Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Schools in the Four Stones MAT share the same principles around Teaching, Learning and Assessment.

Our ‘responsive’ teaching model is simple and straight-forward, however we pride ourselves on our outward looking perspective and our use of the latest education and cognitive research to continually review our practice.

We believe lessons should include the following elements:

Review: all lessons start with a low stakes quiz of previous knowledge strengthening previous learning and leading to fluent recall. 

Explain: lessons are teacher led as opposed to activity or student lead. Explanations are carefully planned with core message, audience and misconceptions in mind.

Model: modelling is completed using ‘I do, we do, you do’ basis. Numerous models and worked examples and non-examples are provided for students helping them to solve problems and identify and focus on the specific steps in learning.

Questioning: ‘no hands up’ questioning is used with the teacher in charge (cold call) asking a high number of closed questions linked to facts to promote lasting learning. Teachers expect further explanation of answers and will not accept students to opt out.

Deliberate practice: teachers provide opportunities for frequent practice/oral rehearsal (call and response) of key facts and concepts. Activities have a narrow focus to allow students to drill and perfect. Once complete, students are provided with the opportunity to practise application of the knowledge for example via extended writing pieces or drawing tasks.

Plenary test: students complete a plenary test at the end of each lesson in order to assess what they have learnt and their knowledge application. Completion of a plenary test holds students accountable for their learning during the lesson as well as providing teachers with key information that can be used to inform planning.

Feedback: feedback takes many forms such as verbal feedback and discussion, whole class feedback, visualiser feedback, questioning, self and peer feedback and low stakes quizzing.

  • Teacher experts

    We work hard to ensure all of our teachers are experts in their field. Collaborative planning is a basic requirement of the teachers across the MAT. It is our belief that, regardless of the teacher at the front of the class, students must all have access to the same high-quality explanation, modelling and resources. This can only be achieved through collaborative planning so our teachers meet regularly as subject communities to discuss content - and how best to deliver it - so that our students learn successfully.

    Subject specialism is a necessity, but in our opinion to become an expert teacher requires more than just expertise in the subject area. Our teachers know which misconception traps their students will fall into, the best way to explain difficult concepts and which examples to use to improve students’ comprehension. They also know how to achieve the top marks in examinations and are familiar with the latest examiners’ reports.

    We encourage all of our teachers and leaders to engage with subject and educational discourse nationally and develop Four Stones practice to be shared with others.

  • Assessment

    Our assessment practices are based on the following principles:

    Promoting learning – Our feedback strategy advises the students on exactly how to improve. Using modelling and directive, teaching students are able to correct mistakes and redraft work effectively.

    Informing teaching – Whole class feedback strategies informs teachers on mastered content and allows the teacher to adapt the lesson or scheme of lessons.

    Focussing on the formative – Frequent formative assessments test both current and prior learning. Teachers do not assign grades until the students’ mock examinations.

    Identifying progress – The vast majority of our assessment is formative, however the annual assessments and mock examinations are summative, testing a sample from a large domain of content. Core subjects use common assessments across the MAT. This increases the sample size, improves accuracy and provides a powerful benchmarking tool against which progress can be measured.

    Reducing teacher workload – We want our teachers to focus on teaching quality lessons for our students. Assessments are designed in a way to reduce the amount of marking time for teachers. We have significantly reduced the number of data collection points in the calendar and not expect teachers to enter data multiple times following an assessment.

© 2021 The Four Stones Multi Academy Trust. Registered address: Brake Lane, Hagley, Worcestershire. DY8 2XS. A charitable company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales. Company number: 07652306.