I’ve been very excited recently to see the fantastic work being developed at St Silas Primary School in Blackburn. There is a great deal in common with many of the key ideas of Slow Education, as I discovered when I spoke with the staff yesterday, and visited the school to see what happens in practice…
In a Slow School you would see….:
learners being able to have space and time to follow and develop interests towards greater depth and understanding.
St Silas has developed an innovative ‘Continuous/Extended Provision’ model which provides learners with ‘challenges’ set within a flexible, well resourced and well planned learning environment. “It provides the structure for teaching within which children can explore, experiment, plan and make decisions for themselves”. Learners then manage their own time and follow their own interests to meet the various challenges.
learning spaces that are flexible and supportive to different learners and different activities.
Learning spaces at St Silas are flexible and able to accommodate a wide range of learning styles together. Spaces for collaboration and for personal deliberation. Spaces for the teacher to lead the class or a group, but also space which allows learners to take a moment of inspiration as it arises.
teachers instilling and facilitating skills and attitudes for learning.
Use and understanding of coaching skills is commonplace at St Silas. A current discussion is looking at how effective questioning impacts upon a learner’s mindset when meeting challenges. I observed one Year 4 maths lesson in which one learner’s struggle with division fed a vibrant learning discussion amongst the class and led to a brilliant ‘moment of realisation’!One is reminded once again of Carol Dweck’s work on ‘growth mindset’.
teachers actively engaging with new ideas of practice.
Study Support groups meet regularly for staff to discuss their ideas and development. Many staff I spoke to had clear ideas of research that they either were undertaking or intended to. Again, tools such as coaching and Triad Study Support ensure that practice keeps developing and is shared amongst staff.
Whilst these brief observations provide an introduction over the next few months staff and children at St Silas will be creating a film to further explain learning at St Silas, and in particular how the Continuous/Extended Provision supports the learners and teachers. I look forward to sharing their work with you here…!