They describe a genuine whole school and community approach that has engaged and valued contributions from all stakeholders from teachers and other staff to families and the children themselves. A particular strength of the school is family engagement, and the rich dialogue around teaching between families and school. Teamwork, at all levels, is at the heart of what the school does, and brings reality to the vision the school holds of building an inclusive educational community that values all children as successful learners.
Nothing exemplifies this more than the video linked below, that shows the children at Whitfield Aspen performing the song “ Roar”… perhaps emphasising the courage we all need to face these extraordinary times. The video was part filmed just before and part filmed during school lock down.
New Reports for the New Context
In thinking about the consequences of the majority of pupils not being in school, one of the concerns that came through from the teachers at Whitfield Aspen, was the relevance of the traditional school report.
They noted that for reports that are sent out to parents at the end of the academic year, the teachers will not have taught the children since March. One teacher expressed that the longer she was away from her class, the more detached she was feeling. She wondered how useful and relevant it would be to write a school report which effectively would be 4 months out of date. In fact, for some parents who have been home-schooling their own children, they probably have a better idea than the child’s teacher of where their children are in their learning, and the areas they need to improve on. Also, there were concerns for the children who have not had parental supported home learning opportunities. The teachers were concerned that any information in a report would not acknowledge the potentially life-changing personal challenges that these children may have experienced.
The feeling was that the school could use this opportunity to create something different, which could be a small positive in an extremely challenging situation. One teacher was keen to create a “Celebration of your child” report. She felt that being away physically from her class, had given her time to remember the funny things they have done or said. The moments in class when they really tried hard to do something and finally succeeded! So she created a format where she could celebrate the children showing resilience despite adversity. It was also an opportunity to acknowledge the remarkable character strengths of the children of Critical and Key-workers. In discussions with all of the teachers the feeling was that a traditional school report would not reflect what was important at a time when life has been so different and challenging for the children and their families. The school team is acutely aware that many parents could be struggling with the reality of losing friends or family and would be living with the fear and reality of losing their jobs and wanted parents and the children to have a lasting memory of the positive aspects of this time and to encourage hope for the future.
Teachers added to a list of key characteristics they felt they wanted to comment on for the children in their classes. These included the words of the values of the school (Learning together with Aspiration, Imagination and Determination) and the vocabulary of 5 Lenses of Engagement. Aspiration, Determination, Imagination, Perseverance, Resilience, Kindness, Collaboration, Responsibility, Confidence, Respectfulness, Self-discipline, Consideration, Exploration, Realisation Anticipation, Persistence and Initiation.
Jason, Ali and Anne have kindly shared a sample of the new report below:
Whitfield Aspen School – New Reports for the New Context (Word DOC file)
Whitfield Aspen School
Whitfield Aspen is a fully inclusive Primary School with links to KSENT (Kent special schools) and the Samphire Learning Hub (a hub of 8 local mainstream Primary Schools). There are 356 pupils on our Mainstream roll and 128 pupils, with profound and multiple learning difficulties ,on the roll of our Specialist Resource Provision. All the pupils access their learning in the environment that best suits their individual needs. This could be full time in a Mainstream class , full time in a Specialist Provision class , or time spent between Mainstream and Specialist Provision classes. At our school we encourage ‘the same’ but allow for ‘different’. In other words, every child should have the same opportunity but every child will access this in different ways. Our pupils come in through the same door, eat in the same hall , play in the same play areas and come to school with their brothers and sisters. In this way, we live out our school’s vision of ‘Learning Together with Aspiration, Imagination and Determination’.