Our mission and vision statements (M&V) are really important to us as a school community. They were developed collaboratively with representation from all stakeholder groups around five years ago (and incidentally will be formally reviewed in September) and represent our values, beliefs and aspirations around what we think is important for our students.
One of our statements reads like this:
(Bradbury School) Builds strong foundations in a dynamic, innovative and enjoyable learning environment.
So...we need to attend not just to the foundations of literacy and numeracy, but also to making our learning environments dynamic and innovative, as well as being enjoyable. Part of all of this is ensuring that our activities and spaces are developmentally appropriate for our students.
The early years team has been looking at different ways of achieving this, while preserving the integrity of our student's learning.One way is to have a 'play based' approach. Now, I know what this sounds like, but it is not actually just 'play'. It really refers to designing learning environments where children are encouraged to explore, solve problems, create and construct knowledge and to actively engage with people, objects and representations. It brings about an opportunity to ask questions, solve problems and engage in critical thinking while expanding knowledge, all with a view to creating a positive attitude to learning.
So our Year 2 team has redesigned their classroom spaces so that one area is devoted to play based enquiry, while the other has the tables and desks for collaborative work. Both classes share the space during the day so that all students have the opportunity to receive a balance of developmentally appropriate activities as well as the explicit teaching that our students are required to receive in order for them to meet the Year 2 learning objectives and outcomes.
I applaud this development. I think it is the best teachers who constantly challenge themselves to try new things and at Bradbury, this is positively encouraged. Our students can only benefit from new approaches to teaching and learning- after all, we don't want our children to be taught in the same way we were, or even in the same way of 10 years ago.
Educational thinking and practice has changed along with our changing world and at Bradbury, we embrace this!
This is a book that we have found useful to shape our thinking: Play-based Learning in the Primary School by Mary Briggs and Alice Hansen