I often receive into my overflowing inbox words of wisdom from various education groups. These are usually trying to sell me at vast cost the perfect course for the ideal approach to education. As a learner, and being someone is really quite curious (nosey), I am often compelled to open them and at least glance through before hitting the delete button.
Recently one such email caught my eye; the snappy title about the Finnish education system being at it again was what attracted me. Back in his day as Education Secretary, Michael Gove often held up the Finnish Education system as a template for education improvement and, whether this was true or not, they certainly had some out of the box and quite inspiring ideas.
This particular idea that caught my attention was all about Phenomena-based learning; holistic real-world phenomena that provides a starting point for learning. The idea is that the pupil begins with a phenomena that interests them. One example of this would be space travel and the pupils use scientific enquiry and problem solving to gain a better understanding. To do this well pupils need to be curious and be able to make connections across subjects and knowledge, building connections between that which they learn in the school context and the real world. It relies on and helps to build good communication skills and collaboration and requires the teacher to re-evaluate their role, to be a facilitator in pupils finding their own knowledge rather than being a giver of knowledge, not jumping in with the answer but letting a pupil find their own way.
As I delved deeper into this approach I started to note the similarities between the theory of phenomena learning and the SPF approach. During Plan, Learn, Do, Review, pupils in Early Years and key stage 1 are able to create their own starting points for learning - whether it is a jet-pack, a ballet, a dinosaur, a space journey, a bow and arrow or a flower growing out of a bulb. Our pupils are able to be curious, come up with their own questions, investigate, follow their own ideas and make their own links resulting in deep learning. At the beginning of this year we had a whole school integrated learning week dedicated to STEaM, providing the opportunities for pupils to link the areas of learning in science, technology, engineering arts and maths, each time starting with a phenomena from their world, clay pots and cameras were two of the most popular and yet the learning developed as the pupils questions emerged. Our approach to thematic learning bears resemblance to this approach, a launch day where the context is set, a space journey, a visit to land before time or a an inventors laboratory and then the opportunity for the pupils to put forward their ideas on the learning wall, identifying the questions they want answered and the knowledge they want to know.
Ultimately this approach and the SPF Learning Wheel have one key common starting point; we want our pupils to be engaged in their learning, take risks, be problem solvers and be curious so that they as the learner are at the centre where they are active creators. It doesn't matter if it is an approach that has been given a title and a country of origin - what matters is that we have inspired, curious learners for whom learning is far more than a narrow results-driven curriculum. I can’t wait for next term to be inspired by our pupils' ideas.
As we approach the start of a greatly anticipated holiday we are going to be very sad to say goodbye to Mrs Cooper who masterminded a highly successful Saffron Hall Concert on Friday, a concert of exceptionally high standards in which the music in many cases supported the wider thematic learning approach and every pupil in Prep was involved as a performing musician. We do however look forward to seeing Mrs Cooper in the Foundation again at some time in the future. This week we welcomed Miss Mulally and Mrs Hyland to the school to meet staff and pupils in preparation for their start next term as Head of Music and Performing Arts and Music Teacher retrospectively. Both staff joined us at the concert and are looking forward to continuing the high expectations and enjoyment of music that we aspire to for every pupil.
I hope that you all have a safe and restful break; please do encourage your children to take the opportunity to immerse themselves in some reading for the Spring Reading Challenge. A reminder that should the sun shine through and the temperatures rise then the pupils are able to return to school in summer uniform. It is only compulsory after the May half term.
After a period of inclement weather putting a stop to a number of fixtures in the last few weeks of term, our sports teams have had an extremely busy and successful term.
There have been a number of stand out performances from our teams and individual athletes and we look forward to many more as the summer term fast approaches.
Our U9 boys have progressed with their football and showed a fantastic approach to their games adapting to certain conditions imposed on them by their coach during a number of matches. The empathy they have shown during games is to be commended and another example of how we instill good values and the importance of sportsmanship in sport. The U9 girls have made excellent progress on the netball court and enjoyed a number of victories throughout the season.
Our U11 football teams have displayed resilience throughout the season on the pitch but their never say die attitude has to be commended. Our learning habits of perseverance, determination and courage have certainly been on display this term. The U11 girls performed excellently at the IAPS netball tournament narrowly missing out on the knockout stages of the competition by a losing bonus point.
The highlight of the term was the performance of our Indoor Athletics team at the County Finals in Southend, having already been crowned District Champions. The children performed excellently and eventually finished 12th in the County which was a great achievement.
As the summer term fast approaches, we look forward to a number of cricket, athletics and tennis matches. We are looking forward to organising the EAPS athletics this year a Bury St Edmunds Athletics track in June and the anticipation will no doubt build as we countdown to Sports Day.
Latest news and blogs
What have our Dame Bradbury's pupils been up to?
(Don't miss the Sports Roundup at the bottom of this newsletter page)
- We celebrate Music Through Time at Saffron Hall
- A triumph in Computational Thinking by Year 6 student
- The Fizzy Flamingoes are victorious in water themed science competition!
- Year 3 visit to the Scott Polar Institute
- Budding mathematicians from Dame B's
- Gaming e-safety update for ages 3-11
- Helping children around the world - Q & A session with Dr Ricardo Sabates
- Year 1 and 2 visit the Sedgwick Museum
Parent and Toddler Group - Dame Bee's
Open to all! Join us for coffee, chat, play, crafts, snacks and a sing-song.
There's no need to book, just drop in any Friday in term-time from 9am - 10.30am. And you don't need to be a Dame B's parent, so spread the word and invite friends who would enjoy a coffee and some toddler activities!
We also host a few special events every term - still free, but you need to register in advance for these as there are limited spaces! Next term we have:
Toddler Yoga - Friday 27 April, 9am - 10.30am
Stories, Songs and Rhymes - Friday 18 May, 09.00 - 10.30
Toddler Forest School - Friday 22 June, 9am - 10.30am
Book your free place through the school office - we'd love to see you there!