School News and Head's Blog
Posted on: 14/06/2019
Head's Blog - Are Outdoor Lessons Just A Distraction?
A recent article in the Times Educational Supplement, which I highly recommend that parents read, reaffirms the belief which we have here at St. Helen’s College about the benefits of learning in the great outdoors.
A couple of years ago, Miss Walker as part of her professional studies further engaged our staff with ‘outdoor learning’ across the curriculum and it has been so wonderful to hear the feedback both from children and staff of the benefits of taking their subjects outside.
On a daily basis we have pupils across the school using our outdoor spaces for learning and I am always delighted when the pupils are able to articulate what they have learnt with not a textbook or school desk in site!
Traditionally many schools felt that the best learning was conducted in a classroom environment with a very structured curriculum directed by the teacher. Thankfully, due to all the valuable evidence research which has been carried out, educationalists are now so aware of the benefits, not only academic but social and emotional, which outdoor lessons provide.
Our EYFS pupils in Ducklings through to Reception spend a great deal of time in the outdoors and the best practice can often be found amongst Early Years practitioners. Last week I spent 3 days as a member of the Independent Schools Inspectorate inspecting the educational quality of a school. The inspection team had to gather evidence on the pupil outcomes in relation to academic achievement and progress as well as their personal development. Much of the evidence was sourced by the team in the great outdoors!
Below I have extracted an example from the independent schools regulatory standards of some of the areas which schools must be seen to be fulfilling. As you read the list below I hope that you will be able to visualise your son or daughter (from Ducklings to Year 6) actively learning in the outdoors - as this is where much of this wonderful rich learning is taking place!
Pupils’ academic and other achievements
Knowledge, skills and understanding (KSU); the development of their knowledge, understanding and skills across the areas of learning (linguistic, mathematical, scientific, technological, human and social, physical and aesthetic and creative education.
Communication; the development of their competence in communication (speaking, listening, reading and writing) and its application to other areas of learning.
Numeracy; the development of their competence in numeracy and the application of their knowledge and skills in mathematics to other areas of learning.
Study skills; the development of their study skills, including the ability to draw upon a suitably wide range of sources and to develop higher-order skills, including the ability to analyse, hypothesise and synthesise.
Attitudes; their attitudes towards learning, including their ability to demonstrate initiative and independence, their willingness to work collaboratively and the extent to which they take leadership in their learning.
Pupils’ personal development
Self-understanding; develop their self-knowledge, self-esteem, self-confidence, self-discipline and resilience, including an understanding of how to improve their own learning and performance, so that they are well prepared for the next stage of their lives.
Decision-making; understand that the decisions they make are important determinants of their own success and well-being.
Spiritual understanding; develop spiritual understanding and an appreciation of non-material aspects of life, whether religious, philosophical or other.
Moral understanding and responsibility for own behaviour; distinguish right from wrong, understand and respect systems of rules and laws, and accept responsibility for their own behaviour, including towards others.
Social development and collaboration; are socially aware and so are able to work effectively with others, including to solve problems and achieve common goals.
Staying safe and keeping healthy; know how to stay safe and understand how to be physically and mentally healthy, particularly in terms of diet, exercise and a balanced lifestyle.
Our day trips and residential trips, which are such an important part of our educational provision, allow your children to achieve so much academically and personally and it has been wonderful to receive such positive feedback form the parent body recently as our Year 3 to Year 6 pupils have all returned from this year’s trips. The recognition of the pupils' personal development is quite remarkable with comments such as:
‘he really seems to have grown up in such a short time!’
‘She is so much more independent and took risks we never imagined she would take’
‘I cannot believe my daughter was rolling about in mud and loved it so much!’
‘He genuinely seems more organised and considerate since he came back’
‘ He hasn’t stopped talking about the trip - every day we seem to hear something else!’
As a school when we receive such positive feedback from parents after the residential trips it is so rewarding and makes our jobs even more enjoyable, knowing the difference that we make to a child’s development.
Education should be rich in experiences and prepare young people for the future. All the experiences that your children are having in the outdoors are contributed to by the lessons the teachers are planning, the trips and activities they have the opportunity to take part in and of course the superb outdoor space we have at school.
Experiences bring us happiness not just when we’re having the experience, but also when we simply think about them. I am sure that you have seen your child’s face light up when they talk about some of the things they have done outside of the normal classroom environment.
