Teaching | 22nd March 2021

Year 7 STEM Club

News, Teaching | 15th March 2021

RSHE and PSHE information

Teaching | 8th March 2021

The Science of Teaching Science

Having an effective understanding of science is incredibly important both for the individual and society. Children are entitled to know how the world works – without this knowledge their lives aren’t as rich. A good understanding of science will allow them as adults to make informed decisions on important matters, such as voting, or receiving a vaccination as has been seen recently. And it opens doors to numerous careers in a huge range of fields, not just the ‘traditional’ science professions.

Our approach to teaching science is different from some schools, as they will use an inquiry-based learning approach, which involves minimal guidance from the teacher and pupils designing their own experiments to check their own hypotheses. For example, this could be asking the children to look at a bug and see what they can find out. However, an increasing number of studies show this is ineffective as, without having the right knowledge in place, children won’t know the questions they need to ask to get the most out of the approach.

To teach science effectively we, and all Paradigm schools, use a ‘knowledge-first’ system instead, which focuses on teaching children the scientific knowledge before anything else. The teacher breaks problems into manageable parts and shows the solution to each, before the children practice using similar problems. By doing this, the children then have the foundation they need to be able to do the inquiry-based learning effectively. It also helps the children develop essential skills such as problem solving, understanding scientific texts or extrapolating accurate conclusions from results.

Another way we improve science outcomes is to meet regularly with teachers from the other schools in Paradigm Trust to share ideas. A large proportion of time is spent discussing ways in which children can be better prepared for the move from primary to secondary school, and how to make science effective from Nursery to Year 9. We have found by doing this there is now less disruption when pupils move from Year 6 to Year 7 and their learning experience is far smoother. Much of this work is led by Ben Rogers who is on the Education Committee at the Institute of Physics, and on the editing panel for the Association of Science Education journal. He is also part of the Ofsted Science advisory group.

Since Paradigm began working this way more students have been successful in science GCSE, and more high grades are being achieved. The number of students choosing to study a science subject at further education level has increased, and at every level of schooling it is noticeable that children are achieving better results and becoming more engaged in the subject.

Teaching | 15th February 2021

Learning Through Lockdown

Despite the current challenges around the majority of our pupils learning from home, we have started the term on a high by ensuring children both at home and in school experience the same quality-first teaching and learning they would get in the classroom. 

This is as a result of the extensive planning and preparation we had done before the start of the year. We took the findings and insights we gained during the first period of lockdown last spring and summer, and with other Paradigm Trust schools built a robust plan of action which we could apply should we need to close and engage in remote learning again. 

Our preparation continued when children returned to school in the autumn. This included training staff and students to use Google Classroom, discussing a remote learning pedagogy with other Paradigm schools and planning the logistics that were necessary to be able to deliver effective teaching online to all its pupils.

 So when the official notification that schools would be closed to all children (apart from vulnerable and key worker children) was received, we were able to move swiftly to remote learning with a minimum of disruption. 

Now we are delivering a full and engaging timetable of blended learning, through recorded lessons and live sessions which follow the same structure as an in-school lesson. We also provide online activities which support the children’s learning.

One of the major challenges during the first lockdown was the digital divide, with many families unable to access the online resources available due to a lack of appropriate devices and/or a reliable internet connection with sufficient data allowance. To overcome this challenge we have issued school laptops to any children who are learning from home and don’t have suitable access to technology. Where families don’t have access to WiFi, we’ve purchased dongles and data for them. Non-digital resources, such as exercise books, are also issued to pupils and we have stocked up on extra resources such as glue, paint and materials for Art which can be picked up from school for pupils working from home.

It’s extremely important to us that all our pupils continue to get the support they need, so all students have Base Group Time as normal and weekly assemblies. We make sure pupils receive at least two welfare calls a week, and our excellent pastoral team is available all day, every day to respond to any needs our students have.

We are also working hard to continue our provision for SEN pupils, with one-to-one video calls, phone calls and TA support in many of our virtual lessons.

Lockdown is undoubtedly a challenge, but one we are meeting head-on. It is an opportunity to adapt and improve our teaching and learning, both in the classroom and remotely online. As we would do in normal circumstances we are seeking the most effective ways to teach, testing different innovations and then sharing those that have been proven to be effective with the rest of the school and the entire Trust. It is our goal to always deliver an effective, challenging and interesting remote learning experience for our pupils, so they can all achieve their best.

Teaching | 21st January 2021

How our pedagogy is improving pupils’ prospects

Pedagogy is the manner in which we approach teaching. 

All schools in Paradigm Trust follow the same pedagogy – quality first teaching at all times, for every student. We are always informed by the latest research, but focus on teaching in a way that is effective, rather than fashionable in education pedagogy.

With pupils only having a finite number of hours in school, the time we have to educate them is limited. It is absolutely crucial to optimise what they get out of those hours, so having an effective, well thought out and proven pedagogy is essential. 

Our main influences are Teach Like a Champion – a collection of techniques which combine to deliver incredibly effective learning – and Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, which establishes ten different strategies for teaching and assessing. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Rosenshine’s work is evidence-based, so Paradigm Trust knows for certain these methods are effective. The two works complement each other, providing a well-rounded base on which to build our pedagogy.

By using the same pedagogy across Ipswich Academy we can achieve a continuity of practice which is of great benefit to both pupils and staff. It means that there is a consistency in the way we teach, in the way we behave and in the way we apply our rules that runs all the way through from Year 7 to Year 11. Uncertainty is detrimental to effective learning, so having continuity in teaching and language is of great benefit to students. It is especially effective when we welcome a new intake of Year 7 students from fellow Paradigm Trust schools Murrayfield Primary Academy and Piper’s Vale Primary Academy; they are used to the pedagogy and settle in quickly.

While consistency is important we know every class and every child is different so we encourage all our staff to adapt, intelligently and with a strong understanding of the underlying rationale, to fit the needs of the pupils and subjects. Our pedagogy is designed to be flexible, giving teachers the tools to work in each individual situation.

Having this shared set of strategies naturally leads to improvement. With every school in Paradigm Trust using them, it makes it easy for us to get together and share strong practice. When one teacher makes a small adaptation which proves to be successful, it’s easily shared and applied across classes and schools.

By implementing this shared pedagogy we’ve seen a culture shift both in the classroom and in the curriculum, with improvements across the board in behaviour and engagement. Outcomes in lessons are much better and we are seeing a consistently higher level of effort in all classes. Effective use of pedagogy leads to effective teaching, which leads to effective personal development for students, alongside brilliant exam results and, ultimately, the best chances in life.

Last updated March 12, 2021