Category Archives: 2.2 Education Systems & Prof. Responsibilities

Placement Provider Overview

This blog post is going to be about the nature and culture of education in Moulsford Boys Prep School, Oxford-shire, England.

To start with, Moulsford is a private school, therefore independent and completely separate to the British government. On the other hand, the school follows the national curriculum up to Year 6 and thereafter from Year 6-8 the Common Entrance curriculum. The entire school is run by the Headmaster (chief role), and he is supported excellently by the staff who he has employed and the governors who help him.  Because of this I have created a small diagram of the structure around here including the curriculum’s, as the schools choose to follow them.

 

In terms of the curriculum, my findings of the differences between the English and private curriculum’s have been written in daily blog posts and weekly reflections. I feel there are some differences in the subjects we teach i.e. private schools in England teach classics and Scottish state schools don’t, but the way we teach and the techniques used are all the the same. The roles of the staff in private schools are the same as in state schools in Scotland, with the added additions of bursars, groundsmen, matrons and boarding staff. The other roles are basically the same as each position would be in a Scottish School.

There following list are of the many stakeholders to Moulsford. There will be many more stakeholders to Moulsford, however, I feel that this list includes the vast majority of the main stakeholders I have been in contact with. The stakeholders in Moulsford that I will spent most of my time at are:

  • School staff (Learning support, matron, kitchen, office, bursor, groundsmen, gap year students etc)
  • Boarding Staff
  • Visiting Staff (i.e. music and sport staff)
  • Pupils
  • Pupil’s Parents
  • Management i.e. Headmaster, deputies, heads of departments
  • Local community – business and residents of Moulsford, many of which are staff at the school
  • Wider community on school trips
  • Governors (Trustees of the Moulsford Preparatory School Trust – assist the School in its management, operations and development.)
  • Private education schools i.e. at sports matches and when other staff from these schools visit
  • National Government and Common Entrance – Curriculum’s

 

Moulsford’s Matron

Image taken from Google

I honestly have to say, when I was at school one of the places I frequented the most at school was the sick bay what with whooping cough, a bad back and then the general clumsyness of falling over. So when I came to Moulsford and found that they have their own matron, I knew I had to go and speak to her about her job. A matrons average working day at Moulsford is between 9.30 and 5.30, so 8 hours. She has her own office which also doubles up as a sick bay and spends all of her time in there. This is unless it is rugby season and we can all imagine how difficult that must be for a matron with loads of boys crashing into each other and vilontly tackling other players. As everyday is different there are no set number of boys she may see, but an average of around 14 was what she was happy to say. I think thats quite a lot for a school of only 350 pupils. Furthermore, the range of things she may see in a day are massive, from sore throats to bumped heads to cuts that need stiches. Moreover, should any child need further medical attention like stiches, it is school policy for the boys to either have their parents come to collect them or alternatively go to the local A+E walk in centre in Wallingford.

Image taken from Google – just some of the things school matrons/nurses have to do day to day

On the whole the chat was really positive and the matron expressed her love for the job and the school. She said that the only thing that makes her job particularly difficult is when boys do not follow the rules and then get hurt in the process. To be honest, there aren’t even that many rules at Moulsford and what rules there are, are simple ones to follow, but “boys will be boys” as they say. The majority of injuries will happen at break and lunch when boys are messing around so the matron will sit in her office during break and lunch just incase she is needed so that everyone knows where she will be in a crisis. I felt that although it is great to have someone there at all times and you know where they are going to be, it was a shame as the majority of other staff members take their break and lunch at the same time in the staff room, so therefore she is unable to interact as much with other members of staff.

Image taken from Google – definitely my motto when I was at school after I had whooping cough!

To my surprise, when I asked how the matrons job differed to that of a matron in a state school, her reply was that most state schools do not have school nurses or matrons. Even my school, which was in the back of beyond, used to have a school nurse, but apparently down here in England, state schools to not deem it nesesary to have a school nurse or matron on site at all times. It is most likely another expense that governements are trying to iradicate in order to save money in these trying times. However, for me, this is a total benefit to private school, especially if you have a child who is ill a lot or with a weak immune system like I had after my bought of whooping cough. I literally picked up everything going in the 18 months after my whooping cough and was often sent home with bugs or colds or coughs, but without the school nurse there to help my mum out with what to do, my mum would have most likely taken me for emergency appointments at the doctors etc. So I can absoloutely see the huge benefits to having matrons or school nurses becuase they can cut down work for teachers and doctors and make everyones life a lot easier.

