Our approach is based on the latest academic thinking and research.
We highly recommend that prospective parents and staff read the documents below to gain an insight into how we teach and learn at Angel Oak Academy.
We employ three teachers per year group at Angel Oak Academy, despite being a two-form entry school. This model is crucial to our pedagogical approach; it underpins everything we do.
In the morning, children are taught the core subjects – English and mathematics (in addition to phonics in Key Stage 1 and Early Years) – in groups of 20, with all three class teachers in class delivering the same session. In the afternoon, the children reconvene in groups of 30, freeing up the lead teacher from each year group. The role of the year group lead during this time is to run short, targeted sessions aimed at those learners who failed to fully grasp the morning’s learning. Essentially, the mantra of these interventions is either ‘keep up’ or ‘catch up’. Which pupils attend which afternoon sessions is dependent on their individual performance that same morning, and the make-up of the groups will change from day-to-day. These remedial sessions take place at least three afternoons per week, and every effort is made to ensure all children still receive a rich, broad and balanced curriculum.
We assess children’s learning so that we know what to teach them next. Learning, however, is not linear and takes time to embed into long-term memory. Forgetting is part of the learning process so teaching sequences will therefore need to be reviewed, repeated, revised and reassessed for us to know that the knowledge and understanding has truly been learned. This is an ongoing process and this regular evaluation of what has been taught, what needs to be taught and what needs to be retaught and revised is at the heart of assessment.
It is important to distinguish between feedback and marking, as the two are often confused for the same thing. Feedback can take many forms in the classroom, be it written marking in children’s books or verbal advice to improve. It may also come from a source other than the teacher, for instance through peer- or self-assessment. Marking refers to the written comments from a teacher in a pupil’s book.
Our English curriculum is driven by a canon of culturally important, high-quality texts. This is the stimulus for all reading, writing and context work. We have chosen high-quality texts which lead to the development of the personal and cultural capital of the children at Angel Oak. We believe that in order for our children to leave Angel Oak as successful learners they need to have knowledge of a range of these texts. We do not differentiate within the class as to the text they read; we pitch the texts slightly above the national reading level for that age group in order to boost the children’s vocabularies and their fluency in reading. We do not choose picture books as a stimulus as these do not offer reading opportunities. We set our expectations high and expect the children to meet those expectations.
At Angel Oak Academy, we take a mastery approach to the teaching and learning of mathematics. Fundamentally, this rests on the belief that all children can – and, indeed, must – be successful in the study of mathematics. We do not accept that ‘some people cannot do maths’; we do not accept that mathematical study is boring or unnecessary; we do not accept that prior attainment should limit what a child is capable of learning. Mathematics is for everyone at Angel Oak.
At Angel Oak Academy we teach reading through Linguistic Phonics. The rationale for Linguistic Phonics is that children are taught to understand the relationship between spoken language and written words. It starts with what the children naturally acquire, spoken language, and teaches them the relationship between sound-spelling correspondences. Teaching children to read through Linguistic Phonics allows them to develop their decoding skills; this supports children in learning to blend graphemes (letters) for reading, segment phonemes (sounds) for spelling and manipulate phonemes (sounds) to develop accuracy in reading and spelling.
All of our teachers receive training to deliver the Sounds~Write phonics programme. Sounds~Write takes children through systematic, incremental steps to teach children the 44 sounds in the English language and their multiple spellings.
A knowledge-based curriculum
Our science curriculum at Angel Oak Academy is based on knowledge. Science teaching is built on the understanding that you cannot work scientifically without knowledge: you cannot write a prediction on shadow sizes without knowledge of how light travels or the opaque properties of materials; you cannot explain the celery in food dye changing colour without prior knowledge of transpiration; or you cannot conclude an investigation on the speed of sound through solids, liquids and gasses without knowledge of particle structure.
At Angel Oak Academy, pupil voice plays a part in all aspects of school life. Pupils’ ideas and feedback are valued and contribute toward all aspects of school improvement.
We believe that every child at our school has the potential to achieve and, in time, excel. This is why, at Angel Oak Academy, we do not label any children with the ‘gifted & talented’ tag. We reject the notion that some pupils are born with an innate academic ability. We reject the argument that some can and some can’t perform certain skills or acquire knowledge and expertise in a specific domain. We stress to all of our pupils the importance of working hard, because hard work is the true key to success.