Teaching and learning in the foundation subjects: Case study


Links to the foundation subjects

We developed Lesson starters and Lesson activities. Colleagues in the department received copies of these resources to use for themselves and were asked to provide feedback, whilst at the same time encouraging their involvement in the Strategy. Much discussion took place in department meetings where I regularly made use of the foundation subjects/Literacy update slot on the agenda.

Links to literacy

As the literacy coordinator, I rapidly appreciated how well the TLF and literacy initiatives complemented each other. I explored ways of integrating spelling, note-taking skills, collaborative group work and writing genres together with thinking skills activities. This was developed with strong reference to the Literacy Across the Curriculum materials. Starter and plenary tasks work very well in this context, as do writing frames and connective words to encourage extended writing, particularly for explanations where students find it hard to move them from Level 5 to Level 6.

Examples of support materials developed by the school:

The 'Concept loop' (or Chase Game) and 'Odd one out' activities are highly effective for expanding pupil knowledge about subject specific terminology.

In addition the 'Kobe earthquake task' lent itself well to newspaper report writing and the 'Perfect plant' fostered justification writing skills.

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Links to the National Curriculum

In geography in our school, a number of pupils find it difficult to make progress beyond level 5, particularly as more explanatory work is required and many concepts are quite complicated. The foundation subjects principles have assisted in designing lessons that aid pupils in their ability to structure their thinking and to plan written responses more effectively. The permeating theme of thinking skills within the foundation subjects has assisted in developing the capabilities of the more able students who are moving towards Level 7 and Level 8, and where higher order thinking skills are required such as evaluation, enquiry, hypothesising and analysing relationships.

The work has provided the opportunity to devise formal assessment sheets informing pupils and parents about levels of response, and focussed target setting for future improvement, complemented the work we had already carried out in the department on assessment for learning.