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.

Whose Curriculum is it, Anyway?

Whole Education, March Regional Conferences,

London, Wednesday 21st March 2012.

The aim of the conference was to take advantage of increasing freedoms available to schools and learn about how educators can provide outstanding teaching and learning by:

  • helping young people develop a range of skills, qualities, knowledge and qualifications;
  • helping make learning more relevant and engaging, with young people owning their own learning;
  • supporting learning beyond school and the classroom and engaging the wider community in learning.

These aims obviously have shared links with the work of 360 People and even though their patrons, Sir Tim Brighouse and Professor Mick Waters were not in attendance at this event, Jo Shuter, David Crossley and John Dunford were present…forthright, articulate and illuminating.  

According to the blurb on their website, Whole Education promised a ‘one day conference that would support schools by hearing from leading educationalists’…and that is exactly what we got.

John Dunford, Chair of Whole Education, explored the current policy climate and reflected on the challenges and opportunities facing school teachers in providing  a ‘whole education which would help young people be work ready, life ready, ready for life-long learning’…a belief shared by 360 People.

Headteacher, Jo Shuter talked about the achievements made at Quintin Kynaston Community Academy, where the emphasis is on community.  Using an extended schools model, QKCA is very much a school that acts as a hub for meeting the needs of the learners and the families.  Jo explained that rather than leaving your baggage at the gates, young people were encouraged to ‘bring your baggage in and we will work together to remove the barriers to your learning…so that we can help you become responsible, active citizens’.

Jo emphasised the need for clear and decisive leadership at all levels, ‘forensically-focussed on achievement and attainment’.  This is balanced with the importance of relationships between students and staff, who are there to be role models.  At QK, there is a focus on maintaining stability amongst the staff, who recognise the power of nurturing and learning, and are committed to their own professional development.

At QK, staff and students alike are encouraged to:

  • Have a ‘Can Do’ mentality;
  • Learn, adapt and change;
  • Be creative…creating new boxes, not just thinking outside the original ones;
  • Ask for help where needed.

David Crossley, Executive Director of Tribal’s Inspirational Schools Partnership, shared his experiences working with schools in Nashville,Tennessee.  He urged us to ‘embed a sense of urgency and a push for success with a culture of optimism and enthusiasm’.

We were then given opportunities to learn in breakouts about innovative projects and initiatives to enrich the curriculum and provide a more rounded education. It really was a difficult decision regarding which of the Whole Education Partners sessions to attend.

My break-out scribblings are indicative that I really need to finally come off the fence and decide whether to buy the Asus Transformer Prime or i-Pad.2 or 3. 

Legible or not, many thanks to:

Special thanks to;

  • Pat Cochrane from Cape UK…always great to catch up with a creative from the North;
  • Alan Bailey, Deputy Headteacher at Charles Dickens School, Kent…for insights into the South;
  • Phil Avery, Assistant Headteacher at Bohunt School, Hampshire…for explaining just some of the amazing curriculum at his school.
  • Roger Billing from the Wroxham Transformative Learning Alliance…for being inspirational and sharing outstanding practice;
  • Douglas Archibald, Rosie Palmer and rest of the team at Whole Education for ensuring the success of the event;
  • @suklaa for tales about gay penguins in Edinburgh Zoo, back in 1988…one day you will have to tell me more.  On a serious note, check out Suklaa Media and Education for great ideas, find out more about the team and what they can offer.

The event clearly fulfilled its aims and provided yet more ideas for discussion about partnership work.  I encourage you to visit the links, explore and find out more.

Whose Curriculum is it, Anyway?  Ours and the learners with whom we share our journeys…

Bryn Llewellyn, 21 March 2012

360 People

The new website for 360 People is looking impressive and the landing page for secondary students has been improved dramatically.

Check it out in order to find out more about:360 People

Sir William Atkinson, Principal, Phoenix Federation

‘360 People is an excellent product. We are delighted to have introduced it at Phoenix High School’.

John Stephens, Director of Children’s Services, Chester and Cheshire West

‘ I think 360 People has a great deal to offer young people both in their personal development and in preparing for future employment’.

Dave Watson, Headteacher, Chorlton Park, Manchester

‘We believe 360 People helps our children to become independent and reflective learners. We are equipping them for the future’.

With Mick Waters and Tim Brighouse as patrons, 360 People certainly has impressive credentials.

If you are based in Bradford, West Yorkshire or the London boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Hammersmith & Fulham and would like to find out more, contact me.  We can then easily arrange an appointment and demonstration as to how 360 People can benefit your school, your learners and their families.