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Learning and Teaching Policy

Authors: Ruth Lea Date: January 2019 Agreed by Staff: January 2019 Shared with Governors: January 2019 To be reviewed: December 2021

Other than Safeguarding, this is the most important College policy.

Our philosophy of Learning 

Deep and meaningful learning occurs when students

  • have long term retention of knowledge and skills
  • can transfer their learning to different contexts
  • are resilient and know what to do when they do not know what to do
  • change their view of the world or opinions as a result of new learning

At JCG we believe that expert teaching and learning can be achieved by embedding and interleaving Six Teaching Principles with Six Learning Principles; The Scholarly approach at Key Stages 3 and 4, which is further developed through the A level Mindset VESPA programme in Key Stage 5. Everyone is as a learner at JCG and we recognise the importance of developing a growth mindset culture amongst our staff, students and parents in order to excel as both learners and educators. (appendix 1) 

Teaching and Learning Principles

Embedding these principles within our teaching provides a framework with a common language for talking about teaching while enabling us the flexibility and freedom to teach in our own style. We recognise that the application of these principles will look different across and within subjects. The principles do not represent a lesson plan; an individual lesson may focus on just one of the principles. 

Teachers are responsible for:  

  • Providing students with challenge and support, so that they are encouraged to think hard, and learn how to be resilient and resourceful.
  • Tethering new ideas and skills to prior knowledge when introducing and explaining. Allowing for the limited capacity of the human thinking memory when transforming abstract ideas into concrete
  • Modelling excellence (e.g. examples, non-examples and demonstrations), so that students know how to apply their knowledge and skills and what quality work looks like.
  • Giving students time for careful deliberate practice, reducing the scaffolding as they progress enabling them to work with effort just beyond their comfort zone. Providing multiple opportunities to revisit learning by spacing and interleaving.
  • Asking carefully crafted questions to check understanding and leading students from surface knowledge to deeper learning. Assisting students in the transfer of their learning between different contexts, subjects, times and places.
  • Providing students with feedback they can act on to improve. Helping them to become reflective learners - knowing where they are in their learning and know how to move forward, actively responding to feedback to close their ‘learning gap’ so that they become absorbed in their learning, are noticing links, demonstrating curiosity and thinking creatively.
  • Encouraging students to believe in themselves and hence excel in their efforts to produce work reflecting their personal best.
  • Carefully awarding the learner profile which most accurately reflects the learning dispositions demonstrated by the student.
  • Accurately applying the assessment grade descriptors and communicating these to ensure students know where they are in their learning.
  • Keeping abreast of the latest evidence based learning research

 Students should take responsibility for:

  • learning for learning sake, not only for passing exams
  • adopting a scholarly approach to all that they do
  • knowing their learner profile and the next steps to take to become better learners
  • understanding the importance of learning, making the most of opportunities and recognising that learning continues outside of the College
  • effortful learning, ensuring their work is proof-read and is their personal best
  • being resilient, learning how to take risks and strive to overcome setbacks
  • being reflective, knowing where they are in their learning and know how to move forward, actively responding to feedback to close their ‘learning gap’
  • being reciprocal, working collaboratively, learning from and with others
  • managing their distractions, so that they have a positive impact on the learning of others
  • being resourceful, being prepared for learning, capitalising on learning opportunities and using learning resources effectively

Heads of Department and Heads of Faculty are responsible for:

  • taking action to ensure that the learning and teaching policy is fully embedded

Heads of School / Sixth Form are responsible for:

  • In liaison with Heads of Faculty, monitoring, evaluating and acting to continually improve the quality of teaching and learning within their School / the Sixth Form

The Principal is responsible for:

  • ensuring that all members of the College take responsibility for implementing the policy.
  • providing appropriate support and necessary action to ensure the policy has a positive impact on learning and achievement and the quality of teaching

Parents/guardians should be encouraged to take responsibility for:

  • supporting and being involved in their child’s learning.
  • being aware of their child’s learning targets and celebrate their achievements.
  • being aware that progress in learning is not linear.
  • understanding that individuals have differing abilities and supporting their child’s needs.
  • ensuring students come to College prepared to learn.
  • attending parent evenings, showing enthusiasm and participating in constructive discussions with regard to their child’s progress.
  • reading, understanding and engaging with the learner profile descriptors.
  • being aware of their child’s next steps in becoming a better learner.
  • supporting their child appropriately with their home learning.

The Governing Body:

  • holds the College to account to ensure effective teaching and learning to secure high standards of achievement and progress.

