ST PETER THE APOSTLE HIGH SCHOOL

LEARNING & TEACHING POLICY

 

 RATIONALE

National Context

1.1       In promoting Scotland’s Skills Strategy, “Curriculum for Excellence aims to achieve a transformation in education in Scotland by providing a coherent, more flexible and enriched curriculum from 3 -18 firmly focused on the needs of the young person and designed to develop the four capacities” (Building the Curriculum 3, 2008)

1.2       Saint Peter the Apostle High School recognises that high quality learning and teaching is at the heart of meeting learners’ needs and improving outcomes for young people. Our curriculum is rooted firmly in the principles of curriculum design - breadth, coherence, challenge and enjoyment, depth, relevance, progression, personalisation and choice – and focuses on developing all learners as successful, confident individuals who contribute positively and responsibly to the school and wider community. 

1.3      Saint Peter the Apostle High School recognises that “what is crucial is the quality of engagement with learning” and that “effective teaching and learning develops learning skills, encouraging an awareness of their own needs as learners” in all young people (Improving Outcomes for Learners Through Self Evaluation, HMIe, 2008). Pupil motivation and engagement in learning, including involvement in out       of classroom and out of hours learning activities, is secured through actively seeking and responding to pupils’ views in relation to the learning experiences that they           encounter in the school community and beyond.  

1.4       Furthermore, Saint Peter the Apostle High School promotes “broad and varied experiences” which enable young people to “explore and             investigate”, actively encouraging all learners “to become independent, with responsibility for their own learning” (The Journey to Excellence, HMIe, 2006). Creating a learning environment in which learners have “opportunities to be active, take risks, make mistakes and learn from these is fundamental to their becoming enthusiastic about learning” (The Journey to Excellence, HMIe, 2006) This is reliant on all members of staff contributing “through open, positive, supportive relationships” and “modelling behaviour which promotes effective learning and well being in the school   community” (Building the Curriculum 3, 2008).  

           Local Context

1.5              West Dunbartonshire Council places high quality learning and teaching at the heart of its improvement agenda. A clear commitment to ensuring “that staff create the highest quality of learning and teaching experiences for their young people and that the focus remains strongly on achieving and attaining the best possible outcomes for learners” (WDC Journey to Excellence Strategy, 2008) is supported by the authority’s commitment to developing cooperative learning across all sectors as a vehicle for improving learners’ engagement. “Cooperative learning involves learners in active, collaborative, pupil-centred learning processes that develops problem solving and continuous learning strategies needed to meet the challenges of life and career in our increasingly complex environment” (Cooperative Learning, Creating a Curriculum for Excellence, 2007).

1.6       The Learning Pyramid (Appendix 1) supports extensive research (Appendix 2) indicating that retention rates are significantly enhanced through engagement in discussion about learning, experiential learning and sharing what we have learned with others. Therefore, Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to creating learning environments “in which pupils work together in small learning teams” thus having “a good chance to succeed in motivating all students” (Cooperative           Learning, Creating a Curriculum for Excellence, 2007). 

1.7       Pupils will have an active role in learning and teachers will facilitate an environment supportive of this process. Recognising that “The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited” (Plutarch), Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to creating learning experiences which enable all young people to develop skills for learning, skills for work and skills for life.

2   CREATING A POSITIVE ENVIRONMENT

2.1        “The starting point for learning is a positive ethos and climate of respect and trust based upon shared values across the school community” (Building the Curriculum 3, 2008). Saint Peter the Apostle High School fully endorses the view that securing a positive learning environment is essential in creating high quality learning and teaching and positive outcomes for all learners. The gospel values of love, tolerance and respect underpin our community of faith which is committed to ensuring that all learners feel safe, nurtured, healthy, achieving, active, included, respected and responsible. To this end, all members of the school community will be treated with equality, fairness and respect.

