Unlike many independent schools, we have a longer teaching week. In addition to our 27 55-minute lessons, we run five half-hour Collective Learning sessions; five half-hour reading sessions, mid-morning; and up to four hours of Prep and electives in the sports and arts over the course of the week.
A significant number of scholars are also expected to attend morning intervention from 7.30am. With an extended academy day, scholars have more time in the classroom to acquire knowledge, skills and understanding, as well as more opportunities to broaden their education.
At McMillan, we believe that there are no shortcuts to success, and our scholars would not make the progress they do without more time in school.
We build a partnership between parents, scholars and teachers that puts learning first. We help our scholars to value learning by activating them as owners of their own learning.
Our teachers are passionate about teaching and learning; they are able to present challenging learning tasks. Their expertise allows them to 'read' their classrooms and to be more responsive to learners. They are extremely flexible and take every opportunity to maximise learning. They are great seekers and users of feedback.
We firmly believe that assessment is the bridge between teaching and learning. Therefore, every lesson at Dixons McMillan will show evidence of the following core features:
1. Intelligent sequencing
2. Highly tailored learning activities
3. Effective formative assessment
These are compulsory features of all our lessons that shape how students learn and how teachers teach.
In our classrooms and in our schemes of work and prevention plans, we value knowledge, skills and understanding.
Teachers are free to teach as they want as long as scholars learn and make progress. However, we do expect some of our core routines and strategies to be embraced by every teacher in every lesson – for example, a No Hands Up rule to ensure all questions are targeted and all students are engaged.
We have also adapted ‘the cycle of highly effective teaching’ developed by Achievement First and have Data Days to ensure that evidence about learning is used to adjust instruction to better meet scholar needs. We have taken ideas from Uncommon Schools and Doug Lemov’s work, particularly around questioning. We have also developed teacher talent through disciplined, deliberate and intelligent practice and coaching. For example, we practise key techniques collectively, as a staff, and engineer more tailored practice during one-to-one coaching sessions. We also place great importance on teacher subject knowledge, and this is fostered through department CPD time.
The iBase (learning commons) and IT Desk are open to scholars before, during and after the normal academy day for homework support and independent study / reading.
Dixons McMillan Academy scholars benefit from a longer working week. We know that more time with scholars enables them to experience a broad curriculum and experience a full range of subjects. Scholars will also be able to opt into some co-curricular electives, in an area that they are genuinely interested in. These will run on Thursday period 5.
Each day there is co-curricular enrichment for scholars to sign up to. Once signed up, scholars are committed to that activity and must attend.