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Personalising Learning

Peafield Lane 'Needs Based' Curriculum.

The Peafield Lane teaching model and how it came about.

 

A few years ago, progress rates at the school were not as we would like and yet, lesson observations showed that good teaching was taking place in almost every classroom. When we delved deeper we looked at precisely what was being taught and how. 

 

With 45 children in each year group, it made class sizes quite awkward because we don't have space for more than 30 in a class. What used to happen was that we would, for example, place the youngest Yr1 children into one class, the oldest Year 2 into another and then have a mixed class of the oldest Y1 and youngest Y2.

 

Class A

Youngest

Year 1

children

Class B

Mixed

Year 1&2

children

Class C

Oldest

Year 2

children

 

On the surface this makes sense. The Y1 class were being given year 1 work (e.g. full stops) and the Y2 class were doing year 2 work (e.g. commas). The problem was that there were some children in the Y1 class who already knew how to do full stops and so wasted a significant amount of time going over stuff they could already do. Similarly, in the Y2 class, some of those children were still struggling with full stops and so were, again, wasting time on concepts that they could not yet access. Meanwhile, in the mixed Y1/2 class the children were doing 'Pirates!' The teacher scrapped the concept of 'year1' work or 'year2' work and simply taught lessons that were interesting and exciting and supported each child with whatever concept they needed to learn. The children in the mixed age class were making more progress than the other two, not because of the organisation, but because the teacher focussed on individual needs rather than age group expectations.

 

The following year we mixed our classes and trained staff to focus on individual needs rather than on blanket 'whole class lessons'. We moved teaching assistants into classrooms so that they could support children in context and so that those who were struggling had quick and easy access to extra guidance as and when they needed it as opposed to having a 15 minute slot each day outside the class on an 'intervention scheme'.

 

Class A

Mixed

Year 1&2

children

Class B

Mixed

Year 1&2

children

Class C

Mixed

Year 1&2

children

 

Suddenly there were six adults who shared three parallel classes. They began sharing planning, ideas, even children; if a couple of children in each class were flying through their work, they could get together with a teacher or TA and undergo an extension activity or challenge that really stretched them.

 

We broke the National Curriculum down into its core skills and put aside all 'one size fits all' planning schemes to develop our own 'Skills Based' curriculum; "Start with the skills we want the children to learn, put them into an exciting and stimulating context and take it from there." Since then our curriculum has evolved even further, still keeping the National Curriculum at its core, to become a 'Needs Based' curriculum. "Assess what Billy needs to learn to progress, what Alice needs and then plan a context that they will find stimulating and relevant and develop classroom management systems that will allow out staff to personalise input and expectations."

 

Teachers tend not to spend much time stood at a board talking to a whole class, typically they will be sat with one child discussing their work and how to improve it before moving on to the next. The TA in the room does the same thing so that each child is receiving a dedicated amount of personal 1:1 tuition. Other children in the class work independently or in small groups supporting and challenging each other and they are taught how and where to find support and guidance without constantly relying on the teacher to tell them what to do next. Parents who visit us invariably remark, "It's nothing like the way we were taught when I was at school." 

 

What's more - it works! Progress rates through the school have improved dramatically over the years. This year every one of our children (apart from one child in one subject) made, nationally expected, 2 levels progress with between 1/3 and 1/2, depending upon the subject making, accelerated, 3 or more levels of progress. 

 

We are really proud of our systems and of the work our staff and pupils make. If you wish to know more or want to come and see it first hand then please get in touch and come and see us. Alternatively, if you're from a school that is also achieving great things in challenging circumstances then we would be delighted to hear from you so that we might be able to improve our practice even further.


Look back with pride and forward with confidence