Underpinning Principles

“Children only get one chance to experience childhood and they have an absolute right to the highest quality of education”

Lyssy Bolton, CEO, The Mead Academy Trust

Effective teaching and learning within The Mead Academy Trust is characterised by:

Valuing Children and Childhood
Every child is a unique. Their ability to be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured should not be under estimated. Independence, risk taking, leadership, self-regulation and co-construction are valued. Children are entitled to the freedom to play, to take responsibility for their learning and behaviours, to identify and solve problems and the excitement of being outdoors. Children’s rights are respected and protected (UNICEF, 2012)

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A Culture of Opportunity
Adults create a culture where difference is acknowledged and celebrated. Individual achievements are recognised all members of the school community are encouraged to have a voice. Where there are barriers adults pride themselves on embracing different approaches and opportunities to ensure that children understand that barriers don’t have to limit their lives and that there is an equitable experience for all.

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Relational Teaching
Children develop in the context of relationships and the emotional environment around them. All adults are expected to model and teach children how to show love, care, tolerance, respect, openness and honesty with each other.

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An Enabling Environment
Children are entitled to an irresistible, warm, welcoming, and well organised environment (both indoors and outdoors) that provides for independence, choice, a wealth of sensory experiences; reflecting the children’s interests and celebrating their achievements.

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An Inspirational Curriculum
Teachers plan for a curriculum that inspires, motivates and engages all children in memorable experiences. Connections are made between subject areas to ensure learning contexts are authentic and meaningful and provide opportunities for application of skills, investigation and purposeful play. “It’s not what you do but the way that you do it.” Careful consideration is given to the intent, implementation and impact of all learning sequences.

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Understanding Learning
Learning is an active experience designed to provoke rich dialogue, active listening and sustained shared thinking between all participants through experimentation and discovery. Knowledge of the concepts of ‘threshold’ and ‘mastery’ are used to inform teaching and learning sequences. “…the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting…” (Plutarch, in Kidd 1992)

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Planning for Excellence
Planning is responsive to the children’s interests and fascinations and is targeted to identify gaps in skills and understanding and to provide repeated opportunities to practise what most challenges us. Learning sequences have a clear structure, using a ‘teaching backwards’ approach ensuring high quality outcomes in all subjects.

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Purposeful Assessment
Assessment is continuous, specific, relevant and provides clear pathways to future success in learning through a forensic understanding of the children’s progress. Teachers recognise how on-going assessment links to the summative assessment cycle in schools and the wider assessment and accountability system.

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Responsive Teaching
By implementing successful evidence-based strategies and frameworks adults model and exemplify excellence at every level. Expert subject knowledge enables teachers to identify and define the selection of skills to be taught and to design experiences to ensure that the learning journey makes sense and ignites deeper level thinking for all children.

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Courageous Leadership
All leaders have a clear vision, underpinned by a sense of moral purpose which is understood, owned and implemented by the whole community in the pursuit of shaping inspirational learning and continually improving outcomes. Choices about organisation, structure, resources and priorities are made bravely. The qualities of leadership are recognised, valued and nurtured across the whole school community.

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Professional Growth
“Every teacher needs to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better.” (Williams, 2012). Outstanding teaching and leadership is developed through: sharing best practice, researching and critiquing evidence based approaches, supporting clear pathways of career progression, engaging in practitioner enquiry and actively encouraging creative thinking, risk taking and innovation.

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Community Engagement
Community engagement is based upon reciprocal relationships that value opinions, interpretations and utilise the skills and expertise of others. Collegiality between staff, parents /carers and children is highly valued and well supported. The community is used both as a source of information and a resource for investigation and learning.

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Kidd, I (1992), Essays by Plutarch (Translation by Robin Waterfield), On Listening pp. 27–50,  Penguin Classics, London and New York. (Google Books Preview)
UNICEF (2012) The rights of the child in words and pictures. Red Fox: London