Normanby Primary School, Middlesbrough ~ Part 2.1

| October 17, 2013 | 0 Comments 

A return trip to Normanby Primary School, in Middlesbrough, for more investigating of fascination, and learning.

Our last trip saw us experimenting with digital, and analog, ways of creating experiences. We went on a virtual rollercoaster alongside some of the brave mums and dads; we made fire pits and cooked food; we did lots that deserved a ripple.

Today, we ventured back in to some virtual domains, and became even more analytical about the tools, and techniques, we use as teachers.

Alongside the analog methods of recording ideas, the teachers kept running observations, using Padlet while working with the Year 6 pupils in the morning and the Year 2 pupils in the afternoon.

They were looking out for all of the little techniques, and methods, we all used, to encourage children to develop their ideas further, and take off and fly.

The children of Normanby are up for challenges, and really did incredibly well. A credit to the inventive teaching, and learning, experiences the school provides.

Carl summed up the need for magic, here:

We had a visitor to school (@Normanby Primary) a few weeks ago.

A perfectly nice young teacher, not an Inspector, HMI or broker; just a nice young teacher.

After sipping hot coffee and talking in my office for a while, we wandered over to the class he wanted to observe.  Like all Head Teachers, we wandered to the correct room.  We didn’t walk straight there.  There is much too much to see in a Primary School to ignore the joy of the journey as you walk around.

The Year 2 classroom sealed with ‘Crime Scene’ tape (apparently a giant had broken in last night and messed things up whilst hunting for chocolate.  The giant, I am told by my pupils as I pass, doesn’t like broccoli.)  The Year 3’s were eating grapes and olives wearing togas (bed sheets!) debating the rights and wrongs of some particular issue.

I left our nice young teacher to observe the lesson and wandered back to my office wondering why do people come to observe and not participate….

Some time later, our perfectly nice young teacher returns, carefully shepherded by some pupils.  I wonder if they will wander or walk back to their class.

More coffee… and, what’s the first question I am asked?

It wasn’t why is making a classroom a crime scene helping to motivate seven year olds.  It wasn’t why does feeding children olives help them to empathise with Ancient Romans.

The first question was ‘What APS will the children make this year?’  Followed by ‘Which of the National Strategies do we follow and what scheme do we follow for spelling, grammar and punctuation?’

All good questions but, for me at least, deeply worrying.

I want new professionals to join my school, any school, with enthusiasm and innovation close to their hearts.  Not a desire to seek and follow a scheme of work or programme of study.  I would never argue that structure and organisation don’t matter: of course they do.  Children thrive on them, perhaps especially so for those in our school communities from the most challenging backgrounds.

I asked Tim and Sarah to work with us today because I wanted to give my staff and guests a chance to catch their breath, reflect on some of the strategies they and Tim use to engage and listen to our pupils.  Tim gave us a chance to smile and learn alongside our wonderful pupils today.  He created a magical space at our busy school today where we could stretch both our minds and use of language.  As ever, an inspiration.  We enjoyed learning alongside our pupils.

We have based our school improvement planning this year on some of the work of Stephen Hepell.  Have a look at the 3rd Millenium ABC’s.   Every member of staff has the first ‘A’ as their shared target Performance Management for this year.  It is ‘A’ for Astonish.  I would love my own three children to go to schools where the staff set out to astonish the pupils and the pupils in turn astonished their peers or teachers or parents or carers.

Headteacher, parent, inspector, I think it’s time we took back control of the curriculum.  Innovation is good, ending enforced change isn’t.  It’s our duty to give our staff and pupils chance to breathe and grow our curriculum, lets allow our pupils to inspire our staff to be brave, creating opportunities to learn that are fit for the world we live in now.  Let’s use our skills as headteachers to build strong staff teams and schools that work collaboratively to embrace change.

Let’s be brave.

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Category: 1) Events and Training days

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