Inspiring every child to reach further than they ever thought they could
This was our vision statement when I became headteacher here at Grayrigg CE Primary School. Of course we are a primary school - a place of learning, however this statement does not only relate to academic achievement; for me, it is much more than this. It’s about that magic moment when a child is genuinely surprised by what they have achieved. Every day children at our school exceed our expectations, but it is when they genuinely stop and say “wow, did I really just do that? I am amazing”. I am passionate that every child should have the opportunity to feel like this, not just the most able.
Of course reading, writing and maths are important, so how do we ensure every child reaches further than they ever thought they could in these areas? For us, it isn’t about results or outside drivers, the only driver for the team here at Grayrigg is the individual child. Children all develop at different stages of their life - our aim is to ensure they all have the opportunity to exceed their expectations through high quality, skills based teaching and experiences that will inspire them to excel. The mornings focus on the skills in these subjects through high quality texts and real world maths. In the afternoons we ensure the children experience practical, hands on learning which, in turn, inspires them to read and write. When children write or use their maths because they want to - the real magic happens.
I can remember during my own education reading Harper Lee’s “to kill a mocking bird” because I had to and hating it - I have since read it for pleasure and found it inspirational and one of my personal favourites. The book hasn’t changed, but the reason I read it had. I don’t want the children in our school to experience that - I don’t want them to learn because they have to, I want them to learn because they want to. Staff are challenged to ensure every topic has a WOW moment, to inspire the children - whether it involves finding Stone Age spear heads in the forest classroom and carrying out an archaeological dig or cooking sausages in the engine of steam train to see how hot they get. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning come alive.
One of my favourite moments was watching Mrs Hendrickse teach a science lesson about water displacement - she took them out with canoes and kayaks on Lake Windermere, so they could see how it works on a larger scale. These are lessons the children will never forget - they will always remember both the experience and the learning and are more than happy to work out complicated equations to create the most buoyant boat and write explanations when the experience they are writing about is so real.
We are continuing to build on this, looking for experience to embed learning in real and memorable experiences. We might not be able to go canoeing every week, but we do try and link all our learning to real, hands on experiences.
If you have any special skills you would be willing to share, please let us know, as we are always looking for new experiences for the children in our school!
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