BerkswichCE Primary School

Achieve, Believe and Care

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Characteristics of Effective Learning

Characteristics of effective learning (CEL):


The ways in which the child engages with other people and their environment – playing and exploring, active learning, and creating and thinking critically – underpin learning and development across all areas and support the child to remain an effective and motivated learner.


  • Playing and exploring- engagement:
    • 'Finding out and exploring’ is concerned with children’s open-ended hands-on experiences. These result from innate curiosity and provide the raw sensory material from which the child builds concepts, tests ideas and finds things out.
    • ‘Using what they know in their play’ describes how children use play to bring together their current understandings, combining, refining and exploring their ideas in imaginative ways. Representing experiences through imaginative play supports the development of narrative thought, the ability to see from other perspectives, and symbolic thinking.
    • ‘Being willing to have a go’ refers to the child finding an interest, initiating activities, seeking challenge, having a ‘can do’ orientation, being willing to take a risk in new experiences, and developing the view of failures as opportunities to learn.
  • Active learning- motivation:
    • ‘Being involved and concentrating’ describes the intensity of attention that arises from children concentrating on following a line of interest in their activities.
    • ‘Keeping on trying’ refers to the importance of persistence even in the face of challenge of difficulties, an element of purposeful control which supports resilience.
    • ‘Enjoying achieving what they set out to do’ refers to the reward of meeting one’s own goals, building on the intrinsic motivation which supports long-term success, rather than relying on the approval of others.
  • Creating and thinking critically:
    • ‘Having their own ideas’ covers the critical area of creativity – generating new ideas and approaches in all areas of endeavour. Being inventive allows children to find new problems as they seek challenge, and to explore ways of solving these.
    • ‘Using what they know to learn new things’ refers to the way in which children develop and link concepts, find meaning in sequence, cause and effect and in the intentions of others through both narrative and scientific modes of thought.
    • ‘Choosing ways to do things and finding new ways’ involves approaching goal-directed activity in organised ways, making choices and decisions about how to approach tasks, planning and monitoring what to do and being able to change strategies.