As described in the Ofsted Inspection Handbook, “Learning can be defined as an alteration in longterm memory.’ If nothing has altered in long-term memory, it might be argued that nothing has been truly learned. However, the successful transfer of knowledge and skills into long-term memory depends on presenting new knowledge in logical, sequenced and manageable chucks that are routinely revisited. At St Bede’s we liken this to the circus performer of days gone by who in order to successfully spin an ever-growing collection of plates on poles, would need to give plates already spinning an extra ‘nudge’, in addition to placing additional plates on more poles and making them spin too. ‘Spinning plates’, is the St. Bede’s Way – it effectively symbolises what you have to do in order to effectively commit something to long-term memory.
In order to deepen and widen understanding, pupils are enabled and encouraged to connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. Pupils also need to develop fluency and reach a stage where they can often demonstrate ‘unconscious competence’ with much of the knowledge and many of the skills that they have encountered.
As part of our efforts to ‘spin plates’, the children are conversant with the ‘3 Ps’. Teachers will from time-to-time begin lessons with three different tests of the children’s long-term memories: a question that draws upon knowledge that has been taught as part of the present unit of work; a second that recaps knowledge taught in the previous unit of work; and a final question that draws upon knowledge taught in another past unit.