Teaching for Learning Foundations

I am in the first term of my first headship of a primary school that has only been open for three and a half terms.

As well as grappling with the new National Curriculum, the loss of NC levels, the SEND code – and all with only three teachers, we have begun our research, discussions and exploration of developing “High Quality Teaching” and “Powerful Learning” for the children as we begin to grow what we hope will become an “Exceptional Learning Community”.

Yes, we are ambitious. Yes, we have a vision. Yes, we have an exciting journey in front of us.

We also have a huge amount of hard work. Fortunately, my staff are highly committed, very positive and are focused on getting the best for the children. I appreciate I am very fortunate.

After a half-term of discussing planning, feedback, learning walks, book sampling, contemporary research summaries – I am now in a position where I am trying to give a bit more specific guidance about Teaching for Learning (T4L). One of our priorities is to create a T4L policy as a whole staff collectively through our professional learning journey of this academic year. So I am not producing a policy yet, merely Foundations on which we can build our policy.

A copy of my draft T4L Foundations is below. If you wish to read them please feel free. If you wish to comment and offer feedback that would be much appreciated.


Building our Community with Love and Hope

Growing an Exceptional Learning Community

Teaching for Learning Foundations


  • Learners are active participants in their learning. They are empowered to make choices in how they learn and demonstrate their learning
  • Engaging learning experiences that challenge all learners. Relevant contexts. Mastery of key knowledge and skills, balanced with opportunities to explore their ideas, deepen their thinking/understanding and solve problems
  • Staff have high expectations and are activators. They promote a ‘Growth Mindset’ approach: valuing hard work, perseverance, positive attitude towards challenge, accepting that mistakes are part of learning, taking risks, trying new ideas/approaches and using feedback to improve
  • Key Learning Values for Personal Growth: challenge, reflection, resilience, confidence, curiosity, effort, self-motivation and collaboration


  • All learners (and groups of learners) achieve high standards
  • All learners (and groups of learners) make sustained progress and learn exceptionally well
  • All learners are empowered through participation in their learning to grow as people

 In practice

In each learning experience / session:   Learning Aim shared (so learners know what they are learning and why) Success Criteria / expectations shared Short interactive inputs by staff & pupils (not always at the beginning or in one section) Feedback should be shared (discussed) Learning is matched to specific and precise targets (for groups and individuals) Every Learner is challenged / stretched Maximise engagement of & cognitively active learners Every learner has opportunities to reflect (on what they are learning, how they are learning and how they might improve. Using Learning Journey prompts) Learners have opportunities to discuss (learning partners / think pair square share…) Questions / prompts / scaffolds (used to support / extend / challenge / activate learning) Direct teaching & mini interventions Adults responsive to the learning needs (systematically check understanding)
During each day:   Feedback policy used Every pupil have time to respond to feedback Balance of differentiation approaches (teacher-directed groups / learners choice of level of challenge. Task / support / resources/ outcome) Daily drips: phonics, reading, mental maths (spelling) Variety of style / types of learning activities (and venues) A range of high quality / bespoke resources Every learner should experience struggle
During each week:   Time should not be wasted on being busy but invested in learning Variety of lesson structures Opportunities for child-initiated / Project Based learning Balance of mastery practice (of key knowledge/skills) with extended / open-ended / problem solving / application across the curriculum Learners should be: applying, analysing, evaluating and creating (Higher Order Thinking) Use of IT to support / promote learning An opportunity for each element of SMSC

This is a re-blog post originally posted by Tim Clarke and published in 2015 with kind permission. The article was updated in 2019 by the UKEd Editorial team in accordance with website changes.

Tim Clarke is a Primary School Head Teacher being fascinated by teaching and learning. Passionate about networking. Driven by the interests of pupils. 

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About Tim Jump Clarke 20 Articles
HT at Cornerstone CE Primary (Hampshire).

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