How we teach Your Child

How we teach your child

Our approach to teaching and learning is based on the following principles

Ability is not fixed                                                                                                             

Competition is good                                                                 

Teach to the Top

Knowledge is power                                                    

Learn from your mistakes

Practice makes perfect

These principles are underpinned by a commitment to base all teaching decisions on the best evidence of what works otherwise known as DTT

Diagnosis Testing Therapy

DTT means that at we regularly review your child's progress, and communicate the strategies that will help them progress further.

Teacher Pledge

ingenium Non Figitur

We believe that ability is not fixed and

  1. Value and praise handwork, effort and persistence
  2. Link effort to achievement
  3. Understand that practice makes perfect
  4. Insist on high standards of behaviour
  5. Create a culture of scholarly excellence
  6. Stretch my students to make more progress than their prior achievement suggests they    


  7. Know my students' current ability and circumstances but expect them to improve


  8. Identify and overcome their barriers to learning
  9. Teach every student to read, write and communicate to a high standard
  10. Love and enthuse about my subject

    Genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration

    Dreams don't work unless you do

    We commit to

  • Expecting students to meet and exceed demanding targets
  • Create a competitive climate of high aspirations
  • Provide every student with constructive feedback
  • Insist that every student knows their target and understands what they must do to

           achieve it

  • Ensuring that every student knows their weaknesses and how to overcome them
  • Requiring below target work to be either corrected or re-done
  • Directing students to make a written response to, and reflect upon, our marking
  • Insisting that students undertake follow-up tasks after we have marked their work
  •  Always teach and mark literacy, and always require students to correct spelling errors
  •  Set challenging homework to fully stretch all of our students
  • Applying a planned approach for all disadvantaged students
  • Know and follow recommended teaching approaches for every student with learning difficulties
  • Make sure there are complete and up to date progress and literacy marking stickers in every book/folder
  • Maintain and regularly update an electronic record of the current ability, circumstances and progress of every student
  • Keep a tidy and stimulating classroom

    Marking and Reporting Progress

    Your child’s work is marked in such a way as to ensure that they respond to the marking and use it to consolidate and extend their learning. For, day to day marking we use a system of Universal Marking Codes which focus on:

  •  identifying strengths and areas for improvement and acting upon them
  •  good spelling, punctuation and grammar

Your child is required to respond to codes the teacher places on their work, explaining what they did well and not so well in their work.

Termly Overall Assessments


Once a term, in each subject, your child's progress is assessed in a process known as `dirty snails'

DIRT is the process to help your child to reflect on what has gone well and what requires improvement.

Directed Improvement and Reflection Time

As a result your child is required to undertake work to either (often both)

-correct or improve what they have done

-extend what they have done

Your child is required to correct their spellings by using a dictionary and a green pen. The correct spelling is written above the mistake and in their workbook or spelling page.

Your child is also required to write a response to the marking in green.

Teachers use a purple pen for marking so you can tell the difference.

Parents are welcome to add their own comments to teacher marking.

SNAILS stands for:-

  • Success - (what went well)
  • Neatness - (presentation and handwriting)
  •  Attitude to learning - (1 is excellent and 4 is poor - improvement required)
  • Literacy mistakes - (spelling, punctuation and grammar)
  • Set tasks to correct/improve or extend

    The results of the termly DIRTY SNAILS' marking leads to a short term learning target for your child e.g.

  • Ensure you always include a full conclusion
  • Start every sentence with a capital letter
  • Learn the difference between their, there and they're

    At each periodic assessment your child's teacher decides if their target has been met fully, partially or not at all. Then, they either set a new learning target or continue with the existing one depending on whether it has been achieved.

    At least once a term your child will undertake a major assessment in each subject which can take the form of:-

  • An exam
  • The ‘Big Write’ (a piece of extended writing)
  • Prep
  • Mini-test

This will be marked and translated by the teacher into a progress grade known as the SAGEN grade (Year 7-9) or a GCSE grade (Year 10 and 11). This is an indicator of their most likely GCSE grade if they were to continue working at the current standard.

SAGEN can be understood as follows


Old GCSE Grade

New GCSE Grade

Scholastic Excellence (5)



Advanced (A)



Good (G)



Emerging (E)



Nurture (N)

E or below




There is also the option for giving an X for exceptional performance which would equate to a grade 9 on the new GCSE.

Please be aware that your child's progress can, and does fluctuate from time to time, so do not automatically assume that a one-off drop in their SAGEN or GCSE grade is immediately serious. As long as your child learns from the experience, small fluctuations are perfectly normal, and we actually teach children that they must fail before they can succeed. Our Progress Ladder measures your child's progress over a significant period of time rather than on one piece of work and it is this that matters most.

Your child will also have a 'Personal Learning Checklist' or PLC for each subject. This helps us to map out the areas or topics they are strongest and weakest in. Progress follows from improvement on their weaknesses.

Your child's teacher uses a software tool called MINTCLASS to ensure that important information on your child is available in their classroom at all times. This includes whether your child is

  • Current Pupil Premium
  • Current Higher Ability
  • Current Lower Ability
  • SEND (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities)

    The Department for Education decides on your child's current ability based on their end of Y6 scores at primary school but we won't tell your child this information although it is useful for their teacher to know it

    The system also highlights any behaviour issues which need careful management. During the course of the lesson teachers can award:-

  • Achievement points
  • Behaviour points

Achievement points are for excellent work


Behaviour points are for behaviour which impedes learning including:

  • forgotten equipment
  • prep not done
  • prep of poor quality
  • talking over the teacher
  • not working hard enough

    This is consistently applied to all children to ensure fairness




    Accelerated Reading

    Reading challenging material for at least 40 minutes a day has a huge effect on your child's progress so we guarantee that every day your child will read silently in school for 20 minutes in a process called DEAR


  • Drop
  • Everything
  • And
  • Read

Your child must have a book with them at all times (which has been identified as having the appropriate level of challenge using our accelerated reader programme).

