Our Learning

Teaching and Learning Ethos

At Bannockburn, we have a culture of high expectations for both adults and pupils in regards to their effort, progress, behaviour, participation and presentation. We want all pupils to be actively engaged in their learning and to participate in not only their own learning, but that of their class. Positive learning behaviours are explicitly discussed, taught, encouraged and rewarded, linked to our school values, including effort, perseverance, resilience and co-operation.

Co-operative Learning (Kagan)

Lessons at Bannockburn are planned with the principles of Co-operative Learning at their heart: we expect pupils to be active participants in their learning and to collaborate with others frequently. Through a series of questioning structures and a specific style of classroom organisation, we support all pupils to be actively and simultaneously engaged in learning through planned and purposeful interactions.

Pace of Learning

Research suggests that learners are better able to concentrate and learn more when learning is organised into short, focused activities and there is a balance between teacher talk and pupils being active learners. Learning sessions are broken up into focused segments, such as questions or tasks, which give pupils the new knowledge and skills which are targeted in the session. While there is no single ‘correct’ length of time for an activity or task, the time given should be appropriate for the task type, complexity, age and developmental stage of the pupils.

Classroom Organisation

Pupils at Bannockburn will usually work at a table with three other pupils. One of these pupils will be their ‘shoulder partner’ (the person next to them) and another will be their ‘face partner’ (the person opposite/ facing them). In each lesson, pupils will be expected to speak with their shoulder partner and their class; they may also need to speak to their face partner and the rest of their table depending on how the learning is organised.

Learning is enquiry-based and in each lesson, pupils will be asked to think about and respond to a range of carefully planned questions and tasks. All pupils will be given time to think and then to respond with a partner or group. Moreover, the teacher will facilitate feedback from pupils; we have a ‘no hands up’ rule and anyone could be asked to share the discussion they had participated in. Pupils are often asked to share what their partner said to encourage careful listening skills.

The Kagan Co-operative Learning Structures

The Kagan Co-operative Learning Structures teach pupils social skills, including interaction with other pupils, turn taking, listening to the views of others and sharing information. The Kagan questioning structures minimise the opportunity for pupils to become distracted or disruptive by giving them the skills to work with others and to learn independently of the teacher. When learning using Kagan questioning structures, pupils experience individual accountability for their contribution: their partner relies upon them to have thought about the question and to be ready to share and vice-versa. While the structures are used to facilitate different types of collaboration, they all require pupils to be active participants.

Some of the most frequently used structures are:

  • Think-Pair-Share
  • Rally Robin
  • Rally Coach


In this structure, pupils work with their shoulder partner. Pupils are given one or two questions to think about. They are told which question they will be responsible for answering and then have time to share their ideas with their shoulder partner. They need to both share their own ideas and listen carefully to what their partner says as they may be asked to feedback on their question or their partner’s.

‘Rally Robin’

In the ‘Rally Robin’ structure, pupils will work with their shoulder partner. This structure is used to generate a verbal list and can be used to answer questions such as ‘Which adjectives could we use to describe the sea?’ or ‘Which adverbs could we use to show how a character is speaking?’. The question is shared with pupils, and then they have ‘thinking time’ before taking it in turns with their partner to share a response.

‘Rally Coach’

This structure requires pupils to ‘coach’ each other to solve given problems. Pupils aim to show good coaching qualities such as positive body language and tone, a positive, supportive attitude, offering genuine praise and guiding by using helpful questions.

Sharing and Assessing our Learning

At Bannockburn, lessons are carefully planned with a clear focus: teachers and children have a shared understanding of what the learning is for each session and how pupils can be successful in achieving it. This is communicated through a ‘Learning Question’ and ‘Steps to Success’, which are shared at the beginning of each lesson and revisited throughout the session as required.

Explicit Teacher Modelling

Opportunities are planned in lessons for high-quality teacher models of the focus skill, for example the method for long division in Mathematics or using a pair of commas for parenthesis when writing. Teachers record modelled examples and other supportive materials on ‘Working Walls’ to support pupils in their learning.

Self and Peer Assessment

Pupils are given regular opportunities to review and assess their own learning and to support others by assessing and offering feedback on their learning, promoting responsibility and cooperation. This may be verbal or written. Verbal feedback is often supported by a speaking frame to scaffold the responses given by pupils e.g. “I really liked how you…. because…. Your work would be even better if…” Written feedback may be supported by a checklist linked to the agreed ‘Steps to Success’ or pupils may be asked to provide each other with ‘One/Two Stars and a Next Step’ in line with the schools’ Feedback Marking Policy. Pupils are encouraged to thank each other for their feedback and to act on it, for example by editing their work in response to any feedback that is developmental.