Working at Greater Depth Explained
The phrase ‘Working at Greater Depth’ appears frequently within the National Curriculum framework, but what does the term actually mean? Working at greater depth refers to when a child has mastered the learning objective expected for their age and is therefore able to delve deeper into the concept in more detail, resulting in students acquiring the level of skills they need to succeed within further education.
Through our HPL accreditation, promoting learning attitudes that directly link with working at greater depth is something deeply rooted within the curriculum at GEMS Wellington International School. Louise Horkan, Head of Year 3, states that, ‘Lessons provide students with a range of different opportunities to see beyond the question, broadening and deepening their understanding. Our students are encouraged to explore, enquire and master tasks to develop their talents.’
Here at GEMS Wellington International School, we embed a spiral curriculum which is key to ensuring more and more students acquire a greater depth of understanding. The Spiral Curriculum, a concept widely attributed to Jerome Bruner, refers to a curriculum design in which key concepts are presented repeatedly throughout the curriculum, but with deepening layers of complexity, or in different applications. ‘Teach less, learn more’, is a quote often used when supporting teachers with their pedagogy. The term identifies the importance for teachers to act as facilitators rather than solely relying on direct instruction as a means for accelerating academic progress. This facilitative approach provides students with the opportunity to collaborate with their peers, justifying their answers and articulating their thinking.
Teachers skillfully ask different questions to different students at the right point in learning which address common misconceptions and provide opportunities for higher order thinking. KS2 Class Teacher, Gemma Howe states: ‘Gone are the days of simply knowing the answer and memorising facts.Children working at greater depth can articulate their learning by explaining how they solved a question or proving how they discovered the information. It is also about making links between their knowledge across the curriculum and applying them to everyday life.’ If students are to gain an in-depth knowledge of a concept, providing them with a range of different styles of questions and scenarios is key. This not only exposes them to variation, but it also captures their intellectual curiosity and leads to positive attitudes to life-long learning.
On a final point, developing students’ metacognition and analytical thinking skills are crucial if we want them to be less reliant on the teacher as the person ‘who knows’ and develop them into independent high performing learners. Teacher led questions such as, ‘How do you know that?’ and ‘Why do you think that?’ promote an ethos where students reflect on their own understanding and subsequently produces learners who are flexible and open minded with their approach to learning.