Climate

2.2       The establishment of the correct climate in the classroom is absolutely essential to achieving effective learning and teaching. As such, it is as fundamental to good teaching as correcting jotters, giving out homework or writing reports.  Quite simply, it is not optional: pupils must be respected, involved and motivated. All research shows that when this is the case, the quality of learning and teaching improves. ”Children learn when they have the right relationships: these relationships make pupils feel cared for, give them recognition, motivate them to learn, engage them to be participants. We need to redesign learning – at school, in families and in the community – around relationships” (Charles Leadbetter – “What’s Next / - Ideas for 21st Century Learning”)

 2.3      All children can be successful learners and all pupils can be set high standards. It is the task of each individual teacher to motivate and stimulate every pupil in his/her class. This is best done through planning for and encouraging active learning, pupils responsibility, participation and involvement.


Environment

2.4       The physical environment must be attractive and motivating. Classrooms need to be attractive and tidy, with pupils’ work displayed wherever possible. Wall displays, to have major impact need to be relevant and up to date and exhibit pupil work. A pupil seeing his or her work displayed in a public manner can have a powerful influence on that pupil’s performance.

2.5       The structure of the class must allow for flexibility regarding methodology and use of resources.  Where possible, it is a good idea to involve pupils in constructing the proper environment through taking responsibility for certain routines e.g. tidying away books, cleaning up at the end of the lesson.

2.6       What type of classroom do you want? ( Appendix 3)

            Alan McLean (The Motivated School) describes four basic types of classroom

            •  the destructive classroom

 

            •  the exposing classroom

 

            •  the undemanding classroom

 

            •  the aim is to create the motivating classroom

 

            First gear         • conditional acceptance, correction

                                    • descriptive feedback

                                    • external rewards and punishments

                                    •  receptive learning

                                    •  authoritative structure

                                    •  consistency

                                    •  clarity of purpose and goals

 

            Second gear   •  a responsive climate

                                    • a sense of being known/values

                                    •  a climate of self-improvement

                                    •  trust with accountability

                                    •  constructive learning

                                    •  emphasises personal success

 

            Third gear        •  more equal pupil – teacher relationship

                                    • creative learning

                                    •  flow

                                    •  critical investigation

                                    •  personal success emphasised

                                    •  self-evaluation encouraged

                                    •  students employ own criteria for progress

                                    •  feedback an integral part of class life

                                    •  student initiative maximised

                                    •  students are know well and understood

                                    •  students are autonomous learners

 

3

 LEARNERS’ EXPERIENCES

3.1        In all curricular areas and in inter disciplinary learning, young people are entitled to experience learning that is broad, coherent, challenging, enjoyable, deep, relevant and with personalisation and choice that focuses on progress in learning. Developing literacy, numeracy and health and well being alongside the eight curricular areas, all staff will promote learning that is engaging, active and collaborative with a clear focus on the way different learners progress. The Principles and Practice Papers published with the outcomes and experiences in March 2009 identify key aspects of learners’ experiences which cut across subject boundaries and ensure active engagement in learning:

Enjoyment and Choice

3.2       Engaging young people in learning relies on providing learning experiences that

young people find motivating and enjoyable. This involves exploring with young people the purpose of the learning and, where appropriate, enabling choice in tasks and activities. In social studies, for example, young people may study a particular historical period but enjoy choice in how they research (internet, library visit, interviewing, analysing data, film) and present (individual talk, group report, prose, powerpoint presentation, media artefact) their findings. In expressive arts, opportunities for young people to determine the organisation and delivery of a performance for parents (musical arrangement, dance routines, stage management, costume design) could enhance enjoyment and enable degrees of choice.  Opportunities to develop literacy, numeracy and health and well being are inherent in both examples.

