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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.

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Headteacher's Blog Latest News

Building community-then and now

There are so many activities across a school week, beyond our lessons, that help to build our children’s experience, confidence and enjoyment. We have done a lot of thinking about this and how a child’s primary school experience needs to be rich, varied and engaging. This week was no exception.

At the end of the week, the children engaged in a day of fundraising for Sports Relief by working hard on an obstacle course organised by Mrs McLoughlin. It is her responsibility to organise and promote our sport and PE curriculum and the event on Friday is another part of this. It was great to see how the children pushed themselves but also how much they enjoyed the day. Back in class, the children watched some clips about how the money raised helps children around the world. Some of our children were surprised to learn that some children do not have access to an education. It was good for them to think about this and realise how they might have had some impact on another child’s life by taking part in the event.

Events like the Sports Relief obstacle course help our children to develop empathy and a sense of community. This was the subject of Y5’s assembly on Friday morning. In their most recent historical enquiry, Y5 have been researching the history of Unsworth and further developing their mapping skills by looking at maps over time to see the changes in our area. The history of Unsworth was the subject of their assembly.

During the assembly, we heard about the origins of the Unsworth area, its legendary dragon and its contribution to the developing Industrial Revolution. We also heard about the greasy Unsworth Pole and the sacrifice made by our community during the two World Wars. The children ‘travelled’ back and forth through time via their time machine. At the end of the assembly, they brought everyone together by leading us in an enthusiastic rendition of our Community Song. It is through events like this, attended by so many parents and carers, that we foster the sense of community and belonging that is so important to children’s lives.

On Monday and Tuesday this week we will be welcoming parents and carers into school to meet with class teachers. This is an opportunity to look through the children’s books and to look at the work on display in their classrooms and in our corridors and hall. It is also an opportunity to speak to the class teacher about the progress that has been made over the last two terms. Each class teacher should give a picture of how children are progressing in their basic skills in particular and the things they will be working on over the remainder of the academic year. This is why we have our progress meetings at this point, so that we have time to work on any issues before the year ends.

We are very much looking forward to seeing you in school this week. I will be available throughout both sessions (3:30-6:30 Monday and Tuesday) if there are any issues you wish to discuss further.

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Featured Latest News Music Teacher's Blog

A Musical Masterpiece!

Our next large scale musical event will take place in July at Bury Parish Church. I have been asked to organise a ‘Youth Prom’ style concert which will obviously involve the choirs from the 5 schools in our Collaborative, alongside the Bury Young Voices Choir, and the Derby High School Band.

It is an exciting task to find repertoire for such events, challenging the children and introducing them to different genres of music. With great anticipation the Choral Group today began the task of learning the ‘Manchester Mash Up.’  This is a selection of songs all associated with Manchester that are ‘mashed together’ to create a 10 minute musical composition.  I have ensured the children mums, dads and carers will remember songs from the 80’ s and 90’s such as James ‘Sit down’ and Oasis ‘Don’t look back in anger.’

This fantastic musical masterpiece culminates with Elbow ‘A day like this.’ The thought of over 100 children performing this medley with a live band I’m sure will be another memorable night for our pupils, teachers, parents and carers.  To help the choral group familiarise themselves with these songs I have included a link for them to listen to and follow their lyrics.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOR00dOS-do

Our instrumentalists are continuing to make super progress particularly in Wider Opportunities where we have classes learning Ocarinas, Recorders and Brass.

Now we have entered the season of Spring, I look forward to our weekly ‘Big Sing’ where the theme of our songs will be the festival of Easter and New Life.

Mrs Geelan

 

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Featured Governor's Blog Latest News

Governors’ Learning Walk – British Values

Another interesting afternoon as a Governor of Unsworth Primary School.  Mr Cohen, Mr Howarth and I spent the afternoon carrying out a Learning Walk looking at how the school promotes British Values.  You can learn more about what this means by visiting the SMSC section of the website.

