Teaching and Learning

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One of the things that makes The Abbey a wonderful place to work is the passionate focus and interest on teaching and learning among colleagues. That phrase, ‘teaching and learning’, is the catch-all for classroom practice: not just what the teacher is doing – in fact not primarily what the teacher is doing – but how it is benefiting each child, and how they are learning and growing through the lesson.

We have so much activity dedicated to innovation, exploration and creativity in teaching and learning. Learning Innovation Groups, Teaching and Learning Communities, mutual observation, weekly sharing of tips and tricks. At the heart of this activity is the understanding that to teach is to learn – which is what is so rewarding about working with young people.

At the moment I am teaching short courses to each Upper III (Year 7) class. We might cover anything from linguistic philosophy to dualism to the origin of theatre. This is part of our Abbey Ideas + Passion programme (Abbey IP) – learning driven by curiosity and intended to help spark ideas and enable young people to make connections of their own.

The most important reason in my role to teach every Upper III class is to get to know every student in the classroom. And the most important element is not the taught content but the end of each course, when each student has the chance to say how they would run the school – what would they change if they were in charge? This is a very immediate example of teaching and learning: seeking to introduce ideas to students but also to learn from theirs.

Without fail they come up with brilliant suggestions. It is true that they’re likely to propose more zip wires connecting different parts of the building than Health & Safety rules generally allow. But they come up with ideas in every area and show insight, care and thought in all of them.

One of our key principles as a school is Every Student Celebrated. That means everyone being known and heard for who they are. Every single person who works as part of this organisation is listening to and caring for students. It is everyone’s business to know and support them. This will always remain a key principle and we will always aim to do this better: because in so many ways it is what matters most.

All the restless ways in which we think about teaching and learning and how to improve it share one common aim at their heart: to instil confidence, self-belief, a sense of purpose and meaning in life, a readiness to seek and aim for joy. Learning as a celebration of each individual; as a celebration of growth and change and development in life. That is what we seek to teach and what we are privileged, every day, to learn.

Will le Fleming, Head

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