This week I had my first experience since starting my teacher training of ‘another school’ Scheduled into our timetables was a visit to a primary school in order to experience specifically Key stage 2 and get a feel for how pupils engage with learning before they reach secondary school age and how primary education as a whole differs from secondary. Aside from the obvious of course.
I took the opportunity to make use of some contacts to arrange my enrichment visit at a local middle school catering for school years 5-8, giving me an all too rare view of pupils across the more usual transition from primary to secondary. It would be worth noting that I was somewhat sceptical about the benefit to be gained from spending a day in a different environment but reflecting now can see how incredibly useful the visit was.
I was greeted at reception by one of two specialist science teachers employed at the school whose focus is KS3. It is their role to take the enthusiasm and excitement of children in KS2 and develop it into scientific curiosity and investigative enquiry that can help children flourish in upper school education. I was impressed by the facilities available, expecting perhaps to see more of the primary school setting that I am used to from my own children. Years 5 & 6 both regularly have science lessons in fully equipped laboratories, something rarely possible in a conventional primary.
Although my main focus for the visit was years 5&6 and how they prepare for transition upwards I was particularly interested to see how the year 7&8 students compared with my own classes. Of course the National curriculum being what it is, the subjects being covered married almost identically. The learning itself therefore was similar although the feeling was very much of a primary school setting. I found it a little odd but could certainly see some clear advantages. Where I really felt the students benefited was in years 5&6. It was clear that they enjoyed the extra responsibilities and advantages that being part of a middle school brought them, whilst at the same time had the comfort blanket of the familiar routines and feel from their earlier schooling. Part of the primary school feeling was I think in due to the lack of male teachers across the school. Just four full staff, two of which were in the PE department. Whilst gender is of course of no consequence, the difference between this environment and my own experience of secondary school was marked.
There were of course many useful aspects and initiatives that I can take away from the visit and use in my own teaching. From alternative behaviour management approaches to classroom expectations and teacher-student interactions, much was to be gained from the day. I’m not sure how easily it will be to introduce collective worship to my bottom set Year 9s however.
Andrew Heinrich (https://anewadventureblog.wordpress.com)