Developing the Life and Ethos of West Barns Primary School
Over the past 12 months at we have been working with pupils, families and the wider community to help us develop a clear rational for our curriculum based on shared values of respect, happiness, confidence, responsibility, safety and friendliness. The school continues to develop open and supportive relationships with children and their families. We are now beginning to see the impact of many months of hard work on the life and work of the school.
This year we have introduced Learning Journeys which will support pupils in reflecting on their learning and identify their next steps as well as recording their wider achievement. We are sharing these with parents and families on a regular basis and encourage them to add their own comments, photos, certificates etc. and help their child set health and wellbeing targets. This will provide parents with a great opportunity to become more involved in their child’s learning and achievements. By the end of this first term we are already seeing pupils engaging more in discussing their learning, identifying their strengths and next steps, thinking of strategies to help them move forward and evidencing their achievements.
Parents and families also recently helped our Primary 4-7 pupils understand the importance that literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing skills will play in their adult lives. Pupils interviewed adults as part of the Family Homework task (download parents survey). Pupils then worked together to process and present the information. This gave our children a greater understanding of why it is important to master these basic skills during their school years. Younger pupils have been thinking about what jobs they would like to do when they are older and which skills they will need. Staff continue to make the links between the children’s learning and skills for learning, work and life.
This year we felt it was essential that we looked at how we could better promote emotional resilience in our pupils. We are using a whole school approach to health and wellbeing through using Edinburgh City’s ‘Creating Confident Kids’ resources (http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/info/20075/information_for_professionals/383/learning_publications ). The Headteacher is working with all classes to develop a whole school approach through active learning and school assemblies. The Playground Committee has also been looking at ways that we could better support pupils during break times through developing games and activities and have introduced their own Playground rules.
The whole school community are now working together to develop an ethos of positive behaviour to promote effective learning and wellbeing across the school. This year, before choosing new House Captains, pupils were asked what attributes they valued most in a leader. The results were unanimous – pupils wanted role models who showed respect, kindness and responsibility. Candidates then used these findings to inform their election campaigns and now have a clear remit of what the school community expects from them in their new roles.
Our recent pupil survey showed us that our children wanted to contribute more to the life and work of the school. We are now giving all our pupils the opportunity to exercise their responsibilities through playing an active part in one of our 4 school committees. We have timetabled quality time and invested in resources to ensure that pupils have real opportunities to participate responsibly in decision-making, contribute as leaders and role models and offer support and service to others through meaningful projects that will benefit the school and our wider community.
Although we have an open door policy here at West Barns and welcome communication from parents, we were keen on trying to involve our parents more in the day to day running of the school. Our Parent Council have recruited many volunteers through the West Barns Helping Hands scheme which involves parents, families or neighbours offering their help in a variety of different ways from creating resources, digging the garden, mending toys, making curtains and helping organise events. We are seeing many more parents and families becoming involved in the school and we are making headway with many new projects thanks to their help.
Next month see how our curriculum rationale is being developed.