© 2014 St Mary’s RC High School
St Mary’s and St Joseph’s adopt a distinctive approach to teaching and learning.
A great deal of research has been carried out to find the most effective ways that
children learn and the psychology research that supports it, resulting in the adoption
of elements of ‘self-
determination theory’ pioneered by Professors Edward Deci and
Richard Ryan of the University of Rochester in the USA and ‘self theories’ (Mindset)
developed by Professor Carol Dweck of Stanford University. This research still continues
and Professor John Hattie’s (Auckland University) ‘Visible Learning’ is of great
interest to us. We are attempting over a period of time to produce more and more
of our own materials. In addition the work of cognitive neuroscientists which support
the psycological elements is currently being considered for application within school.
We try to teach in ways that provide challenge and promote interest, and give our pupils the opportunity to take the initiative and take risks in their learning. Pupils learn that it is ‘ok’ to fail and get things wrong. The important thing is to learn how to put it right and the strategies that enable them to be resilient and persistent learners. The school is encouraging children to be more independent and autonomous. We believe that one of the most effective ways for children to learn is by ‘intrinsic motivation’, where the motivation comes from within the pupil. The teachers provide direction, challenge and strategies for the children to enable them to become effective learners. The teachers themselves are granted considerable autonomy with their practice, which they exercise responsibly.
The most recent Ofsted report on St Mary’s stated:
‘Senior leaders have created a climate for learning where both students and staff feel happy and secure. As a result, students have outstandingly positive attitudes to learning and achievement has been consistently good over a sustained period.’
‘Senior leaders encourage teachers to improve their practice by incorporating the latest approaches in learning into their teaching. Training time focuses on research based around best practice in the classroom. Teachers work collaboratively to reflect upon their performance and to discuss and develop innovative ideas, particularly around enhancing students’ sense of well being.’
‘Students have exceptionally positive attitudes to learning...’
‘Students feel well supported in their learning and respond positively to teachers’ encouragement to achieve their very best by persevering through any challenges.’
The recent Ofsted report on St Joseph’s stated:
‘Leaders and middle leaders, including the governing body, know their school extremely well. They know what needs to be done to continue to improve pupils’ performance and are successful at developing the learning needs of individual pupils within each class and group.’
‘The school pays close attention to developing teachers’ skills’
‘The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. Throughout the school this contributes considerably to the quality of learning. Pupils are extremely proud of their school and take great delight in talking about their work and their achievements. Older pupils are excellent role models for the younger ones.’
Further resources on the site include Getting More, which is about negotiation theory; Creativity, which includes Ken Robinson’s legendary ‘Ted’ talks; and Michael Sandel and his famous series of Harvard lectures on Justice. There is a section for school pupils of all ages called ‘Thinking for Children’.