Many of you are possibly starting to plan some of the things that you may be able to do with your children over the summer holidays. So please do continue the ‘outdoor’ learning for the children, giving them the opportunity to explore the great outdoors - it is called the ‘great’ outdoors for a reason!
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, Dream, Discover.”â—âMark Twain
Posted on: 17/05/2019
Head's Blog - Would You Like To Tidy Up Now? by Ms Matthews
This week we have a guest blog from Ms Matthews, our Head of Early Years Foundation Stage.
“Would you like to tidy up now?”
Regardless of their age, I would wager that if you asked your child that particular question, the answer would be a resounding “No”. However, perhaps if you instead asked “Shall we race each other to see who can get the most toys in their box?”, the answer might be slightly more favourable!
The effect of questioning style when engaging young children cannot, and should not, be overstated. Adults’ questions can encourage children to engage in extended conversations, can facilitate comprehension and research also shows us that effective questioning style is proven to stimulate higher-order thinking. There is great potential to increase children's capacity to learn from an activity through careful adult-child talk and questioning is one of many strategies that can either support and encourage children's learning - or stop it in its tracks. But how often do we really stop to think about our questioning style and how it affects children's ability to learn, think and reflect?
As teachers and as parents, we all want to be sure that we are facilitating our children’s learning rather than interfering with it - but how can we achieve this? At one end, too little adult support can limit learning. While play without adults can be rich and purposeful, at times it can become a chaotic or repetitive activity which is decidedly ‘hands-on, brains-off’. At the other end of the scale, too much tightly directed activity deprives children of the opportunity to engage actively with learning. Questioning is one of the most common methods of prompting interactions with children and, if done well, it can have a staggering impact upon learning.
Over the past 14 months, I have been undertaking a range of studies as part of the Chartered College of Teaching’s ‘Chartered Teacher Status’ programme. This opportunity has allowed me to further explore the pedagogy of teaching, but it has also afforded me the valuable opportunity to research, analyse and evaluate the teaching and learning currently going on in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) here at St. Helen’s College. The EYFS curriculum tells us that we “...must respond to each child’s emerging needs and interests, guiding their development through warm, positive interaction” and it is precisely this style of interaction for which St. Helen’s College is renowned. Knowing that we are blessed with a wealth of adult expertise in our Kindergarten, Nursery and Reception, I was particularly interested to ascertain exactly how your child benefits from that in our early years classrooms. Thus, my studies culminated in a research project focusing on the direct effect of adult questioning on children’s attainment and progress, with the aim of proving that the teaching and learning at St. Helen’s College is some of the best there is!
As part of the research intervention itself, I carried out specific mathematics activities (number and shape, space and measure) whilst utilising a set of pre-determined questioning techniques – closed questioning for a control group of 24 Reception pupils, versus open-ended questioning for an intervention group of 24 Reception pupils across a 3-week period. The pre-set closed questions used were questions such as “What colour is that square? Is it blue or green?” “Is the answer 3 or 4?” whereas the open-ended questions were designed based on questions I had previously observed being widely used across the St. Helen’s College EYFS classrooms, questions such as: “How could you find out?”; “What do you think?”; “Do you think everyone else would think the same?”; “What do you think is happening?”; “I don't know, what do you think?”; ”Can you tell me more about that?”
Control group results
The control group were presented with only closed questioning that required a recall of fact, experience or expected behaviour, decision between a limited selection of choices or no response at all. When they were then exposed to mathematical activities outside of the control group intervention project, almost all remained very dependent on a nearby adult to start and complete a task, there was very little independent problem-solving (only 4 out of 24 children displayed this) and independence in both number and shape, space and measure activities was low – 6 out of 24 children and 5 out of 24 children. Interestingly, though, independent use of appropriate mathematical vocabulary was significantly higher (13 out of 24 children), but this could perhaps be attributed to additional factors such as continued whole-class teaching time away from the intervention itself, peer-interactions and learned facts taught before the intervention took place.
Intervention group results
The intervention group were presented with a broad range of open-ended questions which provided for increased encouragement, to foster speculation and trial and error and talk that fostered the potential for sustained, shared thinking, exploration and talking. When the intervention group were then exposed to mathematical activities outside of the intervention project, very few (only 3 out of 24 children) looked for support from an adult to start and complete a task, there was a huge rise in independent problem-solving (19 out of 24 children displayed this) and much-increased independence in both number and shape, space and measure activities – 19 out of 24 children and 20 out of 24 children respectively. Again, use of mathematical language remained high (22 out of 24 children) but the difference when observed this time was more sophisticated use of said language to explain and guide peers during their activities – the children in the intervention group were observed to be directly applying their knowledge of mathematical language to other tasks and in more creative and critical ways.
