Last week we welcomed 4 teachers from Polegate Primary School in Hastings for the day. They came to look at our practice, see the school in action, talk to the children and generally join in with everything we do. They came armed with a lengthy question sheet wanting to pretty much look at all aspects of our practice, through from the teaching of English and maths, the Values and Forest School to how we manage the children at lunch times and promote exemplary behaviour and manners.
It is always good to get an outside perspective on how we do things, as this helps us to review and reflect and keeps us on our toes. At the end of the day we spent an hour talking to them about what they had seen, heard and felt. The first thing they said, was how overwhelming the positive ethos was, which was evident as soon as they stepped inside the building – they said it was almost tangible. This was reinforced throughout the day as they spoke of how impressed they were with the quality of relationships between the children and staff – the warmth and care, the clear and high expectations and the buzz of learning around the building.
They were also very impressed with the quality of writing seen in classrooms, in exercise books and on the displays and commented on how children are immersed in literacy and the positive impact this seems to be having. We shared our Singapore maths approach and our recently introduced whole class reading approach, called Destination Reader. It was exhilarating having a professional dialogue with them and also listening to what is happening at their own school.
As a Teaching School we open our doors to many other teachers and schools. This is the way forward in terms of developing our staff, enabling reflective discussion, a chance to observe the practice of others and learn together. Pedagogy is not an exact science and is constantly shifting as we learn more about how children learn and the brain works. Schools are a far cry from the traditional “sit in silence behind a desk and listen and copy” style of teaching. It is all about active participation and talking about learning, building the blocks for independence in the future. For us it also about learning about having strong, healthy relationships and enjoying life and I’m delighted the Polegate teachers saw and felt this too!