Journey to Excellence

Promotion of active learning

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Find out about the promotion of active learning. This video shows some of the key features of excellent practice in schools including: using a wide range of learning and teaching approaches; promoting learners' willingness and confidence as seekers of new knowledge, understanding and skills; developing the ability to think, linking new knowledge to what learners already know and can do; providing opportunities to respond to 'open' questions; and collaborative learning.


In excellent schools, learners experience a wide range of learning and teaching approaches.

Contexts for learning are challenging and enjoyable, and include creative and investigative activities. Young people engage confidently in such activities, and are prepared to risk making mistakes because they understand that they can learn from them.

Teachers’ explanations of new topics and the skills pupils will learn are very clear. They fully demonstrate the links with previous learning across the curriculum and real-life situations and make new learning meaningful.

Children often demonstrate or explain information, ideas, processes and skills to the teacher and to other learners. They understand that excellent learning means being able to show or explain it clearly to others in their own words, orally or in writing or pictures.

In excellent classrooms, staff questioning is skilled and young people’s responses are always listened to and used to enhance their learning. By being regularly asked open questions, they learn to give considered answers from a personal viewpoint. 

Children get time to think and reflect before responding and they all expect to be invited to do so. Their answers lead to further questioning and dialogue which form coherent lines of enquiry.

All pupils understand that their individual responses will be valued. Children as well as teachers ask questions - of each other and of the teacher. Those who are not involved in discussion participate actively by listening, thinking and reflecting. 

The size of the discussion group, and other contextual features, is planned to meet the children’s needs. Discussions with very young children, and with less confident older children, often take place in small groups.

Teachers spend significant amounts of time teaching actively. They deliver learning personally to individual pupils and groups according to their needs, rather than relying on working only through textbooks. 

Teachers present material actively in a structured way. They continuously monitor the development of pupils’ understanding, tackle difficult concepts in small steps, elaborate, enhance and exemplify the key points of learning.

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In association with Education Scotland