Rest assured then, that your children are in very safe and capable hands in our St. Helen’s College classrooms. Continuing our open-ended style of questioning actively encourages them to be successfully motivated by the pursuit of learning and discovery for their own sake; their resulting excitement has been captured through my purposeful observations and research of their language and independence. Each day, they are supported in finding out answers for themselves and ringing out in each classroom are the “ers” and “ums” of not knowing, followed by the wonderful “oohs” and “ahs” of learning - the sounds of awe and wonder in action, of learning itself, of meaning being made. The skill, knowledge and understanding of our wonderful staff team has been research-proven to allow your children to reflect en route to becoming lifelong learners, ensuring that they are offered a less fixed view of the world - one where curiosity and investigation, rather than correct solutions and consensus-building, fuel their investigations.
So, what will you ask your child to elicit thinking, learning and wondering about the world this weekend? Now that’s a good question.
Posted on: 10/05/2019
Head's Blog - Key To Successhttps://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-48190126
It was with a sense of pride that I read this BBC article, entitled 'Well trained nursery staff key to good care'. As all of our parents who have had children go through our Kindergarten and Early Years (Nursery and Reception) know, we have superb adult to child ratios to ensure that your children are exceptionally well cared for, but the high ratios also give our staff the opportunity to have those 1-1 conversations with your children to enrich their spoken word and develop their thinking and learning skills.
"A better staff-to-child ratio leads to improvements in quality but staff qualifications and training is the most important factor.”
Our staff ratios are excellent throughout the school and our staffing levels are exceptional form Ducklings to Year 6. It goes without saying that our staff are very well qualified but it is the dedication and commitment of the staff to ongoing professional development which is one of the most important factors at St. Helen’s College.
This week, for example, while Year 1 - Year 6 teachers were meeting with parents for our parent conferences, the EYFS team were taking part in their own learning workshop, using the 10 squares to develop maths activities for the children.
There is a saying that every day is learning opportunity, but that is pertinent not only to the children but also the staff; it is always refreshing as I visit the many classrooms to overhear and see teachers sharing ideas and good practice with each other. Throughout the academic year our staff are highly invested in and supported to enable them to keep learning to improve the outcomes for our pupils.
Not only do we invest in our staff, but it is the partnership we have with you as our parent body which is so important in ensuring that you are all able to support your children’s learning at home. Last year we ran very successful reading workshops and e-safety sessions and this term we have already had a superb evening for parents of our younger pupils on supporting phonics and early maths skills. Later in the summer we will be meeting with many of you for Information Evenings as we lead up to the transition of the children through the school, which I trust you will find interesting and informative, and for September we have arranged for an external speaker to hold a workshop for parents and staff, ‘Enabling parents to bring out the best in their children’, which we are very much looking forward to. Details on how to book tickets for this event will be published next half term.
This week I have toured many potential candidates for the current positions which we have available at St. Helen’s College and I have to admit they everyone has been in awe of our school, the children, the staff and the sense of collaboration which we have with our parent body. We truly are remarkable and I am confident that our new staff who we hope to appoint very soon will only add to the quality of what we offer here!
Have a wonderful weekend!
Posted on: 3/05/2019
Head's Blog - Creativity: The Key To Unlock Limitless Potential (by Mr. Tovell)
This week we have a Guest Blog from Mr. Tovell, Year 4 Class Teacher.
In the most watched TED talk of all time, educationalist Sir Ken Robinson FRSA claimed that “schools kill creativity”, arguing that “we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather we get educated out of it”. Whilst this may be the case in many schools, it is my fervent belief that this is not something which is occurring at St. Helen’s College. In fact, creativity is one of our St. Helen’s College learning strategies which means that, not only do St. Helen’s College students understand what it is to be creative, they are also given opportunities to be creative across the curriculum. It is my position that creativity (meaning original thought and ideas) is one of the greatest effectors of change in terms of how we perceive the world or live our lives. Indeed, with a truly creative mind, does potential not become limitless?