My last question for the matron was what advice would you give to a trainee teacher like me. She expressed that being first aid trained was helpful for teachers so that they can spot when children are not feeling very well at all or just pretending for a bit of time of their least favourite subjects. Taking childrens temperature can also be really helpful to see if what they are saying matches up with how they might be feeling and for the children who are younger and less able to explain how they are actually feeling, this can give a better indication that they feel unwell. Moreover, we joked that having a spare bucket on hand was always helpful, especially on school trips, but even though we said this as a joke, I think I will always heed her words and make a bucket my new classroom staple. Additionally, the matron also had some words of advice that were not medical. Working as a team, espeically in this environment is vital and your job can be made so so much easier when you get along with everyone. Naturally, not all of us will always get on with everyone, but trying to be a team player and working together for the sake of the children is vital. I am really pleased I was able to speak to the matron about her job and the amount of work she has to do in a day. It has given me a new found respect for school nurses and matrons accross the country.

Image taken from Google – I have a new found respect for what school nurses/matrons have to do!

Boarding Life at Moulsford

Image taken from Google – what is your first impression of parents who choose boarding schools for their children?

Here at Moulsford, boarding is offered for boys Year 5 and up, Monday to Friday, 4 nights a week. It is flexible and boys can choose to stay for 1, 2, 3 or 4 nights in a row if they choose. There is also the opportunity for some boys to actually stay until 8pm if they’re parents work late as “day boarders” and leave when the other boys go to bed. When I was the boys age now, I was reading the st Claire’s, Malory Towers and Naughtiest Girl in the School books by Enid Blyton and daydreaming about going to a boarding school myself. For a time I was even considering giving up the idea teaching all together when I was told I would never get the grades required, so considered becoming a house mother. However, that dream was shattered when I was (falsely) told I needed a nursing degree of some sort, so gave up the idea and fought even harder to get the right grades needed to become a teacher. This week, I was lucky enough to spend an evening with the boys to talk to them about their experience boarding and also discuss the work needed to be put into making the boarders life as comfortable as possible by the house parents.

Many people that I know, have the opinion that boarding schools are for children who’s parents are too busy to look after them or for children with disciplinary concerns. Now I am here and experiencing the boarding side to private schooling, I see that it simply isn’t the case. I did ask the boys why they were here and received many replies such as “because I enjoy it”, “because its great practice before I go to a full boarding private school” and “because we can use the schools facilities”. The schools facilities are incredible and the boys could truly want for little more each night. The majority of the boys parents live little more than 15 minutes away from the school as well, so if they needed anything or felt home sick they are only a phone call away which is so handy for the boys, the families and the school. Moreover, the boarding facilities not only include activities areas, kitchen spaces, comfortable living areas but also a sick bay run by the matron each night between 5-10pm and after that the boarding parents, who also live in a flat on site. This is rarely used according to the boarding parents, but they are glad they have somewhere that the boys can go should they feel unwell or unable to sleep.

The routine is structured enough that the boys always have free time, dinner, extra prep, free time and then hot chocolate and reading before bed. However, their free time is their free time and the boys change into their home clothes and choose to do whatever they want. The boarding parents put on daily activities for the boys in both sets of free time, however there is not obligation to participate, although encouraged. In the run up to exams and if the boys have a test the next day, like any pupil from a state school, the boys will sometimes choose to revise for that subject rather that to spend time doing activities. There are two communal areas with sofas, TV’s, kitchen area and games tables as well as their own rooms and the school grounds which they can use. The boarding parents like to take the boys down to the sports hall to run around and play active games with the schools equipment and often even join in with their games. No other state schools that I know of run after school sessions where the children can literally do as they please, it is usually a structured activities program, so I quite liked seeing what the boys got up to in their free time after school.

Tuesday nights evening activity was actually run by me. I took irn bru and shortbread for the boys and I did a short talk on Scotland and taught them some words in Gaelic. I wasn’t expecting much as it was only a very short 15 minute talk with some questions at the end so I was really surprised when the boys loved my talk and even asked me to go back. I was quite delighted to say the least that I had successfully run an activity for 35 boys where they all had taken part and enjoyed it. Not in a million years did I think I would have even 10 boys show up to my talk, let alone all of them! I truly thought there would be a certain knack to getting them engaged in participating but after speaking to the boarding master, he said himself that the boys usually choose to go to the boarding house and take part in any activity going, so getting them engaged isn’t as tough as I’d originally thought. This is definitely a difference to what I am used to in state schools. Regularly, there is a battle between teachers and pupils for engagement in activities – even the fun ones – so I would definitely be interested to see what kind of reaction my talk would get in a state school.

