Effective learning is based around 3 essential elements:
1. The Barley Croft Curriculum (Core Curriculum and REAL Project based learning)
We value learning. Understanding and developing the skills on how to read, write and use apply maths are core areas of our school curriculum. Learning how to speak and understand each other is also vitally important, especially as we have lots of children for whom English is a second or additional language. We also know how important it is to apply the core skills in all other areas of learning.
Much of the additional curriculum is taught through our "REAL Projects" (Rigorous, Engaging, Authentic Learning), a series of themed and creative topics with a final outcome rooted in experience. These have been designed alongside the children to ensure that they are fun and engaging, as well as covering the aspects of the National Curriculum.
Our REAL Projects ensure full pupil entitlement to the National Curriculum. Moreover, learning is enhanced through an enquiry-led model themed around a 'Big Question' and frequent enrichment opportunities. Hence, our pupil engagement is high and there is a real buzz and positive attitudes to learning when walking into the vibrant and engaging learning environments.
The focus on making learning relevant and meaningful incorporates practical experiences for our children, using both the local environment and further afield. Teachers plan a memorable experience to kick-start each unit of work. This may be an educational visit, a visiting speaker or an immersion day where children discover and explore their new learning.
We believe children learn better when they are encouraged to use their imagination and apply their learning to engaging contexts. Our curriculum provides lots of learning challenges throughout the academic year that requires children to solve problems, apply themselves creatively and express their knowledge and understanding effectively across the curriculum.
2. Learning Behaviours
Developing the right attitude to learning is an essential part of the Barley Croft curriculum and we place as much emphasis on how we learn as what we learn. We aim to create a whole school culture that enables children to become better learners, while dealing with risk and uncertainty confidently and creatively.
Children who are more confident in their own learning abilities learn at a greater pace and more effectively. They find learning and challenge more enjoyable and are able to perform better in tests or external examinations. Over the past 18 months, the school has been developing a system that builds these learning behaviours right from Nursery.
At Barley Croft, Building Learning Powers:
If you wish to know more about Building Learning Powers at Barley Croft, please see the attached information.
3. Environmental Stimulus
This is a key approach that promotes engagement for learners. We use a range of environmental stimuli to enrich a child’s experience by promoting the stimulation of the senses, in particular touch, sight, smell and hearing. The classrooms have a variety of flexible learning spaces, including dens and quiet spaces, which allow children to feel empowered to make daily decisions about how they would like to learn, therefore engaging them further.
Our unique school environment is one of the essential vehicles that drives children to learn a range of skills and content by integrating curriculum areas around a topic or theme. This method of teaching carefully links strands of the curriculum from different subject areas, as well as the children's and adult's interests to create a sense of purpose and community in the classroom. By building on their interests and experiences, our children's attitudes, skills and knowledge are developed in meaningful ways.
As well as this using this thematic approach to drive enquiry, we also ensure our children have the opportunity to choose to learn in different ways. We know that all children are unique and have different learning styles and how they can demonstrate this learning can depend on so many factors! As such, it is essential to create a stimulating environment that can respond to the learning demands that our children make. They can therefore make choices between sitting on a chair at a desk, standing at a high 'bar' style table, sitting in individual space, group space, lay on the floor, sit on a sofa....the list is endless and we put no limits on how a child may choose to express their learning.
As a result of these environmental stimuli, the role of the teacher at times can be different to the traditional 'instructor'. Our teachers purposefully and skillfully allow our children to reflect on their learning, and lead them to make connections between prior and new knowledge. The role of the teacher becomes that of a learning facilitator - where they plan and develop the required skills and opportunities to apply this new learning.
We believe that the key to successful learning is embedded in curiosity, taking risks, determination and resilience; characteristics needed by both the children of today, and their teachers.
Our photo gallery below shows practical examples of our work to facilitate this.