Inspire to Learn Overview
The aim of our broad curriculum is to promote academic excellence, the best habits of independent thought and lifelong habits of making connections, intellectual curiosity and self-reflection. Put simply, inspiring teaching inspires learning.
Alongside Inspire to Belong, Inspire to Learn is one of the two central pillars of Maidstone Grammar School. There are four key Learning Habits which we believe support all Maidstonians in developing academic excellence: Assessment, Challenge, Independence and Connected.
Assessment: We want our students to be effective in their use of assessment. We want them to know how to reflect on their learning so that they can make rapid progress.
Learning is a journey and we assess the learning journey of our students regularly. We assign each student with an aspirational target grade to achieve in each subject and we closely monitor their progress against these target grades throughout the academic year. Students receive at least fifteen pieces of written feedback, in each subject, throughout the year and these detail how much progress they have made and what they need to do to improve. Their progress and feedback is recorded onto assessment tracker sheets in the front of their books and on yellow assessment stickers throughout their books.
We formally report on students progress to parents and carers at three points throughout the year. We also celebrate academic success with regular contact home, congratulation postcards, departmental awards and at formal occasions such as Speech Day and Parents’ Evening. We even decorate the walls of our Big Hall with the names of our students who achieve academic greatness in their A Level exams. Equally, we intervene quickly and offer support and guidance when we identify students who may not be making the academic progress we know they are capable of. Academic interventions take many forms, but they are always tailored to best meet the students’ needs and include contact with parents and carers.
Challenge: We want our students to be curious and to understand that greater learning is truly unlocked when we all ask challenging questions and persevere when striving to find answers.
Our teachers like asking questions, but they also like to ask our students not to put their hands up to answer them. We have a ‘no hands up’ policy at MGS, which means that although a student can raise their hand to ask a question, they cannot raise it to answer one. Our classrooms are full of incredibly bright and able boys, but they are not dominated by the most confident learners who always put their hands up. All our students can expect to be called upon to answer questions at any time, they all know that they need to pay attention to what is going on and they are all challenged.
We also encourage our students to ask challenging questions of themselves to further develop their reasoning skills. Critical thinking and in particular the ability to use analysis, evaluation, deployment of argument, along with the evaluation of evidence is essential to our students’ academic success. The development of these skills is embedded in each subject’s curriculum and our students first demonstrate them all in the personal research project that they complete for their Learning to Learn course in Year 7.
Independence: We want our students to be independent and resilient learners. We want them to be able to immerse themselves in their studies, distil complex information and revise effectively.
Our Learning to Learn course is a unique feature of our curriculum. This course gives all our students a foundation which will support them to develop effective study skills and revision techniques throughout their school career. It also helps our students to fulfil their academic potential in assessments throughout their time at MGS and in their public exams.
Homework is an integral part of the learning process. Our teachers use it to help reinforce the work undertaken in the classroom and it should enable students to develop the skills necessary for independent study. In Year 7 and 8 students usually have two homework assignments of between 30-45 minutes to complete each weeknight. They are given at least three days to complete their homework assignments which may include research, note taking or online activities. Students in Year 9 and 10 have on average two hours of homework each weeknight and in Year 11 students work for two hours each evening on assignments set by their teachers, work from Study Guides or simply building revision notes.
Connected: We want our students to understand that their subjects are connected and that they should make links between the skills and terminology within them.
Our teachers train our students to think like examiners. They model what success looks like and provide their students with ‘worked examples’, sample answers and previous exam questions to familiarise them with how examiners write questions and the answers that are required. Our students are encouraged to recognise patterns of information between different subjects and to understand command words (the words and phrases used in exams and other assessment tasks that tell students how they should answer the question).
We take pride in our sequenced curriculum. Our deliberate approach to the sequencing of knowledge, in each subject, secures our students foundational concepts and knowledge before encountering content that builds upon this. This enables our students to link their ideas and organise their knowledge into increasingly complex mental models.