Teaching | April 26, 2021

Inclusive Learning – Giving Every Child Their Chance

At Old Ford, we work hard to ensure every one of our pupils has the tools and support they need to be able to learn in the same manner as their peers.

Often inclusive learning is seen as something solely for children with special educational needs. While this is certainly part of it, inclusive learning is far more – it is a practice which includes everyone

We approach it by looking at the individual needs of every child at our school. These can be academic, and often are, but we also examine other factors such as independence, resilience and attention skills. There are often other barriers to learning to consider too, including social, gender and economic issues. This holistic approach allows us to see the whole picture, and from there we are able to take positive action and provide the most effective support.

There is often some confusion between the terms inclusive learning and integrated learning. Integrated learning, where students with and without disabilities all learn in the same classroom can be very effective, and where this is the case then we will work to provide it. However, in other cases integration can actually be a barrier to learning. For instance, deaf students engaging in shared reading may be better off away from the main class in a space that is acoustically suitable, enabling them to access the work in a more helpful environment.

We teach all our subjects in mixed ability groups except for phonics and mathematics which are streamed. Research shows that this is the best way for all pupils to make progress, and all pupils benefit from the mixed ability setting. If we do see significant gaps in knowledge or children require specialised support, we implement appropriate interventions such as 1:1 catch up phonics sessions, or SEND withdrawal groups for certain areas.

Much of the support we provide is done from within our school, however if we feel we don’t have the right resources to give the most effective support we will use external specialists instead. We also work closely with other schools in the Trust, regularly meeting to work together and share best practice and expertise, which can then be applied successfully to the individual schools.

Perhaps our approach to inclusive learning is best summed up by our philosophy which is ’Aim high, have high expectations for all, some will need more support or scaffolding to get there, but the expectation is that they will all achieve.’ We want all our pupils to fulfil their potential, and we will provide them with the opportunities they need to do so.

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Teaching | March 8, 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 take the form of 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, with a particular focus on primary schools.

Since we have been working this way it is noticeable that children are achieving better results and becoming more engaged in the subject. Between now and the end of the school year our curriculum will cover a huge range of scientific topics, including Forces and Magnets, Living Things and their Habitats, Light and Sound, Renewable Energy and Earth and Space.

Newsletters | March 5, 2021

Read our latest Newsletter – Friday 5th March 2021

Last updated March 5, 2021