We met with Mrs Ali first and she explained to us how the school sets out to promote British Values under 5 themes: Mutual Respect, Democracy, Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs, Rule of Law and Individual Liberty.  We then set out to explore how this is put into practice.  We visited an RE lesson, looked at the displays in the classrooms, hall and corridors, looked at some pupils’ books from each class, checked out the website and talked to the School Council.  We found lots and lots of evidence from all these activities that showed that the school is clearly very successful at putting into practice what it sets out to achieve under each of the 5 themes. We particularly liked the fact that children are encouraged to add their own personal contributions to the many displays. For example on the display “We all have dreams” one child had written “I have a dream that I will grow up to be a lovely lady and also a caring doctor”.

I also know that Mr Howarth had a great time meeting with the School Council.  We will very shortly be sharing with staff a full report of the outcomes of our Learning Walk.

Thanks, once again, to all the staff and children for making us so welcome.

[Sheila Gaskell, Vice Chair of Governors]

 

 

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Latest News Sports News Blog Year 3 Blog Year 5 Blog Year 6 Blog

The Sports Crew deliver a superb activity!

Our Sports Crew had a great start with their first taught session based on invasion games. The Sports Crew are a group of 8 children who are in charge of their own activities and decide for themselves which sporting activities they think the younger children across the school would enjoy. They decided to interview me to find out more about Y3’s interests and from there, planned three sessions to deliver to Y3.

Last week they taught Y3 how to warm up their bodies, modelled and played an invasion game which they called ‘Tag the Tail’ followed by stretches to cool down their bodies. Both Y3 and the Sports Crew had a great time! Next week, the Crew will deliver some football skills and set up a mini match. Great teamwork!

 

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Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog

Taking a leap of faith…

Currently, the teaching profession is experiencing a period of significant change, with a new curriculum that is in its infancy, the removal of assessment levels, the introduction of a new SEND code of practice, the reduction in capacity of Local Authorities to offer support and the growing pressure on schools to deliver more and more services to their communities. For schools, there are so many decisions to make and often choosing the right one is not an easy task.

Over the last few years we have worked really hard at Unsworth to think about and prepare ourselves for all the changes that we knew were coming our way, but also to develop a mind-set that change is something to embrace, as we don’t know what is around the corner. As a staff we have come to see change as an opportunity, as a necessary part of developing our provision for our children and as something that allows us to grow in our pursuit of providing the best possible education. Our children live in an ever evolving, fast paced society, where each and every day brings new challenges or uncovers new learning. On one hand, to prepare children for a future that we can’t yet see is such a difficult task, as how do we know if the latest trends and ideas are going to stay or what if we try something and it doesn’t work out?

Consider this though, 5 years ago we decided as a school to write our own “Unsworth Curriculum”, where we sat together and thought about what we wanted children at Unsworth to experience from the minute they walked in the door in Reception to when they walked out of the door at the end of year 6. This enquiry curriculum was built by staff and has evolved each and every year, as we have learnt about how our children learn best, as we have developed our own knowledge and understanding of curriculum subjects and as we have reflected on the things that have been successful and the things that haven’t worked. All the way along we have stuck to our principles that the way we teach our children is bespoke to their needs. They are always at the centre of everything and when we reflect on the way in which we do things we always take it right back to whether or not it makes a positive impact on our children’s learning. Most of the time we have to make decisions about the way we do things, without knowing exactly what will happen or the effect it might have, but it is these leaps of faith that have moved Unsworth forward and enhanced the way in which our children access our curriculum.

Some good examples of this would be the fact that as a school we rarely use whole class teaching, but instead teach groups of children across lessons, to ensure that children are instantly hooked into their learning, get regular personalised feedback and have every opportunity to develop their skills from their point in the curriculum. For us this approach started 8 years ago and looking back to when it started, it has truly transformed the way in which our children learn and the way in which we teach. At the time, it was bold and there were many outside the school who considered it to be a risk, but for us we felt that it was right for our children and we took a chance to do something to make a difference.

