The Endeavour project came about through discussions on curriculum design and the desire to find a way to develop resilience, independence and self motivated learning skills in children that would enable them to succeed in the ever-changing workplace of the future.
The inspiration for the project came from the Independent Learning Project in Massachusetts, where students operated ‘a school within a school’, designing their own curriculum. The results of this project were increased motivation and depth of learning.
Back in 2012 a pilot study was set up in Islay, Jura and Kilmodan primary schools to develop independent learning in the upper primary stages. Port Ellen Primary was part of that pilot scheme, and we leapt at the chance to try something new. It was decided that the key features of a successful Endeavour project were that it must be ambitious, it must demonstrate new learning and the learning must be shared with others. We did not want to see just another powerpoint or poster on our favourite animals or football teams. We wanted to see children developing transferable skills for work; planning, communication, organisation, research and presentation; as well as more specific skills ranging from sewing and quilting to soldering and map reading.
Essential to the success of the project was the involvement of parents and members of the community, who were able to help children develop the knowledge and skills necessary to be successful in their learning. Parents were involved from the outset, working with children to fill in their Endeavour long term planners and with lots of suggestions for local sources of help and support, ranging from visiting quilting and gardening experts to visits to local building projects and craft shops. It is the support of the businesses and experts in the local and wider community that have helped children see the application of their Endeavour projects for future careers.
Over the past three years examples of projects carried out include organizing a kayaking expedition around Islay, creating a video game using Kodu, creating a documentary on sheep husbandry over the year, composing an original piece of Scottish music on the piano, choreographing a new Highland dance, making animations and building electronic circuits. It is now being carried out in a stage appropriate way throughout the school and has even been taken up in the local High School in S1 and S2. Endeavour focuses on transferable skills for life, learning and work and during a recent Education Scotland inspection the inspectors identified that innovative practice in the use of Endeavour projects should be widely shared. This blog will attempt to share the Endeavour learning journey as requested in the hope it may inspire other educators to try something new, ambitious and then share it with others. If you have any questions about the project, please feel free to leave a comment and I will get back to you.