Our Five Fundamentals

At Cedars, we believe that there are five fundamental aspects of the teaching and learning process that should be a part of each and every lesson across the school:

Retrieval practice: teachers regularly test students on key knowledge learnt from prior lessons. These will usually be around five questions at the start of each lesson. We do this because cognitive research shows that the act of remembering (retrieving) facts and knowledge on a regular basis, not only helps students to store those key ideas in their long-term memories, but it also helps to improve their overall ability to remember and retrieve.

Modelling: teachers regularly provide ‘live models’ in which they work through a given problem or concept with the class, outlining their thinking and the choices they have made throughout. We do this because research shows us that students really benefit when experts – their teachers – narrate and explain the deliberate choices they have made when creating a high-level or model answer because allows the student to subsequently copy this mode of thinking, rather than simply being shown the answer.

Questioning: rather than relying on hands-up for questioning, teachers mainly ‘cold-call’ students at The Cedars Academy’. This is because we pride ourselves in providing an inclusive learning environment for all – cold calling ensures that all students are given the opportunity to share their understanding with their teachers in every lesson across the school. Teachers also ensure that a range of questioning types are used – from ‘closed’ questioned, designed to identify the correct answer, to more ‘open’ deeper level questioning ensuing that students are considering concepts in more lateral, creative ways.

Feedback: teachers provide feedback in a variety of ways in order to ensure that students are continually guided and supported in their work and any misconceptions are quickly identified and addressed. At The Cedars Academy, written feedback is given in the form of WWWs (‘What Went Well’) and EBIs (Even Better If’), pinpointing key aspects of their work that they have successfully achieved and identifying one or two key areas that they need to continue to develop. Students regularly complete DIRT tasks (Do It Right Time) following on from their feedback – this is where students will re-write a portion of their work in green pen, ensuring that they have incorporated their given EBIs to demonstrate improvement and progression. We do this because evidence shows that real progress over time stems not just from students receiving feedback (WWWs and EBI), but most importantly, actively acting on this feedback and applying it (DIRT).

Narration: teachers regularly narrate in lessons. This is where the given member of staff will deliberately and clearly explain the how and why of a given concept or technique, for example, ‘Ok – we’re starting off with some retrieval practice for today’s lesson, as we know that this will help to ensure that key information I taught you last lesson will be stored in your long term memories’. We do this because cognitive research shows that students are more likely to understand and therefore key techniques if they understand how and why they are doing it: over time, this creates empowered, independent learners.


Dan Thomas,
Assistant Principal, Teaching and Learning