Teaching, Learning and Academic Tutorial Policy
Key principles for Teaching and Learning
Learners are appropriately placed on a course that meets their needs. Needs are assessed through pre-course questionnaires, information from agents where applicable, placement tests and short interview on the day of registration. Contact with the learner is maintained from the initial placement through to leaving. This not only ensures that learning is taking place, but allows for the provision of any necessary pastoral care.
Teachers give extra support to weaker members of the class and if required differentiation activities will be given to these and/or stronger members of the class or if a learner has been identified as having specific learning difficulties (SpLD). Teachers are made aware of under-18s in the class and make appropriate adjustments to their lessons.
Morning and afternoon general English classes cover all the macro skills, grammar, vocabulary and phonology. Lessons are theme based so skills are integrated and vocabulary is recycled to aid retention and correct usage. Focus on any one skill, grammar or vocabulary may vary in any lesson depending on the needs of the learners.
Themed lessons further enable learners to develop their opinions and extend their general knowledge. Where appropriate authentic materials are used e.g. newspapers, radio, Internet to keep learners up-to-date with current/cultural events, and to broaden their outlook.
Exam preparation classes offered in the mornings include IELTS preparation, Cambridge: First (FCE), Advanced (CAE) and Proficiency (CPE) exams. TOEFL preparation courses are also offered on demand as are other specialist courses including English for Engineering and Business English.
Learners expectations are high and the school endeavours to guide learners in order for them to fulfil their expectations and reach their full potential. This is achieved:
- by planning clear structured lessons that promote learning
- through varied, purposeful and appropriate activities that meet the needs of all learners
- by creating and maintaining an classroom environment conducive to purposeful learning
- by recognising and rewarding achievement
- by identifying and challenging underachievement; by regular, planned, clear and meaningful homework which informs the planning of future lessons
- by using SpLD information to inform learning and teaching
Learners can avail themselves of the self-access centre for private study and can borrow graded readers and DVDs. Exam preparation materials can also be borrowed from reception. Teachers help direct learners to appropriate materials to aid their learning.
Support for learners is provided formally with an initial meeting with every new learner in their first week followed by organised one-to-one consultation meetings for long-stay learners. Feedback from homework and fortnightly progress tests also informs learners on the progress they are making. Learners are encouraged to approach teachers and management staff at any time during their stay. In addition, progress reports are prepared by the teachers upon request for long-stay learners (six weeks or more).
Learners have bi-weekly progress tests as evidence of their understanding of the new knowledge acquired throughout the previous two weeks. This serves to highlight areas for further self-study and used by the teachers when planning future lessons. Progress test results are recorded manually in the registers and electronically on the Tuition System on the data base. The latter allows for learners’ progress to be mapped on a graph and compares learners’ performance against the average performance of the class.
Learners also have the opportunity to take an exit test or external examination to assess their progress at the end of their course.
Support for teachers regarding teaching and learning is provided through regular in-house staff development sessions which cover topics that help teachers become more effective in terms of content and motivation. Session topics are chosen from the needs identified from staff requests, feedback and from management observations.
When planning, teachers select appropriate activities for their classes depending on the needs, interests, and ages of the group. As class profiles in a continuous enrolment school are constantly changing our teachers need to be flexible. Teachers have a wide range of resource books and supplementary activities that can be used when planning lessons.
Encouragement advice and support are given to teachers regarding lesson planning, content and management through periodic observations by the academic managers, peer observations and from day to day support that teachers give one another.
Teachers base their lessons by referring to the scheme of work for the course based on the units mapped out in the course book. This scheme of work gives an overview of the course as a whole and is broken down into individual components to help teachers plan individual lessons. These components are taught sequentially for coherence and to ensure cumulative progression. A record of the lessons taught including supplementary material used is kept on the reverse of the weekly registers. Registers are inspected regularly by a member of the academic team.
Teachers for a specific class liaise daily to discuss lesson content and materials used to avoid duplication and to discuss learners’ ability, interests, and motivation and learning styles. Learner feedback is also taken into consideration and acted upon when necessary.
Initial assessment, Pre-course information and questionnaires
Learners are assessed before or on their first day at the school. All learners are sent an online placement test or complete this test on their first day. Every learner is interviewed on the first day to assess their speaking and listening skills. This is also an opportunity to establish any additional information which may assist in the initial course placement. The information gathered at initial assessment, from pre-course questionnaires and/or email exchanges is shared with the relevant teachers to enable them to accommodate any particular needs into the course for the learner or group. The assessment is also used to help advise the learner as to the suitability for an examination preparation course at a particular level. It is made clear to every learner that their initial placement in any course is provisional. New learners will have a follow-up meeting with the DoS or ADoS within the first week of their course to discuss and confirm that the course is indeed the right one. This practice is limited during the busy summer months. Teachers are also alerted to any possible changes to learners’ courses and their opinion is also sought before any final decision is made.
All General, Business and exam preparation learners have individual information packs with enrolment information. Separate learner profiles are kept for each learner where learners’ writing and tutorial forms are filed. There is a separate file for each learner identified with SpLD including information about the nature of SpLD and their needs; and any suggested strategies for support and/or exam arrangements that have been made. This file will be passed on to their next teacher.
Exam courses offered include Cambridge upper-main suite, TOEFL, IELTS and Trinity GESE.
Individual Learning Plans are prepared by the Director of Studies and Assistant Director of Studies. These are filed in a separate tutorial files for each class.
Oxford School of English endeavours to deliver bespoke courses on a one-to-one basis. The course content is negotiated with the client prior to arrival through pre-course questionnaires and contact via phone calls and email exchanges.
Academic tutorials, progress tests and self-assessment
All learners are given a 'self-assessment checklist' based on the CEFR for their relevant level. Learners complete this at the start of their course, and then at different intervals during their course. The academic tutorials also give learners an opportunity to feedback on all aspects of their stay in the school. There are also many informal opportunities for learners and staff to discuss student progress or concerns. Learners are encouraged to approach their tutor or the Director or Assistant director of Studies to raise any issues or to seek advice.
The Student Council
The Student Council is made up of student representative from all levels and aims to represent the views of the students about the school, learner welfare, lessons, teaching, social programme, and the management. Student council meetings are called by the council or the academic management team whenever an issue arises or when opinions are sought about a potential change respectively.
Attendance and punctuality
All learners on all courses are expected to attend all of their classes on time. If learners know in advance that they will not be able to come to a class, for example because they have an appointment at a university or visa office, they should request an authorized absence from the DoS or Principal.
If a learner is unable to attend classes due to illness, they should contact the school as soon as possible to inform us of this.
Learners arriving late will not be allowed to class unless they can provide a good reason and are not more than 5 minutes late.
If a learner is regularly absent or late, they will be subject to the school’s disciplinary procedures as outlined in the school’s Attendance Policy. Any Tier 4 learner who misses more than 10 “expected contacts” (ie non-authorised or non-notified full days) will be reported to the UKBA as required by law.
End of course
All learners receive a certificate of attendance which states their level of achievement in terms of CEFR learning outcomes of the course which they were studying at the completion of their programme. In addition, they are encouraged to sit for an externally-validated examination. At the end of their course, all learners are asked to complete an end of course questionnaire. This questionnaire is read by the academic management, and is analysed to provide data to drive forward school improvement.
This policy is reviewed on an annual basis. However, if any issues relating to the policy should arise, the policy will be reviewed immediately.
Date of next scheduled review: June 2023