It goes without saying that the quality of the teaching provision is the determining factor when it comes to the academic progress of the boys and their enjoyment of the learning process. Not only do we employ well-qualified graduates, who possess thorough subject knowledge, but also professionals who have a genuine interest in their pupils and their progress. Teachers are trained on an ongoing basis, either through whole-school initiatives or by attending specific courses, pertinent to the needs and interests of the whole teaching staff, or specific to that of an individual. We also learn from each other, by observing another teacher’s lesson, either informally, or formally, as part of the departmental monitoring process, or the school’s appraisal process. Feedback is always constructive and forward-looking, as we strive continually to improve our performance, in the best interests of the boys.
At Durston, we recognise that different individuals learn in different ways: some are visual, auditory or kinaesthetic learners, and many exhibit a preference for a mixture of two or all of such learning styles. Hence our skilled and experienced teachers adapt to the pupils’ needs and use teaching styles and methods appropriate to the age, ability and preference of those in their charge.
Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard, enabling teachers to enhance their lessons visually with images, diagrams or video clips at the click of a mouse. Verbal explanations are given by the teacher, but the auditory experience is boosted by class discussions and group work. Kinaesthetic activities are plentiful, delivered either with the help of physical teaching equipment, models, and other tangible objects in the classroom or by making the most of the facilities at the playing fields on Castlebar Road or the outdoor areas of each school building, such as the Junior School garden.
We embrace the benefits that technology and the internet bring to the classroom and enhance the boys’ learning with the help of first-rate educational websites, to which we subscribe, in many subjects. In addition, we use Firefly as our Virtual Learning Environment to enrich the teaching, learning and communication between the pupils and staff. This enables us to add to the boys’ learning experience at school and at home. Pictures, videos and animations can be accessed and shown safely, without exposing the boys to unwanted internet content. Lesson resources, additional background material and revision notes are made available, allowing the older boys to study independently or parents to support their sons at home. Prep may be set via Firefly, with stimuli or further explanation, references or links added to complement the task set. Our use of this Virtual Learning Environment is to enhance what we do, not to supplement the learning that occurs through the personal rapport and interaction between teacher and pupil. Open communication, a genuine exchange of ideas between the teacher and the boys, open-ended questions, the encouragement of independent thought and initiative are at the core of each lesson and create the flexible and unique learning experience at Durston House.