Relevant and Meaningful Contexts

3.3       Young people learn best when engaged in activities which have a clear purpose and outcome. Learning will be flexible, “adapted to take account of learners’ interests” and should be “linked and contextualised” (The Journey to Excellence, HMIe, 2006).  In technology, for example, young people will be engaged in activities that clearly emphasise the importance of technology in the world of business and the economy at large. Learning experiences will go beyond the classroom; engaging young people in links with industry, business and commerce. In science, opportunities to relate classroom debate on issues regarding the environment to the real life challenges of global warming will be sought.  A focus on critical enquiry and developing thinking skills enhances opportunities to develop literacy and numeracy through scientific exploration. Interdisciplinary working affords endless opportunities to support young people in making links in their learning, ensuring a clear focus on skills development.

 Active, Collaborative and Cooperative Learning

3.4              In order to “eliminate the divide between academic and applied learning”, HMIe comment that “staff need to engage all young people more actively in their learning and encourage each learner to think independently and creatively” as “too often, young people can be passive observers in lessons” (Improving Scottish Education, HMIe, 2009). Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to cooperative learning as a vehicle for actively engaging young people in learning. For example, in mathematics young people will work cooperatively to solve problems, building communication skills through hypothesising and reasoning. In religious and moral education, young people will work cooperatively to gain a shared understanding             of how Christianity has developed through the centuries.

 

Independent Learning

3.5       Developing individual responsibility for learning is central to pupil engagement in learning experiences. Even in cooperative learning experiences, positive interdependence ensures that “activities are designed so that independent thinking by each learner contributes to the group’s work” (The Journey to Excellence, HMIe, 2006). As young people become increasingly skilled as learners, with an awareness of their strengths and the progress they have made, they will enjoy             increasing opportunities for learner autonomy and will be able to demonstrate resilience, patience and an ability to develop real depth of understanding. This self -reliance and ability to initiate one’s own learning by being self motivated will enhance learners’ experiences. In English, for example, young people will broaden their appreciation of literature through exploring writers of their choice, analysing texts and reporting their findings to their peers. In health and wellbeing, young people will be responsible for selecting and investigating a key area of physical well- being and will represent their findings in a prose or media report to primary pupils.

Discussion, Debating and Presentation

3.6       The critical importance of young people developing high order listening and talking             skills is outlined in the Literacy Principles and Practices Paper, 2009. Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to promoting Hearsay – the approach to listening and talking developed by West Dunbartonshire Council. Effective listening and talking is central to developing a positive learning environment and enables young people to access and engage with a range of experiences across the curriculum. In mathematics, for example, young people will discuss different problem solving strategies prior to orally presenting their rationale for approaching the problem as they did.  In science, young people will engage in debates on a range of topical scientific issues including, for example, genetic engineering.

 Finding and Using Information

3.7       The ability of our young people to navigate the multitude of information available in modern society is central to their successful engagement in learning. Information and communications technology enables access to a plethora of information which young people must judge and discern. The development of critical literacy – the ability to     make judgements about the reliability of information and how it can be used – is core to learning across the curriculum.  Furthermore, young people will make judgements about how to present information for a range of purposes and in a variety of formats for different audiences. For example, in expressive arts, the development of literacy and numeracy will be linked as young people cost and promote a community art exhibition celebrating the work of pupils. In social studies, pupils’ views will be canvassed and collated as candidates prepare advertising and speeches for their Pupil Council election campaign.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

3.8       All young people will have opportunities to engage in challenging and enjoyable learning experiences which “include creative and investigative activities” during which they are “prepared to risk making mistakes because they understand that they can learn from them(The Journey to Excellence, HMIe 2006). Higher order thinking skills including analysis, decision making and finding creative solutions will be a feature of learners’ experiences.  Young people will be engaged in exploring new ideas, misconceptions, ambiguities and dilemmas using imaginary and real life contexts. Such experiences will require young people to figure things out, reflect, think for themselves and set further learning tasks using their own initiative. For example, in technology young people will overcome design challenges through trial, debate and exploring alternative solutions. In religious and moral education, opportunities to explore solutions to war and famine will engage young people in seeking solutions to protracted world conflicts.

