Sir William Burrough (SWB) Primary School is a state-funded Academy serving the local communities of Tower Hamlets. The school is in the top 3% of schools in the country for attainment across all subjects and our disadvantaged children are in the top 1% in all subjects. SWB has been recognised by the Mayor of London as an outstanding School for Success.
We have always been at the forefront of educational innovation, embracing programmes and methodologies that aim to develop children’s independent and critical thinking and encourage enquiry and investigation across all subject areas. Among some of the initiatives we’ve implemented are the You Can Do It! programme, the International Primary Curriculum, P4C and debate. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that we decided to embark on the HPL Award. Following on from introductory training for all staff in January 2018, we identified an initial group of HPL Champions who have started implementing the framework in their respective years. Some of us have conducted lessons which specifically targeted selected ACPs and VAAs and the HPL language can be heard around the school (in classrooms as well as in school assemblies).
For example, in our International Primary Curriculum (IPC) programme, we are currently looking at history and chronology. Over a period of 6 weeks, children will be learning about historical time, interpreting events from the past, and looking into different aspects of history and their manifestations.
I decided to begin the theme with specific focus on two ACPs: connection finding and analysing. Children were divided into groups of four and each group received a mind map template and an envelope with 40 or so pictures representing different aspects of the past (historical figures, war/conflict, discoveries, buildings, art, etc.). The pictures were mixed up and children were asked to find similarities/connections and group them into separate categories.
As they were working, they started to name the categories (for example: ‘war’, ‘famous people’) which helped them further with the process. The task created some interesting teachable moments: where does one place Mona Lisa, who is both a historical figure as well as a famous work of art, and Hitler, who can be grouped in the war category as well as historical figures?
Once the children had accomplished the task and had their mind maps ready, each group was asked to investigate a selected category by answering one question. (For example: What purpose has Art served through history? What have been the causes of different wars and conflicts?)
Children found the challenging lesson easier since they had been working with the concepts of connection finding and analysing before. I made use of this terminology throughout the lesson and offered practical advice to children on how to employ synthetic and analytical thinking skills.
Across the school, our next steps will include creating classroom and school displays featuring ACP and VAA terminology and consistently evidencing classroom implementation of HPL in our weekly planning. The HPL Champions will soon be sharing their experiences and best practices with the rest of the teaching staff during a weekly staff meeting. Long-term planning also includes introducing parents to HPL.
The children at our school have enjoyed the new challenges and are becoming better at recognising, naming and employing new approaches to more powerful learning! We are looking forward to sharing our experiences with other schools in the HPL community.
by Marcin Zaleski, Year 5 Teacher