Teaching and Learning
We believe that the key to educating a child is not simply the acquisition of knowledge to pass exams, but rather to continually help children to become better learners. This involves focusing far more on the process of learning rather than just the output. For example, we give explicit feedback on how a child has achieved an excellent mark in a homework instead of simply praising their level of performance.
The journey to success is never linear, thus Caterhamians are encouraged to embrace failure and risk taking as the most essential parts of learning deeply. Getting things wrong when you are trying something new or more difficult makes it easier to transfer that learning to your Long Term Memory.
This approach to learning & teaching is underpinned by several whole school initiatives;
Learning to Learn
Now well into its second decade of existence, our unique Learning to Learn programme continually evolves to meet the ever-changing demands of learners in the 21st Century. In the first two years pupils follow the EGDE syllabus, with taught lessons on everything from metacognition to note-taking, and from presentation skills to problem solving. Whole year and small group seminars continue from the Third Year to the Sixth Form as themes broaden to include memorising, motivation and self-organisation.
The lessons and seminars are complemented by a series of online tutorials and podcasts produced by our Director of Learning & Teaching. He has delivered training on these topics to over one hundred schools both in the UK and abroad. Students also benefit from one to one ‘study surgeries’ with our Director of Learning & Teaching so that support can be tailored to individual needs.
Wherever possible we adopt a coaching approach to the way we support our pupils, and indeed to the way they support each other and themselves. Children are not spoon-fed answers, rather they are encouraged to rely on their own skills and knowledge to try and work out possible solutions. We proselytise a “can’t do it yet “ approach in order to promote genuine independent learning. Nowhere is this more evident than in the school’s Independent Research Project competitions across different year groups, where students devise their own titles and complete months of independent work with a level of teacher input more akin to university than a senior school.
The impact of the initiatives above is clearly seen in the success of our long-running peer coaching scheme. A winner of the ISI’s Education Initiative of the Year, it involves well over one hundred Sixth Form volunteers who are given rigorous training in both coaching and mentoring techniques before being paired up with younger students. They provide a whole range of challenge and support; for example doing A level Maths problems with Second Years for fun, or helping a student to achieve the same grades in tests as they do in homework.
Our teaching staff are relentless learners too. In the pursuit of excellence, we regularly seek the views of our colleagues but above all our students. We are voracious users of online survey tools, as well as opening discussions on teaching and learning in informal and formal settings. The Drop In system encourages managers and peers alike to visit, reflect and feedback on each other’s teaching. The Pupil Focus Group is instrumental in shaping whole school strategy, for example designing Learning habits (the detailed way feedback on effort is given every half term).