St John’s School – A Case Study
St John’s is a primary school located just South of London. For a number of years now it has been improving under the guidance of leadership of Sally Quirk, the innovative headteacher.
The school has just undergone an OFSTED inspection (October 2016) and has been rated as “good with outstanding features.” There are currently around 200 pupils on the role and there is a is a waiting list for entry which is an incredible achievement as when Sally took the reins there were just 60 children on the role and the school was designated for closure.
Curiosity was piloted with the whole of the Year 6 group – 18 children in total and the pilot was directly overseen by the deputy headteacher Jane Gilhouley and run by Josh Still the Y6 teacher.
It was agreed that Curiosity should be run as a 1 hour session each week facilitated by John Gordon-Reid and that a second hour each week would be run by Josh and Jayne. A 10 week deployment after SATS was decided upon as being the ideal time to run.
The children making up Y6 were a good wide mix of abilities and although there were no
children that were identified as requiring special support there were a number of children in the
cohort from dis-advantaged backgrounds.
The programme began with a 2 hour kickoff session during which the concept of connected learning was explained and, using a giant 5 metre long Curiosity map, the children heard about how to choose challenges, navigate through the decades and also how to log in, select their challenge and finally to submit work on-line for assessment. Jane ensured that all the children had full understanding and they then commenced on their curiosity adventure.
A number of prizes were announced as ultimate incentives and the pin badges were
introduced. There was a lot of excitement about these.
The first work was submitted on-line for assessment that same evening and from that point onward there was a steady flow.
- Class time was divided:
- Discussion of progress and problems – average 5 minutes
- Show & tell – average 10 minutes
- Assessment time with JGR – average 40 minutes
- Wrap up – 5 minutes
It was decided early on that the work submitted was to be assessed on the amount of effort that had been made along with the inclusion of the termly targets that were set for writing (include punctuation, break with paragraphs, use connectives, include wow words etc) All
assessment was to be positive.
The quality of the work was wonderfully high and in many cases it would be correct to say that it totally surprised the teachers and brought out aspects and talents of a pupil that had not been seen in all the time they had been in Year 6.
As week 4 approached, a league table was introduced and there was great interest from the pupils to see how they stood against their friends and peers – the scoring system stood up well and was successful at keeping the majority of the group within striking distance of each other.
Incredibly, after about week 6 the buzz around prizes evaporated as the pupils started to work simply for the pleasure derived from undertaking and achieving rather than chasing an arbitrary prize.
CC concluded with a presentation to parents of the work produced during a 1 hour
celebration event. This included videos, performance pieces, written work, models and even sugar crystals.
“My favourite bit about Curiosity is collecting badges because you know you have achieved something” – Katie
” I loved it!! ” – Vicky
“I rate it as 5 out of 5” – Daniel (ref the Curiosity Assessment and Scoring scheme)
“I loved it because I am not under pressure to finish it in a time limit” – Nathan
“The best lessons I have ever had” – Archie
“An awesome club for fun in Primary” – George
“You have created something astonishing” Sally Quirk, Headteacher
“This has been a truly inspirational project for both the teachers and the pupils.
Fabulous activities that harness a child’s interest and creativity and made for a wonderful learning journey” Jane Gilhoulley, Deputy Headteacher.
“Absolutely fantastic” Josh Still, Class teacher
Summary : St Johns have signed on for a full year of Curiosity in 2017. They believe that the breadth of the scheme and the fact that it is choice driven make it a hugely valuable tool. They now feel confident enough to administer the programme themselves and through their enthusiasm they have embraced the Governors of the school to become assessors of the challenges and feel confident that the Teacher Notes provided are sufficiently
comprehensive to allow this.