Agents of change – The importance of not being complacent
Peter Short, Thinking School Lead, Wellington Primary School
Do you feel you are part of something special? You are here, reading a newsletter from Thinking Matters that shares the experiences of a range of very special schools. So, you should, because you are an agent of change.
All educators involved in the movement towards the teaching of the whole child, are agents of change. Committing to supporting pupils’ understanding that the mind is a tool to face an uncertain future means we are the risk takers, the reflective practitioners, the facilitators, the creators of inspirational lessons that pupils will reflect on in years to come. We choose to make a difference, to improve the educational opportunities for all.
We are the agents of change.
But agents of change cannot be complacent. Our school, Wellington Primary, has recently been through a major transition. Having a new junior school built and the move to four form entry meant that over the past couple of years there has been an influx of new teachers and the reestablishment of routines and procedures. We have worked at trying to maintain our core values as a thinking school, but we realised it was time for a refresher.
Our continuing work with Thinking Matters has meant that a core team of our teachers have recently become officially licensed trainers and part of the Thinking Matters team supporting the development of thinking skills in other schools in our area. As a drive team inspired by the in-depth training and support we received, we decided to start with our own school and design an approach to refresh our own practice and inspire the staff anew. We have organised and delivered several whole school INSETS and programmes for both teaching staff and support teachers. We insisted on including all the support staff, as the teaching assistants are integral to supporting a whole school philosophical approach to education.
One major project was to transition the school into the use of the Thinking Matters’ Thinking Frames. This has been very successful, with teachers feeling more confident to allow their pupils to develop their own frames to express their thinking in visual forms. We have run twilight sessions with the staff exploring thinking ‘beyond the frames’. Staff have adapted well to using multiple frames in one and we have seen the use of big thinking sheets, where we lay sugar paper down and pupils add to the whole class reflection and thinking with a range of frames exploring a topic or focus – a very exciting development.
We have utilised the SPARE model, developed by Burden and Williams, as we have been designing an ongoing programme for our own future development. We reflect on gathered data and examples of practice from all year groups to establish the current setting and practice and identify strengths and weaknesses. This provides us with targets for future development and this process will continue.
We are agents of change at Wellington – but we must never become complacent.