Even if you haven’t got a written teaching and learning policy you must already be implementing one in some form or another. You will have, for example, agreed practices that you expect to see during observations. It might be outlining the lesson objectives at the beginning of the lesson, or the use of paired talk. Sometimes these become ‘givens’ over a period of time and what the policy does is bring these givens together in a document so that new and visiting staff understand what the rest of you already know.
The suggestion that schools should have a written policy came from the behaviour review by Sir Alan Steer (see links below). He suggested that all schools should produce a policy identifying their key learning and teaching aims, strategies and practices. This isn’t a legal requirement but a recommendation. However, as mentioned above, having a teaching and learning policy can be useful. It is also a useful opportunity to review the practices that you have perhaps taken for granted over a number of years. Are they the best ones for your school? Do they fit in with your whole school ethos? Have the recommendations on best practice changed?
It’s always useful to start off by looking at what other schools are doing. If you have some good partner schools who are open to visits perhaps you could arrange to talk to them and look at what they’ve got in place. Alternatively you could also look at the following articles which have ideas for developing teaching and learning practice.
Once you’ve had a look around it is important that you also audit your own current practice. What are the teachers in your school doing? What are the principles for teaching and learning that are part of your ethos but may not be written down?
Now you need to do some blue-sky thinking. In a full staff discussion explore what should be happening in your ideal classroom. What is good teaching and learning and how do you know when you see it? Don’t stop with just the staff. What about asking the children, governors and parents.
Now you need to bring it altogether.
Everybody’s teaching and learning policy should be unique. It doesn’t have to be perfectly written or crafted but it does need to represent the aims and vision of your school and lead on what the practice should be. It needs to be prominently displayed and accessible to all members of staff. Pupils should be as familiar with it as your staff are.
Below are links to some example of teaching and learning policies. You might use these as a started for ideas but it is important that your policy is about your school, not anyone else’s.
This article includes some ideas from one school that’s been creating their curriculum: Establishing the creative curriculum.
A summary of Sir Alan Steer’s Final Recommendations on Pupil Behaviour (2009).