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Depth of Learning

At Binfield, we have chosen to adopt an assessment system developed by Chris Quigley (a well-regarded educational professional) called ‘Depth of Learning’ (DOL).


Imagine starting to learn something for the first time. You are a bit like a child paddling their toes in the water. You may need someone holding your hand; showing you what to do; instructing you. You probably don’t feel very sure of yourself.  At this stage in learning, we may regard the learner as being at a Basic depth of learning (DOL) and heavily dependent on a range of support.


As you begin to deepen your understanding and gain in confidence and skill, you start to be able to use the new learning to do more e.g. problem solve; interpret; categorise; organise; classify and compare. This is a bit like being able to snorkel i.e. you can swim on the surface (you’ve acquired the skill) and you are confident to move away from the shore (the support on offer). At this Advancing depth of learning (DOL), there is less reliance on support, although reminders and guidance will still be needed and there is greater cognitive (thinking) challenge.


Beyond this, higher order thinking skills are needed. Learners are able to be more independent in their thinking, need little support and are asked more probing questions or are being coached by staff or peers to develop deeper understanding.  They will tackle more complex and abstract problems/tasks, perhaps requiring many steps and which may have many possible solutions. They will be able to explain concepts; investigate; hypothesise; design; create; prove and use evidence and reasoning to support their ideas. When a learner is operating at this stage, they are at a Deep depth of learning (DOL), much like a confident swimmer who can dive to the sea bed without support, in order to search for pearls.


The journey for learners has been divided into 3 parts called Milestones. Milestone 1 is for Years 1 and 2; Milestone 2 is for Years 3 and 4 and Milestone 3 is for Years 5 and 6. Over each two year Milestone, learners will work on acquiring key skills and concepts and deepening their learning. Their progress will be tracked by teachers against Basic, Advancing and Deep.


It is expected that a child starting school with an average starting point, will progress to reach an Advancing DOL by the end of each Milestone. This equates to the nationally expected standard for a child of this age. Deep DOL by the end of a milestone will equate to above the nationally expected standard.


All children are different and do not all start at the same points nor make progress at the same rates as others. Age and maturity also play a part in children’s progress and development. Children will be supported to make the progress they are capable of with the aim that all children will catch-up and reach Advancing DOL by the end of Milestone 3 i.e. the nationally expected standard. This means that your child is ready academically for the next phase in their education.

Attached is a video clip of a pupil in Y2 explaining how Binfield CE Primary School use padding, snorkelling and diving as a learning tool.

Binfield CE Primary School 1

The school had a disused nature reserve on the corner of the field which was really overgrown, and unsuitable for the children to use.


Together with assistance from FOBS, parents and staff, along with a Waitrose Community team, the BOLE has become a fantastic outdoor learning environment, used by all classes across the school.  As well as examining the changes in season, the children created a reflection area for those in need of a more peaceful environment during lessons in the BOLE.


Science Week

Science Week was a huge success here at Binfield.  In line with British Science Week, the theme of the week was ‘Change’.  This exciting topic allowed the children to make links to many other areas of their learning.


The children were visited by many Scientists, including a medical imaging expert, a food research Scientist, a physiotherapist, an entomologist, a 3D printing expert, a wildlife expert and a renewable energy expert.  Many of the experts bought in objects that the children were able to explore and interact with. The visitors were passionate about their area of expertise and  challenged the children’s perceptions of what and who a Scientist is.


After Science had concluded, the Headteacher received many letters from parents who were amazed at how absorbed their children had become during the week. The letters noted their engagement, enthusiasm and excitement for everything they’d learned. Our visiting scientists also noted the high levels of collaboration and perseverance demonstrated by our children.


The children learned in a range of environments, including the BOLE, giving them the opportunity to stretch their noticing and capitalising learning muscles.


Maria Gogarty, Science Subject Leader


At Binfield we use Power Tools to help develop our learning and progress across the curriculum in different contexts and subjects.


“The important thing about Basic, Advancing and Deep cognitive domains is that the content remains the same.  The thing that changes is the pupil’s depth of understanding.” Quigley Education 2017.




The BOLE is Binfield’s outdoor learning environment. Every class uses it at least once a week to enhance their learning in a different setting. Children get the opportunity to explore the BOLE and learn more about the world around them.


They use their green hat to be creative and make animal homes or shelters.
They use their white hat to find out new information about plants and animals.
They use their grey hat to assess the risks around them and to remember to take care of nature.
They use their red hat to work together as a team and think about expressing themselves outside of the classroom.
They use their yellow hat to stay positive and think about logical answers to problems such as how to measure the height of the trees.
They use their blue hat to think about new things and use their learning in a new way.


Children work collaboratively and share ideas. They use natural resources to support their learning in class, and are able to stretch their learning muscles by thinking about things in a different way. Children learn new vocabulary and think about their learning on a much deeper level.


We are also lucky enough to be able to teach some of our lessons outdoor in the BOLE which helps the children to think outside the box.


Quotes from children on why they like the BOLE


“I love making stuff and using all the different things like the tyres and the sticks.”


“I like using the mud and being able to get really messy.”


“We do our maths lessons in the BOLE and I like going outside to learn.”


“We can do experiments with the mud and make potions.”