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Teaching and Learning

At the heart of our work is the vision of developing students that have a set of key characteristics which will enable them to take full advantage of the high-quality teaching on offer at WAN. As teachers, we are responsible for giving students the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life.

Our vision is Improving Life Chances through Education.

Our Teaching and Learning strategy focuses on 6 key areas, referred to as the TL6.

1. Challenge.

Whilst it looks different across lessons and subjects during any part of the day, fundamentally challenge and pace in lessons is evident whenever someone observes or ‘drops into’ a class. When they enter the room, there is an atmosphere of challenge and high expectation; as well as this, the students are aware of what they are learning, why they are learning it, that they are being stretched and, most importantly, that they are working hard.

Expectations of Staff at WAN:

  • That the lesson has started with an explanation of “The big IDEA”
  • That Bronze (Developing), Silver (Securing) and Gold (Stretching) Objectives take into account the ‘pace of learning’ the students can potentially work at; this can be assessed by prior lessons, book marking or developmental observation
  • That lessons are always deliberately created to stretch all abilities of the students
  • That there is an expectation that, in every lesson, the students work at least as hard as the teacher

2. Differentiation.

Effective differentiation is not required to involve bespoke activities designed for individual groups of students but does require the teacher to have planned activities that allow all levels of student to access and progress in their learning. This can include open activities that have a low threshold and high ceiling of outcomes, a range of activities that allow students to pick their access point to the learning, or the provision of support material for those students that may need this.

Planning for differentiation must also involve well thought out questions that challenge all levels of learner and pre-planned effective use of groupings and class organisation. Targeted marking and feedback are a key vehicle for differentiation. In lessons teachers should monitor student progress and direct their time and interventions appropriately. Students should have the opportunity to struggle and fail, but still feel good.

Expectations of Staff at WAN:

  • Differentiation in terms of lesson planning and lesson delivery should aim to ensure that:
  • No student is left unable to access the learning due to being Disadvantaged or DSEN students 
  • Students are not left under challenged at any point in a lesson or left repeating learning they have already mastered
  • Students are not left to struggle for too long without timely support and intervention
  • The progress of individual students pushes them beyond their current level of understanding

3. Engagement.

Engagement can take many forms but the key essential is that students are actively engaged in the learning journey and not passive passengers of the lesson. Participation may be overtly obvious with students engaged in collaborative learning activities with a hive of on task conversation but, this is not the only format participation can be seen.

Students are more likely to learn if they are motivated by and engaged with their learning. Much of what we ask students to memorise has little emotional charge to it. A lesson that taps into something that a student cares about will produce more learning opportunities.

Expectations of Staff at WAN:

  • Teachers should follow a routine: Be on time, meet and greet, get off your chair and have an initial conversation
  • Use your IDEA Board to celebrate students’ success
  • Place the learning experiences ‘in context’ with social and emotional cues reinforcing learning.
  • We are all better at remembering information that is emotionally charged rather than that which is neutral or flat. Passionate engagement can empower students to feel in control of their own learning.

4. Progress for All

It is a key expectation of WAN teachers that lesson planning and post lesson reflection takes into account the progress expected of students and how this can be measured. Planning for Progress can be broken down into three key areas; starting points, end points and checking progress.

Expectations of Staff at WAN

  • A Planning for Progress document should be completed for all groups and a copy kept in the teacher’s orange folder.
  • Planning for Stickability: What does the teacher want students to bring back with them to the next lesson?
  • Teachers should be planning for checks within lessons. Teachers should be able to articulate clearly how progress towards individual lesson objectives can be demonstrated by students and have planned points in the lesson to explicitly check this progress.

5. Questioning

Effective questioning can often make an ‘ineffective’ lesson ‘effective’. It is a vital tool that teachers can use for promoting effective learning by their students. Students often don’t know they missed something, because they missed it!

Good practice by teachers shows that high order questions are planned for and that sufficient thinking time is given in order for students to formulate a thorough response and can explore their own ideas.

Expectations of Staff at WAN:

  • Teachers should plan for questioning in order to stimulate higher-order thinking in students
  • Teachers should use questioning to make links between areas of learning and pushing them to the limits of their understanding
  • Teachers should use questioning to monitor progress
  • Meaningful questioning makes connections and engages

6. Feedback and Marking

Staff and students’ actions must be consistent in approach, whilst being manageable, motivational and meaningful. Balance needs to be found between the method of marking, the appropriateness of feedback and the approach to reflecting on points of improvement. (DIRT)

Approach with growth in mind. Growth mindset is all the rave and for good reason. Be sure to give your honest feedback, using words such as ‘not yet’ and phrases which praise effort and outcome, rather than the individual. Use praise with caution, students see through the fluff and sense genuine praise.

Expectations of Staff at WAN:

  • Students’ work is marked in line with the Academy Marking and Feedback Policy (Marking 4)
  • Teachers plan for Directed Improvement and Reflection Time (DIRT) within lessons
  • Teachers accept no excuses, in everything a student does, they rebuff poor unfinished work
  • Effective, regular assessment (formative/summative) and marking informs teacher planning, students’ future learning and intervention; it allows us to:
  • Show our students that we value their efforts
  • Inform students how to improve in their learning
  • Provoke thinking
  • Enable students to actively respond to feedback




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