Teaching and Learning

The ‘Big Picture’

At St John Fisher Catholic School we believe that the curriculum for our students is not simply academic. In order for students to ‘live life to the full’ they need to be given experiences and opportunities to build them into good citizens who work towards the common good. Our Learning Journey captures all the main provisions that SJF has to offer our young people to help them prepare for post-16 or post-18.

Learning Journey


All subjects with use two forms of assessment with your children in their lessons: formative and summative. Formative assessment occurs throughout the lesson to ensure that they understand the new or revised learning. Teachers use a range of methods for formative assessment: questioning, whole class response systems, diagnostic tests and quizzes. Teachers will adapt their lesson in line with the feedback that they receive from the students to ensure that all learners reach the learning objective. Summative assessment usually occurs at the end of the topic to inform teachers and students how much they have learnt about the topic. This assessment is usually graded.

In KS3 there will be an end of Year Exam in all subjects. Core subjects: RE, English, Maths and Science exams will take place in the hall whereas the other subjects will complete these in their usual lessons in class. The exams will cover all they have learnt in that year so the Knowledge Organisers (see below) are crucial to good revision.

In Years 10 and 12, all students will sit Pre-Public Exams (PPEs) in all subjects in May of that year. These will be completed in the hall under exam conditions. Those taking Vocational Subjects may have actual exams in the January of that year.

In Years 11 and 13, students will sit two PPEs: one in November and the other in February. These will cover all the exams they will sit in the external examinations in May/June.



St John Fisher School understands the need for regular feedback supports students to make progress and that this can take many forms. There is a whole school Feedback Policy (here) which is used by all subjects. Feedback can be both verbal and written. Written feedback can take many forms from whole class to personalised, individual comments.

Staff will provide written feedback in red pen and students will respond to the teacher feedback in green. When self/peer assessment is used this will either be in purple pen or clearly labelled.


The importance of homework

Well-designed homework will play a valuable part in your child’s education.  It offers opportunities for work which is independent of the teacher. Homework tasks will exploit materials, new technologies and sources of information which are not always accessible in the classroom.  Homework is relevant to all KS3 subjects (excluding PE), KS4 and Post-16 courses and plays a vital part in enhancing your child’s learning: reinforcing what is learnt in the classroom; encouraging increased responsibility for achieving individual goals and increasing the chances of success. It also contributes to the teacher’s assessment of your child’s learning and potential outcomes.

Homework is set to provide your child with opportunities to:

  • Extend, develop and practise what was learned in class
  • Prepare for work to be taught in lesson
  • Acquire the ability, confidence and organisational skills to work independently
  • Work at their own pace and ability level, particularly in tackling longer term projects
  • Make use of resources and new technologies outside of the School
  • Strengthen School – Home links in the learning process
  • Revise and reinforce skills and knowledge learnt in the class work
  • Develop literacy and spelling

Homework will take many different forms including: planning, preparing, revising, learning, reading, speaking, designing, drawing, collecting, re-drafting, improving, researching information and written tasks to consolidate or extend learning. All students will be given a homework timetable at the start of the academic year and should expect to spend each week:

KS3 – 30-45 minutes on homework per subject

KS4 – 45-60 minutes per subject

KS5 – 3 hours per subject

Some homework tasks will be specific short term tasks related to the topic at that time and others will contribute to longer term tasks such as projects, portfolios of work and coursework.

We believe that students should be rewarded for their effort when completing home-learning tasks so will always give your child a 1-4 grading for effort:

  1. Always completed and to a high standard showing a great deal of effort
  2. Completed on time and to a good standard showing effort
  3. Often not completed on time or often completed to a poor standard reflecting some effort
  4. Rarely completed on time or usually completed to a poor standard reflecting little or no effort

Independent Reading

Being able to read fluently and with understanding is not just immensely enjoyable, it is also incredibly important for success at school in every subject:

  • Most texts at GCSE have an average reading age of 15-16 years. If students have a strong reading age they will be able to access and comprehend the curriculum.
  • Students will also be able to read and infer the meaning of exam questions, understanding what is being asked of them and completing examinations more successfully.
  • Reading independently can inspire students creatively. It also improves their vocabulary knowledge, word recognition for spelling and punctuation. Most subjects at GCSE have a Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar score awarded.
  • Reading also exposes students to new ideas and concepts, encouraging them to make deductions and inferences and also stimulate their own responses and arguments and ability to evaluate.

To encourage reading, parents can do the following:

  • Ask your child which book is being read in English. Discuss favourite titles and genres encourage explanation and discussion of likes and dislikes.
  • Suggest taking part in the extra-curricular literacy activities in school, such as the Carnegie Book Club or the school newspaper.
  • Encourage the borrowing of books from the Study Centre
  • Join the local library if you haven’t already – they are free and an amazing resource
  • If your child’s second language is English, make sure they read regularly in their first language as well as in English. Research shows that children who have a higher level of reading and fluency in their first language are much more likely to be successful in the British school system.
  • If your child is resistant to reading books, suggest trying short stories or magazines.
  • Suggest your child uses a tablet to read an e-book. Kindle has a lending library as well as ebooks to purchase.