Our Approach to Teaching and Learning
'The hallmark of successful individuals is that they love learning they seek challenges they value effort and they persist in the face of obstacles.' Professor Carol Dweck.
All Saints School is a school committed to 'Learning without Limits’. This means we believe that there is more in everyone than we think. Labels for children can inadvertently limit our expectations of them but here at All Saints we believe every child is intelligent and extraordinary. We want all our children to leave our school with the knowledge and the skills they will need to lead a flourishing life, and to have the disposition to help others' to do so too.
To make this happen we believe:
- all children and adults can be trusted to learn if the conditions for learning are right;
- in an ethic of 'everybody';
- in working hard, effort is key - effort creates success;
- courage and compassion are essential to all learning.
Our school is a place that values quality, character, standards and craftsmanship. It is a school where children are always encouraged to do real work for a real purpose whenever we can. Our children are taught how we can all work together to help make our school and the world a better place.
We aim to offer choices of tasks within lessons and children make decisions about how much challenge they can attempt. We provide feedback about learning rather than scores - this is central to our approach. This sense of control builds intrinsic motivation to approach new learning in a very powerful way.
All Saints has adopted James Nottingham's 'Learning Pit' as one of our approaches to learning.
The Learning Pit is based on the following principles:
- Children are generally more interested in learning when others around them are curious and willing to express uncertainty. The Learning Pit therefore assumes a willingness to say. ‘I’m not sure,' or ‘I’m confused’;
- We are all fallible. The Learning Pit assumes we are all willing to admit or even draw attention to, our own errors;
- Learning is enhanced by participation in guided inquiry;
- High quality learning comes from making connections and understanding relationships between ideas. Being in the pit compels us to make these links;
- Knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes transcend school subject categories. Therefore, attention should be given to the transferability and connectedness of what is learnt;
- Everyone who takes part in lessons involving the Learning Pit should aim to be thoughtful, reflective, supportive and reasonable;
- Though most lessons involving the Learning Pit result in agreement about what answers are right, there are occasions, particularly with philosophical questions, when no right answer is achievable. This does not make the experience any less valid. It is the process of thinking together, reflecting and giving reasons that is at the heart of learning.
At the bottom of this page, there is a video which explains 'The Learning Pit' in more detail.
Our aim, is that all children are given the opportunity to master age appropriate learning regardless of ability. Instead of accelerating, we believe in developing a depth of understanding for children of all abilities, which requires teaching fewer topics but in much greater detail. This allows teachers to differentiate tasks with greater ease and success. Rather than accelerating high attaining children through topics, they are challenged to delve deeper and solve problems with very little structure. To support middle or lower attaining children, tasks can be scaffolded in different ways - sometimes using success criteria as a guide. Children are given speedy help in order for them to be able to access the learning. This enables all children to access the same curriculum, working on the same concepts and skills at the same time.
At All Saints, we believe the key to differentiating through depth of understanding is to plan carefully considered tasks and lessons. The tasks we set enable all children to access the content and to engage with it. The tasks are accessible to all children and open to a variety of problem solving approaches. The tasks encourage children to think deeply and to make connections to different areas of their learning; they should inspire children to want to know more and to engage fully with the concepts being studied.
At All Saints, we have adopted Blooms Taxonomy as a framework for questioning. Bloom's Taxonomy provides an important framework for our teachers and children to focus on higher order thinking. By providing a hierarchy of levels, this taxonomy assists teachers in designing performance tasks, crafting questions for conferring with children, and providing feedback on children’s work. Blooms is divided into different levels each with keywords that exemplify the level and questions that focus on that same critical thinking level. Questions for Critical Thinking are used in the classroom to develop all levels of thinking within the cognitive domain.