On a mission to find out how children can have fun and learn I came across Grendon CE Primary School. They had been awarded ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and their website said:
‘Grendon CE Primary School is consistently amongst the highest performing primary schools in England. Our innovative approach to learning has received wide acclaim for rapidly improving standards, engaging children in learning and promoting global citizenship.’
I have to admit I was sceptical before visiting that I would see little robots being downloaded information. However, what I encountered blew me away.
As I entered a classroom I was told that the class were focusing on South Africa as their topic. I use ‘classroom’ in the loosest term as there was no clearly identifiable classroom furniture. The children were clearly all working on task as the ‘buzz’ from enthusiastic learners emitted from every corner of the room. There was a raised bar area with stools and a signpost indicating it was the tourist information centre. The tables had been transformed into safari jeeps where the children were clearly immersed in their learning. As a stranger walking into the room not one child noticed me as they were so engrossed in their learning.
When I looked closer, at the inspiring classroom set up, I could see the children were in the middle of a maths lesson. It was apparent that child initiated learning was high up on the agenda for this school.
Grendon have inspirational staff and the headteacher, John Wayland, made a reference to how he once had ton bags of sand delivered to his classroom when teaching an Egyptian topic. The sand was put on the classroom floor and the children were allowed to choose where they wanted to work in his room. If that meant lying on the sand then so be it. Wow! This was truly immersive learning.
As a school they have devised a document called the Global Curriculum, which identifies the progressive skills children need to know. They call it a, ‘skills based approach for outstanding learning’. In addition to focusing on the skills the children need they are also keen to develop their pupils’ life skills. Grendon focus on each child at the centre of their learning and teach the skills they will need to be successful in life, such as social skills , thinking skills, communication skills, research skills, independence skills, moral, spiritual and cultural development.
For me this is inspirational teaching and learning and it gave me the push I needed to continue with my mission to find a way of engaging children and making learning fun but still achieving the range of expected professional targets. Grendon were certainly creating fun ways to promote active learners and immerse children in their learning but could there be more? My mission to explore different ways of learning was still on!
Want to know more?
You can find out more about Grendon CE Primary by visiting their website http://grendonprimary.net