By Jonathan Parsons, Headteacher
When you enter the classrooms at St Edward’s you will find a sense of excitement, enjoyment and real purpose. Our children love coming to school and they really do love their learning. This does not happen by accident but through a carefully planned curriculum that gives the opportunity for every child to find what they are good at, to give them the confidence they need to excel and to have their moment to shine.
This article is the first in a series to develop a greater understanding of how we educate your child, the importance of how our curriculum works and to help you to be involved in your child’s learning journey as they progress and thrive.
Developing a love of learning
As a parent, I often think what do I really want for my child for their future. Life is becoming more and more complicated as we journey through this increasingly connected world. However, when we boil it down to its simplest form, what we want for our children is the same as parents have wanted for generations. We want them to be happy and successful in their futures and lead enjoyable, meaningful lives.
If I switch my hat from parent to headteacher, I can start to unpack the complexities of what that simple statement means within my school and within education. First, it is important to acknowledge how important primary education is. It is within these primary years that children discover the world in which they live for the first time. They say ’first impressions last’ and a parallel can be drawn here with education.
In primary school children develop an understanding of what they like and what they don’t. What excites them and what bores them. It is through the experiences and opportunities we present them with that they not only grow socially, academically and personally but they start to build a dream and vision of what they think the future might look like. In fact, by the time they leave primary school, their self-understanding is so developed that if you ask them what they might study at A-level, a choice that will ultimately decide their degree options, they are likely to make predictions with alarming accuracy.
Therefore, to anyone that has or will invest in high-quality independent education, I say good for you. In the independent sector we have the time and flexibility to present your child with a wealth of incredible and amazing opportunities that they will enjoy and cherish. We will open their mind to endless possibilities and nurture them to discover a love of learning for themselves. This will enable them to make the best choices in their future with their heads and hearts.
Planning for the future
We want our children to be successful in their future and we know the importance of this time, therefore, a natural step is to ask the question: ‘What will their future be like?’ Unfortunately, I do not have a crystal ball, however, there are a number of things we do know from research institutes around the world.
We do know that many of the jobs our children will do, do not yet exist. We know that what are sometimes called the ‘soft skills’ or were once called ‘21st-century skills’, will be important: critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, flexibility, synthesis to name a few. We know that people will start to place more emphasis on fulfilment. Finally, it is clear technology is here to stay and an understanding of how to use technology effectively and an understanding of its capability in whatever field they choose, will be an advantage if not a necessity.
How our curriculum ensures children are future-ready
It is with all this in mind that I want to introduce our inquiry-based curriculum and what it means for your child. Our curriculum and ‘Themes of Investigation’ are not new but over Christmas they went through an overhaul.
Five themes are studied throughout the year by the whole school, introducing exciting conceptual learning that engages children and gives meaning to their work. The timeless themes and important concepts link the academic and pastoral sides of the curriculum seamlessly and inspire children to make sense of the world they live in each and every day.
The inquiry cycle – giving children structure and reason for their work, opportunities to think about what they want to study and demonstrate higher order thinking, putting them at the heart of their education and giving them a love of learning.
Developing vital transdisciplinary skills across all subjects and aspects of learning – creative and critical thinking, self-management and awareness, communication, research and inquiry and social diversity and inclusion.
Let them shine forever
We want our children to shine forever and primary education has an important part to play in this. It should be meaningful, enjoyable and give children the skills they need now, at their next stage of learning and also in life. Our curriculum framework enables our pupils to discover the knowledge and skills of the National Curriculum for themselves, but also goes far beyond, enabling them to develop a deep understanding of important concepts that impact their lives. These concepts and skills lead children to become happy, good, civic-minded individuals who are capable and willing to make a positive contribution to the world in which they live.