Learning

Our strong culture of high expectations no excuses allows our teachers to teach and our scholars to learn. Teaching is the priority for DMA teachers. We do not believe there is one way to teach as we know our scholars learn in different ways. Our teachers plan lessons based on our three core features of intelligent sequencing, effective formative assessment and highly tailored activities. These three core features do not dictate how teaches should teach but do provide a framework for teachers to select and evaluate different activities that will promote learning in lessons and progress over time.

Intelligent Sequencing

The curriculum at Dixons McMillan Academy has been ordered in such a way that students will master the core knowledge, skills and understanding which will enable them to have a robust understanding of the different subjects on offer. Lesson standards are sequenced in an order that help students learn and understand connections within each subject. All our subjects have long term and detailed medium term planning documents, which are quality assured by leaders in the academy to ensure they are of high quality. Challenges within individual lessons are also carefully sequenced in such a way to help students make sense of the topic being delivered as well as challenge their thinking. Teachers aim to maximise learning is every session.

Highly Tailored Activities

Teachers amend detailed medium term plans to fit the needs of the class and individuals they are teaching. This involves using previous assessment information to identify current gaps and misconceptions which need addressing or an identified skill deficiency. Question level analysis of assessments is used by leaders and teachers in the academy to ensure that learning is always tailored to the students' needs. Daily lesson planning identifies scholars who are being targeted in the lesson because that session provides an ideal opportunity for a current gap or misconception to be addressed for example, through break out teaching or directed pre-planned questioning. Staff think about tailoring all activities and groupings to ensure students have given the best possible chance to make progress over time.

Effective Formative Assessment

Our teachers constantly read their classroom and respond as required. We have a no hands up policy so that teachers can find out what students don't know rather than what they do know. To help our scholars adapt to a no hands up policy we use 'prisms' and 'pop-corning' to remove the situations which are likely to require students to put their hands up. Students signal to teachers when they feel they need additional help through placing their prism on red, teachers use their professional judgement to respond as needed to students. On the rare occasions teachers require students to volunteer answers to questions students will be told to 'pop-corn' (stand-up) to signal they have an answer they would like to share with the class.
Teachers mark students work frequently. The number of occasions is determined by the topic being delivered and the activities being used. Students will be given clear successes and next steps for improvement. Teachers will plan to give student's time to redraft their work to action the suggested next steps. We know feedback is only effective if time and strategies are given to address the next steps.

Learning in the academy is accelerated and enhanced by:

  • Our top three literacy strategies
  • Collective learning which gives students daily bite size chunks of learning across the EBacc subjects
  • Innovative large group teaching
  • The role of advisor in monitoring and appraising scholars
  • Use of academy mantra to set the tone for the learning that follows in each and every lesson
  • Our insistence on all scholars developing good learning habits
  • Harnessing the power of feedback to ensure that it generates a cognitive rather than an emotional reaction
  • Stretch projects which gives students the opportunity to direct their own learning
  • Focusing on regular low stakes knowledge testing
  • High stakes assessments three times a year based on GCSE assessment objectives
  • Aspirational target setting for all (minimum equivalent 4 levels of progress)
  • Data days which provide staff time and space to analyse data and plan for interventions for any scholar at the risk of underachieving
  • High quality teachers who believe in effort based ability and whole heartedly support our high expectations and no excuses culture
  • High levels of attendance
  • Positive and productive relationships with parents.