Innovation Project Talk for Ministers 11th March 2008
Innovation Project Talk for Ministers 11th March 2008|
Armathwaite School is a valued community resource, it is the centre for learning within our community. I would like to share with you how many people from different backgrounds and generations are sharing positive approaches to learning with each other and how together we are creating a dynamic learning organisation. It is a model of Community cohesion.
Excitingly, we are all communicating in a shared language of learning. Learning is what it is all about.
Together we are creating a professional learning community with a shared understanding of skills needed for the future and a shared set of values.
This has involved a change of mind set. There is no longer a sense of "doing to "- our focus is firmly on "working with" and this model of leadership applies to pupils, staff, parents and community. Whilst we recognise the need for knowledge it?s the process, the how of learning, the way we do it that is innovative. We work with our pupils as they gain independence and ownership of their learning. As a school team we have designed a curriculum tailored to our pupil needs and interests. Our leadership model encourages the flexibility, creativity and adaptability needed for the 21st Century and has resulted in engaged, motivated, reflective thinkers.
Remodelling our workforce has been instrumental in building a high performing team of professionals.
Skills for the Future|
We believe that to be successful in the future our children need to be taught the skills that will support their learning in an ever changing world. Knowledge can be accessed easily through the internet. Our pupils need to know how to learn so that they can access what they need to learn. We have defined these transportable skills for independent life long learning and we explicitly teach them throughout the 2 interdependent parts of our curriculum – teacher directed curriculum and child initiated independent learning. Time is planned each week for both. We integrate community expertise throughout.
Hearing 4, 5 and 6 year olds talk about resilience and resourcefulness and fully understanding and applying the meaning of these words makes you wonder just what they could be achieving when they are 14, 15 and 16.
Our specialist teaching assistant’s new role enables her to work with identified individuals and small groups progressing and assessing process learning skills. She is applying the same degree of structure and rigour to learning skill development as to reading skill development. Sharing a vocabulary of learning with all our pupils has had a massive impact on dispositions, attitudes and behaviour.
Teacher Directed Curriculum|
In the teacher directed curriculum we work on a cycle of acquire new skills, apply them in meaningful contexts and then evaluate and improve learning.
Child Initiated Independent Learning|
Child initiated independent learning involves children using and applying skills and subject knowledge, gained at school and home, in meaningful and purposeful, fantastic projects which they initiate and have complete ownership of. It is a highly motivating and engaging part of each week. Within the cycle of plan, do and review children independently challenge themselves and have the scope to take their learning on to a much higher level. Our pupils use a progressive system for recording their plans and evaluating their skills and progress. The projects can be anything at all. Pupils have full control of this decision. The range is wide including a James Bond movie, an animal crazy club with club magazines and planned activities, a full wedding which included designing and making the bridal gown, planning guest lists, seating plans, present lists and even included an interview process for the role of the groom!! We have had bands with written music and posters to promote performance, dances, books and poems written and models made. The scope is endless and the learning opportunities are vast.
In year 2 and 3 pupils use an adult model of planning and they plan and evaluate learning skill objectives as well as progress with their projects.
Role of the Teacher|
There are exciting, implications in our way of working for the changing role of the teacher. We have moved away from the teacher as the fount of all knowledge to expert and facilitator of learning - A more rather than less important role.
It’s a highly professional and creative role for the teacher which has huge implications for teacher training. We have created a curriculum which grows naturally from Foundation stage complimenting child development.
Virtual Learning Environment|
Within the Next practice project we have developed a Virtual Learning Environment. This is a fantastic resource that has taken our partnership with our community onto a new level. Our pupils already identify using the VLE as a strategy to support their learning throughout the teacher directed and child initiated curriculum.
Our Community Development Worker is doing a fantastic job as the broker between school and the community in developing this VLE. This involves the creation and management of a data base of community skills for sharing, alongside an overview of a forum which facilitates the exchange of ideas and knowledge creating a positive access route to available social capital at mutually convenient times.
The powerful message our pupils are getting is that learning happens all the time. There are no stereotypical views whether you are 3 or 93 you have expertise and you belong to a strong, caring and supportive community of lifelong learners.