Before I left the boarders I was just able to spend some free time down in the games hall with them playing football, wall climbing, playing tennis and talking to them all about boarding life. The boys bed times are staggered by year group and as they each go off they get their hot chocolate as they get ready for bed. Once ready, the boarding prefects go and listen to the younger boarders read, and are often rewarded with a stash of sweeties hidden away in the boarding masters cupboard (I absolutely didn’t have any *cough cough*). So once all the boys were away to bed, that was my evening with the boarders over. Once I would be leaving, the boarding parents would do their usual rounds of checking bedrooms for chatterboxes and any suspicious behaviour before going into their flat and most likely doing marking or lesson prepping themselves for the next day. I asked the boarding parents why they chose to become boarding parents and they said because they loved the school, the pastoral side to education and because it is great stepping stone to go on to greater things in education. They didn’t mention their degrees and especially didn’t mention they had a nursing degree. Further research since then has confirmed that in fact no boarding school dictates that a nursing degree is essential to being given a job as a house parent and only matrons require this on certain applications.

I honestly had never thought about becoming a house parent or working with boarding houses since the time I thought maybe it could be a career opportunity when I was around 10. However, I can honestly, from the bottom of my heart say that Moulsford has changed my mind about boarding and I might even be as bold as to say that becoming a boarding parent is something that I am really interested in as a career move. They are so close knit here at Mouslford (staff and boys) and I honestly get a strong family vibe from them, as though they are all here for a common reason and just want to enjoy what time they have at the school. It takes something massive and life changing to change my mind about becoming a teacher and I think the boarding staff at Moulsford would be proud to know they have had that lasting impact on me. I am so so looking forward to visiting them again before my time here at Moulsford will be up.

Image of the boarding school itself

 

Week 3 – Reflection

Week 3 has been a 4 day week due to Easter Monday being a bank holiday. I’m so used to being in Scotland where most people work and most things are open on a bank holiday but down here in England everyone closes up shop and takes the day as a proper holiday for family time! I think its lovely.

Image taken from Google – this was something discussed at the inset day. We need to ensure we teach in the learning zone and not send children into panic

So Tuesday I turned up to Moulsford bright eyed and bushy tailed, very excited to be going back to the school and found coming back after 3 weeks off, rather a breeze. Tuesday was only an inset day but really productive as the school had booked another teacher from “teddies” school in Oxford – also known as St Edwards – to talk about their skills based curriculum. It was really interesting and gave me some fantastic ideas which I would love to put into practice in the future and highlighted some important points like labeling children, giving the children challenges that are suitable but not in “the panic zone” and how important failure is to children so that they can learn from it. Moreover, as it is a goal of mine to find out about the school from all aspects I attended the staff meeting where, although opened and lead by the headmaster, many of the teachers took part in the discussion by putting forward comments or reminders about certain aspects of the school, their department or their class as well as comments from the bursar, office staff, learning support staff, cleaning staff and boarding staff. By attending the staff meeting I was able to demonstrate my professional commitment to my role as a teacher (Medwell and Simpson, 2008, Chapter 4) which is also a vital part to being a teacher in Scotland according to the GTCS (2012, p. 5) and also picked up on some valuable discussions taking place about the school in the summer term. For example, a discussion was held about the new boys who will be joining at the beginning of this term and it was lovely to see how much emphasis was put into this, to ensure it was a smooth transition from previous schools and happy term for the boys from members of teaching staff and office staff. Another discussion was held about members of staff across the school who would be joining the cleaning department and

Image taken from google – there is a real feeling of teamwork here at Moulsford which I love. Everyone works together and shares any information they can with their collegues.

boarding department which showed me just how vital these role are seen as in the school. Following a whole staff lunch I was kindly allowed to attend the English departmental meeting by the head of English. The meeting was putting emphasis on making English lessons creative and which books children would be reading from each year group. A member of teaching staff from each year group attended this meeting along with a member of the learning support team. There was a huge feeling of shared information and team working which I personally feel is important. I went back home at the end of the day to read Pollard et al (2008, chapter 10) about how teachers should implement a curriculum and found that team working and senior management meetings like the ones I have attended today are key to ensuring a curriculum is delivered to a high standard.

