As parents know who have been reading our blogs and newsletters, teachers have just carried out a 4 week self-review exploring how we engage children in their learning so that they deepen their understanding and are curious to find out more, taking ownership of their learning journey.
Bellevue's Education Director, Sam Selby, visited the school so we could present our findings to the group and make recommendations for future professional development and training. All teachers really valued the self-evaluative approach and were inspired by their colleagues. The most beneficial part of the review was being able to observe pupils in small groups and see how our approaches to igniting interest led to exciting discussions that deepened their understanding.
Our favourite part of the process was interviewing children from each group to see the lessons from their point of view. The children's views matched that of the teachers' observations which is always a good sign. They particularly liked all of the opportunities to talk to their learning partners rather than sitting passively listening to a teacher spout their knowledge: 'Partner talk happens all the time at Wandsworth Prep. Discussing something with another person makes it easier to find out more ideas and then you get lots of chances to share your own ideas which you're proud of.' One child commented, 'there's so many more chances to talk with a partner at this school than my last'.
Research shows how learning or 'talk' partners shifts the balance of talk in the classroom from the teacher to the pupils. It encourages analysis and formation of an 'opinion'. This is exactly what we want to foster at Wandsworth Prep. Our next steps are to support the children in using higher order questions, just as a teacher would, to help their partner explore their ideas more fully. It will be in the form of a 'Pupil Question Took Kit' and we look forward to introducing this in September.