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Anti - fragility: Key Underpinning Knowledge

Anti-fragility is a key concept to our school, and underpins how we teach. This section shows ways that we use that concept to build up learning.

Key Underpinning Knowledge refers to the skills and abilities that are the basis for any successful learning.

By focusing on them we can ensure that other learning is subsequently built on solid foundations. 

Examples would be phonics Phases 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5, and times tables.

We use particular systems that we have created. We have not invented these systems but we have tried to be innovative, designing them to have maximum efficiency: to be easy to apply and to have maximum effectiveness.

+ - flashcard.mp4

The above video shows a pupil using an anti-fragilty learning system.

The instructions are clear. Two hands on the question. Read aloud with a finger.

The ratio* is that the child does all the work: the adult observes.

The child can use whatever resources they need, including fingers, Numicom, counting on, etc.

The child turns the card over to reveal the answer. The adult gives no clue as to whether the answer is going to be wrong or right - this is something the child has to discover. Failure is built in - by making mistakes, and realising they have gone wrong, the children will start to try and avoid those mistakes. They will find better methods. They will have to think. And memory is the residue of thinking**.

This is anti-fragility learning.


*'ratio' in teaching is a Doug lemov concept which looks at who is doing the most work in class. the teacher or the child? Too often the teacher is working harder than the child, and the ratio needs to be reversed!  

**Quote from Daniel Willingham.

Anti-fragility phonics.

phonics flashcards.mp4

Moving facts from working memory to long term memory.

From short term to memory.mp4

Key Underpinning Knowledge flashcards


“Memory is the residue of thinking” – Daniel Willingham, "Why Students Don't Like School"


“The acquisition of skills requires a regular environment, an adequate opportunity to practise, and rapid and unequivocal feedback about the correctness of thoughts and actions. When these conditions are fulfilled, skill eventually develops and the intuitive judgements and choices that quickly come to mind will be mostly accurate…which means it occurs automatically and fast” - Daniel Kahneman, "Thinking Fast and Slow" 

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