Wednesday was a rather full day for me with classes all day but starting with a whole school assesmbly. The topic for the assembly was faliure after the previous days training for teachers and I wrote more about this in Inset Day – Purple Pens and Labelling Lads. My timetable is set now and I will be doing the same things almost every week and my second lesson on a Wednesday will be in Language where I will be helping a pupil with some additional support needs. This is great experience for me as I be continuosly working with them and hopefully, accross many Language lessons in the following weeks, I will be able to see some improvement in their Language work. To help me with this set of lessons in my remaining time at Mouslford I have read the chapter, providing for special educational needs by Noel Purdy (cited in Cremin and Arthur, 2014, p.372). One interesting piece which I read in this was about individual education plans and how important it is to keep the children involved in their own learning. SEN, Ofsted (1999) found that many primary schools believe that not involving the pupils in the formulation of their IEP targets was a weakness to their own learning. I know that here at Moulsford the children are heavily involved in the creation or their individual education plans and therefore the child I am working with, will be informed in how they can work to help their learning. Furthermore, if I can read this, I will be more informed in how my attendance to the English class can benefit their learning to the highest standard.

Image taken from google – Moulsford understands how important sharing a childs IEP is with them, in turn allowing them to benefit more from their learning

Wednesday continued with my first ever proper music lesson which was with the Year 7’s. They were singing and the teacher has asked if I would like to prepare a song for the boys to sing next week. I am racking my brains but so far have not found anything I deem appropriate for this age group. It is times like this that you realise how much swearing and inapropriate subjects are used in music these days. Moreover, after lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon with the Year 3’s who were doing Language and Humanities. The languages lesson was really active with kung fu punctuation a huge part to what could have been a dull lesson about full stops.

Image taken from Google – I loved this idea of Kung Fu Punctuation!

Moreover, in preperation for my rivers lesson with the Year 3’s next week I was able to prepare slightly more by seeing what level some of the children where at already. This week they were foucssing mainly on Britain and I was able to have some very in depth disucussions with the children about Scotland. Most of the children were interested in the typical Ben Nevis, shortbread, whiskey and Gaelic conversations however much to my amusment a few of the boys challenged my football abilities “as a scottish woman” and were surprised to find I know my way around a football pitch rather well. As funny as I found their suprise, it was nearing the end of the day and I helped the class teacher prepare the boys for home time and even met a few of their parents when sending them out the door.

Thursday was very quiet with me meeting teachers across the school to arrange my lessons for the next 3 weeks, so rather exciting for me! I did attend 3 lessons today though and a assembly about cricket, which was great as I love cricket (I know its weird because I’m Scottish but I can’t help it) and its cricket season at Moulsford so I am definately going to try to attend a cricket tea at some point before I leave! In regards to my lessons, the first of these was Year 4 maths. The children were learning number lines and playing games and standing at the front of the classroom to make themselves a number line. Doing a physical number line with the boys meant they were actively engaged and participating in their lesson and I really liked one of the boys techniques of remembering what to do when rounding. This was 5 to 9 climb the vine, 0 to 4 to the floor. Me and the class teacher were both very impressed with this and both expressed our wish to use this again. As the lesson ended the class teacher had some time left over so played a “guess my number” game where the children had to guess which number the teacher had written on their wwhiteboard in only 20 questions. This meant that the class were using mathematical language which made me think back to the mathematics and science module I took earlier in the year where making maths fun and using mathematical language was actively encouraged by the lecturer in order to

Image taken from Goolge – this was the rhyme one of the boys said in their maths lesson on Thursday. Fantastic!

make their learning significant. Furthermore, 90% of pupils in Scotland feel that the mathematics that they are learning in school is significant to them outside of school (Scottish Government (Scotland), 2014) which means in Scotland teachers are teaching mathematics in a fun and engaging way. I feel that these statistics would be similar here as every mathematics lesson I have attended has been engaging and relevant. My day continued with another fun Latin lesson – I am certain I’m starting to pick up a few words. Break and lunch followed, with a history lesson about King John after with a lot of question and answer for the assessment methods. I will be with the Year 6 history group until I leave and look forward to seeing them continue on with this subject with the magna carter being a heavy feature.

Image taken from Google – Completely throwing it back to the absoloute classic magic key books which I learned to read with (so they must be old!)