The impact of the policy will be assessed by:

  • formal and informal survey of student attitudes to learning
  • learning walks, formal and non-judgement lesson observations, SLT pop ins  (appendix 2)
  • rewards systems (Achievement and Behavior marks), progress measures and examination results

Relationship to other policies Internal Policies:

  • Assessment Policy
  • Curriculum Policy
  • Home School Agreement
  • Improving Behaviour policy
  • Staff Development Policy

Relationship to other documents External documents:

Internal documents: 

  • Learning walk form
  • Lesson Observation form

Appendix 1 - Acknowledgements 

As a College, learning is our core purpose and our approach to learning is underpinned by our core values: aspire, inquire, excel and belong.  In seeking to bring these values to life for all our students, we have been influenced by the text ‘Making Every Lesson Count’, by S Allison and A Tharby, the work on Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck and the work that Professor Guy Claxton and his colleagues have done in formulating the idea of Building Learning Power. Learning is for all and both students and staff are encouraged to reflect on a growth mindset approach to learning and teaching. The concept of ‘growth’ applies to the brain as ‘effortful learning changes the brain, building new connections and capability’ meaning ‘our intellectual abilities are not fixed from birth but are, to a considerable degree, ours to shape’. We want to help our students and our staff to grow their brains and to become more intelligent and hence to aspire, inquire, excel and belong, and realise the College vision for themselves. 

A level Mindset (VESPA)

The Five Elements of the VESPA Mindset

There are five key elements to success at A level and these five elements can be learned. Together, the five elements are called VESPA. V = Vision How well do you know what you want to achieve? E = Effort How many hours of independent work do you do per week? S = Systems How do you organise your learning and time? P = Practice What kind of work do you do to practice your skills? A = Attitude How do you respond to setbacks?

Appendix 2 - Guidance for Lesson Observation, Learning walks and SLT pop ins. 

JCG is committed to building a culture where observation of practice is intrinsic to the life of the College, non-threatening, and completely synonymous with our pursuit of excellence. We aim for all teaching to be judged as good or outstanding and use the evidence from all forms of classroom observation to evaluate our success in fulfilling this aim, in addition to providing professional development and  identifying  good practice. All forms of classroom observations are developmental and supportive and those involved in the process will:

  • carry out the role with professionalism, integrity and courtesy;
  • evaluate objectively;
  • report accurately and fairly; and
  • respect the confidentiality of the information gained.

We observe in order to:

  • to praise and celebrate good practice
  • empower staff to perform their roles competently and professionally
  • support staff as they develop their knowledge and skills in striving for professional excellence
  • allow for the sharing and dissemination of good practice
  • to assess the impact of teaching and learning on students’ attainment
  • inform and facilitate the monitoring of the SDP, FSED and DSED
  • inform the ongoing development of the curriculum
  • help to identify priorities for staff development
  • provide information for the self-evaluation process
  • know strengths and areas for development of teaching

Learning Walks and SLT pop ins

  • conducted on an ad-hoc basis throughout the school year.
  • should be no longer than 15 minutes.
  • every member of staff will have an annual visit by a member of SLT

Learning walks

  • staff can be informed to expect a visit
  • should be no longer than 15 minutes.
  • HOD and HOF should complete learning walks of their respective areas on a half termly basis.
  • HOF should encourage all their staff to conduct learning walks.
  • Learning walk observations should be documented using the agreed form

Expectations for informal and formal observations The Observer and Observed will:

  • agree the lesson, the duration and, where appropriate, the focus of the observation
  • make clear the expectations regarding planning documentation
  • discuss and agree the level of the interaction between observer and students whilst in the classroom
  • agree the most appropriate position in the classroom
  • agree that feedback will not be given immediately at the end of the lesson and arrange a time for detailed and constructive verbal and/or written feedback, focusing on the progress of the learners, within 3 working days of the observation.

The Observer will:

  • be punctual.
  • be flexible and sensitive to the situation on the day.
  • use the agreed school’s proforma to record evidence.
  • thank the teacher before leaving the room.

Formal Observations

  • These will normally be undertaken by the line manager as appropriate and agreed, such as HoD, HoF and, also by members of the Senior Leadership Team.
  • A copy of the observation record sheet will be kept centrally in a school file and be submitted to the Assistant Headteacher Staffing along with Appraisal documentation. A copy is also given to the member of staff.
  • Teachers, who have a responsibility for making formal observations, must take part in an observation moderation exercise with a colleague on a regular basis (paired observation).