many places, where teachers simply go through the motions. The main rationale for learning intentions and success criteria is that they can support and enhance these conversations on a daily basis. If they do not, then they are not worth the paper they are written on.”
    LEARNING UNLIMITED – ASSESSMENT FOR LEARNING – A practical guide by Ian Smith

    1. How to write Learning Intentions
      • Devise Learning Intentions and Success Criteria at the same time, when possible to ensure they match.
      • Distinguish between Learning Intentions (the what) and the Success Criteria (the how)
      • Make sure that the intention describes the learning and not the task
      • Use positive, learner-friendly language
    2. How to generate Success Criteria
      • Avoid describing the task as the Success Criteria
      • Think in terms of ‘strategies for success’ and ‘evidence for success’
      • Devise strategies that require pupils to ‘perform their understanding’
      • Make sure that the criteria focuses on the understanding and not the process
    3. How to share Learning Intentions and Success Criteria with pupils:
      • Flag up the Learning Intention at the start of the lesson
      • Display Learning Intentions during the lesson
      • Involve pupils in identifying/creating the Success Criteria
      • Use different Success Criteria and have different groups undertake different tasks
      • Never forget that we learn by having conversations
  3. Asking Better Questions
  4. One way in which our questioning can be improved is to ask better questions, that stimulate and support thinking and cause learning.
    ASK MORE Hot (higher order thinking) QUESTIONS

    • What do you think?
    • Can you be sure?
    • Why do you think that?
    • Is there another way?
    • How do you know?
    • Do you have a reason?

    Productive questions have been called “fat”, higher order thinking or “hot” questions. If you want to enrich your own questions there are a range of strategies you can use. These strategies all involve asking pupils to think about possible answers not just the right answer. Pupils can then apply what they know and understand in a context. This helps them consolidate what they know and understand.

  5. Promoting Self and Peer Assessment
  6. Why promote assessment by pupils?

    • Pupils give each other on-going support and feedback while they are learning.
    • The quality of the support that pupils give each other can sometimes be higher than that given by the teacher, simply because the teacher has to spread themselves out amongst the pupils.
    • Through peer and self-assessment pupils develop self-motivation and a positive mindset.

    How to adopt self and peer-assessment strategies:

    • Clearly explain the ground rules for paired working.
    • Give careful thought to choosing groups, especially in practical work.
    • Have high expectations about what pupils can achieve together.
    • Ensure the success criteria are clear and sufficiently detailed to allow each pupil to give effective feedback.
    • Other practical ideas can be found on Page 8 of Promoting Assessment by Pupils, Ian Smith.
    • Pupils should discuss not only why something is good, but also what strategies were used to make it good.
    • Encourage pupils to use their own language to describe quality.
    • Use the carousel system.
    • Use a wide range of self-evaluating questions.
    • Emphasise that having difficulties is all part and parcel of learning.
  7. Making Feedback Count
  8. A. Why do we need to make our feedback count? It will help to close the learning gap between what someone already knows and what they will want/need to know in the future.
    B. How to improve the quality of verbal feedback. We all have a preferred style: you have to decide what your personal preferences are and make sure that you are not neglecting important styles. See Page 8 in Booklet.
    C. How to make written marking manageable. Reflect on why we are marking – to close the learning gap to be effective and to ensure impact.
    D. How to make written comments count. Written feedback must cause thinking on the part of the student. Consider asking questions for them to respond to.

Learning and Teaching Approaches
At Insch School we aim to deliver a curriculum for all our pupils that is coherent, flexible and enriched. We strive to support our less able learner’s and challenge our more able pupils. We work to implement the following learning and teaching approaches.

Active Learning Experiences: a hands on approach where pupils can see the relevance to real life situations. There should be a balance of textbook, written and active work to reinforce learning. Active Learning also promotes cognitive thinking – active minds.

Cooperative Learning: a strategy enriching group work, academic goals and social goals. Specific roles are given with children being accountable for their learning.

