There is, in our schools, a culture of fear and stress. Leaders and teachers are afraid of the next set of results and of what the consequences of those results might be. Due to this strain which is constantly present, children are missing out. Children can’t love learning if we don’t love teaching them. We can’t love teaching them whilst this culture remains. It does not appear that anyone is about to wave a magic wand and banish high stakes testing, so it is the task of the school community to ensure that children do not miss out on what should be an exciting and exhilarating time of their lives.
Tips for school leaders:
- Be brave. Take on those who challenge your beliefs and the ethos of your school. You know your children and you know what is right for them
- Take the fear away from your staff. Tell them that any worries about attainment and progress are whole school issues. The entire school community need to know that they can trust each other so that they can work together to provide the best possible experience for the children in their care
- Let staff run with their ideas. Don’t try to fit into a mould prepared by someone else
- Take time to enjoy the children and staff; laugh with them; let them know you value them. PSHE lessons were only needed originally because staff did not make time to talk to the children as issues arose
What works for us:
This is the cornerstone of our philosophy. All of our children benefit from the outdoor activities that are a way of life in our school. From kayaking and canoeing on the canal to hill walking, digging the allotments or playing in the mud kitchen, the amount of learning that takes place is phenomenal.
Each week every child from Y1 – Y6 is involved in a discussion group of no more than 10 children with a member of the SMT or their class teacher. Topics range from items in the news to issues the children have to philosophical questions. These groups have been invaluable in raising the self- esteem of the children; increasing their vocabulary and providing strategies for them to use when they disagree with something – giving them the language to present their arguments.