Building expertise and competence

Teaching and learning at Sawston Village College is informed by our collective, evolving understanding of the most effective approaches.  This understanding is shaped by a process of continuous evaluation, a sustained and inclusive programme of professional learning and a constructive engagement with educational research.  

Developing policy and practice through dialogue

We avoid a top-down imposition of expectations, instead co-developing policy and practice through a dialogue between SLT, Leadership Group (Subject and Pastoral Leads) and our Excellent Teaching Team. The Excellent Teaching Team is a team of colleagues from many departments and stages of career.  The team meets monthly to evaluate our current provision, explore educational research, review our teaching and learning policies and plan our professional learning programme. We explicitly invite constructively critical evaluation of our provision to test and continually refine teaching and learning at the College.  This iterative and inclusive approach is designed to build collective understanding, avoid stagnation and continually test our assumptions.  This approach ensures that our practice is informed by the latest research and sensitive to the particularities and philosophies of different subjects. 

Creating routines and structures

Where supported by collective experience and educational research, and where helpful for the experience of pupils and to create routines and structures that offer confidence and support for colleagues, we have common, minimum expectations across the school. These are co-developed through the Excellent Teaching Team and in routine consultation with subject leaders.  Within these frameworks, subjects develop their own expectations for teaching and learning, reflecting both the practical nature of different lessons (e.g. a maths classroom is different from a laboratory and both are different from a sports hall), as well as the theoretical and philosophical traditions that shape each subject discipline.  So, whilst a particular approach, such as retrieval practice, might be beneficial in all lessons, how it manifests day-to-day might well be different in Music compared with Geography, and that is up to the heads of those departments to determine.

Securing a broad range of knowledge and skills

At the heart of our lessons is the intention to secure a broad range of knowledge and skills, following a common curriculum for each subject. We aim to build pupils’ confidence through building their expertise and competence, by making the work sufficiently challenging to be worth accomplishing, at the same time as offering appropriate support and guidance to make it achievable. Each lesson builds on prior learning and is part of a coherently planned curriculum. We want lessons to be interesting, but avoid gimmicks and superficiality. We aim to choose teaching methods that work over the long term; it is the subject and the substance of learning that matters most. True, sustained enjoyment in learning is found in the wonders of the natural world, the dramas of the human story, the thrill of physical achievement and the beauty of the arts.  It is from self-discipline, a strong work ethic and sound routines that competence, expertise and knowledge will flourish.

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