As the title of this blog suggests, it is my belief that imagination and creativity are skills which must be developed in all learners and across the curriculum. Obvious examples are in fiction writing and art; however, creativity is also a key component for problem solving in mathematics when considering how to ‘break in’ to the problem or when solving disputes with peers.
With this in mind, I was thrilled when I was asked to organise Wednesday’s Project Day for Years 4 and 6 in collaboration with the IDEAS Bus team. Following a short assembly, the children completed a carousel of activities in small groups, before volunteers showcased their learning in a closing assembly. Activities included a visit to the IDEAS Bus, which had advanced technology on board including a 3D printer, becoming young entrepreneurs who had to pitch for finance for their original idea and a Virtual Reality Workshop. The overarching theme was for pupils to be as creative as possible - something I am pleased to report they did with great success.
One of the challenges facing young learners when asked to be creative is the fear of judgement from their peers. As a result, children can be reluctant to ‘have a go’ and just say whatever comes to mind, which is why I was so pleased to see students supporting one another, helping them to build upon initial ideas and recognising that many great ideas are born out of less great ones and that you cannot build upon an idea you have not had. The whole day was a celebration of the wonderful, creative children we have at St. Helen’s College and reminded me of how lucky I am to be part of such a special community.
I will leave you with the thoughts of one of the most creative people ever to grace our earth:
Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere - Albert Einstein
I could not have put it better myself!
Posted on: 26/04/2019
Head's Blog - SHC
As we enter our final term of this academic year I would like to share with our community the key messages and the focus of our staff training on Tuesday and Wednesday.
It seems most apt that we have just celebrated a very special Christian festival, the sadness of Jesus being crucified on the cross but the joy of his resurrection on Easter Sunday. Like many religious leaders, Jesus was one of the greatest teachers and the character traits and values which he embodied are replicated across many faiths.
It is important that we remind ourselves of our school motto:
Excellentiam e concordia
Our Latin motto means excellence through working together in harmony/unity of purpose. When it was recreated by our students, using the acronym SHC for St. Helen’s College, the pupils’ interpretation was:
Strive for excellence
Help others achieve
Care for each other
In my welcome back to all of our staff in their different roles, I reminded everyone of what our motto means to us all: colleagues to colleagues, staff to pupils and staff to parents. So, as parents, what does our school motto mean to you all: parents to parents, parents to children, parents to staff?
If we can all strive for excellence each and every day, help others achieve and care for each other, what great models we will all be for the children in our care. The first assemblies of the term for the children also focussed on our motto and we outlined the school values which will be a focus this term:
Staff training is always focussed on how to get the best out of your children, keeping your children safe, ensuring that all staff are up to speed on all aspects of Health and Safety and termly safeguarding updates.
Mrs. Cargill led us all in a most informative but entertaining session, which put Sue Barker to shame, as the two team captains Mrs. Haar and Mr. McLaughlin led the staff in ‘A Question of Health and Safety’. The key areas covered in the numerous rounds of questioning and scenarios were Fire Safety, Electrical Safety and Asbestos Awareness. Who knew that Health and Safety, a very serious but vital part of any organisation’s legislative duty, could be so interesting and fun (although I have heard the Mr. Crehan’s ladder training was also up there in the entertainment stakes)! Our school fire wardens were also put through their paces in a six hour intensive training session - but we are hoping that they will never have to utilise these skills either in the workplace or at home. Ms Gilham made a very pertinent point that it is not until you go through such training that you reflect on the practices and procedures we have in place on our own homes. Do you know your fire escape routes to exit your homes and do you have a plan? Do you keep a set of keys in a convenient place if you need to evacuate your house?
Mrs. Hunt led the staff through another session on Safeguarding - the welfare of every child is paramount and, through working closely with Children’s Services, we ensure that we are supporting you in your roles as parents to allow your children to flourish in every aspect.
This term we have a very exciting programme of residential visits and Miss Walker’s update in her role as Educational Visits Coordinator was very well received. You can be assured that, whether your children are embarking upon a residential trip or a day trip, the staff are all highly skilled and incredibly competent in their roles looking after the needs of your children and keeping them safe throughout the trips.
Our school behaviour management and supervision systems were also revisited and we discussed the importance of consistency of approach from all and the high expectations we have from all children. I would ask of you all as parents to remind your children, as I will be doing in assemblies, that regardless of what adult is supervising in school whether this is in the playground, classroom, refectory, etc. that their responses and the level of respect to all adults is appropriate. To settle the children around the school we use a ‘hands up’ approach instead of using voices and this works well. However, children being children, they often need frequent reminders of the expectations and to understand the meaning of being calm and quiet to enable them to continue with their school day.