Friday was my last day of week 3 at Moulsford before the weekend where I spent a morning with Year 3 doing reading and Science and an afternoon with pre-prep doing games (P.E.). The first thing I was doing, was listening to Year 3 readers individually with the class teacher. I really like to do this because you can have a quick conversation with the children about their book and get to know them a bit better. Reading here at Moulsford isn’t done with reading schemes but in Year 3 the children can choose their own stories. I have never seen this done, the schools I have previously attended have always ran with reading schemes. The difference in the two ways that the schools in England and Scotland encouraged me to go away and read some of Primary English: Knowledge and Understanding (Medwell et al. 2014). I found that although reading schemes can be extremely useful in helping teachers reach their children’s experiences and outcomes and equivalent in England, sometimes they can not be particularly interesting or have controlled grammatical and vocabulary structures (Medwell et al, 2014, p.141). Moreover, I personally feel that by giving children the opportunity to learn how to read by allowing them to choose their books the children will be more likely to pick stories they think they will like and therefore enjoy reading, which may give them a positive view of reading in the future. The difference between the way Moulsford teaches reading and Scotland does really interest me as you can see the difference between the children I taught this year compared to last year and the children at Moulsford definitely enjoy reading more. Furthermore, after my previous post which mentions the negative effects of labeling children, many reading schemes such as the Oxford Reading Tree and Read Write Inc do in fact encourage children to be put into reading groups with their books for differentiation. As much as teachers may like this, surely it is better for the children to learn from books they have chosen where they are not feeling pressured to go onto the next book or be in the “top reading”?

Science followed with lots of interesting expeirments taking place about soil. Some exciting question and answer games took place with an active true and false game which I really liked and discussions in pairs. Following this, the children had brought in their own soil and were putting it into a table under appearance, texture and moisture. This was great for me as next week I will be taking their science lesson where they will be continuing this and growing some broad beans. My afternoon was spent with pre-prep in the games hall where the children were playing active games running around and the discussing the skills they were practicing after. This was something that I compared with giving children their success criteria in Scotland which we know is important for their future development. I am really enjoying games lessons and intend to observe a couple more lessons next week and write about the way that Moulsford does games here compared with Scottish education. Although it has only been 4 days it has really been a busy old week for me here because I have observed loads which can be seen in this reflection alone! I am really excited for next week where I will be teaching my first lessons on my own and also seeing the boarding side to Moulsford!

 

References
Cremin, T, and Arthur, J. (2014) Learning to Teach in the Primary School. Routledge:

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Medwell, J. Wray, D. Moore, G. Griffiths, V. (2014) Primary English: knowledge and understanding. London: Learning Matters

Ofsted (1999) The SEN Code of Practice: Three Years On. The Contribution of Individual Education Plans to the Ihe Raising of Standards for Pupils With Special Educational Needs Ihe Ihe . Available online at: www.ofsted. gov.uk/resources/sen-code-of-practice-three-years (accessed 20th April 2017).

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Scottish Government (Scotland) (2014) Scottish Survey of Literacy and Numeracy 2013 (Numeracy) [Online]. Available at: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/0044/00449212.pdf   (Accessed on 24th February 2017)

Religious Instruction

Image taken from Google

Image taken from Google – Moulsford teach morals in every subject throughout the school

Moulsford, as with many other schools across England prides itself in being a Church of England school. This means that during assembly the boys are expected to pray, sing religious hymns and uphold christian values. I have myself observed this in practice and remember prayers and assembly singing, well from my own school days in Ullapool. The children do not only learn about Christianity at Moulsford but all faiths and with a specific Religious Instruction teacher at the school who is also head of Year 7. Morals are also taught throughout the whole school at all times with the every teacher ensuring this is upheld throughout all classes.

Image taken from Google – a lovely example of a wall display for R.E.

With Easter being a large part of the previous term, an Easter service was held with hymns and narratives from the bible read by the boys themselves. The school choir directed the singing with the orchestra playing the music for the hymns and I felt that this was a whole school effort to make the assembly a big part of the school year. Children do also attend regular assemblies every week where praying and hymns will take place in each one. Furthermore, even though the school as a whole caries out some christian practices as a Church of England school, it strives to not only teach about Christianity but about world religions, contemporary issues, historical figures, current affairs and moral dilemmas in weekly Religious Studies classes. As a subject from Year 1, the boys with learn through active discussion, media, ICT, external visits and outside speakers. This continues until common entrance in Years 7 and 8. There is a Common Entrance Religious Studies syllabus which is followed at Mouslford and prepares the boys for their common entrance examination to their senior private schools which is sat at the end of Year 8. I myself have looked at a Religious Studies past paper where the questions follow subjects such as Elijah, the 10 Commandments, Jesus, Cain and Abel etc. They are nearly always from a subject surrounding the bible which interests me as in my opinion, as it is a Religious Studies paper, shouldn’t it have questions from all world religions and not just Christianity?

The Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) in Scotland does not have that many experiences and outcomes for religious education and is actually titled “Religious and

Image taken from google – an example of some of the things the children following CfE will be taught

Moral Education“. It focuses on christian beliefs, practices, traditions and values, expecting the children to explore Christian stories, images, music and poems from early to fourth levels. Furthermore, practices and traditions in CfE will include things like Christmas and Easter which is very similar to the practice I am seeing daily at Moulsford. Additionally, having the values of what is fair and unfair and the importance of caring for, sharing and cooperating with others is again, similar to Moulsford’s values and there are certainly some comparisons between CfE and the National Curriculum in the way they teach Religious Studies. CfE do not only focus on Christianity but also all religions, with “World Religions” being the buzzword for this topic, so that teachers can focus in on any religions they wish and again teach about beliefs, practices, traditions and values of other religions. The National Curriculum in England actually sees religious education as another curriculum subject, as opposed to a programme of study by subject, where the subjects are more structured by key stages. There are some guidelines, but there is no specific content which needs to be studied at each key stage. The National Curriculum definitely contrasts with the common entrance exams for private education which do have a syllabus for Religious Studies.

Image taken from Google

To conclude, as one of my goals is to work with a different curriculum, my research into how Moulsford carry out Religious Instruction has been extremely interesting for me. The school as a whole teaches fantastic morals and although practices Christianity through the Church of England, encourages all religions. There is very little difference in the actual teaching of Religious instruction when it comes to the Curriculum for Excellence and the National Curriculum, so it is important the schools feel that they do what is right for their students. With regards to Moulsford, I see how crucial it is for them to stick to a syllabus that will not only enhance their learning but give the boys a better chance at passing their common entrance exams. Overall, I think Religious and Moral education is taught to a very high degree in all curriculum’s I have looked into to write this blog post, and certainly feel we as teachers, are equipping our children to live in the fantastically diverse country that we have in this modern age.

Week 1 – Reflection

Each week on my placement I will be writing some short weekly reflections about what I have been up to and what I have learned whilst linking it up to the GTCS (2012) Standards for Registration. My week started out rather nervously on Monday with my first day and I honestly don’t think I have ever felt so welcomed anywhere as I have done at Moulsford this week. I met the headmaster and all 3 of the deputies where one of them kindly showed me around the school so I wouldn’t be too lost. After this it was my safeguarding induction with the deputy for pastoral care for the school. I went on to spent some time with the pre-prep aged children and then with the Year 3’s for maths, but lunch was the biggest surprise of the day where it was family service, my first ever experience of this before. I am much more used to the classic go up to the counter where the dinner ladies serve up the meal rather than the teachers serving the meal at the table and then eating with the children. It is certainly a big difference to anything I have seen before in a government run school and as it is one of my goals to see the difference between the private and government run I was pleasantly surprised to find that there are

Image taken from google – I am used to seeing this kind of lunch service. Family service is a welcome change for me and it is much nicer to see teachers eating and chatting with pupils at lunch!

differences which are quite easy to spot when you are looking for them so completing this goal should not be an issue for me. My day ended with the Year 3’s doing English and coming home to write up Learning from Life – First Day Nerves.

Tuesday was a fantastic day of meeting more of the boys and staff throughout the school and seeing more lessons in action. In the afternoon I set off to my first ever forest school session which I wrote about in The Moulsford Forest School Experience. My main observations from the day were how much play and imagination through nature was key to forest school and a vital part to Moulsford’s ethos as a whole school, with many expeditions and activities for the older children. Jeffery and Craft (cited in Hayes. D, 2010, p. 110) state that these types of opportunities in schools should be seen as an attribute rather than a teaching technique. Moreover, I definitely feel from my observations, that in this particular private school, play and imagination through nature is a key quality that some government run schools are less able to uphold. Additionally, I am definitely seeing the values, culture and role of private education at Moulsford which I am showing through writing about my experiences in regular blog posts which is important for the social justice part to the Standards for Registration (GTCS, 2012, p. 5).

Image taken from google

Wednesday was filled with lessons with many of the older students from Years 4, 5, 6 and 7 many of whom I was yet to meet. In art I was helping the teacher who is also the second master of the school and found that as in government run schools the deputy teachers also have classes of their own to teach. In the french lesson with the Year 5’s I found that a lot of emphasis was put on interactive learning of 5-7 words and revising their meaning for the rest of the lesson by putting them into sentences, playing games and learning the sign language for those words. This similar practice as I have seen in language education in government run schools Scotland and both practices have been extremely interactive. Following this lesson I went on to read Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years (Medwell, J and Simpson, F. 2008, chapter 4) to see the value of interactive language lessons in a classroom and found that teaching in an interactive way can not only address children’s learning through different sensory channels but this also means that you as the teacher are able to make assessments of more children. Modern languages at Moulsford are compulsory as they are in Scotland with Scotland having specific experiences and outcomes (Scottish Government, no date) for children for listening, talking, reading and writing but with schools being able to choose which modern language they teach from first level. Similarly, modern language tuition in England under the National Curriculum (Department for Education, 2017) is taught from key stage two and states that “teaching may be of any modern or ancient foreign language”.

