Approach to teaching

Developing a Growth Mindset and Learning without Limits

This is the belief that all children (not just some children) can become more powerful, committed, successful learners given supportive conditions and generous opportunities for learning.

At Newnham Croft we encourage children to take responsibility for their learning. We encourage them to take risks, not to be afraid of making mistakes and to persevere when faced with a challenge. We try to praise the process rather than the end result. By allowing children to choose their challenge level we find that our children are self-motivated, engaged, active, inventive and imaginative; they mix with different children and work together in different and unexpected ways.

Teachers and Teaching Assistants at Newnham Croft Primary do not group children by so-called ‘ability’. They do not organise teaching, or think about children and learning in terms of fixed-ability (the belief that some children simply are more able than others and that’s that). Instead, each member of staff works alongside every child in their care, supporting them as they strive to strengthen and enhance their learning capacity. We do offer extension groups and support groups and encourage the children, as appropriate, to volunteer for the groups. We adapt provision as needed for children with identified needs, for example those on the SEND register, and aim to support each child to progress.

This does not mean that children’s attainments are, or should be, the same for everybody. But differences in attainment are not seen as inevitable, and teachers and children work together to identify and lift barriers to learning. Similarly, whilst our teachers and teaching assistants have a clear idea of what individual children may attain in a particular lesson, they do not limit children to a particular activity designed for their ‘ability’. They are committed to the educational principle of unpredictability. They want to be surprised by the children and so organize teaching and learning so that the door is kept open for all children to exceed their expectations.

This approach to teaching and learning is rooted in the development of a Growth Mindset and the  pedagogical model: Learning without Limits (www.learningwithoutlimits.educ.cam.ac.uk). The Learning without Limits project is a body of work, developed in the University of Cambridge, Faculty of Education collaboratively with teachers and school leaders. The project is dedicated to developing approaches to teaching and learning that do not rely on determinist beliefs of ability. It is inspired by decades of research that have shown the many complex ways in which ideas of fixed-ability, and the practices based on them, can unintentionally limit learning.