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Children arrive into Early Years settings across the country, eager to be independent and keen to succeed. They observe and imitate the adults and peers before practising and progressing those skills for themselves. When surrounded by peers, children rapidly learn that every individual is unique. They discover that their friends’ strengths and next steps for success differ from their own. They realise that being unique, is something to be celebrated and can actually support us to make even better progress. As children share ideas and bounce off each others’ imagination, they teach each other new concepts and learning even more effectively.
Collaboration is ingrained into our ethos. From the beginning of Nursery children learn the importance of team work through play and team games. This continues into Reception as their inquisitive natures grow and questions turn into discussions, creating plenty of opportunities for learning. As friendships grow, children naturally begin to look out for each other and use their strengths to help others. As a teacher, the key to encouraging collaboration amongst the children is listening. Children learn best when they discover a concept for themselves and so we allow the children that freedom to discover the importance of collaboration for themselves. Open-ended questions help guide children towards this understanding too. We are better together.
Mrs Olivia Shepherd, Reception Class Teacher
In the words of the singer songwriter Jack Johnson, “it’s always better when we’re together.” Collaborative learning is a fundamental attribute of the teaching in Year 1. Whether the children are working in pairs during their guided reading sessions, sharing their thoughts and ideas on the carpet with a learning partner or working as a team in PE to develop a particular skill, they are actively engaging in their learning together. This helps to build their self esteem and inner confidence, whilst also giving them the opportunity to explain ideas and concepts in their own words, to further their understanding. This week, hurdling techniques have been developed, along with great excitement up at Forest School with bug hunting, that transformed into the ‘Bug Olympics’. In Science, we looked at the parts of the plant that we eat with different types of vegetables and fruit. Many were inquisitive enough to volunteer trying a new type of food, after seeing the delight on their friends’ faces who had eaten some themselves. With such an emphasis on learning to work effectively with a partner or within a group over the year, they are able to take on board and respect the opinions of others. It is wonderful to witness this important life skill being nurtured and advanced.
Mrs Henrietta Platt, Year 1 Class Teacher
Year 2 have settled back into life at school with remarkable ease despite the limitations of social distancing. Within our 'bubble' the children have been quick to understand the need for remaining inside our confines and strict adherence to hand washing and specific loo break timings! For their first Literacy task, the children had to collaborate to find synonyms for the word 'flying' by using a thesaurus and mind-mapping these words and collectively, they came up with 14 different words! These were then used to create descriptive sentences which were then extended throughout the week, utilising the power of three adjectives, adverbs and similies to produce eloquent bird poems. Our play area is now out on the sports field without their usual adventure playground. The children have immediately sought out group games to play from cricket, stuck in the mud to capture the flag. No child has played alone! Job done, it was fabulous to see them enjoying some free time playing together - friends reunited.
Mrs Leana Staring, Head of Spanish
This week we couldn’t have been more excited to get back and see the children. The Year 3 team were greeted with beaming, animated and excited faces. We were back! Not being in our own classes didn’t stop us from catching up with each other for a social distant assembly first thing Monday morning. The atmosphere was simply magical. Everyone was smiling from ear to ear. The volume and exhilaration generated a real buzz. This week has been incredible. The learning of perpendicular and parallel lines, exposure to expressive poetry and digesting contractions were all met with, ironically, ‘please sir can I have some more’. Being back has allowed the children the chance to expand their knowledge even further. The scaffolding of learning, the questioning, the amusement and the laughter has given every child in Year 3 everything they have deserved.
Mr Charlie Millsom, Head of Year 3
As a teacher, one of the joys is to watch the children interact with each other and bounce ideas around in lessons. Children learn from each other, they inspire and challenge each other and this has been much trickier over the last few months. Year 4 have been so lucky to be back in school all this week and we have been delighted to see them reunited with their friends. Lessons with 'real' children has brought classrooms alive with the sound of chatter and laughter ringing out through the corridors. In the classroom situation, the children have benefitted from sharing wonderful examples of work, listening to each other and participating in a calm and positive learning environment. It has been wonderful to see their happy, smiling faces running around with their friends in our beautiful grounds; we are so fortunate to have so much space to enjoy this freedom.
Mrs Charlie Peerless, Year 4 Class Teacher
Year 5 have been lucky enough to spend their first week back at school on our brand-new Astro. They have relished every second. They have played countless games of cricket and football and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company after so long away from each other. They have played in the woods and when the heat has become too much for some, sat under the oak trees and catching up on three months of chat. What a fantastic week of sunshine in which to reconnect with each other again,
Mrs Amanda Fletcher, Classroom Assistant
Year 6 arrived feeling like the experts of outdoor learning and were great leaders in reminding pupils in younger year groups to wash hands on arrival and on leaving the school site. Parents, your children have grown - not only in height but in maturity. What a helpful and happy bunch. I love how children are able to plan and play a game, new or old, so easily together and have fun getting stuck in. I asked the pupils if they had had a 'lockdown moment' prior to being back at school which may have involved anger, bursting into tears, feeling a bit down for no apparent reason and overreacting - every hand went up, including my own. There was not a little face that didn't look utterly relieved that they were not the only ones who had struggled. Parents and pupils, you have done so well during this challenging time and now that we are all back at school, there is nothing better than being together again. My own 'bubble' has been delightful. Luke Goodburn and Caspar Harriss have been true gents and have insisted on carrying the heavy activities bag. I have learned a few new games including one Charlotte King taught us all called 'Blood Potato'. We have enjoyed pairs cricket, colouring, hoola hooping, (Suri Chen is phenomenal - we had to stop her after 100 circles knowing she could easily carry on) as well as walking in the woods and wink murder. Kitty and Flora have kept me entertained regaling all sorts of stories of their home life. I have so enjoyed chatting, laughing hysterically and just being with you Year 6. You are ready to take the next step as more senior members of our school. Thank you for being such a fantastic year group these last few weeks and I really look forward to more fun next week.
Mrs Olga Houghton, Head of Art
It has been wonderful to see Year 7 in person this week rather than seeing them, or often just their chosen icons, in an online lesson. There is a wide range of interests in 7JL so we have done a variety of activities. We hope we have included something for everyone from ‘Werewolves’ to ‘Kick the Can’ and, of course, plenty of football. The main joy has been for everyone to see each other again so we have enjoyed the flexibility to make our own rules as a group and let things run on if everyone is having fun: we cut it fine on Wednesday when we were late back from the woods and narrowly missed our Sus being taken away! It has been nice to be camped in a group with the other Year 7s so that we can wave at them across our 2m boundaries. The only set timings are our trip across the school to the toilets which has felt like an outing and during which we sometimes set eyes on other year groups. We have all felt very lucky to be able to be together.
Mrs Sophie Lingham, Teacher of Maths
I think that coming back to school has helped everyone because we don't have to use screens to communicate. Being able to see your friends and teachers is very important.
Year 8 Pupil
Coming back to school has been so important for Year 8 as they come to the end of their time at Highfield. It has enabled them to reconnect with one another and physically feel part of the school again. This has helped them to really start to make the move towards becoming Old Highfieldians in a controlled and considered way. We are all delighted that their return before the summer holidays was possible.
Mr Peter Hesselmann, Year 8 Form Tutor