Church Cowley St James Church of England Primary School

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How We Teach

At Church Cowley St James, we have developed a teaching model across the school that ensures every child gets a personalised learning experience in every lesson. We call it High-Quality Responsive Teaching, or HQRT.

Through this model, every child's understanding is systematically checked throughout the lesson, with staff intervening and quickly dealing with misconceptions and misunderstandings to target their teaching to the needs of all pupils.

We actively seek to follow the two basic principles of the HQRT model:

  • To what degree do teachers systematically and effectively check on pupils' understanding throughout the lesson?
  • How quickly are misconceptions/difficulties picked up? Does the teacher intervene? What is the impact?

As a result, you are unlikely to see a whole class input in English or Maths, preferring instead to teach many smaller groups throughout each lesson from each of their start points. This means, in reality, in Maths, for instance, we are probably teaching anywhere up to 6 different groups of children in one lesson, and your child will be getting impactful direct feedback on their efforts 2-3 times from the teacher within the lesson. It's hard work but the most productive use of teacher and pupil time.

All children are expected to work independently for large parts of the lesson; most children will start their work within a minute or two of the lesson starting, maximising their learning time. The teacher's skill is to understand for whom the work is too easy and for whom it is too complicated and intervene appropriately. For this to work well, our teachers need an intrinsically good knowledge of every child and excellent subject knowledge.

Teaching Assistants work as hard as the teachers and will also pick up on misconceptions, moving children on and providing extra support throughout.  They'll be teaching groups in precisely the same way as the teacher.

We have 4-5 main teaching boards in each classroom, bringing the learning right to the children's tables, minimising disruption and providing a continuous flow to the lesson. 

HQRT means that every lesson is impactful, and children make good progress across genres, strands and subjects over time. 


Teacher expertise lies at the core of the delivery of the planned curriculum, and teachers are actively encouraged to develop subject specialisms. This enables strong direct instruction in the classroom, with teachers able to deliver content with clarity, confidence and precision. Direct instruction is interspersed with age-appropriate pupil tasks to enable pupils to practise and consolidate their understanding before moving swiftly on to new content.

We believe that children learn best when:

    • Teachers have high expectations of all children’s learning and provide an appropriate scaffold to support all children to achieve.
    • Lessons begin with a recap of prior learning. This may be through quizzing, a short writing task or a quick classroom discussion.
    • New learning is then presented engagingly and creatively, in small steps and through carefully planned explanations.
    • Pupil participation in learning is maximised through a range of strategies: no hands-up, mini whiteboards, effective questioning and lesson delivery that is concise and engaging.
    • Lessons are shaped according to the needs of the children: sped up or slowed down or levels of support adjusted following in-lesson assessment.
    • Opportunities to practise new learning are embedded so that new knowledge is internalised and new skills become fluent and automatic.
    • Practice is guided initially, with levels of support being gradually withdrawn to foster pupil independence.