Punctuating what seems like a very long term was a well planned opportunity for schools in both Westbury and Warminster to merge and become inspired. Held at Kingdown School in Warminster (and very hosted at that), the final day of the term was an INSET crammed full of interesting and inspiring workshops but to start was a keynote speaker, who, until that day I had not heard of, but from that day I will not forget! Alison Peacock is the headteacher of Wroxham Primary School in Potters Bar, and has taken her school from failing to outstanding by arguing that grouping by ability actually holds children back. Alison and her staff have removed the limiting beliefs about fixed abilities and fixed futures and has instead become a listening school. Listening to her speak resonated with many of my beliefs about children. She spoke with passion and humour especially with her encounters with the current Education Secretary! A video was shown about all the great things that were happening at her school, including the double decker bus that is a library in the playground! But more poignantly were the children who spoke with great authority about their learning, challenge and love of school. Included in the video was an exuberant teacher called Mr Davy who enthused me, and what’s more he was the teacher leading my final workshop – couldn’t wait (especially as others had seen him earlier in the day and were singing his praises!) What a great start to the day.
My first workshop was ‘Challenging learners in Maths’ ran by two secondary teachers from our local secondary school, Matravers. Many useful ideas were demonstrated that could be adapted in any year group classroom, such as the ‘So what…’ cards giving a statement such as ‘1 pair of socks cost £1.50’, the children would then think of questions like ‘How much would it cost to buy socks for a spider?’ etc etc. Good for talking maths and collaboration. Another idea was having laminated hexagons where the first one said ‘Multiples’ and then the children have to think of other maths areas that link. These are then written on separate hexagons with the aim of creating a flower but more importantly understanding the different connections.
The second workshop was ‘Inspiring independent learning’ with Alison Peacock who has just written a book called ‘Creating learning without limits’ following research completed at her school. She spoke of key dispositions such as empathy, generosity, emotional stability, inventiveness, openness, persistence, questioning and humility. In pairs we then recalled a time when we had encountered these dispositions and how we dealt with them. An interesting reflective process although I would have loved to hear more about how she changed her school around continuing on from her fantastic keynote.
Finally, the workshop I had been really looking forward to ‘Good to outstanding’ by Steve Davy a teacher from Wroxham Primary School. Steve spoke with enthusiasm and an obvious love of his subject when he described the thematic and creative approach to learning that he instils in his classroom. His frenetic approach was hard to keep up with at times but the amount of content he packed in to 45 minutes was astounding! Peppered with humour and anecdotes and the odd request for Ritalin only made his presentation more endearing. Lots of ideas how to incorporate grammar into all year groups were provided and I can’t wait to bring them into my classroom too!
Overall a very inspiring and creative day that provided not only great workshops but also the golden opportunity to share professional dialogue with other colleagues. I hope we have further opportunities to work as a broader cluster as it is a valuable way to congregate and learn.