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Best Practice at the WLT

Best Practice in the Willow Learning Trust

The WLT is at the vanguard of research and innovative practice. Collaboration within the Trust and with other schools is a key priority for us, so we welcome visits from teachers and leaders from other Trusts and schools to observe and discuss areas of outstanding practice within the Trust.

The WLT was established in 2017 with one of its key aims to promote collaboration between its partners through a research-driven approach to raising standards. Our first work was looking at both the KS2 and KS3 curricula to ensure smooth transition from Year 6 to 7 to avoid duplication of topic, skills and knowledge from Primary to Secondary. Our Primary schools then went on to introduce a variety of strategies learnt from their Secondary colleagues in Year 6 to support their well-being as they go to high school. This in turn led to the development of the following highly successful schemes of work at Primary Schools.

Whole-Class Reading in Primary Schools at the Willow Learning Trust

Our Primary Schools have developed a model of Whole-Class Reading which has transformed our KS2 results. Written over the last 5 years – our children are introduced to all reading using ‘VIPERS’ (Vocabulary, Inference, Prediction, Explanation, Retrieval and Sequence or Summarise). These skills are taught from Reception onwards with daily sessions which also encourage a love of reading through active listening and engaging activities. These lessons are based around a wide variety of high-quality texts, all carefully chosen to appeal to children of all ages. Come and see this model in action at Aragon Primary School on 26th September 2023: you’ll learn about the 4-part lesson and how to raise standards in your school.


Writing in Primary Schools at the Willow Learning Trust

Experts at Aragon Primary School have developed a rigorous writing scheme that covers all strands of the National Curriculum, allows for teacher creativity and using up-to-date, engaging texts and videos. Every day of the year has a learning objective and a learning outcome – there's daily SPaG and spellings too, but what makes this scheme of work so successful is that it gives you the opportunity to design the lesson the way you know works best for your children. We have liaised closely with Glenthorne High School on our writing scheme to ensure that our pupils experience a smooth transition to High School, so the knowledge and skills required for Year 7 and beyond are developed in the latter years of our primary curriculum, that includes our Romeo and Juliet transition module for Y6 pupils in the final half term of Primary School.


Science in Primary Schools at the Willow Learning Trust

The WLT Science planning has been meticulously developed by both our primary and secondary staff to ensure a clear progression of knowledge and skills from Year 2 to 6 and then again from year 6 to 7 whilst covering the National Curriculum, but avoiding any unnecessary duplication of content at High School. Our lessons all include retrieval practice, key vocabulary and activities to encourage scientific thinking. We aim to create enthusiastic scientists, with many opportunities for children to engage in practical, hands-on activities, developing their scientific reasoning and cross-curricular links.

Come and see this model in action at Abbey Primary School on 10th July 2023.

There will be three parts to your morning at Abbey Primary School on 10th July 2023 (9:15am):

  • A session exploring the pedagogy behind our approach
  • A gallery lesson observation
  • Discussion and feedback afterwards where you will be given free planning for your year group


Oracy at High School at the Willow Learning Trust

Glenthorne High School is celebrating achieving the NACE challenge award for the 4th consecutive time, one of only five schools in the country to have achieved this accolade. One of the key areas identified in the report as an area of exceptional practice was oracy at the school.

Pupils at Glenthorne develop their oracy skills and ability to use academic talk through a programme of tutor group debates. The school has developed “a blend of teacher-led and student-led pre-planned oracy sessions to improve the quality of students’ talk, namely: their utterance length; turn taking skills; listening skills and their reduced use of ‘disputational’ language” (Mercer, 2000). The classroom discussion focuses on a range of topics over the course of the school year including controversial topics; pupils rehearse for the whole-class debate with paired discussion using resources providing background knowledge and the academic talk sentence starters.


Digital project in schools across the Trust

All the schools in the Trust have been involved in a digital pilot to enhance collaboration, integrate technology to make learning more engaging and to create digitally literate pupils. All schools are working on the same priorities with slightly different foci, according to their pupils’ needs. The project involves exploring different applications of Microsoft Windows 11. All schools have identified digital champions who are trialling different applications with their classes:

  • Glenthorne has focused on developing OneNote and MS teams for setting homework.
  • Abbey Primary School developed a one-to-one project with Year 3 pupils focusing on Lumio to further increase pupil engagement.


STEM at High School at the Willow Learning Trust

In an era where science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education has become paramount, Glenthorne has put innovation is at the heart of the STEM curriculum. With a focus on cultivating an environment that fosters creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, pupils are encouraged to explore, enquire, and push the boundaries of knowledge across their STEM subjects. Maths mastery is embedded in the KS3 Maths curriculum and exploration of greater depth knowledge and skills is evident in all STEM subjects at the school.

The teaching staff at Glenthorne are the driving force behind the outstanding pupil outcomes achieved in STEM subjects. The focus on pedagogical skills, expertly designed schemes of work and high levels of resourcing translate into dynamic, engaging and student-centred teaching methods. Beyond exceptional teaching and abundant resources, Glenthorne offers holistic support and enrichment opportunities to maximize pupil potential. The school provides additional tutoring and mentoring programs, ensuring that every pupil receives individualised attention and guidance. Moreover, extra-curricular activities such as robotics clubs, science fairs, Crest award at all levels, coding, Maths competitions and field trips are available to encourage students to explore their interests and deepen their knowledge in STEM fields. The school has forged partnerships with local industries, universities, and research institutions, enabling pupils to engage in collaborative projects and gain exposure to real-world applications of STEM disciplines.

If you have a particular area of STEM that you would like to see in action, or would like to discuss our approach to developing STEM opportunities then please contact Jai Bains our Director of STEM

To book one of the above sessions at no cost, please contact Mary Gill, Clerk to the Trustees and Governors on or 0208 254 0862