Image taken from google

Additionally, Wednesday evening was a treat for me as I was invited to attend the lion king which was a production put on by the year 7’s. This was AMAZING and treated just as a professional west end production would be with singing, acting, sets and lighting. As one of my goals is to learn about schools as a whole from the kitchen to the classroom I was surprised to find that members of the school from all areas had played a part in the production from the set design and costume, making to the music to the advertisement and selling of the tickets. Teaching staff, office staff, learning support staff and boarding staff all had a part to play and the children that I spoke to at the end of the night said that even with all the work and how tired they felt they had overall enjoyed playing their parts the Lion King and were very thankful to the staff from all areas of the school for what they had done to help them put on the performance. There were 4 shows in total with children taking turn about on each night for the main roles which you rarely see in government run schools. From experience it is usually a fight for the main parts with one performance, but here at Moulsford everybody gets a fair chance at the role they want no matter their background or grades which is able to be done through the amount of performances.

Image taken from google

On Thursday I was working with the year 7s all morning who were naturally rather tired from their performances in the Lion King each night. The teacher had taken this into account and explained to me that their English lesson would be slightly more relaxed than normal but I still observed some excellent teaching practice. Moreover, the children were looking at pictures and explaining what the scene looked like to fit what type of film it may come from (e.g. horror, comedy, fantasy). The teacher used a lot of question and answer for his assessment methods and was extremely positive with the children’s answer using phrases such as “I see this too”, “I agree” and “how does it make you feel”. Pollard, et al (2008, chapter 6) explains that keeping positive praise a constant stable in the classroom and also keeping corrective language positive, is a sure way of keeping challenging behaviour to a minimum. Throughout the school so far I have seen no instances of challenging behaviour, not even just the simplest shouting out in class. Although, the school, like government run schools, has a behaviour policy I am yet to see it needing to be put in action and wonder if the amount of positive praise used by teachers has something to do with the low levels of challenging behaviour in private schools such as Moulsford? I continued my Thursday with a Latin lesson which I reflected on in Cognita De Vita and then ended my day with another visit to forest school with a different age group.

My last day of the working week was Friday and I spent a lot of time in English lessons with Years 3-8. The one exception to this rule was a Learning For Life lesson, something which each class in the school does a the same time where children do different activities from gardening to having visitors in to discuss future job opportunities. This is not a lesson that we have in Scotland and I believe in something that is specific to English education as when doing some more research into it found that RSA Academy (2017) also have this as part of their curriculum. Ending this week on this note was definitely a great way to end the week by learning something new and taking part in some fun gardening activities. I am looking forward to next week where I will be continuing to see the differences and similarities between government run and private education, working with a different curriculum and learning about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom.

 

References

Department for Education (2017) National Curriuclum. [Online] Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study/national-curriculum-in-england-english-programmes-of-study (Accessed on 18th March 2017).

GTCS (2012) The Standards for Registration. [Online]. Available at: http://www.gtcs.org.uk/web/FILES/about-gtcs/standards-for-registration-draft-august-2012.pdf (Accessed on 17th March 2017).

Hayes. D (2010) Learning and Teaching in Primary Schools. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Medwell, J and Simpson, F (2008) Successful Teaching Placement in Scotland: Primary and Early Years. Exeter: Learning Matters. Chapter 4.

Pollard, A., Anderson, J., Maddock, M., Swaffield, S., Warin, J. & Warwick, P. (2008) Reflective Teaching. (3rd ed.) London: Continuum International Publishing Group.

RSA Academy (2017) Learning for Life. [Online]. Available at: http://www.arrowvaleacademy.co.uk/Departments/Learning_4_Life.aspx (Accessed 20th March 2017).