We are all very much looking forward to this busy and exciting term ahead and we will all work together, home and school, to give the children a memorable summer term.
Posted on: 22/03/2019
The age restrictions on apps and games are in place for good reason. We have a programme of education on keeping safe online that runs throughout the children's time at St. Helen's College. Our Year 5 children build their own websites on internet safety issues. We constantly remind them about keeping safe and about proper use of the internet but these are young children who are finding out how to interact with others. it is a necessary part of growing up to establish boundaries, fall out with friends and find ways of resolving differences. Even the most pleasant and sensible child will react badly to disputes and differences with their friends. In the playground, they will immediately see the effect of their behaviour and they will have an opportunity to make amends or walk away from the situation. Minor disputes can be kept private and quickly resolved and forgotten.
The online world is not so forgiving. It is a public place. When a thoughtless comment or inappropriate image is published it is not easily withdrawn and can be rapidly shared with people who were not the intended audience. We interpret facial expressions, body language and tone of voice very well but the internet does not convey the same subtlety and a comment made in jest can be easily misconstrued. Online disagreements can quickly escalate and comments that are made cannot be easily withdrawn. Whilst apps such as Facetime and Skype provide valuable means of communications when used in a family setting, children's use of unmonitored Whatsapp groups has no such benefits.
Schools can help to educate children but it is our job as parents to set a good example, guide them, set boundaries and monitor their activity. Whilst our children are finding their way in the real world and making necessary mistakes on the way, I urge you to discuss online etiquette and safety with your children and to remove access to apps and games that have age restrictions that they do not meet.
Net Aware from the NSPCC has a guide to parents on children's use of social media.
Posted on: 15/03/2019
Head's Blog - Lent
Lent is upon us once again – the time of year when we remember the sacrifices made by Jesus during his forty days in the wilderness, leading up to the great sacrifice of his life. Traditionally, Christians give up something for Lent and I’m sure many parents have already started a period of abstinence. Perhaps you are giving up chocolate, sweets or alcohol for this forty day period.
I would like to encourage a new tradition for the children of St. Helen’s College. Rather than encourage our children to deprive themselves of something, I would like to suggest that, for Lent this year, they take up something new, or expand on a talent or interest they already enjoy.
Last week we celebrated World Book Day at school and it was magical, as ever, to see the children immersed in stories. We had a visit from The Book Bus on Monday, authors visited the school to share their experiences as writers and their stories, many classes heard traditional and modern tales and poetry read by visiting readers; Mrs. Smith, Mrs. Crehan and I had the most wonderful time over at Lower School, and, throughout the school, there were lively discussions of favourite books. (My favourite is still Enid Blyton's ‘The Faraway Tree’).
Perhaps Lent is the perfect time to build upon this by taking up a new reading habit. If your child does not already read for a set period of time before bed, now would be the perfect time to add this to your daily routine. For our youngest children, this will mean sitting with parents, grandparents, older siblings or other adults to listen to stories and look at words and pictures together. Rhyming books are, of course, particularly good for children of this age and don’t worry if you don’t currently have many at home. Not only are the school and local libraries full of lovely children’s books for your children to borrow, but young children thrive on repetition and absolutely love to hear the same book several times over. There is comfort in familiarity, especially when a young child is tired, just before bed.
As your child grows older and moves through the Lower School, you should choose slightly longer stories/rhyming tales to read with them, introducing longer, traditional tales such as fairy tales, Aesop’s Fables, Winnie the Pooh stories and poems, Roald Dahl stories and poems and more.
Once the children are old enough for chapter books or longer stories which can be split up across several days, there are so many beautiful, classic tales to share with them: The Wizard of Oz, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island… the list really is endless. If you are not sure which books are appropriate for your child, do ask your class teacher or contact Mr. McLaughlin, our Head of English.
If you already have a well-established reading routine at bedtime – and we know that many of you already do – then why not add in some reading at another time of day? Lent is the perfect time to make a promise to reduce screen time by 15 minutes a day, and increase reading time by 15 minutes. Perhaps, as you’re cooking dinner, your children could sit at the table 15 minutes early and read a book aloud to you, or you could listen to an audio book together and then discuss it during your meal.
