What is the Teaching and Learning Excellence Blog?

Inspired by our mission to strive for excellence in everything we do, our key Teaching and Learning principles ensure our pupils thrive and succeed. We do this through designing an ambitious curriculum, creating a climate of high expectations, developing pupil literacy, utilising the power of retrieval and empowering pupils to fulfil their potential. On this page you will find more information about how we achieve this, with some practical tips to do at home. There will be a new Teaching and Learning blog every half term, in which we will highlight the excellent work taking place in Teaching and Learning. 


Our latest blog

June 2022: Retrieval; recall and retention

A Teachers’ beliefs about their students and what they can achieve have a substantial impact on students’ learning and progress.

Retrieval practice is a strategy in which bringing information to mind enhances and boosts learning and retention and strengthens connections between ideas. It is the act of recalling learned information from memory and every time information is retrieved, or an answer is generated, the original memory becomes stronger. Practising remembering supports effective learning. ‘The more we know, the more we can know. The more we know, the more we understand.’ Retrieval practice is used to help pupils to recall what was previously known or learned. Retrieval practice can take many forms, depending upon need. Regular retrieval practice will lead to increased confidence, stronger outcomes and results over time.

How does it link into our whole school teaching and learning? Quality FIRST teaching

  • Unleash the power of long-term memory through the power of retrieval, harnessing our knowledge of cognitive learning theories and the act of recalling information from memory without (or with minimal) support.

• Empower pupils to reach their potential through robust assessment processes, both formative and summative, to assess pupils learning, identify any gaps in knowledge and skills, address any gaps and close them.

• Each subject uses retrieval as a strategy to assess pupils long term learning, embed facts and key knowledge and connect learning over time.

• Plan for regular and appropriate opportunities for retrieval and recall of key knowledge and skills, at least once a week as a starter activity but an element within ALL lessons

• Utilise our principle of teach to the top and make effective use of prior attainment data, current assessment data, SEN information, thresholds and minimum expected grades, to ensure retrieval activities are pitched to provide appropriate challenge for all pupils

• Incorporate retrieval into our effective questioning strategies using the Whole School ‘no hands up’ initiative and techniques; FIRST questioning, Einstein Questioning, Stretch Questioning, Thinking Time and F.A.I.L Questioning

• HOW IS RETRIEVAL DIFFERENT TO TESTING OR ASSESSMENTS? Retrieval is not a summative assessment but formative assessment – assessment FOR learning.

Deliberate practice is planning on purpose for the pupils in front of you to maximise progress for all.


Classroom strategies – remember FIRST (focused, identified, relentlessly challenging, scaffolded, targeted)

Retrieval activities check pupils’ knowledge but also to help close gaps. In an assessment, if pupils misunderstand a topic/question or the class underperforms on it, then it can be retaught and rechecked via retrieval. History and Maths assessments have a section dedicated to this as well as checking current learning and skills.

  • Classroom activities include low stakes quizzes, revision clocks, mindmaps, brain dumps, knowledge vomits, paired testing, quick fire quiz, word definitions, spot the errors, topic connectiveness or elaboration, question pyramid, bingo
  • History utilise ‘Blast from the past’, Geography employ ‘Geog your memory’ and Maths flashbacks check learning from last lesson, last topic, last term etc to develop challenge.
  • Teacher questioning can be used to develop answers, give prompts or guidance according to appropriate need. It doesn’t require a score or grade and can be very flexible


How to support at home

Retrieval and recall – ask your child what they have learnt in their lessons today, last week, last year. Informal ask them to discuss topics or lessons or quiz them on the work in their books. Force their brain to recall information rather than give them clues and help aids.

Test your children – quiz your children and ‘test’ them. Retrieval should be low stakes and so try and keep this stress free but test them on their notes, flashcards, mindmaps, information in their books. Ask children to do a brain dump, make a revision clock, write definitions for tier 3 vocab. This Geography website tests knowledge and skills: https://geographyeducationonline.org/quizzes#physical

Verbal recall – ask your child to tell you facts or information in everyday life, linked to what they are doing. If you are on holiday or visiting somewhere, ask pupils about their Geography. If you are watching a film based on history, ask them about the topic or a linked one. If they haven’t studied World War Two what do they know about other wars? If you are shopping, ask your children to explain percentages to work out costs.

Ask specific questions – ask them about what they have done in class, ask them about key vocabulary – teach me a new word, ask your child to write the questions you ask – write a quiz. The video, by Kate Jones who has written a lot of books on this topic, using this link will show you more – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_-TaSzYmx8


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Teaching and Learning Blogs

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