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Cotham School

Teaching Learning and Assessment

At Cotham School, we believe that all students have the right to receive high-quality teaching that enables them to achieve their full potential.  We passionately believe that effective teaching and learning requires  a deep understanding of how students learn:

  1. Teachers must be aware of the cognitive processes involved in learning and be able to adapt their teaching strategies to accommodate different learning styles. 
  2. Learning is most effective when it is active and engaging: Students learn best when they are actively involved in the learning process, rather than simply listening to lectures or reading textbooks. 
  3. Feedback is critical to learning: Students need timely and specific feedback in order to improve their understanding and skills.
  4. Metacognition is important: Students need to be taught how to reflect on their own learning processes, set goals, and monitor their progress.
  5. Classroom environment matters: A positive and supportive classroom environment can help students feel safe and motivated to learn.

(Peps McCrea)

Our teaching and learning policy is grounded in the principles of effective instruction as outlined by Barak Rosenshine and informed by the latest research in cognitive science, which highlights the importance of metacognition, cognitive load theory, and dual coding.

Principle 1: Begin with a clear lesson objective

All lessons at Cotham School are designed with a clear objective that is communicated to students at the beginning of each lesson. Objectives are specific, measurable, and achievable, and are aligned with the curriculum and the learning needs of each student.

Principle 2: Use a variety of teaching methods

Our teachers use a range of teaching methods to engage students in active learning, promote deeper understanding, and cater to different learning styles. These methods include direct instruction, modelling, scaffolding, questioning, and feedback.

Principle 3: Provide models

At Cotham School, we use models to help students develop a clear understanding of what is expected of them. Teachers provide models of exemplary work, demonstrate skills and processes, and encourage students to engage in peer modelling and self-reflection.

Principle 4: Check for understanding

Our teachers regularly check for understanding to ensure that all students are on track to achieving the lesson objective. They use a range of formative assessment methods, including questioning, quizzes, and exit tickets, to identify misconceptions and provide timely feedback.

Principle 5: Provide feedback

Feedback is an essential component of effective teaching and learning. At Cotham School, our teachers provide timely, specific, and actionable feedback that helps students understand their strengths and areas for improvement. Feedback is provided both in writing and verbally and is focused on the lesson objective and the criteria for success.

Principle 6: Review and revise

We believe that learning is an iterative process, and that students need regular opportunities to review and revise their work. Our teachers provide opportunities for students to reflect on their learning, evaluate their progress, and set goals for future learning.

(Rosenshine; Sherrington)


Formative Assessment drives progress

Summative Assessment  measures progress


Embedded into every lesson as a live response to student learning. Informs lesson planning. 

Minimum of twice a year. To inform grades entered at formal data points, which are reported home to parents/carers.

Tasks Will

  • Clarify and share learning intentions.
  • Elicit evidence of learning.
  • Allow for diagnosis of misconceptions and areas for development.
  • Focus on specific content/skills.
  • Be adapted to the needs of individual students and different teaching groups.
  • Have shared success criteria.
  • Be ACCESSIBLE to all students (guidance here).
  • Be assessed and analysed by the teacher.
  • Have clear assessment objectives that are mapped into schemes of learning.
  • Cover a large percentage of the subject domain, not just recent learning.
  • Take place in exam-style, controlled conditions.
  • Be uniform across all teaching groups and all students, except where access arrangements have been defined in Learning Plans.
  • Involve standardisation (in advance of grading), and moderation or comparative judgement subsequent to this.
  • Be included in work checks after grading.
  • Produce consistent grades with shared meaning across all subjects.
  • Match the style of external / exam board assessment in Y10-13.

Feedback Will

  • Measure grasp of the learning intentions.
  • Diagnostic, with a clear next step for improvement to move learning forward.
  • Activating learners as learning resources for one another.
  • Activating learners as owners of their own learning.
  • Actionable for the learner and manageable for the teacher.
  • Be given back to students within a dedicated and planned Feedback Lesson(s) shortly after the assessment taking place.
  • Make use of Assessment Analysis (QLA or teacher review of skill acquisition) to identify missing / inaccurate threshold concepts and skills.
  • The Feedback Lesson(s) will include:
    • Reteaching f identified threshld concepts and skills (using exemplars).
    • A DIRT activity (Dedicated Imprvement and Reflection Time) which students must complete in green pen and clearly labelled as DIRT wrk in the title.


  • Carefully designed tasks with feedback in mind (elicits evidence of student thinking).
  • Verbal feedback.
  • Live marking.
  • Whole class feedback.
  • Code or dot marking.
  • Checklists.
  • Peer feedback.
  • Self assessment.
  • ‘All student’ response systems.
  • Effective questioning. 
  • Full or partial past exam papers (Y10-13).
  • Faculty-generated tasks connected to schemes of learning (Y7-9).
  • Seneca assignments.
  • GCSE Pod exam-style assignments.
  • Self-marking Google Form. 
  • Subject-specific digital platforms.


Summative grades will be:

  • Accessible to Faculty leaders either in shared spreadsheets or in SIMs, and analysed to identify and act on patterns across and between classes.
  • Analysed by Learning Coordinators / P16 Team / SEND Team / SLT to identify patterns of under-performance across subjects and inform intervention.