All our classes for the last 7 years have had their own sets of laptops or Ipads, because we felt that we wanted technology to be weaved throughout the curriculum and to be there when the children needed it, rather than in a given slot across the week. We got rid of the ICT suite and the moveable trollies and opted for in class storage solutions. The result was children embraced the technology, teachers had it at their fingertips and technology had the chance to weave its self into the daily practice of each and every class. Not all the decisions we make always work, but I think the saying “you learn from your mistakes” is so true, because like children learn from errors, we as a school learn from trying things out and reflecting on how to adapt. Our writing curriculum is a prime example of this, because it is after 10 years of development, that we feel we have now got to a place where we understand not only what good writing is, but how to develop our children’s love of the writing craft.

Throughout my time at Unsworth myself and my colleagues have always opened up our classrooms to a variety of different educational practitioners and we have had the opportunity to work with some of them within their own settings. Quite often we have not known what the outcomes of these visits or sessions might be, but many of them have resulted in partnerships or projects that have helped shape and develop both our thinking and  curriculum . Crucially, each and every visit has developed our practice and, as a consequence, directly impacted upon the children that we teach. As a school we embrace this kind of approach and increasingly over the last few years we have opened ourselves up to our colleagues in other schools, because we see the value in school to school support.

Recently we have hosted a variety of different types of courses at Unsworth in our new training room, all of which have involved practitioners across Bury spending time within our classrooms experiencing how our children learn on a day to day basis. For me, these visits have made such a positive impact upon our school, because not only has it allowed us as staff to reflect on the way we do things, but it has also given us a wealth of feedback about the way in which our school works.

Sometimes the unknown can seem like something to step away from, but when you think of the current landscape, no one has any idea where things will go and in some ways we never know how things will turn out. If we don’t try things out or push the boundaries of the way we do things, our practice will never move on. As a school we like to evolve and develop the opportunities our children have. When you think about most of the ways in which we do things as a school, they have developed not only from us taking a leap of faith into the unknown, but from being rooted in us understanding what works for our children and putting them at the centre of all that we do. If you read some of the recent comments below that we have received from visitors, hopefully you will see further how important it is for us as a school to keep looking forward and taking every opportunity we have, even if we can’t always predict what the outcome might be.

“Wow Unsworth Primary. Your school makes us feel really welcome! Your focus on bringing out the best in every pupil and your honesty is refreshing.”

 “Thank you for welcoming us into your school during such a busy week. There are so many ideas to share and celebrate, but I will take away how inclusive the school is and how you prioritise and celebrate individuality.”

“Classrooms were stimulating and supported children’s learning. Children were able to talk about their learning confidently and knew the purpose of their tasks.”

“The books are excellent. Marking signposts how to improve really well. The children work very much independently and are proud of their work and their school. Displays are beautiful and vibrant. Children are polite to each other and can talk eloquently. All this has clearly been developed over time. Great staff!”

“It was so good to see all the staff working together as a team. You could see this culture well and truly embedded throughout the school.”

“Thanks to everybody-our school motto is Happiness and High Standards. Your team seems to be as near to achieving it as possible. Well done!”

“Thank you so much for letting us see all the amazing things you are doing with your children. You clearly enthuse and inspire your children. I saw lots of fantastic teaching.”

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Latest News Reception Class Blog

The Easter Story in Reception

In Reception, children are introduced to the world of religion in terms of special people, books, times, places and objects. They listen to and talk about stories. They are introduced to religious words and they reflect on their own feelings and experiences.

Our Spring focus in RE has been ‘Belonging’ and has focused on Christianity. Today the children have been listening to the Easter story. After listening to the story, the children asked many questions, which were answered sensitively. The children then made small world Jesus’ and ‘palm’ crosses made from paper. Have a look at the photos to see some of the children hard at work. Can your child tell you about Jesus and the Easter story?

