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☰ Taking Ownership of Learning

Head's Blog

Taking Ownership of Learning

Posted on November 10 2020

In the majority of schools all the learning design, the curriculum studied, the units of work and topics, the layout of the rooms and displays on the walls, is done by the teacher. That is structured and well ordered, but if, as educators, we do it completely, all the time, we are depriving our children of opportunities to learn how to design their own learning for themselves. And they will need to be able to do that if they are to succeed in the world, as they won’t have adults assisting in everything they do.

We are fortunate that at Forest Park we hold the belief that the more you hand over to children, the more they feel in control of their own learning. By giving them ownership, we find children become more motivated and develop a stronger love for learning. It is empowering for children to see their amazing ideas come to fruition. For this simple reason, we have always tried to involve the children in designing their learning as much as possible and are continuing to look at ways to further enhance pupil ownership at Forest Park. It is one of our main targets for 2020-21.

One of the ways we hand over ownership to children is by giving them a choice about how they approach and decide their learning activity. Many of our pupils are presented with a “menu” of options – much like you would find in a restaurant. For example, some of our junior pupils are offered ‘chilli challenges’ where the spicier the menu choice, the more challenging the activity is. Giving the children a simple choice of how much they understand a topic and how far they want to stretch themselves resulted in much more buy-in and motivation during their learning. Of course, as teachers, we need to facilitate carefully the pupil’s learning so that we can measure their progress carefully.

At Forest Park we consistently look for opportunities to open up discussion with our children about what they think they need to learn next and how they could go about it. For example, in our infants, we might open up these discussions during fruit and milk, at the end of the day, during a plenary, as the children are going out of the door to play. This way we are letting the children know their ideas are valued and that they have a say over their learning experiences in the classroom.

As a result, our pupils are more able to understand that their ideas are valued. They regularly come up with excellent learning ideas and never let us forget to keep them involved in learning decisions. Our lessons are far more meaningful to the children because the ideas and content are more often originating from one of them, not the teacher. At Forest Park, the children become the creators of their own learning, leading to a greater depth of understanding and ultimately means that they achieve more.

We carefully combine giving children ownership with the relevant amount of challenge and in our opinion, we have a learning recipe for success! This is our favourite kind of learning because the children have true ownership over what they are doing and can direct their learning journey in a more personalised way. Once our pupils have a true sense of ownership over their learning it is when children truly become inspired and the lifelong learner is born!

Nick Tucker

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