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Being a good learner

If we take the word learner and think of it in its purest form, it simply means a person who is still learning something. We often talk about the learners within a classroom or a school and the focus falls on the pupils, but is it not important to actually step back and take in the broader picture, asking the question that are we not all learners? At its core teaching aims to develop an individual and move them on from one point to another. This happens through the experiences, interactions and dialogue that happens between two individuals.

This week I have had the privilege of being part of the Bury NQT conference where NQT’s across Bury had the opportunity to come together and develop their knowledge and understanding of what makes a great teacher. We were very lucky to spend the day with Andy Griffith, who has developed and documented a means by which to plan and approach learning based on his and his colleagues observations of thousands of lessons. It struck me as Andy talked that every teacher are themselves learners and throughout the day Andy made the point that if we are going to make learning the best it can possibly be, we must value the fact that the journey towards excellence will never end, because we should always be striving to improve.

I felt that the key message that Andy put across was that as teachers, it is up to us to “switch on” the learning experience for our children through developing their autonomy and a belief in always striving to develop someone’s personal best. Every individual is different and carves out their own path in life, but if we as a profession can help shape that path through promoting the belief that anyone can succeed and anyone can aspire to change the world, then surely our children will grow in an environment where anything is possible.

A good learner is someone who grows to understand that learning never stops. Everyday brings something new and our daily lives are constantly filled with all the complexities that the world around us presents, but the key is embracing these aspects as part of the learning cycle. To grow and develop we must learn to see the world around us for what it is; a place where anything is possible and everything is a learning curve. Our children deserve the chance to become good learners, through being “switched on” and developed by practitioners who believe in making a difference. Therefore, being an active learner should be the focus of every teacher, because learning is the tool by which we change the way we think and ultimately change the world around us.


Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Becoming historians

This week year 2 have started work on their historical enquiry about famous people from the past. The children have developed their ability across year 2 to analyse what a source tells them and they have started to make their own suggestions from the evidence they can see or infer. At the start f the week the children were presented in pairs with a pictorial source and on each table each pair had a different source. As a pair they had a set of questions to answer using just the source. I always find it fascinating to see what the children pick out from the source and to hear the discussions that develop.

As a class we unpicked the findings and together identified that the pictures were two Victorian women called Florence Nightingale and Mary Seacole. The following day the children watched a short DVD clip where they were taken back in time to Scutari hospital. The children were amazed at what Victorian hospitals were like and wrote their own summaries about what conditions were like.

Within the classroom we always develop a role play area for the children to develop their thinking further. It is a space where children can act scenarios out and it allows them to develop their understanding of a subject further. Miss Hackett has created a Scutari hospital role play area and on Wednesday afternoon the children spent some time within the area exploring conditions and experiences for Victorian soldiers and nurses. Watch Y2’s trailer below to see what they got up to!



Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Off we go!

I hope Y2 have had a good rest over the holidays and are ready for lots more learning this half term. Over the holidays Miss Hackett has been in class, busily transforming the role play area ready for the historical part of our “Fame” enquiry. Before the holidays the children had some great ideas about what Fame is and we will now explore this over the next few weeks. Our enquiry page is all set up and ready to use, so hopefully this will come in useful over the next few weeks!

In our art lessons we are going to be thinking about printing and in our music lessons, Mrs Geelan will be helping us to learn more new songs to perform on the Ocarina ready for the Summer Musical Extravaganza! Across the half term, we will be strengthening our mental maths skills by revisiting some of the aspects we covered earlier in the year. It would be great if at home you could help Y2 by regularly going over their number bonds to 10/20 and also practising times tables facts for 2, 3, 5 and 10’s.Our writing focus this half term will be Non Chronological Reports and Adventure stories.

So as you can see, we have a bust half term ahead and we are looking forward to keeping you up to date through our daily tweets and weekly blog. Y2 would love you to comment on what they get up to on their blog or why not send them a tweet!

Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog

Working Together

Collaboration has always been a huge part of Unsworth, both within and beyond the school. In its purest form collaboration simply means working with someone to produce something and links to words such as cooperation, alliance, partnership or combination. It is so important to view our school as a collaboration of lots of different partners, from teachers and learners to parents and governors, the local community and schools both locally and nationally.

Currently, our education system as we know it is changing shape dramatically and often on a daily basis. Change often brings a sense of unease for some people or a feeling that different ways of doing things could change something beyond recognition, but is this really the case? Inevitably change will make a difference and it does often bring about a new way of doing something. However, the important factor to consider is the reasons why change is needed and the bigger picture of what it helps to create.

