- There is a clear relationship between the quality of teaching and the quality of learning.
- There is also a link between the input a learner receives – teaching, resources, learning intervention, pastoral care and so on – and the impact these have on their learning and progress.
- Evidence to support an ethos of high expectations includes: pupil attainment data; pupil progress data; observational data; discursive data.
- The key elements of an ethos of high expectations include: a clear vision; effective teaching strategies; monitoring and evaluating systems to ensure high-quality learning.
Exploring a cause and effect relationship
There is a clear link between the quality of learning and the quality of teaching, but care should be taken not to confuse the two. Learners may show evidence of outstanding learning while experiencing poor teaching; and outstanding teaching does not necessarily lead to evidence of outstanding learning and progress.
The diagram suggests that there is a clear relationship between the quality of teaching and the quality of learning, and between the input a learner receives – teaching, resources, learning intervention, pastoral care and so on – and the impact these have on the learning and progress made by the student. The most important of these cause and effect relationships is that pupil achievement is linked to how much resources are invested in them. In order to develop an ethos of high expectations across any school, school leaders and their teams need to be able to make clear judgements about the effectiveness of the teaching. They should focus on the impact the teaching is having on the progress learners are making.
Gathering evidence to support an ethos of high expectation
School leaders might gather evidence from a variety of sources:
- pupil attainment data, e.g. test results, teacher assessments, external exam results
- pupil progress data, e.g. actual performance against predictions from reliable external sources
- observational data – lesson observations, book trawls and so on
- discursive data – conversations with learners, staff, parents and so on.
The key elements that contribute to an ethos of high expectations
If school leaders are to ensure that they give learners the best opportunities to demonstrate outstanding learning and progress through outstanding teaching, they should:
- make sure that their schools have a clear vision of what outstanding learning and teaching looks like
- develop highly effective strategies in their own teaching and in the teaching of those whom they lead
- monitor, evaluate and improve the teaching of all those delivering high-quality learning in schools.
An ethos of highly effective learning and teaching consists of two key elements – the climate for learning and the structure of learning.
Creating a climate for learning
School leaders should work together with their staff in the following ways:
- Creating a successful climate for learning. This involves the complex mix of policies to promote a positive general ethos, with some very specific, shared, concrete systems that are needed to underpin and facilitate the smooth running of a school.
- Ensuring that leadership is shared, understood and seen as fair. This is essential to creating an effective climate for learning.
- Placing student responsibility at the heart of school policies.
- Ensuring that senior staff are seen as high-profile exemplifications of the school’s behaviour systems.
- Building levels into school systems so that all staff take responsibility for managing behaviour.
- Keeping the learning climate positive and focused on praise.
- Working with other agencies, while taking care to ensure that the school does not start to take responsibility for areas outside its remit.
Creating a structure of learning
The requirements for outstanding teaching and learning require that teachers:
- Focus and structure their teaching.
- Actively engage learners in their learning.
- Use assessment for learning to reinforce learning and support reflection and target-setting.
- Have high expectations of each pupil’s effort and achievement.
- Make the learning motivating.
- Create a settled and purposeful atmosphere.
However, within this structure, it is also vital that learners are given freedom to learn independently.
Nine effective strategies to encourage independent learning
- Give choices. Giving learners regular opportunities to make choices will encourage them to reflect on their own interests and preferences. It will also make them start to take responsibility for learning.
- Encourage group work. Group work temporarily takes the control away from the teacher and gives it to the learners.
- Encourage learners to predict how well they did in assessments. This will start them reflecting about their strengths and weaknesses and the progress they are making.
- Set some learning goals. Initially, setting learning goals will require a lot of help from teachers, but it encourages learners to reflect and self-evaluate independently.
- Use authentic texts. These are materials that were not originally designed for learning purposes. These materials can be motivating as they connect the classroom with the outside world and make the learners see that learning does not take place only in the classroom.
- Involve learners in lesson planning. Encourage learners to help plan the lessons.
- Encourage learners to keep learner diaries. These can form a dialogue between the teacher and the learners which is mutually beneficial.
- Build reflection and extension into activities. Open questions are generally more thought-provoking meta-questions that encourage learners to reflect and extend their learning.
- Encourage learners to check their own work or that of a peer. Teachers could help them to make an editing checklist.
Developing independent learning abilities is about assisting learners to develop skills which will help them to become good learners, to take responsibility for learning and to be able to apply these skills to any new learning situation. This in turn will contribute to developing an ethos of high expectation among the learners themselves.
Use the following item in the Toolkit to put the ideas in the article into practice:
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