‘What are the environmental, social or economic conditions of learners in your school and what are the implications for practice?’

During a lesson on fairness and equality which I could highly recommend (click here to view lesson plan), my class and I’s discussion led us to barriers to learning. I had asked the children how they would feel if a doctor treated each patient (no matter what they illness or symptoms) with the same treatment. The all agreed that this would be ridiculous. I then asked the children whether they thought it would be fair that a teacher should scribe for a pupil who struggled with handwriting during a literacy lesson to allow them to access the key learning. They strongly disagreed with this and said it would highly unfair for all the other children who had to write themselves. I was shocked by this response but it alerted me to the fact that as teachers we are trying to use an equitable approach to GIRFEC but for all children to feel included and to GIRFEC holistically, we need pupils to be in on the approach too. Something in my teaching needed to change to achieve this.

I showed my pupils this picture –

We discussed what kind of social, emotional, economic, learning and physical issues may create fences or barriers to stop pupils from accessing learning. Pupils started to become aware of the short-term and long-term barriers each and every one of them was experiencing or had experienced at some point recently. We linked this with resilience work that we have been covering as a whole school but also discussed examples of ‘boxes’ that we can provide linked with the wellbeing indicators to ensure each child is receiving the best chance to reduce/overcome their barriers. This has allowed me to provide more for the pupils in my care as they are also looking out for what can be done to support themselves and others so instead of one pair of teacher eyes trying to GIRFEC, I now have 32 pairs of eyes supporting the wellbeing of our classroom.

With an upper school class it has been evident to me through this learning process that pupils are very aware of wanting to be treated the same however they also need to know that they can receive equitable support in a discreet manner. Pupils have loved the concept of a ‘box’ to help them ‘see over the fence’ and if they are needing discreet support are now using the phrase ‘I need a box’ to ask for help or support.

As for the third of the pictures shown above, our class are undecided whether it is fully possible to remove all barriers in life but we are trying out best to achieve this in our classroom.

5 Responses to “‘What are the environmental, social or economic conditions of learners in your school and what are the implications for practice?’”


  • Thanks for sharing the lesson, Faye! And the pupils’ response to it was interesting. We need to come up with a common view of what ‘fair’ is otherwise the word is meaningless. Practice that tackles differences and helps all – great!

    • I am going to have to think about how to adapt that lesson for my wee ones! Fairness is definitely not as starightforward as you assume people see it.

      • It generated really great discussion and revealed opinions and misconceptions I wouldn’t have known my pupils had. Let me know how it goes with younger ones.

  • Faye, this is such a fantastic example of the great work you do with p7s. I’m so impressed that the kids were talking about barriers to their learning and able to reflect on this. All boils down to the experiences teachers provide their learners to enhance inclusion in the classroom.

    • Thanks for your comment Michelle. It has been so beneficial to have discussions around barriers to learning and the importance of inclusion with the children.

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