Unsworth is all about embracing change that benefits the education and development of young learners. Over the years we have learnt as a school that through looking closely at our practice and making changes to what we do, we can offer our learners the best possible start  on their learning journey. In essence we aim to develop a love of learning and resilience that allows children to achieve and succeed; something called a “Growth Mind-set”.

Working together through collaboration is at the core of this and this is achieved through our continuous two way dialogue as a community of learners. If you watch the short trailer below you will see how we have worked together as a school to create an exciting curriculum that offers learners opportunities to be curious about the world around them.

For us though, working together is all about how we work with others to help shape the future of learning. Through our work within other schools across the Local Authority and by sharing our practice through learning walks, courses, visits and coaching sessions, we have built up a culture within school where collaboration is commonplace. It is collaboration and partnerships with the BTSA (Bury Teaching School Alliance) and BPLC (Bury Primary Learning Collaborative) that have helped us to share our approaches to assessment, SMSC and the curriculum, whilst also providing opportunities for staff within school to develop their own practice.

In the current educational climate, it is these types of partnerships that will continue to allow us to help shape the way we want to do things for the learners at Unsworth. External support from the Local Authority is disappearing and schools are faced with the prospect of developing stronger links between each other so that together they can support each other to provide the best possible experiences for learners. During the Summer Term , myself and Mrs Reynolds are involved in a new nationwide alliance of educators known as “#LearningFirst”, which is a developing online community who have the aim of making assessment school led. It is these kinds of new collaborations that will shape the future of education and it is exciting to think that Unsworth has an opportunity to play a part and share practice.

Unsworth is already accustomed to “working together” with a range of different partners and through the years we have embraced change, using it as a catalyst to rethink the way we do things and make our approaches school owned. None of our changes would have happened without some form of collaboration. Crucially, we have worked together as a community to create a school that puts teaching and learning first, which clearly emphasises the fact that we are “stronger together” through our partnerships and alliances with others.

Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

An eggciting end to the term!

Year 2 have had a really busy week that culminated in our annual egg rolling competition and outdoor egg hunt. The children had lots of fun rolling their eggs and worked with Year 1 and Reception to discover 188 eggs that were hidden around the school grounds. Also, they have created Easter cakes and cards with Mrs Darby. Year 2 have worked incredibly hard across the Spring term and it was lovely to share their individual progress and achievements at progress meetings earlier in the week. I hope everyone has a good break and I look forward to continuing Y2’s learning journey after the holidays!

Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

What a busy week!

As always year 2 came back after their weekend break to lots of new learning tasks! As well as planning and writing a story to finish off their fantasy story text type, the children have been developing their creative skills. Last week year 2 shared their contemporary paintings and this week thy have been working with Miss Hackett to look at the work of Vincent Van Gogh. The children explored who he was and focussed on his work “Starry Night”. Through exploring the techniques behind the painting, the children worked in steps with Miss Hackett to create a draft oil painting. The aim next week is to turn their draft into a mini canvas to show case in our very own Van Gogh exhibition.

Also, the children have spent time developing their programming skills on the ipads, by using the Beebot app and Daisy Dino. The children were challenged to plan sequences and test them out. Have a look at the gallery below to see the children in action.

Featured Latest News Year 6 Blog

The Writing Tour

As a school we believe in developing our children’s love of writing, through giving them quality experiences to write about and sharing quality texts by a range of different authors. Recently one of our Y6 children wrote a biography about David Walliams and took it upon himself to create a video for David. He wanted to create the video for David to show him how hard Unsworth works on developing writers and to share with him the fact that he is an inspiration to so many young children through the books that he writes. Below is the film he created and we are so impressed with all the efforts he put in to creating it. The film is called “The Writing Tour” because it takes you around our school in search of writing!


Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Budding artists

Year 2 have been developing their understanding this week of what contemporary art is by studying the work of the modern artist Hugo. They started the week by looking at examples of his work and unpicked how he has used colour, line, shape and tone. I was very impressed with how the children were able to pick out the primary colours and explain how tone was created through the use of paints.

Next the children learnt how to create a Hugo inspired design and spent some time in their creative journal creating their own versions. Once they had a final design the children copied this up using pastels and then worked with Miss Hackett to use brusho to create the finished piece of contemporary art. Year 2 can’t wait to share them at progress evenings!