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Headteacher's Blog Latest News

Working together

We have had an exciting week since our return after half term. Three times each year we plan a ‘whole-school enquiry’ in which we develop a set of skills across every class. Our current enquiry is entitled ‘If you go down to the woods today..’ and focuses on developing mapping skills in geography. We have worked hard to plan some intriguing hunts and puzzles around the school and in the grounds.

The children have been using maps and plans and investigating how they help us to get about. It has been lovely to see their excitement and enthusiasm build across the week. You can follow our activities on Twitter or take a look at our special enquiry page by going to the curriculum tab on this website and following geography. We will further develop the enquiry next week.

On Thursday morning, we enjoyed seeing our Y1 children leading their class assembly. They have been working on a theme about being special and ‘being glad to be me.’ They wrote their own lines and spoke with confidence. They told us how they are different but how we should respect our differences and celebrate them. Well done, Y1, we were very proud of you!

On Friday, we held a training event in school for 17 primary school head teachers from schools all over Bury. We have designed this course to focus on assessment and to encourage schools to work together to develop their thinking when it comes to assessment. We spent time discussing the national picture but more importantly, we discussed what assessment looks like in the classroom.

In small groups, the head teachers visited our classes. They saw guided reading, PE, geography, mathematics and writing lessons. They considered how teachers and teaching assistants work with our children and assess what they can do. They were so impressed with the behaviour and attitudes to learning shown by our children. They noticed their independence and engagement with their learning. They were particularly impressed with our Y4 tour guides who directed them from class to class and who demonstrated such pride in their school.

We asked for some written feedback from our visitors and were very proud when somebody said the our school motto ‘Together We build Understanding’ is evident throughout our school and shines through in everything we do. Thank you to all of our children and to their adults who work so hard to give them such wonderful experiences.

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Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Inspiration!

This week year 2 started work on learning about what makes a good fantasy story. I always think that to craft a good piece of writing, a writer needs some inspiration to start the process. With this in mind I introduced the children this week to the author Christopher Paolini. Paolini is the author of “The Inheritance Cycle”, which is a set of 4 books that tell the story of Eragon the Dragon Rider, who lives in the world of Alagaesia. His ability to paint a picture in the readers mind, is what makes his fantasy stories such a good read.

On looking at the front cover, the children were intrigued by the blue dragon and on reading just one paragraph about the main character Eragon, the children were hooked. A few years ago, the 1st book was made into a film, so as a class we watched a 1 minute trailer that introduced Eragon and the dragon in its egg. The day before, the children had worked in pairs to come up with adjectives and similes to describe a picture of a dragon, whilst also coming up with a name, such a Star Fly, Green Wing and Flame.

After watching the clip I asked the children to create a description of their dragon in the style of Paolini. I was so impressed with the writing that the children produced, but I was more impressed with the fact that they had been inspired. Inspiration can come from anything, be it a picture, word or experience. For me as a teacher, it is through inspiring our children that we achieve the best results. There is nothing better than seeing a set of 30 inspired children striving for their personal best. Hearing the buzz of children talking about their use of similes or having conversations about what adjectives to use highlights how proud the children are of their writing. Their compliments to each other on different phrases was also lovely to hear.

Christopher Paolini himself has also took an interest in year 2’s work this week on Twitter. We tweeted him a Pic collage of some of our dragon vocabulary, which he added onto his Twitter feed to share with his followers. We have also sent him some of our descriptions to  see what he thinks. Year 2 were thrilled that he had acknowledge their efforts and I think it is wonderful that the children’s source of inspiration has been able to use technology to acknowledge their efforts and inspire them to develop their writing further.

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Computing and E-Safety Featured Latest News

Making the Internet a Safer Place!

Each evening this week the children will be bringing home some resources from the UK Safer Internet Centre. You can click here to access a range of other materials from them. In school we will be raising further awareness about using the Internet safely as an extension of the work we already do through our curriculum.