Our Spanish Enrichment Day kicked off with an assembly of song and dance, led by Mrs Kilpatrick. The children will… https://t.co/v0HkVz9Ip5

We have been discussing why we wear poppies and Remembrance Day in Year 3 this morning. #WeWillRememberThem https://t.co/JGXs0lzgGz

We had great fun in Pre-Prep yesterday at our Early Years Open Event. Many thanks to our visitors and special guest… https://t.co/7PflDi0rjb


☰ Empowering Ownership

Head's Blog

Empowering Ownership

Posted on September 20 2019

The Tucker family are planning their annual visit to Blackpool lights next week. Like most families it has become a tradition in our household to visit the famous Lancashire town during early autumn and admire the miles of illuminations dotted along the coast. However, much to my surprise it is not the lights, the slot machines, the tower or even the fish and chips that my daughters explained they enjoyed the most about their yearly experience - it was the chance to sit on dad’s lap and help drive the car! Come to think of it, I remember the exact same thing as a child with my father many years ago.

This image got me thinking about school and the children at Forest Park. When children are drivers of their own learning and not just passive recipients, it turns a dormant classroom into a thriving incubator of innovation. Many of our pupils understand what they are learning in school, but we would like to see more of them have a say in what they would like to learn and why, empowering ownership. 

At Forest Park we want to release greater control that has traditionally defined the role of the teacher and learning. We feel that our pupils know enough to make the appropriate decisions if they are given choices. We aim to give greater control over learning to the pupils themselves. When children are motivated, engaged, and coached in the skills they need to take ownership, they develop the mindsets and behaviours to self-regulate their own learning and it makes a greater impact in the long term.

Ownership means that pupils develop an understanding of themselves as learners, knowing how they are progressing in the class, and setting realistic goals or targets to succeed. Pupils develop one aspect of their voice by communicating their wants and needs. It is developed along a continuum, beginning with some very simple opportunities that lead to other more complex situations that allow children to be agents of their own learning.

A shared vision created with children increases this ownership. The shared vision is a set of expectations of what the class will become and what excellence looks like at the end result of that particular learning journey or task. Our pupils describe what the class should look like, feel like, and sound like, taking cues from the teacher or school team and drive to make that happen. It is a slow, but important process that we are undertaking at school, but the early positives are clear. 

Pupils take ownership of their next steps and identify what is required for them to succeed even further within their learning. Our termly target information report is an accountability tool for pupils to use as they matriculate through the classroom on their own. It is particularly helpful when embedding areas for improvement, as pupils will action goals set themselves, rather than those imposed upon them by teachers or parents. 

Reflection time is to be increased in lessons where pupils can share their thoughts and ideas before, during, and after instruction. We encourage higher order thinking questions to be utilised and have no set time during lessons when this reflection takes place, it has to be in the moment and relevant to the task at hand. In its simplest form, it is a place to put ideas, questions, and comments about the learning process and an opportunity for the pupil to respond and reflect on feedback from teachers or even their own peers. 

Leadership expert John Maxwell once said that the more control you give away; the more control you gain. Releasing some control helps to build teacher/pupil relationships, trust, and patience. At Forest Park our teachers are already beginning to see how the children think based on the questions and comments they share in class. Children see their thoughts and words are respected because they are being acknowledged. Children also learn to collaborate with one another as they work together looking for ways to improve their work and strive for an agreed desirable level of excellence. 

Ownership of learning comes when pupils understand expectations and recognise why the learning needs to happen because they have had a voice in creating it. Teachers spend time deliberately directing pupils to use the tools and being consistent with the usage of ownership. The impact of these tools is dependent on one highly important component, it is whether or not you give the pupil the attention they deserve. Whether or not the pupil is listened to and guided in the right direction with their learning. Teachers need to slowly hand the wheel of the car over to the pupil for them to be able to drive themselves to the correct destination! 

Nick Tucker

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