Reading is at the heart of everything in education, as self-sacrifice is at the heart of everything in Christianity. So I do hope that you will take the opportunity of Lent to increase your child’s reading time. Perhaps, when Lent ends and Easter is here, you might consider buying them a new book instead of (or even as well as!) an Easter egg, to reward them for forty days of wonderful reading and to inspire them for the following forty days and beyond! Although we are almost halfway through Lent, there is no time like the present to foster a love of reading!
Posted on: 8/03/2019
Motivation and MandarinReading the Head’s blog last week on the value of learning modern languages, and on the great work going on at St. Helen’s College in this area, reminded me how times have changed – for the better!
At secondary school I studied French and German to ‘O’ Level. It was a struggle! I wasn’t particularly motivated, the teachers (none were native speakers) were extraordinarily unimaginative in their methods, and the focus was too much on grammar and textbooks and too little on conversation. We did visit Germany and Austria for a week but were left to our own devices (don’t ask!) and, apart from an idyllic lakeside lunch, my memories are mostly of Pepsi and chips, being bored, and the music of Simon and Garfunkel (the only cassette tape owned by the coach driver). Nevertheless, I achieved good ‘O’ Level grades, have reasonable conversational French and (somewhat to my surprise) was recently complimented on my German when helping a confused couple to understand a ferry timetable. I felt very proud.
I didn’t enjoy studying these languages and struggled terribly with learning vocabulary, so it came as something of a surprise to my family (and, if I am honest, to me) when I decided eighteen months ago that I was going to learn Mandarin. This was not a random choice – my son is married to a Singaporean of Chinese ethnicity, and my grandson Teddy is going to be bilingual in English and Mandarin.
Not really knowing where to start, I downloaded the app Hello Chinese and set to work on lesson 1. It is a really terrific learning tool which takes the complete beginner to a reasonable conversational standard, with each topic introducing new vocabulary, grammatical structures and common phrases. It uses a wide variety of excellent methods, including recording and playback, games, video, letter formation and flash cards and I can access it easily on my smart phone.
Shortly after starting work on the app, I was introduced to a Chinese class by a St. Helen’s College parent. The class was well ahead of me, which provided a spur to encourage me to work hard and catch up, and I am now about to enrol on a more advanced class at the School of Oriental and African Studies. My aim is to try to keep pace with my grandson who, at just 2 years and 4 months, already has a high degree of fluency in Mandarin.
So why is my experience of learning Mandarin so much more positive today than that of my schoolboy French and German lessons? On reflection, I think that there are four reasons, all of which are interlinked.
Motivation In contrast to my schooldays, I am hugely motivated to learn Mandarin. I hear it spoken at home every day and want to understand and join in the conversations. I want it to be a shared experience with my grandson, and I want to get over my long-held belief that I am not good at language learning.
Knowing how to learn Over many years of learning, both informally and through academic courses, I have learned which learning strategies work best for me. I try to study a little each day, regularly consolidate my knowledge, ask myself and answer questions, keep a pack of flashcards in my pocket at all times and practise speaking as much as I can.
Quality of teaching The Hello Chinese app is an excellent, interactive and adaptive virtual teacher, but I also have a super class teacher at my Saturday Chinese class. Always warm and encouraging, she provides the right level of challenge for our (admittedly rather laid back) class, and, as a native speaker who has lived in China, immerses us not only in language but in the culture of the country.
Peer support My Chinese school co-students are remarkably friendly and supportive. The help which we give each other, and the fun which we have together, have created a sense of shared endeavour and mutual support.
Language learning is very popular at St. Helen’s College, and the children make excellent progress in their fluency in Spanish, French and Latin. This is not surprising, given that my four factors are all in place. They have a thirst for knowledge and are hugely motivated to succeed. Through discussions about metacognition, and reflecting on and discussing their progress with their teachers, they understand how best to learn. They have inspiring teachers who create wonderful lessons to challenge and support them in their learning and they support each other through the joy of learning and the shared enthusiasm which arises from it.
These four factors are interwoven, and the latter three all impact positively on the first, motivation. Motivation is critical to learning: without motivation learning is limited and dry, whereas the motivated learner is unstoppable.
Teaching is both a science and an art, and the artistry of the brilliant teacher, parent or grandparent has a lot to do with motivating children. I am very mindful of this with Teddy, and am so enjoying helping him to discover the wonderful world of knowledge.