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☰ Enhancing Pupil Ownership of Learning

Head's Blog

Enhancing Pupil Ownership of Learning

Posted on February 05 2020

This week has seen a very big achievement for me in the Tucker household. I managed to erect a shelf at home! I know, I know, not a feat that impressive to shout about. However, I’ve never been one for DIY and always relied on my retired father in law to organise any maintenance jobs around the home. Nevertheless, I took ownership and independence around a situation and got the job done myself. Whether it stands the test of time is another matter!

DIY is something that takes place at Forest Park every single day, not in the sense of home improvements but with pupils taking ownership with their own learning, they effectively do it themselves. This is something we feel very strongly about, as the more this occurs with learners the more they understand a concept. We encourage our children to stand up and take control of their own learning.  We give them opportunities to ask more questions about what they would like to learn and take ownership of tasks and activities. 

Pupils set their own targets and create success criteria to assess against whether they have understood something or not. Parents may have heard children talking about ‘purple polishing’. This is a great example where pupils edit, check and assess their own work looking at ways of improving it even further. Children experience face-to-face feedback from teachers, which is in the moment, and are able to reflect on and respond to comments, rather than wait until the following day, or even the following week when written comments can be read. Our pupils also asses their own, and others, work so that they are able to develop a greater depth of understanding.

Children work collaboratively in teams, each member has the opportunity to assert his or her needs as a learner even while contributing to a collective outcome. For example, one child may learn best by writing things down, so he volunteers to keep notes. Another child needs more preparation time, so she contributes to agenda-setting. Yet another learns best with visuals, so he takes the responsibility for finding related resources to bring to the team.

At Forest Park, we feel we have a successful balance of collective and individual learning practices. We adopt a personalised learning experience where children have ownership over what they have learned, what they need to improve and how they are going to achieve to the best of their ability. We carefully orchestrate success criteria so that children have a clear vision of what excellence looks like, pupils can then organise their own steps to achieving success. The steps they need to do themselves to get there. As these are created by the pupils, rather than given to them by teachers, it has a greater impact and likelihood to succeed.

None of these successes is possible without the active engagement of the individual pupil learners participating in them. While we know more than ever about how to engage learners in different ways, engagement is not a one-way street. Pupils have the responsibility to dig into their learning in ways that will change their practices and increase their skills to reach all students. A glance across the Forest Park corridors and staffroom show that teachers here are certainly up for the challenge, asking for more voice and choice in their own learning too, further enhancing the ethos of ownership within the school environment.

One part of taking ownership of learning is to understand deeply our own best ways of learning. Learners who can explicitly share their understanding of how they learn the best help their classmates contribute to better learning for all. Such discussions also emphasise the importance of knowledge about learning. 

While ownership of learning is becoming more established at Forest Park, this is just the beginning. We need to ensure that learning habits developed within the classroom are utilised outside the classroom too, at home, or when faced with a new challenge in life. Effective learning designs, skilful leadership, trusting parents, sufficient resources, relevant data are essential — and the child ultimately pulls it all together by committing to and participating in sustained engagement and improvement.

The future is bright at Forest Park!

Nick Tucker

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