For the latter part of this week I have been at the LDBS (London Diocesan Board for Schools) annual Headteachers conference. An eclectic group of Headteachers always makes for an interesting time. On-lookers must be quite baffled, so many people all used to being ‘in charge’ all in one place.
The theme for the conference was ‘Building Learning Power’ the keynote speaker was the very intelligent and engaging Professor Guy Claxton. He spoke about his Building Learning Power (BLP) programme. Something, we have been implementing in subtle ways ever since we became St Mary’s Primary. It was hearting to hear that much of the good innovative practice he has been championing we already use and have in place; but it gave me time to reflect on what we might need to re focus on, and how we might take some of our practice to the next stage.
BLP is not a curriculum or a way to organise our topics and content, is it a way of subtly changing the way we teach and our perspective on what skills and competencies our children might need in life. The ‘learning to learn’ agenda has been gaining momentum for nearly a decade and has never, in my opinion, been more pertinent.
I have spoken frequently about our drive to help children be curious, to have an active interest in themselves and their world and also about those skills which will be life long and serve them well in the future. Much of our teacher development over the last 18 months has been rooted in pupil engagement. How we can offer children a curricula diet they are interested in and relevant to them. So as a result, they have a will to become independent in their learning?
Guy Claxton asked us to reflect on what we, as teachers, see as good learning? Which children/pupils did we see as successful? In what skills did we place value? And while I am confident that at St Mary’s we have a good balance between the traditional and the modern so to speak I did begin to wonder about how well this was transferred and communicated beyond the classroom. Do the children carry these skills and apply them in other areas of their lives?
He also talked about how well do we know our children; are they resilient in the face of difficulty and have the skills to overcome when things get tough? Are they resourceful and able to learn in different ways? Are they reflective and able to adapt to get the best from themselves? And also are they empathetic, able to see the world through others eyes? These are the skills of life long learners. These are muscles we can help our children grow and strengthen. So while we strive for ever better results and ever better grades we will, alongside all of what Mr Gove values, be supporting our children to flex their muscles and be prepared for the lives we don’t yet know are even possible.