Teaching and Learning
The Role of Director of Learning and Teaching and how it impacts on the whole school
At Caterham we believe in not simply preparing our pupils to do their best in exams but also in giving them life skills to help them succeed in whatever they may do in the future.
To achieve this each pupil needs to understand how they best learn and how to think independently and creatively. Our teachers understand and respond to different learning styles and encourage pupils to stand on their own two feet for learning.
We are one of very few schools who have recognised that this requires a focal point in the school and specific programmes and training. Kim Wells MA (Cantab) has been working as Director of Learning and Teaching at Caterham School for the last decade. His work is not subject specific because it impacts on every area of the curriculum.
The initiatives have included:
Introducing a Learning to Learn programme across the whole school
Study Skills are taught as curriculum lessons in the First and Second Year. Students cover such areas as Presentation Skills, Mind Maps and Learning Styles.
Third Year pupils are assessed using Multiple Intelligence Testing to help students to learn how they learn best.
Half day courses are delivered to every year group from Third Year to Sixth Form. These Learning to Learn days cover such diverse topics as memorising, note-taking, speed reading, managing nerves and stress effectively, research skills, and even how to cope with Weapons of Mass Distraction such as social media.
Launching the Study Buddy programme
Sixth Form students volunteer to be trained in coaching and mentoring techniques to work on a weekly basis with younger students. Currently 440 students are involved in the scheme (over half the school and 75% of the Sixth Form). This programme won the Independent Schools Awards Education Initiative of the Year 2011.
Developing an Independent Research project as part of the Sixth Form curriculum.
Students select, and investigate in depth, their own choice of topic. They can present their findings in a variety of formats such as an extended essay, a short film or a sustained scientific investigation.
Undertaking regular research through pupil questionnaire and interview
We aim to establish and disseminate excellent practice amongst our teaching staff. Kim’s research project into the impact of teaching Thinking Skills in the Sixth Form was published as the first chapter in the Headmasters’ Conference’s “I² – Excellence and Innovation in HMC Schools”.
Becoming the first independent school in the country to achieve Thinking Schools status
We received the certification from Dr. Edward De Bono. As a result of subsequent work as a centre of excellence in thinking we have since been upgraded to Training School status by Dr De Bono.
Running a series of training events for parents
We want parents to be aware of our programmes covering Coping with Exam Nerves, Study Skills, the Six Thinking Hats, and Non Verbal Intelligence so that they can fully understand and support our work at home. This programme was short listed for the Independent Schools Awards Education Initiative of the Year 2013.
Caterham now has a national reputation as a centre for innovative and creative teaching and learning. Kim has delivered training in schools all around the country in how to teach Thinking and how to encourage children to learn independently. He has delivered seminars at major conferences for HMC, GSA and SHMIS. He has also worked with GPs, Magistrates, insurance companies and the Foreign Office on how to manage discussions and how to make decisions.