ICT

3.9       Information and Communications Technology permeates the curriculum in 21st century Scottish Education. “Teachers and young people are making more effective use of ICT as a tool for learning and teaching although its full potential to transform learning has yet to be realised(Improving Scottish Education, HMIe 2009). Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to developing ICT as a core feature of learners’ experiences across the curriculum. Young people will engage in the use of ICT including accessing the internet, utilising interactive whiteboards, developing high order ICT skills and transferring these skills across learning contexts. For example, health and wellbeing young people will use email and video conferencing to explore world health issues with “twinning” schools in Africa. In modern languages,             opportunities to correspond with French students will be enhanced through the use of GLOW and other safe networking internet sites.

 Creativity, Enterprise and Innovation

3.10     In a changing and challenging world, developing the ability of our young people to think in creative, enterprising ways and to embrace innovation is paramount to building confidence in facing the challenges of the future. “Creativity, experimentation and imagination should be nurtured through open-ended learning experiences” (The Journey to Excellence, HMIe 2006). Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to providing sufficient flexibility in learners’ experiences to promote innovation and creativity, thus avoiding over planning and prescription and encouraging learning without constraining extent, breadth and depth of learning. For example, in English young people will design a transition project linking with P7 pupils in our associated primary schools. Each S1 class will be linked to a specific primary school and will work to a broad remit of engaging P7 pupils in the life of Saint Peter the Apostle High School during the course of the session. 

 4   TEACHING

4.1              This section is an attempt to deal with the very practical, everyday aspects of teaching while at the same time trying to provide a model for best practice. Not all of these points will be present in every lesson, every day – far from it. However, taken as a whole, the examples below provide a range of practices that should be present in every good lesson (Appendix 4).

 

4.2       Start of lessons (Appendix 5)

All lessons should start with some statement concerning Learning Outcomes which can be formal or informally. This exercise is an effective strategy for

 

• ensuring classes settle quickly to work : some of the above activities could be done while the attendance, thus limiting or indeed avoiding any dead time

• setting a structure for the lesson and pupils : lessons that do not start in such a way can sometimes lack structure

• such an approach allows for effective summation at the end when staff should be able to relate back to Learning Outcomes ‘ Success Criteria. 

 

Without this structured start, it is much more difficult for staff, and particularly pupils, to identify strengths and progress made.

 

4.3       During lessons (Appendix 6)

            • Staff should promote active learning, genuine decision-making and pupil              responsibility

            • Lessons should be well structured with a purposeful atmosphere

• Lessons should include a variety of approaches and tasks employing imaginative and creative teaching, group work and cooperative learning should be used when appropriate

            • Effective use of ICT can lead to interesting and effective lessons

            • Differentiated material and appropriate tasks should be set to ensure pace and               challenge for all learners

• Good quality teacher exposition, instruction, explanation and questioning is essential

            • Assessment is for Learning techniques should be employed throughout lessons

            • The proper use of praise is absolutely essential and should be present in every               department / subject / lesson.

 

4.4       End of lessons / evaluation of lessons ( Appendix 7)

• The ends of lessons can be a time to involve pupils in a degree of self-assessment /      self-evaluation of the lesson and their own individual performance. This time can be used, not only to allow pupils to assess their own performance, but to give teachers the possibility of identifying pupils’ development needs

• Pupils should be encouraged to assess the lesson and monitor their own strengths and progress in an effective way.

 

5   ASSESSMENT

5.1       Context

Final decisions regarding the future qualifications landscape in Scotland will be published in the near future by the Scottish Government. The national structure of formal qualifications will be an important guide for the development of summative assessment practices across all stages in Saint Peter the Apostle High School. To add to this, the school will continue to build upon the work

                                                        7

 

 

already undertaken in developing and recognising the wider achievements of

young people in line with the four capacities. Furthermore, formative assessment practices will be at the heart of learners’ experiences in Saint Peter the Apostle High School as the approaches to assessment developed through Assessment is for Learning provide “a sound platform to support the practice of making judgements about progress in learning based on evidence from a broad range of sources, both in  and out of school and by reference to a learner’s progress over time, across a range of activities.” (Building the Curriculum 3, 2008). 

