How We Ensure Teachers Extend and Challenge Learning in All Years and Subjects?
The 5 Phase Lesson
Learning and Teaching at MEA is loosely modelled on The Learning Power Approach, which is underpinned by the idea that students need to be given opportunities to ‘Grapple’ independently with skills, ideas and concepts so that they are able to develop a deeper and more comprehensive understanding which can be applied in a range of concepts. It is important to us that our students are prepared not only for the knowledge and skills that they will require in their end of Year 11 exams, but also for the qualities that they will require to succeed in their lives beyond Moor End. Our aim is to provide our students with resilience and independence, enabling them to flourish.
All lessons begin with a ‘Grapple’, where students work independently to complete something that is just outside their comfort zone; this means that no learning time is wasted, and that students are immersed in their learning from the outset. Literacy, numeracy and exam-based skills are vital for students to succeed, and these form the second phase in every MEA lesson.
Following this, the majority of lessons move into Phase 3 – teaching input. This is the phase where new learning takes place, with teachers supporting students to acquire knowledge and skills through modelling, scaffolding, and guided work.
‘Red Zone’ is Phase 4; here, students complete work completely independently to demonstrate their aptitude with the new learning that has taken place. This may be through an exam question or extended piece of writing, or in practical lessons they could be creating or demonstrating something without teacher support. The majority of lessons will include Red Zone, unless teachers have decided that Phase 3 needs to be extended in order for students to consolidate the learning.
Phase 5 is our ‘Progress Check’, where learning is reviewed and next steps ascertained. This takes place every lesson, as it is vital for our teachers and students to be aware of any confusion or misconceptions in case things need to be revisited.
Students at Moor End Academy do not learn in isolation; we appreciate that collaborative learning opportunities empower our students, and develop their capacity for teamwork and empathy amongst other key skills. Through the development of a range of strategies, underpinned by pedagogical research, we have provided our staff with the tools necessary to empower our students to effectively collaborate and maximise the learning potential within every classroom.
Knowledge acquisition is carefully planned and sequenced in each subject’s curriculum plans and retrieval practice has become a core element of our professional development offer, so that staff have a toolkit of strategies to embed into planning – ensuring that students are able to recall knowledge from prior learning.
Students have also been trained in retrieval practice, and can articulate why staff employ the approaches and strategies that they use, and how it supports their learning and memory. The academy has invested in resources to support students in applying these practices independently during home learning and revision.
20 questions is a strategy used across KS3 to identify key pieces of knowledge students require during each half term. Retention is tested and measured through a range of retrieval practice strategies, and class teachers and department leaders monitor this.
As educators we all recognise that differentiation in the classroom is vital as students are individuals who learn at different rates and in different ways. At the academy, teachers use a range of strategies, activities and technique such as high-level questioning, choice of activities, live marking etc to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom.
The main purpose of the challenging ‘Red Zone’ strategy is to provide our students with the opportunity to execute sustained writing for significantly lengthy periods of time, working independently to build resilience as well as improving their writing stamina. What is essential is that the activity is appropriately challenging and is undertaken in silence. The Red Zone is Moor End’s response to increasingly demanding linear examinations; we believe that it is our responsibility to prepare students effectively for the many challenges of these assessments.
Literacy: Reading, Writing and Oracy
We recognise the importance of developing, in all of our students, a strong and effective literacy skill set of reading, writing and oracy. Knowing the impact that literacy can have on self-esteem, motivation, behaviour and attainment, we aim to promote high standards and expectations of literacy across all areas of the curriculum.
Our curriculum is underpinned by developing students’ abilities to speak, listen, read and write for a wide range of purposes, including using language to learn, communicate, think, explore and organise.
- Our students are exposed to a range of high-quality texts across the curriculum
- our curriculum includes library lessons for all Key Stage 3 students
- Our website includes a list of suggested reading for all students
- All year 7 and 8 students participate in the ‘Accelerated Reader’ programme. This is designed to encourage students to take an active role in their reading progress. Assessment and monitoring means that they choose texts in order to stretch and challenge their understanding, as well as allowing them to see a direct link between reading progress and academic success
- Supporting reading through appropriate literacy interventions is a key priority for our SEND Department. We follow the Graduated Approach including:
- » Wave 1 – Whole school approaches, specifically oracy development. The Accelerated Reader Programme, Key Stage 3 library lessons, Bedrock Vocabulary and dedicated reading in form time
- » Wave 2 – Referral to the SEND Department for further assessment, followed by one or a combination of the following interventions in order to address any gaps in skills; ‘IDL Literacy Programme’, Fresh Start, Units of Sound, Guided Reading Group and 1:1 reading practise. A full summary of the students’ literacy needs is provided to teaching staff in order to personalise teaching and learning
- » Wave 3 – Full literacy assessment followed by a bespoke programme of literacy support. Referral to specialist support services may be appropriate. All staff provided with clear guidance about individual needs. The student is monitored termly with targets set to develop reading progress
High Quality Questioning
Our teachers use questions to engage students and to ensure involvement and interaction are sustained. Our teachers also use questions as part of the assessment of learning in order to determine how they best structure, organise and present new learning. Supporting student oracy through carefully scaffolded verbal cues is a key strategy at Moor End which is designed to deepen student thinking, in addition to developing verbal fluency and the ability to apply subject specific learning through the articulation of knowledge and ideas.
One of our key in-class intervention strategies is live marking. This approach involves teachers identifying students who would benefit from additional support and guidance during extended written work, and providing them with instant written feedback to scaffold their work, and offer appropriate prompts and/or cues. In some instances, this can also be a strategy used to stretch and challenge some students, through feedback designed to deepen thinking and develop increasingly sophisticated responses.
Culture of Research
Staff at Moor End Academy are provided with the time and resources to engage with high quality academic research to support their classroom pedagogy and practice. Every teacher is involved in a Peer Coaching group, who meet regularly to share strategies they have researched and trialled in the classroom. There are opportunities to support one another in a coaching capacity, and provide regular feedback to develop reflective practitioners. Research is disseminated to staff via a number of means, and staff are able to access a rich library of texts relating to pedagogy and practice.
At Moor End Academy, we believe that teachers need opportunities to watch one another in the classroom, learning from the approaches and strategies they see – and having the opportunity for meaningful professional dialogue about the learning process. Our programme of ‘Showcase Lessons’ provides teachers with the chance to observe one another teach, and then access a video library of excellent lessons to draw upon and use for training and development.
Professional development at Moor End Academy is heavily rooted in academic research, and we provide staff with the time and resources to be able to effectively engage with current pedagogical thinking.
In addition, we have a range of well-trained experts who support our bespoke programme of tailored PD. Our Lead practitioners work alongside SLT to promote and embed highquality practice in every classroom, participating in a planned programme of Impact Review which ensures that impact is seen at all levels.
Teaching Champions support staff in the development of their pedagogy and practice through coaching and training, which can be 1:1, small group, or academy wide. More recently, the appointment of x 3 Research Leads has enabled us to move towards a model of action research underpinning our PD, so that staff benefit from high-quality and up to date education research to inform their practice.
How Our Curriculum and Learning is Sequenced
- Our curriculum is clearly and coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and overall wider development and participation in our setting and beyond.
- Curriculum and subject leaders ensure that new learning builds upon and develops what has been taught previously.
- Where possible and relevant links are made between subject areas/ topics so that learning is developed beyond the boundaries of distinct subject areas.