Classroom Organisation at The Wells Free School.
We have one class base per year group, starting at Reception, with 24 children in each class. Classes are named after famous historical medical characters to reflect our location, based as we are on the site of the old Kent and Sussex Hospital.
For much of the time, pupils learn in their classes with their class teacher. However, our teachers all plan progressive English and Maths lessons together for coherence, and pupils are, therefore, able to move between classes for these lessons according to the stage of their understanding and development, rather than their age. This means that children may access the input and activities aimed at standard expectations for their age group, expectations for an older age group or supported activities designed to fill gaps in knowledge and understanding or offer additional practice of previously taught concepts.
This stage not age approach to teaching and learning aims to ensure that all our pupils get the best possible learning opportunities at a level appropriate to their own, individual needs.
For many lessons, children are encouraged to choose from a menu of increasingly challenging activities, selecting the one they feel offers them an appropriate level of challenge. A “pitstop” approach, where pupils are brought back together early in the lesson to judge whether they have selected the right level of work, enables the teacher to check that pupils have not gone for the easy option, or, conversely, attempted something too hard.
Pupils also work in vertical groupings (across the age ranges) for certain activities. Enrichment days, which take place twice each new term, see the children grouped across all years, enabling them to learn from each other in new situations.
Teachers plan together for the core subjects of English and Maths, and also for the termly themes. Team teaching, where two or more teachers combine their classes and deliver an input together, happen regularly, and enable teachers and support staff to share their varied skills and expertise.
Once a week, class groups move around the school to each teacher in turn, to benefit from subject specialist teaching. At the moment, the subjects taught are French, Music, ICT and RE. This approach has a number of benefits, including the opportunity for children to learn from teachers who have a special interest in their subject, the chance for them to experience different teaching approaches and members of staff, and from a professional development point of view, the opportunity for staff to develop their skills and interests, bringing an enthusiastic, fresh approach to their chosen subjects.