Last week, our secondary trainees visited a primary school local to them. Here are two reflections from Juliet and Liane about their experiences:
“Last Thursday I made may way through the light snow fall to my primary school placement. It’s a school that I have looked around previously when looking for a place for my daughter and, whilst she ended up at a different school, I still consider it among the best in my area. The Head is warm and welcoming; the staff professional and approachable; the pupils bright and confident. There is also something rather unique about this small village school: it has two places in each class enhanced provision pupils. The result of this is that the mainstream children work everyday with children whom have varying degrees of need, ranging from those whom you would have to work with closely to know that there is anything ‘different’ about them, to those with profound difficulties.
The pupil that will always stick with me is one whom I recall seeing back when I looked around the school in 2015. He is wheel chair user with limited upper body movement and no verbal communication skills. He has an LSA with him at all times and, with her help, was able to participate in a whole class activity which, whilst he did struggle with it, did at least demonstrate that he is as much a member of the class as any of the other children. At his request, I sang him a few nursery rhymes and let him touch my jumper which he found fascinating. I then watched him use his eye-gaze – an extraordinary piece of equipment which allowed him to access a computer using his eyes.
My placement was both eye opening and rewarding, and now more than ever I appreciate all the hard work that LSAs do to provide the kind of support that teachers don’t have the capacity to provide.”
Juliet, Drama trainee teacher, Moulsham High School
“I was really lucky to visit one of the largest Primary schools in Essex. I encountered one small child eagerly gaining access to the really secure premises at 8.15am to be able to get to Reading Club, he was so cheery and keen. Mersea Island Primary School made me so welcome, possibly made easier as I knew a lot of the staff and had volunteered there a few years previously when my son attended.
I spent the day with year six (both classes) and was even privileged enough to help in the early morning (8.30am) maths intervention group. Those fractions and simplification really got the brain ticking. Staff happily let me muck in with the maths lesson that followed the Grammar warm up. They all had access to books, help sheets and peers to encourage independent learning ready for Secondary School. There is an instant sense of job satisfaction when working with Primary children as you help them solve that small area of mystery and unlock their potential to access the next challenge. Lessons are fast paced with a sense humour not far behind (very important when young children repeat their parent’s suggestion for a HAIQ piece of poetry).
Lessons are structured and tiered to help develop each learner’s ability to access the designated learning outcomes and their full potential as an independent learner. They are kept informed of their progress at every stage while all results are tracked to enable the teacher to provide the next stage of learning. The children know what level they’re aiming for and can take charge of their learning.
In every class of mixed ability, the only time that are put into sets is for Mathematics. SEND students are fully integrated and supported by LSAs to be able to access assessments, lessons, activities and very importantly art, craft, singing and drama. It was a joy to see the enthusiasm of all the staff and children with the pinnacle of seeing them enjoy the Christmas production rehearsals.
Staff worked really hard and not a moment is wasted in the preparation of young Einsteins, possible J.K. Rowlings or Damien Hirsts in the making. It is clear from the relationship between staff and children that the school is the centre of the community and a joy to work in. I’d like to say a big thank you, especially to those that took time out to go through their assessment, progress tracking and effective data system. I learnt a lot and will be putting one or two ideas in place. And a big thank you to all those children who shared their work, let me help them and who are instilling a love of life and learning in their community. Just a little sad not to be painting pebbles today or finishing off the christmas lanterns.”
Liane, Maths trainee teacher, The Sandon School