 

5.2       In Saint Peter the Apostle High School, staff will prioritise:-

            - choosing assessment methods that are fit for purpose

            - evaluating evidence and assessing progress in learning

            - recording and reporting on learning using evidence

            - planning next steps

 

5.3       Account of Prior Learning

In order for learners to progress, teachers and learners must have a clear understanding of what knowledge, skills and experiences young people already possess. Planning for effective learning experiences will rely on taking account of learners’ prior learning. This is particularly important at points of transition, for example, from primary into secondary school.  Staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School will contribute to the achievement portfolio of all young people in the school         community and will have access to this information when planning to meet the learning needs of all.

 

5.4       Progression in Learning

As one of the seven principles of curriculum design, opportunities for progression are central to effective learning and teaching. In Saint Peter the Apostle High School progression through courses and programmes, together progression from a broad general education into the qualifications landscape, will be central to the learning experiences of all young people.  Further to this, progression in learning will be             secured through carefully planning learning opportunities on a day to day basis that ensure an appropriate level of pace and challenge for all pupils. This will be achieved by teachers working with young people, using “their professional judgement and a range of evidence to evaluate progress and discuss with learners the next steps that    are most appropriate for them”  (Building the Curriculum 3, 2008).

 

5.5       Meeting the Needs of all Learners

It is the responsibility of every teacher to be familiar with the latest educational literature and to know as much as possible about the prior knowledge and learning needs of all their pupils. This includes knowledge and recognition of the wider achievements of pupils (Appendix 8).  Staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School recognise that “young people will progress at different rates but that all are entitled to        take part in activities which will engage and motivate them, nurturing their talents and enabling them to develop the skills that they will need for work and life(Building the Curriculum 3, 2008). Working with young people, together with a range of partners, staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School will plan and develop leaning experiences which effectively meet the

                                                         8

 

needs of all young people.

 

5.6       Sharing Learning Intentions

Tasks have to be justified in terms of the learning aims that they serve, and they can only work well if opportunities for pupils to communicate their evolving understanding are built into the planning.” (Inside the Black Box, Dylan Wiliam). In order to measure the progress made by learners, all involved in the learning experience must share a clear understanding of the anticipated outcomes. The most important element of planning, therefore, is the clarity of learning intentions. Placing the sharing of “the learning intention at the heart of formative assessment” is critical for effective formative assessment (Unlocking Formative Assessment, Shirley Clarke). Staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School are committed to sharing learning intentions and agreeing success criteria as an inherent part of the day to day learning experiences of all young people in the school community.

 

5.7       Providing Quality Feedback

Providing clear, formative feedback to individual learners is critical to improvement but this does “not imply that individual one-on-one teaching is the only solution, rather that what is needed is a classroom culture of questioning and deep thinking in which all pupils will learn from shared discussions with teachers and from one another(Inside the Black Box, Dylan Wiliam). Indeed, young people learn best when they have clear guidance on strengths and areas for development and are given the means and the opportunities to work with evidence of their difficulties.

 

5.8       Staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School are committed to regularly providing feedback to young people on how they are progressing in their learning; this type of constructive feedback “articulates future possibilities in a learning partnership with the child and provides the child with strategies that they could adopt to develop their work” encouraging young people to assess their own progress n learning (Assessment: A Teacher’s Guide to the Issues, Stobart, G and Gipps, C , 1997). It is clear, therefore, that “feedback to any pupil should be about the particular qualities of his or her work, with advice on what he or she can do to improve (Inside     the Black Box, Dylan Wiliam). 

