In the first year of Endeavour all the schools involved worked closely and held several discussions to assess the impact of the project, as well as surveying the views of parents and children. Some of the key issues we had included finding space in the curriculum, resources and ensuring all children could achieve at the correct level.
Space in the curriculum is limited and we were allocating an afternoon a week for at least two terms in the year, so we had to justify this use of time. The depth of learning achieved and the skills of planning, time management, researching and presentation developed meant we were confident children were achieving skills that would be invaluable in their future learning and careers. The results the children produced at the end confirmed this, but the projects required careful management and direction at the outset if they were to work.
Resources were another key issue. Some projects required the purchase of equipment and it should not be expected that parents will provide all the resources. In the first year the authority provided some funding, but since then we have managed any extra costs through the school budget. These have included the purchase of a sewing machine, soldering equipment and electronics, and model airplane kits. Human resources are also key; as the teacher the project can be difficult to manage if the expectation of the child being responsible for their own learning is not clear at the start. This can be challenging for some and they may require more structure and support to succeed. The use of classroom assistants and local community members can be invaluable here; this year I have a classroom assistant supervising baking, a former headteacher supporting learners and a member of the community teaching sewing skills. However in my first year I managed with no extra adult support.
Ensuring all children achieve and that they are focused on their work can be tricky. Most are motivated to work hard because they chose the topic, but ensuring planning at the start is detailed really helps keep them on track. Endeavour works well for all children as what they do and how they show their learning is chosen by the child; children who are reluctant writers can achieve a lot through practical work or film or presentations. A child with autism and communication difficulties was able to complete successfully two years of Endeavour on cooking and trips around the island.
We gave out questionnaires in the first year to parents and children and the response was very positive. Everyone felt they enjoyed the project and that it was worthwhile. Some parents felt children needed more help and some children would have liked more time in class to complete their project. More regular peer and self assessments were introduced to ensure children were on track and challenging themselves to the same level as their peers.
Since the implementation of Endeavour children are always excited to know when their project will start, and we have now rolled it out throughout the school at early and first level in the form of mini endeavours, where children apply similar skills at an appropriate level and with more support over just a term. Children have a better set of key skills for life, learning and work and are able to apply them across the curriculum; children are more independent in their learning and able to make decisions about how and what to learn. They are also more prepared for High School and future careers. You can access the questionnaire we used below.