Featured Latest News Year 6 Blog

Robinwood in Pictures

Recently our Y6 class visited Robinwood for a residential and had a great time. We thought we would share with you some of the photographs from the trip so you could see for yourselves all the different activities that the children got up to.






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Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog

Where does inspiration come from?

Inspiration is something we look for in the world around us as a mechanism by which to develop a thought or idea. At it’s roots, it is something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create. For me, the “something” is the key to making inspiration a part and parcel of our children’s everyday experiences. Too often inspiration is seen as such a big ask, but actually it can come from the simplest of activities, the most unlikely source, a look, a gesture or even a word.

Learning is all about development and moving forward. When this is done well, it happens because “something” made an individual think or triggered a thought. By designing an exciting curriculum that takes an enquiry approach our children are being presented with an approach to learning that seeks to hook them in, by providing opportunities to explore, create and share what they have found out.

As a school we have learnt through our whole school enquiries time and time again that inspiring our children is what achieves quality work that showcases children’s personal best. By using outdoor experiences, real life contexts, books, videos, visitors, apps and objects, we have tried to ensure that inspiration is always at the forefront of children’s learning. By inspiring children to have a go, to investigate and to persevere, we are building up a culture in school where children want to push themselves.

For us, learning comes first and this week it has been fantastic to see the children absorbed in the whole school geography enquiry. As  I wandered between classrooms this morning there were children designing and building their own Mine Craft worlds, pairs of children having discussions about their learning through using text and images in pic collage to visually share what they had found out. A huge 3D model of a local area has been constructed by children and they have been enthusiastically using lots of geography vocabulary with ease. One class have worked in small groups to plan and construct their own park following their visit to  a local park and Reception have turned into pirates in search of treasure.

For us as a school “learning” is always what comes first and it is truly inspiring to see children engaged, enthused and challenged through the curriculum our staff have developed. By inspiring our children to investigate and create, we are opening up the doors of possibility and giving them the opportunity to not only see the world around them at first hand, but to experience it. Below are a few galleries of inspiration in action, where we feel that the memorable experiences we have developed will have a lasting effect on learners.

  • When our school first opened 50 years ago, a whole trip was organised. 50 years later we decided to do the same!
  • The whole school made their way to the East Lancashire Railway station in Bury.
  • The children and adults were incredibly excited.
  • We had our own carriages chartered.
  • As the train pulled up to the platform the whole school started to fill up the carriages and year 6 loved their Hogwarts style carriages.
  • The steam train journey took us to Ramsbottom station.
  • Once we got off the train we started to walk to Nuttall Park.
  • Once we arrived it was time for picnics and games!
  • The children and adults had great fun in the sun.
  • After a few hours of fun in the sun we started our journey home on the steam train. A great end to two nostalgic weeks finding out about "50 years of learning".
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  • We were given an empty shop in the Millgate Centre Bury, which we decided to transform into a 1 day only pop up art gallery.
  • Each class created their final pieces of work, came up with names and had their work framed or put in portfolios.
  • Our arts task team spent a whole day transforming the space to create a range of different areas and set up a gallery experience.
  • Wallpaper was hung.
  • Donated fabric from Dunelm was turned into decorative swags.
  • Each picture was carefully positioned and tacked to the wall.
  • Our window displays aimed to grab the publics attention and one message in our visitors book said how uplifting they were.
  • We wanted people to understand what the children had been learning and see our gallery as a celebration of the learning that had happened in our two week enquiry.
  • Every space was used to display the work done by the children and the examples from Bury Arts Society. Memebers of the society visited on the day to see the final work that the children had produced.
  • We tried to include examples of the subjects that the children had drawn such as tea cups, crisps, chocolate, flowers and fruit.
  • All of the work was arranged in mixed groups and all our visiting children conducted their own search to find their piece of work.
  • Portfolios were produced by some classes to showcase work or the process that they had gone through to produce a final piece.
  • We created a drawing zone so that children could come in and draw pictures to add to our working wall.
  • The children were incredibly proud of their work and loved showing off their achievements.
  • Throughout the day we had over 600 visitors.
  • Even the passing police officers came in to admire the work on display!
  • The drawing zone was a real hit and had lots of budding artists refining their skills.
  • By the end of the day we had filled our working walls.
  • Lots of our visitors wanted to take copies of the work on display.
  • All our visitors spent lots of time studying each piece of work and talking about the skills that the children had developed.
  • Throughout the day the gallery was filled with our school community and members of the public.
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