 

5.9       Effective Questioning

Quality Questioning will lead to a dialogue between pupils and teacher that is “thoughtful, reflective, focused to evoke and explore understanding, and conducted so that all pupils have an opportunity to think and express their ideas (Inside the Black Box, Dylan Wiliam).  Specifically, the use of open questions allow for a range of responses, make progressive cognitive demand on young people and enable teachers to develop the understanding and thinking skills of learners. The development of questioning that encourages young people to analyse, synthesise and evaluate information and ideas together with “giving pupils time to respond, asking them to discuss their thinking in pairs or in small groups so that the respondent is speaking on behalf of others” will enable all young people in Saint Peter the Apostle High to engage in learning experiences

 

                                                              9

 

 

that are challenging, motivational and enjoyable.

 

5.10     Pupil Self & Peer Assessment

The importance and impact of promoting assessment by pupils is well founded in research as “when pupils are supported and trained to work together skilfully and responsibly, the quality of support they give each other can be higher than that given by the teacher” (Promoting Assessment By Pupils, Ian Smith). Self and peer assessment prevents the “bottleneck” created if all feedback relies upon the teacher during learning and, more importantly, “develops self-motivation and positive mindsets” (Promoting Assessment By Pupils, Ian Smith).  Self and peer assessment is a critical component of effective formative assessment as “for formative assessment to be productive, pupils should be trained in self-assessment so that they can understand the main purposes of their learning and thereby grasp what they need to do to achieve” (Inside the Black Box, Dylan Wiliam). Staff in Saint Peter the Apostle High School are committed to developing opportunities for pupil self and peer assessment in learning experiences across the curriculum.

 

5.11     Recognising Wider Achievement

In line with Curriculum for Excellence, Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to developing, recognising and celebrating the wider achievements of all young people within the school community and beyond, “Gaining recognition for their achievements and the skills for life and work that are developed through them, can benefit all young people. It can increase their confidence, raise their aspirations, improve their motivation for learning and keep them engaged in education.” (Building the Curriculum , 2008) Saint Peter the Apostle High School will continue to develop approaches to promoting, developing and recognising the personal achievements of all learners in the school community.

 

6   PUPIL VOICE

6.1       Listening to pupils and acting on their opinions is another area that is directly linked to developing effective learning and teaching - and not just an optional consideration done on a random basis. Learning is done with people rather than to or for them - it is more effective when pupils are participants rather than merely recipients : it  is more             effective when it is personalised and means something to the learner

 

6.2       There are a number of ways in which pupils can have a voice in their learning. This should start on a day to day basis in the classroom and  starts once again with the quality of teacher / pupil relationships :

 

            relationships

            • Children learn when they have the right relationships: these relationships                         make pupils feel cared for; give them recognition; motivate them to learn;                              engage them to be participants. We need to redesign learning - at school, in                  families and the community - around relationships.

                       

 

10

6.3       Methods and approaches adopted by individual teachers can greatly increase the feeling that pupils are participating in their learning :

 

            classroom

•           active learning : participation, collaboration, ownership, responsibility in class work, independent, creative thinking

            •           pupils can be given specific tasks within a classroom / lesson

•           involve pupils in shared expectations and standards / learning intentions / success criteria / personalised learning planning : you could allow them to set their own (challenging) goals

            •           involve pupils in target setting and tracking

•           provide variety re learning styles and allow some pupil choice ie allow them to take informed decisions

            •           personalise the development of skills

            •           provide timely, accurate feedback

            •           offer pupil evaluation and act on this information

 

6.4       Offering a pupil voice and a degree of decision making outside the classroom has also been shown to have an effect on the quality of learning within a classroom :

 

across the school

            •           pupil council / pupil committees and groups

            •           representing the school

            •           enabling, recognising and celebrating wider achievement

            •           decisions re option choices / courses / options within courses / college                              courses

            •           decisions re Supported Study and Easter Revision School

            •           decisions re specific support groups

            •           decisions re extra curricular clubs

                       

6.5       Relationships for learning have 4 key aspects : participation, recognition, caring and motivation.These positive relationships will enable us hear the voice of our pupils and offer  “a system that adapts to the child, not the child to the system...responsive to the needs and aspirations of individual young people.”