Scottish Government. (no date). Curriculum for Excellence: Introduction. Edinburgh: Scottish Government [online]. Available at: https://www.education.gov.scot/Documents/all-experiences-and-outcomes.pdf (Accessed on 14th March 2017)

Learning for Support and Support for Learning

I want to learn about schools from all aspects from the kitchen to the classroom

If you are keeping up to date with my blog and reading it daily, you will be familiar with my third goal for this placement quoted above. Today’s main learning focus for myself was Learning Support in my fantastic placement school. This is a part of school life I myself have had a lot to do with as a child. Readers for my previous posts will know that I went through the Gaelic curriculum in the Highlands of Scotland but may not know that I actually have severe dyslexia which was discovered at 14. I am very open and honest about it and throughout primary school struggled with reading, spelling and especially Gaelic language. After my father was ill and passed away, a lot of my work slipped further and this was put down to what was happening in my home life. Not till I was 14 did anyone spot that there might be more to it and sent me for a screening. After being diagnosed with severe dyslexia, the only support I was given by the school was extra time in exams even with me and my mother crying out for more support. The exception a was few individual teachers who were kind enough to give up their own time recording notes for me to listen back to and giving me one to one support. I can honestly say that if it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be where I am today. The reasoning the school couldn’t support me further was down to funding and time and like so many others, my schooling may have been so different if this hadn’t been the case. So, my experience was not great, but this was 5 years ago now and times have changed since I was at school. Here is a good video explaining what Additional Support Needs in Scotland are currently recognised to be.

Today, I was able to have a chat with the Head of Learning Support for Moulsford which is where I have received the majority of the information for todays blog post. Moulsfords Learning Support is constantly busy as they have over 50 boys who need support from 4 full time and 2 part time Learning Support teachers. Their work ranges from one to one support to early morning group working interventions and it is massively supported by the other staff in the school and used well. The interventions and resources used vary from child to child but some that we discussed were for reading and maths recovery, group work and extra time in exams. At Moulsford, similar to the practice I am used to seeing in Scotland, additional support can be long and short term. It can range from the child having an additional support need (long term) to a parent being unwell (long/short term) to the child having a broken wrist and being unable to write (short term). No matter what the support is, no child is turned away and every child is catered for. Additionally, the school also have additional language and speech therapists, occupational therapists, school counselors and many other visiting support staff to support the children in any way they may need.

Image taken from TES Resources

Learning Support at Moulsford is well catered for as it is integrated into every classroom as well as 3 individual rooms being used for one to one support. If you go to Moulsford all over the school you will see these dyslexia posters provided by TES, informing staff at the school what to look out for in students work.

But how does all this compare with the Learning Support in Scotland? For a state school in Scotland, they must have support in place for children with additional support needs after The Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004 (and the amended 2009 version) was passed and are currently enforcing it through Getting it Right for Every Child and the Curriculum For Excellence in schools across the country. Iain Nisbet also chairs The Advisory Group for Additional Support for Learning in Scotland, who focus on eight areas related to additional support for learning over a two year period at a time.

Image from google. Scotland are putting great emphasis on GIRFEC at the moment to help children who have Additional Support Needs

However, some may say the Learning Support at a private school like Moulsford also has a serious drawback. Unlike in Scottish/English state schools where any support given via the school or outside support staff (i.e. NHS) is totally free, at a private school, one to one Learning Support is charged on top of the fees their parents already pay. Moreover, I personally see the benefits to this as in Scottish/English state schools and the NHS, money is drastically being withdrawn and children are being turned away constantly and therefore not receiving the support they need. See here for more. At Moulsford every child in Year 3 is screened for additional support needs and then after that teachers and parents can raise concerns where the child may be screened again. Once a child has been screened and an additional support need flagged, the child will have an Individual Educational Plan drawn up for them – similar to the ones I have seen schools use in Scotland. The whole system at Moulsford is amazing, nowhere else have I seen every child being screened for support needs at Year 3 and wonder if I had been given a screening at the same age for my dyslexia, would it have been spotted and schooling made easier for me?

A short quote about individuality which should be taken into account when thinking about learning support from google images

I cannot change my own past and experience through the Scottish education system, but can certainly say that my point of view is that the Learning Support team at Moulsford have absolutely got it right from their screenings to the resources they use to the range of support staff who come into the school. In Scotland, I think we could learn a lot from the Learning Support team at Moulsford and would do well to take on board some of their practices and values. Before my meeting with the head of Learning Support ended, I had enough time to ask one final question which was “What piece of advice would you give to me as a trainee teacher for spotting and then supporting children who have additional support needs?” The advice given was to use differentiation, early intervention and if something doesn’t seem right, to always question it. This is advice which I am sharing so that I can not only enhance my own practice but readers may be able to so as well. I can certainly say that today has been one of the most educational for me so far, definitely hitting one of my goals for this placement. They are a lovely team and I look forward to learning more from the Learning Support team more over the next four weeks.