After reading their book your child must take an online comprehension test which measures how much they have understood and ensures that the next book they read will stretch them further.

The Writing Academy

Extended writing takes place in every subject so your child learns to write effectively in a wide variety of contexts (e.g. as a scientist, historian, designer etc.)

Every term (three terms a year) they undertake a major piece of extended writing in each subject known as the 'Big Write'. It even takes place in subjects like PE.

The Big Write must be:-

Drafted in advance (we sometime say students should then ‘upgrade’ their work)

Corrected/peer assessed

Redrafted and written into neat

The process of drafting is essential to developing good writing

The BIG Write is then marked using our Dirty Snails system.

Exams for Progress

Every year your child takes three exams in every subject

Baseline exam (start of the year)

Mid-Year exam

End of term exam


These exams require your child to build up their knowledge throughout the year so the last exam tests the whole year's learning. In year 11 these exams are called Pre-Public exams or PPEs because they replicate the real GCSE.

If your child significantly underperforms in any exam, they will be required to do it again and again until their knowledge becomes more secure. A key part of our approach is that your child should not move to the next topic until they have a secure understanding of the topic they have just studied.


Basic Skills (literacy and numeracy)

Alongside subject based exams children in Year 7 and 8 take basic skills tests in:

  • Reading
  • Spelling
  • English
  • Maths
  • Science


These are standardised national tests that cannot be prepared for, and give us a reliable indication of how your child's basic skills have progressed.

The test results in a standardised score which we compare with other children nationally.

If your child is below age in any of these areas we will place them on a variety of catch-up programmes designed to get them back on track as soon as possible.

Russell Group Programme (current higher ability)

Children who are 'currently higher ability' are constantly monitored to ensure that their progress is at least in line with, if not better than, similar students nationally.

Although your child may be getting high marks at school they may still not be doing as well as children of a similar currently ability elsewhere.

We expect all currently higher ability children to make excellent progress and achieve more than similar children elsewhere. They are part of our Russell Group programme because we believe all of them should have the opportunity to progress to the top universities if they wish to.

Your child will be set in most subjects right from when the start of Y7, to ensure they are taught alongside children at a similar stage of learning, but we do not make this explicit, and regularly adjust the sets as we know that children's ability can change over time.

Children in the top sets are also given:

  • More demanding reading through the accelerated reading programme
  • An higher project qualification in year 9 (HPQ)


Teachers are told to 'teach to the top' which means their teaching should stretch the currently most able learners in the class. Other children are given support and guidance to help them keep up but are never allowed to hold other children back.

Your child will also be given 'think hard' tasks to support their wider knowledge and understanding and make links between subjects.

Every subject has a 'current higher champion' who explicitly identifies opportunities within their subject to challenge the currently most able children.

How do we maintain the quality of teaching?

We do not observe and grade individual lessons as we are more interested in the impact that teachers have over time rather than in one-off lesson.

However, we do monitor the quality of teaching through other means

  • Work scrutinies
  • Learning walks
  • External reviews

Work scrutinies take place when a middle or senior teacher looks closely at a sample of students' work and assesses the quality of marking given by the teacher.

Learning walks are short visits to classrooms to assess in particular

  • the climate for learning
  • how much children are learning and progressing

Visiting staff may ask the children if they understand their targets and how to improve their work over time.


In each 6 week period your child should be set in every subject

  • either a 'Big Write' or an exam
  • Mini-tests to help them consolidate their knowledge
  • At least two other tasks or activities

    Prep work takes place at home and ensures that your child is prepared for these tests and activities properly. We have after school prep for students who prefer to do some of this work at school.

    Naturally, the degree of difficulty of prep will increase as children become older. Each piece of prep is recorded on SIMS Learning Gateway so you can see online, what has been set and when it is due.

    In addition, children in Y7-9 are required to read their accelerated reading book at home

    for at least 20 minutes a day.


    The Progress Ladder


    Three times a year we send you a Progress Report with an update of your child's progress

    in all subjects.


    In each report, we compare your child's progress in relation to where they should be,

    compared to their targets.


    Your child is then ranked according to their progress (not their actual ability), on a

    publically displayed 'Progress Ladder' in the main corridor. They will be ranked as follows:


    - Platinum                                          Exceptional progress

    - Gold                                                 Excellent progress

    - Silver                                                Good progress

    - Bronze                                             High average progress

    - Amber                                              Low average progress

    - Red                                                  Poor progress



    This is not a ranking by achievement and is a fair measure of the work they have been putting in, and the effect this has had on their overall progress. If your child works hard, they will rise up the ladder and if all children work hard they will all rise up the ladder. In theory, everyone can be platinum.


    Moderation of Marking

    It's is very important that we ensure that the standard of marking is applied consistently across the school so every term teachers have a moderation conference where they compare marking and adjust standards accordingly.



    Teaching and learning is a complex process and an inexact science. We recognise that the professional expertise of teachers is vital so we ensure we only employ well qualified people to work with your child. However, the parent-teacher relationship is vital and should be part of an ongoing dialogue. Therefore, we provide you with the email of every teacher our website. Please don't hesitate to contact them when you need to

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