 

 

7   PARENTAL INVOLVEMENT

7.1       Involving parents should not only play a central part of the Learning & Teaching policy       of St Peter the Apostle High School, but it should be at the heart of school life in general :

 

            “Children who succeed do so because they grow in understanding both at school and at home and are able to build a bridge between them.”

                                                                        (The Journey to Excellence)

 

7.2       A quality partnership with parents has been a major (if sometimes implicit)                         recommendation of all recent legislation e.g.

            - National Priorities

- Curriculum for Excellence capacities

11

            - The Journey to Excellence, in particular dimension ‘Work with Parents’ to

                        • develop parents’ support for their children’s learning, share information

                        • encourage active involvement of parents in school activities, support for                           parents whose children have individual needs, support for parents in the                              development of their skills and knowledge

• enable collaboration and representation, awareness of parents’ views, involvement of parents in implementing the school’s plans for improvement

 

7.3       Effective partnership needs to be demanding of the parent. MacBeath (1994) argues that the more effective schools make demands on parents, as well as providing them with opportunities for involvement and ensuring a welcoming atmosphere in the school.

 

7.4       The Parental Involvement Act considers three main areas where parental                                  involvement can be improved / increased :

            a)         learning at home

            b)         home / school partnership

            c)         parental representation

 

7.5       The Parental Involvement Act lists a number of other, more specific objectives :

            • engage parents in children’s learning

            • engage with pupils

            • allow parents to express views and opinions

            • link parental involvement to classroom

            • give parents and pupils opportunities to contribute to policies

            • remove barriers to parental involvement

            • involve parents in the widest sense

            • use parents’ skills

• identify parents’ development needs

 

7.6       As far as learning and teaching are involved the Parental Involvement Act sets a number of challenges :

• ensuring consistent support and encouragement at school and at home and actively involving parents in supporting learning

            • taking account of children’s wider experiences as well as using skills and                        experiences which parents may have to enhance the curriculum in and out of the                     school

            • building effectively on prior learning and attainment

            • taking greater account of home circumstances and experiences

            • sharing information about learning effectively between school and home

            • ensuring that school activities take account of learning outside school and that    parents value what is being learned and are involved in supporting their children

 

7.7       The benefits of meaningful parental involvement for the pupils, parents and school are all quite obvious:

 

Pupils :           • easier to learn when they get encouragement at home and will

 

12

do better when parents are involved

• children get more access to do more activities in and out of school           when more adults are involved

• concerns / problems are easier sorted when parents have a positive relationship with the school

            Parents :        • their children will do better at school

                                    • they will feel more involved and will have more information

                                    • parents will be able to build their own confidence and skills

                                    • parents will be re-assured about their child’s education

School :          • parents will bring skills which complement teachers’ skills & expertise

                                    • will increase the number of activities on offer to children

                                    • pupils’ attainment and behaviour will improve

                                    • parents can give advice re reaching other parents

 

7.8       Practical Steps

            a) Whole School

            - involve as many parents as possible in home – school initiatives / workshops /                information evenings : provide opportunities for parents’ own education and                  development (Tree of Knowledge / SOS / Drug Abuse / Careers)

- share as much information as possible regarding learning and teaching and home learning : letters / phone calls / bulletins / handbooks / school website / home – school video

            - make use of parental skills, interests and experience

            “The parent body of any school constitutes a rich fund of skills and expertise,                    knowledge and experience, which goes well beyond the capacities of its teaching   staff…  Where the resource is unused, the school may be sending signals that it                        sees learning as closeted, esoteric, and bound by teacher possessiveness”.

