Today I had the pleasure of shadowing the talented and charismatic Mrs. Geelan at Unsworth Primary School. As an NQT about to start his career as a secondary music teacher, I was astounded by the level of understanding of key terminology and musicianship that Mrs. Geelan instills in her pupils across all age groups. This, coupled with the respectful and inclusive nature of the school, provided a thoroughly enjoyable and welcoming day.
I would recommend a visit to all who are thinking of getting into teaching, or anyone else for that matter.
This week we have been very busy learning about 2d and 3d shape. In particular we have been learning to talk about corners, sides and faces when describing shapes. This weekend encourage your child to talk about the shapes they see in the environment and to use mathematical language to describe what they see. You could also ask them how to play ‘Guess the shape’ .
The children have also been very busy writing questions for Jack and the Giant. The writing in Reception is developing and lots of children enjoy writing as part of their play. We also talked about how some children don’t have much food and have to walk a long way to get water. We are encouraging the children to consider the lives of others and to understand some people lives are very different from their own.
Spring has sprung the grass we planted has grown and the flowers in the garden are looking gorgeous. This week the children have really enjoyed drawings ‘observational drawing’ of the beautiful blossom tree outside our classroom. They will be displayed in the conservatory , shortly. Over the last couple of weeks we have been talking about ‘special places’ it would be lovely if you could talk about yours to your child and encourage them to talk about theirs. Thank you to all those parents who made comments on the Maths homework they have been very helpful. It was good to hear that children were using lots of different strategies to solve the problems. Have a fabulous weekend. Regards Michelle Duckworth
Nurturing and developing children’s creativity is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a teacher. This week has been one of those weeks where children have been given a range of opportunities to be creative through using a range of different mediums such as art, music, drama, play and writing. It is through these different activities that children get an opportunity to make their own decisions and allow their personality to be expressed.
As a school we celebrate imagination, innovation and individuality through our daily practice. For us, it is so important that our classrooms and communal spaces are filled with children’s thoughts, ideas and own original pieces of work.
Reflecting on the different tasks that Y2 have done this week has been a real pleasure, as every child has shown how creative they can be when given the chance to share how they feel or experiment for themselves. For me, it is so important to provide children with opportunities to shine, to develop their own line of enquiry or make choices that reflect their own ideas. It is so rewarding to step back and reflect on how independent Y2 have started to become and also how imaginative they are when it comes to creating something for themselves.
The Aboriginal art work they have developed this week both indoors and outdoors is one of example of how hard the children have worked to produce their personal best. It is so important to put creativity at the centre of a school curriculum. Giving children and adults the space to innovate and be original allows for fresh perspectives, new ideas and a means by which to continually evolve. It also gives a space for expressing feelings and emotions. The work below highlights how Y2 have expressed themselves this week through colour and imagery.
Year 2 have really got into their historical enquiry and as you can see from the picture to the left, their working wall is being added to on a daily basis. This week the children focussed on uncovering more information about Mary Seacole and also spent time comparing the two women. This is a real important historical skill for children to develop, as it allows them to think about the actions people have taken and the effects that these actions had.
I was really impressed with some of the similarities and differences that the children found and it was great to see how collaboratively the children worked. The children are going to use all of their historical research and findings to write their final report, as they have been building up to this during our English lessons over the past three weeks.
In our art lessons, the children have been exploring Aboriginal art and this week they spent time with Mrs Rhodes creating Aboriginal inspired patterns, whilst also developing their understanding of what printing is through creating their own printing blocks. The children looked into how the Aborigines used symbols to tell stories known as Dream Stories. Their next step after looking at the symbols was to create their own stories and then choose one symbol to turn into a printing block. They then used their printing block to add to the whole class art work.
During maths this week, the children have been developing their reasoning and mental arithmetic skills. The children are really starting to unpick problems and puzzles, whilst also developing their ability to explain their thinking. Have a look at the gallery below to see our week in pictures!
This week we have been reading Jack and the Beanstalk a traditional tale loved by all! Children have made character puppets and have enjoyed retelling the story and writing about the main character Jack. It would be helpful if you could discuss the story with your child asking them to discuss what they know. One of our key questions in class at the moment is Who are the characters and what are they like? Next we are going to plant seeds and record their growth.
Children have enjoyed looking at each others ‘then and now’ photographs and discussing how they have grown and what changes have taken place. We are all looking forward to seeing the display on the wall – please pop in to take a look.
It’s been a busy few weeks in Year 5. The children returned to school fresh after the Easter break and raring to go.
We made an active start to our Science enquiry, where we will be looking at how plants grow. We had fun clearing out the overgrown Edible Garden and preparing the ground. It was interesting to hear the children share their own gardening stories and the types of things they have previously planted with various family members. We chatted about the different mini beasts we found and different types of weeds pulled out.
We planted a number of seeds indoors too, and will transfer them outdoors once they have grown. The children are enjoying watering and caring for the seedlings that have now sprouted. The gardens are now all planted; we have onions, carrots, beans, tomatoes, spinach, pumpkins, cauliflowers and much more! Fingers crossed for some good weather over the next few weeks.
In literacy, the children have been busy reading a number of stories from different cultures. We watched a few short films too which really helped us understand the detail we need to include when writing our own stories. The children were able to identify that they needed to include detail about the “human and physical geography” to really capture the culture of another country. It’s great to see that children are making links between different curriculum areas and transferring understanding.
We ended the week with recaping our enquiry work in History and how Unsworth has changed over the last 100 years. We then discussed and predicted what changes might take place over the next 50-100 years. The children had some amusing ideas about how life might change and the types of facilities that might become available. They then redesigned buildings, created some of their own and began remodelling the map of the local area.
On Monday last week we welcomed two assessors into school to spend the day with us in order to evaluate our work for the basic skills Quality Mark. This is our fourth renewal of the Quality Mark which is assessed every three years.
The basic skills Quality Mark is an award that celebrates and supports continuous improvement in literacy and numeracy. It is awarded to a setting or school to recognise their provision, practice and performance in literacy and numeracy, and is valid for three years.
A school or setting must demonstrate a whole school approach to improving standards in literacy and numeracy, with evidence of the impact of its approaches. It should provide a framework for self-evaluation and continuous improvement of the basic skills of all pupils in a school, including those who underachieve and those who underattain.
To renew the award, a school must demonstrate that:
there have been developments in basic skills that have had a positive impact on standards
there continues to be a whole school commitment to improving basic skills.
This year, we have also applied for the Early Years Quality Mark. This assesses whether a school provides a framework for self-evaluation and continuous improvement of the skills, particularly in communication, language and mathematical development, of young children through activities suitable for the stage of development they have reached.
At the end of the day we were delighted to achieve both Quality Mark awards. The assessors reported that they had been overwhelmed by the quality of our pupils’ work and their ability to talk about their learning. They were also impressed with the structures we have in place to ensure progress for every child. When we have the final written reports we will share them with parents and carers via our website.
We are rightly proud of our children and their efforts. The support and involvement of parents and carers is invaluable in their success as learners. The third element in this success is the commitment and sheer hard work of our staff. Without these three elements we would not achieve what we do for our children.
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.
Sports relief – Helping and thinking of others. We had a number of Y6 children, who helped Mrs McLoughlin to run this effort. By all accounts they did a great job. Thank you: Ryan, Caitlin, Keira, Phoebe, Matthew, Joe, Rio and Evie.
Year Six always love making the most of every minute we have in school and the last couple of weeks has been no different. A number of the class have been on our bike safety course; we have had various tests in maths and reading; created our own treasure trails; spent more time on understanding percentages, took part in Sports relief activities; focused on perspective in art as well as continuing with our work on being persuasive and we have had a new selection of books added to our class library.
We have come to the end of our Viking enquiry topic and the children have created some fantastic historical letters. The children wrote in role as different historical figures about decisions they made to establish peace between the Vikings and Anglo- Saxons. They look very authentic and look great on our wall in class.
The children thoroughly enjoyed working together to create their own treasure trails. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and a total contrast to the previous Friday afternoon where it had been snowing!
As a class we have completed 3 maths tests papers and one reading test over the last two weeks. We have reviewed some or parts of these papers in small groups and on a one to one basis. Working carefully and accurately are important skills that we need throughout our learning and as a class we have found out they can really help when completing tests too. We will be looking at more test questions over the next few weeks as we prepare the children so they feel confident that they can show off some of their abilities in the May tests.