Interdisciplinary Learning (IDL): At Insch School we are starting to explore ways to deliver well planned interdisciplinary projects. These focus on a selection of experiences and outcomes and support learners in making links across different aspects of their learning. They build opportunities for progression in knowledge, understanding and skills. These opportunities provide deep learning.

Group work with clearly defined allocated roles so pupils understand their part in the task.

Outdoor Learning Experiences that maximise the use of the outside playground space: planters, basketball nets, microscopes and our trim track as well as the wider local community: Drumrossie Woods, the Meadows, Dunnydeer, Insch village and the surrounding area.

Use of Games Based Learning and as a stimulus, SMART boards and other interactive new technologies eg. the Wii, Nintendo DS’s, digital cameras, netbooks, iPADS’s and iPODS etc.

Teacher/ peer and self-assessment strategies. Assessment is for Learning Strategies (AiFL) are used to show pupils what they have achieved in their learning, what they need to do to improve and how they can go about achieving this. Pupils are assessed by their teacher and are taught how to assess themselves and their peers. Some AiFL strategies used include thumbs up, no hands up, lollipop sticks, 2 stars and a wish, tickled pink and green for growth, traffic lights and learning partners.

Joyning the Learning type projects/topics where pupils are motivated and stimulated by a ‘hook’ to captivate their learning.

Cross curricular learning with Literacy, Numeracy and Health and Well-being forming the core elements.
Collaborative Learning is frequently most effective when learners have the opportunity to think and talk together, to discuss ideas, analyse and solve problems. This is central to many of the experiences our pupils experience at Insch School.

Opportunities for our pupil voice to be heard e.g. Community Corners. Pupils are beginning to have a choice in influencing what they are learning about. We are developing Pupil’s Voice in other areas e.g. ‘Eight a Fortnight’ and ‘The Big Circle’ with pupil groups discussing key learning
areas and issues.

Our Additional Support Needs teachers work throughout the school in the 5 roles: Consultancy, Cooperative teaching, direct teaching, Staff development and liaison with partner agencies. In addition, our Support Staff are well utilised to meet the needs of all our pupils. Outside agencies are used when intervention is required to support pupils to ensure we ‘Get it Right for Every Child’ (GIRFEC): Educational Psychology, Speech and Language Therapy, occupational Therapy, Social Work, English as an Additional Language, School Doctor and Nurse etc. We work hard to ensure each child in our care is Safe, Healthy, Achieving, Nurtured, Active, Respected, Responsible and Included. Teachers evaluate and work with parents to inform them of strategies that are in place in school.

Leadership is fostered at every level in Insch School. Our teachers lead curriculum areas:
Numeracy, Literacy and Health and Well-being. Our House System provides opportunities for leadership by Captains and Vice Captains as well as through ‘Community Corners.’

Achievements are celebrated using our Golden Table, House System and Assemblies.
The work of our pupils is shared with parents and carers in our Curricular Open Afternoons and Evenings.

Creativity and enterprise is encouraged where possible e.g. our School Christmas Fair, Spring Fair, Fair Trade Coffee Morning.

Parental/ Community Partnership is encouraged. This can be through curricular events, parent’s evenings, parent helpers/volunteers, focus group members. An open door policy operates throughout the school. We work closely with a range of local partnerships: Forest Schools, Garioch Rangers, Friends of Insch Hospital, Insch Churches.

Learning styles
All pupils work in a different way and have a preferred way of learning. The VAK model suggests three different styles – visual, auditory and kinaesthetic. As we teach, we try to take into account all three styles to ensure we help each child reach their full potential.
Some key points for each style…

Visual – Learns best when they can see what they are learning or have visual aids e.g. pictures, objects.

Auditory – Enjoys learning by hearing new information or discussing. This can come in a variety of forms – teacher lead instruction, group discussion, DVD, audio text.

Kinaesthetic – Enjoys a more hands on approach to learning, perhaps through movement, design, modelling, creating, constructing or ICT.

Summary
At Insch School we aspire to achieve everything outlined in this policy for all of our pupils,
parents and staff.
Insch School: Reach for the Stars