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☰ Questions, so many questions!

Head's Blog

Questions, so many questions!

Posted on July 06 2018

What a difference this spate of warm weather makes to our lives outside of school and work. It is just like being on holiday and I am sure, just like me, that you have all made the most of this glorious warm spell and spent some quality time together with family and friends. It was whilst doing so last weekend at Hatchmere Lake in Cheshire, that I took my children along to meet up with some friends and have some fun in the sun. We were joined by another family and their young child, who did not take to the water as much as my two girls. Therefore, me and this little three year old decided to explore the woods at the water's edge. Just the two of us.

My word, I thought our inquisitive Pre Prep children at Forest Park were full of life, but this little lady did not draw breath as she pummeled me with question after question! What’s that over there? Why has the this bug so many legs? Where is his home? Can I go and live with him? What do you think his name is? The questions were endless and, as much as I felt worn out, I could not help but smile at how much my brain had worked connecting so many thoughts together to verbalise an answer to reply to her (none of which were ever quite enough by the way!). It made me smile and think about the productive work we have achieved with higher order thinking and questioning at Forest Park this year.

At Forest Park we are clear that we want every child to reach their potential, absolutely that’s what our vision is so that they are ready to go out and be citizens in the world of work and the world of life, but to be confident in that. It’s vitally important that we teach children higher order thinking skills, to question them in greater depth so that they master their learning. We’re in a very small school where we need to give the children as many opportunities as we can to shine. We provide our pupils with the tools to be able to use the information that they research or investigate and then explain their findings. Anybody can find information and make a report about it, but to be able to analyse that information, to apply it to different contexts, to use it to build on previous experience and to use it in other situations, that’s really what true learning is about.

This year we introduced a focus upon higher order questioning skills and the impact has been very positive. We introduced children to developing questions based around Bloom’s Taxonomy to clarify and specify the different type and level of question posed to pupils. This initiative has progressed extremely well and we are now looking to widen the higher order thinking and questioning to refer to feedback and reflection within the pupils learning and this will be a key focus for the school next year.

I asked one of our older KS2 pupils to comment on how their thinking has developed this year and what impact the questioning techniques of teachers has had upon their learning. He explained:

Higher order questions are questions that make you think a lot about what you are learning and allow us to discuss answers with our partners and as a class. And they’re quite tricky so you really need to think about them. They help you get through your discussions really well. We are basically asked questions everywhere, in all lessons and all subjects. So we’re thinking hard all the time.

Through using the higher order questioning and thinking skills at Forest Park, pupils’ learning has improved across the school. Recent assessment data shows that within Mathematics, 72% of Forest Park pupils are achieving above their age expectations and in English that figure is 65%. A large part of this increase, we feel, can be attributed to the effective use of questioning to ensure higher order thinking and learning takes place consistently throughout our lessons. This is a very positive use of questioning that our children have shown an aptitude for and one that will benefit their life and future successes.

Nick Tucker

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