St Martin's School

An independent, co-educational preparatory school.

How We Teach

Having established the essential learning from the curriculum overview and the children’s gaps through our individualised assessment, we seek to put the children at the centre of their learning journey by empowering them to make choices. We embark on planning engaging and relevant experiences that empower the children to become learners. Specifically we focus on enquiry skills and critical thinking to develop knowledge and skills so that children are able to become both collaborative and independent learners.

In EYFS, practitioners are adept at ensuring children’s interests are incorporated into the activities they provide in the continuous provision setting. From recreating their favourite stories be it in fancy dress, at the small world or the outdoor stage to phonics in the water tray; from dinosaur letters to car tracks for number formation – the children’s passions are harnessed to develop their own next step in learning. By enabling children to learn through what they enjoy, the learning is more powerful, relevant and quickly embedded.

We aim to develop this throughout school by teaching the core skills of subjects through learning objectives rather than set outcomes:

In English for example, you may see children writing information texts but rather than a class full of duplicated newspaper reports, you may see a selection of information texts from leaflets to brochures to webpages and perhaps 1 or 2 newspaper reports because the focus of the learning objectives may have been – analyse text features, – list key features of an information text, – plan your key points, – plan the vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation, – write the text, – edit and improve your text. None of which stipulate ‘what’ to write but rather teach the process of writing and the skills to improve writing. This freedom of content enables children to write about their passions and interests whilst teachers maintain a focus on the key learning objectives.

Another example might be in Science where the focus is placed squarely in working scientifically. Children may be investigating friction on a ramp but the focus of the lesson is to learn about variables (a key vocabulary word children should be aware of in Form 1). One group may investigate the effect of the angle of the ramp, another the material of the ramp, another the weight of the car etc. etc. and so there may be several different experiments happening but the process is the same: identify the variables (input, output, those that must stay the same), write an aim, make a prediction, list the equipment, write the method, record the results, create a graph, draw a conclusion, write an evaluation. The process is the focus meaning that more learning can occur simultaneously and the outcome of all investigations shared.

Whilst we do not have typical lessons at St Martin’s, you will regularly see:

Reflection: children habitually return to their work to review it and respond to marking.

Investigation: question or tactile experience to introduce lessons by offering context and purpose.

Input: Our teachers are experts in their fields and give clear, concise explanations of key learning drawing on a range of materials and resources to demonstrate new concepts.

Discussion: communication is a key skill throughout education and children are expected to offer their thoughts and ideas in most lessons.

Questioning: teachers expertly question the children to extend their learning at every opportunity.

Reasoning: Children are expected to explain how they reach an answer or belief.

Review: Children are taught to use commutative and inverse to check their calculations, models of colourful review for writing and PEE structures in reading from an early age.

Editing: Children are supported to edit and improve their work so the first attempt is rarely the finished submission, encouraging resilience.

Differentiation: through personalised target setting to ensure work is entirely appropriate to each child.


Our teachers are dedicated practitioners and experienced professionals.  Our small classes ensure that every child is given considerable attention and individual care. Every child will be encouraged and helped to become the very best that they can be through thoughtful, supportive, expert teaching pedagogy.