A letter from the Head of School (please note this was previously published in the May 17th Newsletter):
Dear Parents and Carers,
We seem to be hurtling towards the end of the school year with increasing pace. I can’t believe we are soon to break up for the May half term. After this, the summer will be upon us in a blink of an eye!
Term 5 & Term 6 are the ‘testing’ terms. Our children now have statutory tests in Year 1, Year 2 and Year 6 – next year the introduction of a Time Tables Check at the end of Year 4 and baseline assessment as children come into Reception, mean the only years that children will not have national tests in are Years 3 & 5. At West Hill we try and create a stress free zone around children who are taking part in any tests. Of course the results are important for the school, but the well-being and mental health of our children is far more important. Our children are more than data.
I have included a poem by Michael Rosen; a children's novelist, poet, and the author of over 140 books.
First they said they needed data about the children to find out what they’re learning.
Then they said they needed data about the children to make sure they are learning.
Then the children only learnt what could be turned into data.
Then the children became data.
As a school, along with every other school in the country, we have a legal requirement to submit data but how do we ensure that our children do not ‘become data’? At West Hill Primary Academy, our vision is ‘no limits, only possibilities’ – ask your children to explain what this means. Our Curriculum Intent, which is published in each newsletter, is clear that all children should be given the opportunity to explore, learn actively and become critical, creative thinkers.
If we take a moment to really think about the attributes that underlie creativity, its importance in developing these skills becomes clear. Art, drama, music, design – these in themselves do not represent creativity; they are tools for accessing creativity and for growing in confidence as a creative being. Creativity itself means taking an interest in the world around you, enquiring, thinking flexibly and exploring possibilities – the spark that ignites an original thought. Through these processes we can learn to be thorough investigators, to articulate complex ideas, defend a point of view or to innovate and be enterprising.
More than ever before, the world of work is uncertain. It has been suggested that up to 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new jobs that don’t yet exist. Self-employment and employment in entrepreneurial start-ups is on the rise. It is vital that education equips learners to be creative, flexible and resilient enough to survive and thrive in this fast-paced world.
This creativity feeds through all subjects at our school; English, maths, science, geography, history, art etc. Last term, if you had been a fly on the wall in our school, you would have seen Year 1 children creating a map of the world by exploring the continents and placing these together – all through their own research and problem solving. Year 2 children used creativity to decide which material would have been best to build London houses from in 1666 to have slowed the spread of fire from Pudding Lane. In Year 3, children have been making and investigating their own water cycles, recording observations and linking the phenomena to real life. In Year 4, the children visited Bluewater Pizza Express, where they designed and made their own pizzas to bring back to school. In Year 5, their topic started off with a challenge from an Alchemist and Year 6 have been dissecting pig’s hearts, asking questions and making links with a human heart. In Reception, children are constantly learning through play, where they lead and adults facilitate the next steps. All of this learning is underpinned by P4C and BLP.
Within the new Ofsted Inspection Framework, they too have identified the importance of a broad and balanced curriculum. They make reference to ‘cultural capital’ and state that any school found to be ‘systematically gaming’ could be judged inadequate; gaming happens when the decisions made about the curriculum favour the league tables, rather than the individual needs of pupils.
We need to make time for creativity because it is here that we build not only the curators, designers and filmmakers of the future, but also the most imaginative scientists, successful entrepreneurs and dynamic politicians.
If you have any questions, please come into school and speak to myself or any member of the Senior Leadership Team (Todd Sillett, Pennie Hills, Carla Glover, Vicki Brown, Rachel Roe or Danielle Davenport) who all make strategic and organisational decisions about teaching and learning within the school.
“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939)
Let’s keep lighting those fires!