Celebrating Learning

Posted on: 14/02/2020

Over the past couple of weeks around the school there has been a constant celebration of pupils' learning. Traditionally this may have taken the form of high marks in exams, full marks in tests, pressure and public accountability for achieving highly but at St. Helen’s College the teachers and pupils have taken a more creative slant to celebrating success!

As you are aware, we like to challenge our children in all that they do - we all need to feel the heat in our learning journey - feel the challenge, experience what it feels to be out of our comfort zone. Our pupils thrive on this and astonish us with their creativity in being able to demonstrate their tenacity and their ability to demonstrate what they have learnt in their own unique way. 

In Science lessons I have witnessed pupils writing poetry, performing raps, composing and singing songs and creating the most incredible models. In all these forms of learning outcomes the pupils have taken risks in their learning. They have been individual; they have not followed the crowd; they have used their knowledge of subject matter to challenge themselves to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of concepts taught to them.  

It is such a joy to engage with the children as they describe to me what they have been learning about. Taha (Year 6) was particularly animated last week as he exclaimed, ‘It was disgusting Mrs. Drummond - my hands were covered in blood but it was amazing...I could see the inside of the heart and lungs, all the tubes and other parts - it was great!”   

I must add that it is a credit to all the pupils, the parents (for giving their permission) and to Ms Gilham (and her butcher) that we are able to extend the children's learning at such a young age to give them first hand experience of being able to dissect a sheep's heart and lungs to see for themselves the circulatory system which they have been studying.

A recent article in the NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) journal cited an article written by York St John titled ‘Perfectionism in more able learners; what do we know and what next?” I quote an extract below.

“Recent research suggests that perfectionism has become a hidden epidemic among students over the last 30 years, with students now more perfectionistic than ever before. In addition, this complex characteristic has been found to explain a wide range of outcomes among students. On one hand, some aspects of being perfectionistic are related to better academic performance. But, on the other hand, other aspects of perfectionism have been found to be significant sources of psychological distress for students, including burnout and depression.”

I am writing this blog on the eve of our Wellbeing focus day and it is with a sense of pride that I feel confident that our pupils at St. Helen’s College are given the correct classroom climate where there is healthy challenge and opportunity to revel in their success without the damage which can often be done where a culture of ‘perfectionism’ can exists. 

Words that spring to mind every day when I listen and breathe in the culture of St Helen’s College are:

 collaboration  mindset   creativity  excellence challenge  resilience  wellbeing 

We have children of all abilities at St. Helens’ College and pride ourselves that we endorse a ‘Challenge for all' attitude to learning - all children are encouraged to do their best by parents and staff but it is by ensuring that our expectations and classroom culture are appropriate, that we do not allow the children to fixate on mistakes and errors. FAIL - that 'first attempt in learning' is so important. We celebrate success and effort by all.  

I am sure your children will come home on Friday evening for the half term break revelling in the events of our Wellbeing focus day - but that I will keep for a future blog!

Have a super half term break and look after your wellbeing!

I leave you with one example of learning from Catherine in Year 6!

Healthy Bodies Poem

Ms Gilham, a science teacher, and amazing too,
Taught us about living healthily to help beat the blues
She’s told us about striving to eat a varied diet,
To give us minerals and energy, you cannot deny it!
But this is because it’s important to eat,
Our 7 food groups: fibre, protein, vitamins, 
fats, water and carbohydrates (including wheat!)

We’ve learnt about Dr Livingstone who
Found out about scurvy to help beat the flu,
The sailors, who were suffering from scurvy onboard,
Were found to lack vitamins but were soon restored,
By eating 2 oranges and a lemon a day,
They just needed some Vitamin C, hip, hip, hooray!

But we know about alcohol, smoking, medicine and drugs
We know they can cause harm, even a stomach bug,
Though not all are damaging, there are one’s that help you,
Like penicillin, Nurofen and many more too!
Cocaine and nicotine are highly addictive,
They can give you heart problems, that’s why they’re constrictive.
Alcohol is permitted in small doses
But drinking too much is bad as it poses
Threats to your physical and mental state,
That can sometimes, if you’re not careful, lead to your fate!
Remember, please, to try not to smoke,
It causes so many problems and can lead to a stroke,
Turns your lungs a sooty black hue,
And because I breathe the toxic air, it harms me and you!

Taking blood from to the heart to the cells and back,
Dealing with all things vascular and cardiac.
Next up, we’ll talk about the arteries,
They take blood from the heart where its gotta be,
The biggest artery, the main transporter,
Right next to the heart,
It’s called the aorta.