The Primary School Bucket List…101 Experiences a Child Should Have Before They Move To Secondary School

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Following two days sat at my laptop, developing ideas and material for Evolve SI as part of their long-term XLR8 Transition Programme, this weekend saw a return north, where I was given the welcome opportunity to reacquaint myself with a very wintry Pen-y-Ghent, one of the Three Peaks within the Yorkshire Dales National Park. As we walked, my friends Ed Roe and Cat Steel talked about their travels and experiences: dry stone walling, sheep shearing in Iceland, as well as trekking in the Himalayas and the Grand Canyon. These conversations reminded me of two events:

Working at Oakworth First School, Peter Hey, who was Head Teacher at the time, suggested that the Year 4 children could successfully complete the Three Peak Challenge. The Friday Walk Club was thus born, mini-buses were booked, maps were perused and supplies bought.

Week 1 we would climb Pen-Y-Ghent (691 metres), Week 2 would be the turn of Ingleborough (723 metres), Week 3 would be Whernside (728 metres) and Week 4 would be all three combined, including 24.5 miles of walking in less than 12 hours. Bearing in mind these were Year 4 children, not Year 6, a certain amount of Kidology was needed. On Week 4, when a child asked, “Are we there yet?” the reply started with, “Well…you remember when we climbed Pen-Y-Ghent…well…”

Needless to say, the experiences of such expeditions would stay with these learners forever. These experiences allowed the learners opportunities to develop courage, self-belief, enthusiasm, resilience, teamwork and more.

The other event that came to mind during the descent was that of a Training Day for the My BD5 cluster, including Bowling Park, Marshfield and Newby Primary Schools. The keynote speaker for this event was the inimitable Mick Waters, who asked the assembled delegates to think of their learners and their needs. We were then asked to devise a list of opportunities that a child should experience while at primary school.

With this in mind, I have started to compile my own suggestions…a sort of Bucket List for Primary Children. Obviously, one experience would be to climb a mountain. The others, in no particular order would include: visit a theatre, rehearse and perform their own work live on stage, work with an artist, exhibit and curate their own work, make a film, meet an author, ride a horse, study the local area and contrast it with another, learn to read a map, visit a foreign country, interview someone who lived during World War II, create a meal, float on a boat, create a blog, lead others in an area in which they have a passion, go into a forest, build a den, go underground…

Where possible, I would use public transport so that children develop life skills such as the ability to read timetables and know how to conduct themselves in public.

What would be in your list?

How would your own wish-list of experiences fit with where your school is currently at and where it is going? Is it possible to follow what we believe in within the current economic and education climates?

Such experiences take time to plan and organise, funding arrangements and Risk Assessments can be complex and parents can sometimes be difficult to ‘win over’. However, you will be creating opportunities that learners will feel, hold and remember, often creating a springboard for further personal exploration.

When is a Child No Longer a Child?

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When is a child no longer a child?

  • Is it when he/she discovers that Santa Claus does not really exist?
  • Or is it perhaps when the child realises that he/she will not live forever…that one day they will die?

A wonderful christmas with family and friends at Lineham Farm was followed by an impromptu visit to Krakow, Poland. New Year’s Eve 2012/13 started with a visit to Auschwitz and Birkenau. As you can imagine, the weather was decidedly cold. Walking into the camp through the gates under the banner, ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ was even more chilling.

It soon became apparent that it was almost impossible to comprehend the sheer scale of what took place in Europe during 1930s and 1940s. Of the 1.3 million people who entered Auschwitz, 1.1 million perished in the most brutal of circumstances.

Wandering through the buildings brought to mind Dave Hulston’s work on Whispered Histories, in which he talks about listening to the voices of people who have trodden past paths. In the case of Auschwitz, it is not just the voices but the screams and wails of sheer terror.

The images and text which narrate the history of the people in this place make you question man’s inhumanity to man. I tried to capture my own images from the camps but it genuinely was a hopeless task.

Having lived and worked in Bradford, the exhibtion highlighting the plight of the Roma and Sinti people was particularly poignant. The images of these families, particularly those of the children and the looks in their eyes, will haunt me forever.

The exhibition included the words of George Santayana:

“The one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again”.

How we teach our own children about the Holocaust continues to be open to debate. There are many organisations and websites dedicated to the subject, some more valuable than others.

Highly recommended is the work of the Peace Museum, which includes details about the forthcoming Build a Bridge event to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 27th January 2013.

For further insights visit Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum.