Blog Teaching & Learning Blog

The Evolution of Learning

When we think of evolution we often think first of Charles Darwin and his work around the process by which different organisms are believed to have developed from earlier forms during the history of the earth. It’s interesting through to consider the fact that evolution means the “gradual development of something.” I have been lucky enough over the past few weeks to work with a range of different practitioners, who have got me thinking about how learning has changed and is changing.

This year I have been working with Bury NQT’s (Newly Qualified Teachers) to develop their knowledge and understanding about what good teaching is. This involves planning and delivering training sessions where we unpick the theory behind teaching and look at what good practice is. While I was with Bury NQT’s on Thursday, we had the opportunity to go on a learning walk around St John with St Marks Primary School and observe a range of lessons. Visiting another school is always a privilege because it is an opportunity to see how learning and learners are being developed. It was wonderful to see how the children were at the centre of the learning experience and it confirmed for me the importance of listening to learners and developing approaches in school to make learning accessible to all. Through my discussions with other teachers, I always find that I learn something new or think about something in a different way, which is why collaboration between schools is so important.

All of us are learners and learn best from each other. As a school we have been developing this idea through our collaborations with other schools. You will have probably read recently through our blogs, about the variety of different visitors we have had to school and how these visitors help us to develop our thinking further. Linked with this are our visits to other schools, where we get opportunities to see other practitioners, reflect on different learning environments, look at children’s books and participate in learning in different classrooms. These types of experiences are the ways in which we evolve at Unsworth and how we advance our own understanding of learning.

Today I spent a morning at Yesoiday Hatorah School in Prestwich, which is a school I have been working with over the past 18 months. Within the school I have been sharing the work Unsworth have done on assessment and helping the school to develop its own approach through discussing the National picture. It was great to see the work the school has done so far following on from my earlier visits. It further strengthened my belief in the importance of school to school support, where practitioners have professional dialogue about their schools and where they need to go next. My session today provided staff at the school with an opportunity to look through a range of children’s work from Unsworth and a chance for me to discuss what learning is like for our children. I was delighted to hear how impressed the school was with the quality of our children’s work and how inspired the staff felt to develop further the learning experience for children within their own setting.  For me, the school I visited has started to evolve and it is lovely to think that through the evolution of learning at Unsworth, learning in other places is evolving to.

Classrooms, schools and indeed the whole landscape of education, are places that are constantly faced with a need to develop and move on. For myself and Mrs Reynolds, the progression of Unsworth and development of opportunities for learners to thrive further is always a high priority. It is an exciting prospect to be part of the evolution of learning and to value the merits of embracing change. We must see change as something positive, because change brings about reflection, it brings a sense of developing something further and it means that for our children, we are always looking at how learning can shape their futures.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”

Nelson Mandela

Featured Latest News Music Teacher's Blog

The Merits of Music

It always gives me a great buzz when I arrive at Unsworth on Tuesdays to see children walking to school carrying guitars, ukuleles, violins and Brass instruments. I often think Tuesdays at Unsworth should be renamed ‘Tuneful Tuesdays.’ We really are very proud of the amount of music we manage to pack into the timetable each week, and the benefits music has across the curriculum.  I am usually greeted on a Tuesday by pupils who ask, ‘Miss, is it ocarinas today or ‘Is it Big Sing?  Music is so important to the children and on the odd occasion Big Sing doesn’t happen, they quite rightly express their disappointment, and demand an explanation as to why it hasn’t happened!

Our Music Collaborative has now been in operation for over ten years, and it is evident how music has developed across 5 schools building confidence amongst pupils as well as musical skills.

Our visiting music teachers thoroughly enjoy working at our school, particularly Mr Dixon who even visits us from a different authority. When asked about his visit to Unsworth Mr Dixon said he ‘thoroughly enjoys coming to work with such talented and committed pupils in Year 5, and the musical skills they develop lower down the school certainly benefit them when they start to learn a musical instrument.’

Today we have recorded many extracts of the children’s musical talents and hope you can take a moment to listen to and maybe even comment on some of our performances on Twitter. Tomorrow is National Sing Up Day, and we constantly remind pupils that we have been awarded the ‘Gold’ Sing Up award for the quality of our singing!

Featured Governor's Blog Latest News

A review of how our school works

Yesterday 2 Bury Headteachers visited our school to see how it works.  As part of this exercise they met with 3 Governors, myself, Mr Howarth and Ms Channon.  The purpose of the meeting was to find out what role the Governors play in the school….we had lots to tell them!  They asked us several questions, all of which we were able to answer.  It was a really useful exercise and gave us one or two ideas that we will try out.     Thanks to all the staff and children and to the 2 Bury Headteachers for making it a really positive experience.  We look forward to receiving the written report of the day [Sheila Gaskell, Vice Chair]

Blog Featured Latest News Teaching & Learning Blog Year 2 Blog

Listening to Learners

The primary classroom is a busy place and there is often so much to do that it can be easy to often spend little time taking a step back to appreciate how much learning has happened in such a small space of time. This week I decided to put in some time within class to reflect on what has been achieved so far in year 2. Children are the greatest critics of their own work and indeed their own learning, so my thinking on Monday and Wednesday was to provide children with time to look at their books with a critical eye and consider how their learning is progressing across all aspects of the curriculum.

Year 2 and I talk all the time about their books being like windows to their learning and year 2 will rightly say that out of a window we like a nice view! With this is mind the children took time on Monday and Wednesday to look through their “windows”. As the room filled with the sounds of turning pages, another sound started to silently sweep across the room. On every table I started to hear conversations about presentation, about writing stamina, comparisons of earlier pages to later pages. Children began to compare their books to their peers and as these exchanges took place, the children praised each other for how much their work was changing.

As I listened to all these different conversations, I noticed that as children looked at some pages, their facial expressions appeared disappointed or nervous and I asked children what the reasons were. I was so impressed that children answered by picking out the areas that they needed to develop and also it was lovely to hear them say things like “Well I don’t think I tried my best on this piece of work, but if you look here you can see I have started to…” The children enjoyed spending time carrying out their own work scrutiny and they were able to pick out for themselves different areas that they need to focus on. For me, it was their celebrations of how far they have come that was such a powerful outcome of their time with their “learning windows”

Listening to the learners in the classroom is so important and taking time to hear about how they feel about different activities, tasks and experiences, allows me as the teacher an opportunity to design learning that moves children onto their next steps. In maths this week I have been giving the children opportunities to choose their own level of challenge. This means that learners can decide where they feel they need to  start a task, so some children may feel that they want to do some simpler practice questions before they move onto a puzzle or problem that needs more unpicking. Other children may feel confident with an aspect of maths, so go straight for the problem or puzzle.

It was really good to see that children picked the right level of challenge for them and on talking to the children, it was clear that they felt in control of their own learning and felt that they had ownership. One child said that he liked choosing the level of challenge because he could work at his own pace and on receiving feedback, quickly move on or do some more practice. For me, listening to learners and talking about the process of learning is the key to unlocking learning potential. By always actively listening to what the children around me say, I have learnt that everyday brings new insights to different ways to change and shape the learning journey of children at Unsworth.

On Tuesday I travelled to Sheffield with Mrs Reynolds to listen to Dame Alison Peacock (Head teacher of The Wroxham School) talk about her school and its approach to enriching children’s learning journeys to ensure they meet their full potential. Listening to the stories about different learners from the school made me reflect on different learners I have encountered over the years and how their needs have helped shape Unsworth as a school. Dame Alison talked about the fact that  it is so important for children to have the opportunity to work towards being whatever they want to be. In assembly this week the children talked about the value of “freedom” and for me children need the freedom in the classroom to access irresistible learning that makes them listen to learn from the experiences they have, whilst the adults around listen to them as learners and design learning that makes their aspirations a possibility.

It is a powerful thought to think that through actively listening to sometimes the smallest of comments or taking on board the expression on someone’s face, changes can be made to a task, challenge or situation that really can make a difference. One boy this week in year 2 demonstrated this when he said during our discussion about our learning windows:

“Mr Rhodes, I think its really good when one of the other children on my table talks to me about my window, because sometimes they understand how hard I have been trying and it makes me feel good about myself.”

Featured Latest News Reception Class Blog

Cakes and Coins

This afternoon Reception class took a trip to Martins bakery to see the inside of a real bakery shop and to buy their own cake. All of the children queued up with their 50p, handed over their coins and received a cake. The children were really excited and had lots of questions for the staff. It was lovely to hear them all using their manners and once everybody had bought their cake and had a look around, we all walked back to school. Once we got back to school, we all sat down with our cakes and ate them all up! Across the week Reception have been learning all about different coins and lots of children were able to suggest different coins that made a total of 50p! Also this week, the children have been looking at the weather. They have compared the different types of weather across the week and what the weather looks/feels like. Have a look at our gallery below of our visit to the bakery!

Featured Latest News Year 6 Blog

Zakaria Masjid Visit

We had a lovely time this morning visiting the Zakaria Masjid in Bolton.  The whole class were very well behaved and engaged while our guide showed us around inside and explained how different features are used by worshippers.

We asked (and answered!) lots of questions which showed the level of engagement and displayed what we have learnt about Islam so far in school.

Photos to follow!

Latest News Year 3 Blog

Our Ghanaian visitor

Last week we were extremely lucky when we heard Miss McGrath’s friend from Ghana was visiting Unsworth Primary! Raymond came into visit Year 3 to answer our questions based on our current Geography based enquiry; ‘What is life like to grow up in Ghana?’ The children enjoyed hearing about Raymond’s life in the capital city of Accra. He shared facts about some of the different cities and countries he has previously visited in Africa and we enjoyed hearing about his job and family.

The children shared some of their own work based on the continent Africa and were able to discuss different facts they had learnt. Raymond played a guessing game with the children and even rewarded them with traditional African necklaces. What a super way to spend the afternoon!




Y3, what did you ask Raymond? What was his answer?


Featured Latest News Year 2 Blog

Y2’s visit to the Jewish Museum

Year 2 visited the Jewish Museum in Manchester and spent the morning looking and handling a range of different sacred artefacts. The children were able to experience what it would be like to be in a Synagogue and had lots of questions to ask our guide. Below is a gallery from the visit so that you can see what the children got up to! In the afternoon the children wrote an information text all about the museum. If you click here you can visit the official website of the museum.




  • Year 2 went to visit the Jewish Museum in Manchester and saw lots of Jewish artefacts. Also, they learnt lots about what happens inside a real Synagogue.
  • They were able to see the Torah scrolls in the Ark.
  • Try on and handle a variety of different items.
  • Try on and handle a variety of different items.
  • The children were realy interested in what a Tallit was and tried some on.
  • Upstairs the children were detectives and went on a hunt to find a range of clues to identify different artefacts.
  • The children had a go at designing their own Kippah.
  • They even put some on and learnt that they are worn to represent that God is above.
  • The children acted out a Torah procession and learnt a short song in Hebrew!
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