A new language about learning is emerging from the DfE and at its core is ‘mastery’. Having been through an inspection this year, my advice to any school waiting for an inspection is to ensure they are fluent with the most fashionable parlance and are developing learning sequences which provide deeper opportunities to reason and evaluate curriculum content.
In old money, this used to be called ‘extension’, ‘enrichment’, ‘challenge’ or ‘stretch’. Now, it’s all about ensuring pupils, whilst being ‘broadly’ taught similar knowledge, are embedding learning through application, evaluation and critique of skills.
The steps of Mastery include:
There isn’t much one would want to challenge within this; it very much reflects our deeper understanding of metacognition and the complexity of learning processes. The emphasis for schools, however, means ensuring assessment, lesson planning and teaching sequences accurately provide opportunities for pupils to grow ‘conceptual understanding’, ‘procedural fluency’ and ‘depth’.
We don’t, of course, organize school improvement around Ofsted frameworks. It does help though, to know what we are being measured against and are confident about our own visions / philosophy about learning in our schools.
Judgments for outstanding state that teaching should:
Teachers from our schools are working hard to ensure deep learning is at the heart of our approach to learning. We have developed a policy statement, adjusted planning formats and are leading CPD to embed mastery learning in school. It has helped us review the function of interventions so that learning gaps are closed through focused corrective teaching and has given learning contexts a greater purpose.
We are more aware of the need to ‘pre-teach’ and assess pupil’s specific knowledge required to make progress and the need to know every learner’s starting point before embarking on a learning sequence. Our understanding of how assessment informs corrective teaching means that pupils are given more time to consolidate learning. No longer can we place limits on learning by giving children separate, disconnected learning tasks, whilst other pupil groups are pushed through curriculum content at speed.
Teaching provides greater opportunities to develop reasoning skills through skillful questioning and are expected to apply learning skills in a range of different contexts. We are also supporting children in developing their ‘language for learning’ using our ‘question stems’ and learning postcards. These are being carefully modeled with children so that, through scaffold support, they have the language and social skills to tackle more complex learning challenges. This is what Ken Robinson describes as an ‘organic’ model of learning.
He writes in Creative Schools that revolutions don’t wait for legislation. The point is, we know enough about learning to ensure every schools creates their own bespoke learning philosophy with an underpinning framework for learning. This includes:
With the majority of primary schools nationally being Ofsted ‘Good’ or better, the climate is right for schools to become more creative and self determining in designing the futures they want for staff and children. Perhaps it’s a message which just isn’t being heard but we are entering an era in education where innovation and risk taking is actually being encouraged. One-day inspections and the gradual move towards a peer-led inspection framework are evidence of this. However, there is still a great deal of caution and fear– driven mainly from the unknown 2016 test outcomes and significantly higher expectations placed on children in Year 2 and Year 6. Ironically, this fear threatens paralysis at a time when we need to take risks.View comments (0)