Teaching & Learning
What is good teaching and learning about?
Fundamentally, we believe that great teaching is about good relationships, with a classroom culture rooted in mutual respect and trust. We also don’t believe in gimmicks – our approach to teaching is based on the most reliable research evidence but being wary that in education, nothing works everywhere, but everything works somewhere!
Research on human cognitive architecture over the last 30 years has tentatively begun to unpick how we learn the things that we have not evolved to pick up easily. We want students to be able to expand their practically limitless long-term memory, to then be best placed to use their working memory to solve problems they will face in and out of school.
Acquisition of knowledge is crucial to this aim – without knowing lots about a subject, stored in the long-term memory, it’s very difficult to think critically about anything related to that subject matter. We believe this should be the foundation of good teaching and learning at UoBSchool, alongside developing reading ability – something that is absolutely crucial to accessing curriculum content as things become more challenging.
A mixture of well thought out teacher led explanations, modelling of processes and techniques, coupled with targeted questioning, guides pupils through complex, challenging topics. Followed by lots of deliberate practice, both guided and independently, with regular feedback from the teacher, this is what constitutes the most effective way to acquire new skills and knowledge.
We balance this ‘explicit instruction’ approach, with discovery or enquiry based learning which can be used to go ‘off piste’ or inspire some awe and wonder in something new.
Enabling everybody to do the best they can
At UoBSchool we believe in helping everybody to do the best that they can. Evidence suggested that setting or streaming students does not have a positive impact on learner achievement. We teach in mixed attainment groups and work hard to ensure that all students are stretched and challenged to meet our high expectations.
We firmly believe that no pupils’ learning should be ‘capped’ – everyone has the capacity to grow their long-term memory and push at the boundaries of their knowledge. We are mindful of the many complex ways in which ideas of fixed ability, and the practices based on them, that can limit learning, and strive to avoid these in our school.
Traditionally known as homework, home learning, or independent study plays an important role in our School. There is always a purpose to the work that we set and, whatever year pupils are in, self-directed learning, research and preparatory work play a critical role in their development and in enabling them to fulfil their potential.
We aim to strike a balance between ensuring pupils have the opportunity to unwind, whilst enabling them to develop habits of mind needed to be successful in their exam preparation, and working life beyond.
At Key Stage 3, pupils begin by spending approximately 20-40 minutes per day of home learning. As they progress through key stages, they will be expected to be spending approximately one hour at home for every hour they spend in the classroom.
At Key Stage 5 we have different expectations – at least one hour for each hour of lessons in school. Students are expected to undertake Independent Study on top of the work they have been set by their teachers. This may include opportunities for flipped learning and consolidation of what they have learned in lessons.