                                                            (Beare, Coldwell and Millikan : 1989; p199)

- enlist parents’ views in decision / policy making (formal & informal : consult on key issues

- school improvement plan - use parental views to influence and help formulate school     priorities

 

            b) Department / Class Teacher

- relevant information to parents e.g. advanced organisers / timelines / deadlines / handbooks (extracts)

            - meaningful dialogue at Parent Information Evenings

            - reports / homework etc., parents asked to provide feedback, involve parents in                discussions regarding progress, next steps etc

            - involve in tracking and target setting

            - parental views canvassed

            - celebration of success and wider achievement

            - knowledge of parental aspirations

- advice to parents on how to help their children i.e. via diaries and how to help them engage with learning

 

7.9       For parental involvement and partnership to be improved we need to ensure that

            • staff and parents share common aims, purposes and objectives

           

13

• we value each partner’s knowledge and expertise

• we both accept and recognise out mutual commitment to continuing improvement

 

 SELF EVALUATION OF LEARNING AND TEACHING

8.1       As Curriculum for Excellence moves to full implementation, it is increasingly important that staff learn collaboratively and share effective practice with each other. In order to improve, and to achieve consistency in improvements across the school, Saint Peter the Apostle High School will gather evidence on learning and its outcomes, engage in professional dialogue and development with staff and plan improvements in response. “The greater emphasis on developing learners’ confidence, discernment, resilience, team working skills, creativity and personal responsibility, for example, means that teachers will need to work together to identify successful approaches which can be developed and reinforced across the curriculum.” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009). Furthermore, the Journey to Excellence Strategy, West Dunbartonshire Council, 2008 “places self evaluation at the centre of our journey to excellence.”

 

8.2       Evidence of self evaluation can be collated from a variety of sources including “questionnaire analyses and attainment data/ information on children’s progress; from interviews and discussions with learners, staff, parents and other stakeholders;         and crucially by observing learning and teaching” (Improving Outcomes for Learners Through Self Evaluation, HMIe 2008). Saint Peter the Apostle High School is committed to examining quantitative data, exploring stakeholders’ views and sharing observations of learning and teaching in order to ensure the best possible learning experiences and outcomes for all learners in our school community.

 

8.3       Quantitative Data

Saint Peter the Apostle High School will give regular and systematic consideration to a wide range of data relating to the achievements of our young people in order to ensure that the school has the opportunity to “give parents and others an open and transparent account of their successes in meeting planned objectives for the school and its young people” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009). By considering the progress in learning of individuals and groups, by creating a particular focus on achievement at transition points and by using comparative data to benchmark aspects of the school’s achievement “teachers can ensure that learning takes full account of prior achievements and of individual needs”.

 

8.4       Stakeholders’ Views

Engaging stakeholders, including young people, staff, parents and partner agencies in evaluating learning and teaching in Saint Peter the Apostle High School will “be a major force for innovation and improvement (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009). Young people have an important view on the quality of          learning that they experience and the “blending of learners’ individual and collective views with other information can help to ensure high quality and improving

 

13

experiences” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009).  Similarly, “parents provide a distinct perspective on learning and teaching which can help staff   to improve learning for young people (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009). Furthermore, all staff and partner agencies linked to Saint Peter the Apostle High School “have a key responsibility for evaluating the impact of learning and teaching and applying their findings as they develop their practice        further to meet the expectations of Curriculum for Excellence” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009). The combination of learners’ view, staff evaluation and parental perspective, taken with a range of other information, will enable Saint Peter the Apostle High School to gain a better understanding of our strengths and aspects were further improvements are needed.

 

8.5       Learning Visits

Curriculum for Excellence brings an expectation that all teachers will understand how their work relates to the whole curriculum experienced by each learner and how these learning experiences fit together. Teachers can best “increase the depth of their understanding of what makes for successful teaching and its impact on learning through evaluating the quality of learning directly in each other’s lessons” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009).  In Saint Peter the Apostle High School, Learning Visits will focus on “a formative approach to improvement in learning and teaching and for evaluating the impact of change on practice” (Learning Together: Opening up Learning, HMIe 2009).  The purpose of Learning Visits will be to develop a collegiate approach to improving the consistent quality of learning experiences across all areas of the school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                            14

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13