Teaching & Learning

Intent

WMSF aims to provide a high-quality education focusing on academic and vocational excellence. This is underpinned by the principle that learning empowers young people. Our approach to teaching and learning is led by our core values of learn, achieve and empower and our guiding principles. 

Our Core Values 

Learn – to foster a drive to learn 

Achieve – to enable our students to achieve beyond what they think possible 

Empower – to ensure our students have the confidence and self-belief to make ambitious choices, and to step into the world as emboldened young people with a strong sense of place, purpose, and their own value. 

Our Guiding Principles

  • To have high expectations of all our young people
  • To develop strong and trusting relationships between students and staff
  • To deliver a pathways curriculum that meets the ambitions of our students and the needs of the local community
  • To provide exceptional wrap-around support which enables students to safely focus on learning and progression
  • To be comprehensive and inclusive, striving for equity in all we do

A Rosenshine Sixth Form

Our teaching and learning Practice at WMSF  is informed by Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction, which is evidence-based pedagogy derived from cognitive science research, the classroom practice of master teachers, and cognitive scaffolds to help teach complex concepts, this is an evidence-informed approach to teaching. Professional development in terms of pedagogy at the sixth form is focused on Rosenshine and teaching staff are given a copy of Rosenshine’s Principles in Action (2019) and the accompanying workbook.

Implementation

Who was Rosenshine?

Barak Rosenshine was one of the world’s leading educationalists. He felt that too many teachers were asking students to do activities that didn’t help them to learn. He spent over a decade studying the best teachers in the world and looking at evidence from the best universities and researchers. He created a list of 10 things that the most successful teachers do. Every teacher at William Morris does these 10 things.

What are lessons like at William Morris and how do teachers ensure that students acquire and retain the knowledge needed to be successful?

Every lesson begins with a ‘Daily Review’. This goes over learning from previous lessons and involves all students having to answer questions. Students will also carry out weekly and monthly reviews. Teachers do this because they know that information is more likely to be committed to students’ long-term memory and that students are more likely to be able to recall it in exams if they have to retrieve it more frequently. In simple terms, reviews stop students from forgetting. Secondly, by doing reviews teachers can act swiftly to correct any misconceptions or errors in students’ thinking.

Teachers will always present new knowledge in small steps. They will make sure they do not overload students with too much information at once. They do this because they understand that working memory is finite and students will only retain information if it is broken down into small manageable steps.

Teachers at William Morris believe that all students can be successful in their subjects. Teachers will always check that students understand something before moving on to new knowledge. They look for at least an 80% success rate.

Lessons are sequenced in a way that allows students to build on their existing knowledge and move from simple to complex understanding. If students don’t understand all of the steps or building blocks of knowledge they will find it hard to do well. All students at William Morris expect to be asked many questions during every lesson.

Modelling is an important part of the learning experience at William Morris. Teachers model to students how to write and speak like an expert in their subjects. They also demonstrate how to answer exam questions in ways that would gain full marks. We believe that if teachers show students how to be successful and then give them time to practice, all students can achieve.

Following modelling, teachers will support students to carry out guided practice, here they will provide scaffolds, work through questions together, ask all students more questions to check they fully understand and address any errors that are being made.

Once students have successfully demonstrated their understanding and the teacher is sure that they have been adequately prepared, they will engage in independent practice, the completion of exam questions, or written tasks with much less support from the teacher.

How do students benefit from attending a sixth form that teaches this way?

There’s no such thing as bad teaching at William Morris; all teachers have been trained in the same way. They will all use Rosenshine’s Principles because they know what works.

  • Students learn how to learn more effectively. 
  • Students know what to expect when they go into a lesson. 
  • Students will never be overloaded with too much information in one go.
  • Students will have practised all the skills and knowledge needed to be successful in their exams, assessments, and key assignments.

Why is it important that students understand Rosenshine’s Principles and how they are learning?

We treat students like the young adults they are and want them to understand why we plan our lessons the way we do. We don’t believe that students should carry out activities purely because they are told to, instead we explain to them how what we are doing will ensure that they are successful. Secondly, understanding Rosenshine’s Principles will help all students to become better learners. If students understand how their memory works and what they can do to improve their recall of knowledge, they will perform better in their assessments, key assignments, and exams.