Well, it was a new school for me today (Minerva Primary Academy in Bristol: http://minervapa.org.uk/), and what a warm welcome I received! On occasions, I do venture beyond the county of Gloucestershire, especially where schools are part of a multi-academy trust and my influence can have an impact on many teachers and learners.
The theme of this afternoon’s CPD event was ‘Exploring global learning within the context of the new National Curriculum for geography.’ Charlotte Ingram, Geography Subject Leader at MPA, approached me just before the summer holidays and requested some support in developing teaching and learning within the subject from Reception to Year 6. It was suggested that the school made use of their GLP e-credits and held a CPD event for all staff, which centred upon global learning and geography. Whilst it was pointed out that this would have to have more of a Key Stage 2 focus in order to meet the criteria of the GLP, I did offer to drop in ideas and web-links that would be suitable for use with Key Stage 1 pupils.
After providing a little background about myself, in addition to outlining the aims and structure of the session, I invited teachers to attempt a short activity. This required them to ask themselves a couple of questions (‘Why are you here?’ and ‘What do you hope to gain from today’s twilight session?’), as well as make a list of their aims, which we re-visited towards the end of the afternoon. By doing this, participants appreciate that there is a real purpose to the CPD and have some ownership of the session right from the start.
Next, I posed two further questions to delegates:
- ‘What is global learning exactly?’
- ‘Why is it important?’
Staff were forthcoming with contributions at this point. For them, ‘global’ meant the wider world and encompassing what is around them. ‘Learning’ was interpreted as acquiring knowledge; gaining an understanding; developing skills and an appreciation of different values. As to why it was important, participants referred to the increasingly multi-cultural society in which we now live; the changing demographics locally and the impact that this is having on year cohorts in school; instilling values, such as tolerance and respect; raising awareness of global issues and understanding that we all have a role and responsibility to act as active global citizens.
I then shared further information regarding global learning, a definition of a global learner, why it is so important and expectations for primary aged pupils, sourced from Think Global. I also displayed a word cloud that I created with a group of Key Stage 2 and 3 students during a whole day themed workshop to showcase youngsters’ thoughts about global learning. Since Charlotte had said that staff knowledge and understanding of the geography was quite varied, I decided to spend some time ‘unpicking’ the Programmes of Study at both Key Stages 1 and 2, emphasising links to global learning in the process. The Geographical Association’s framework document, produced in conjunction with the launch of the new National Curriculum back in 2014, provides a superb overview of continuity, progression and age-related expectations across all key stages and was worth mentioning at this point too.
I wanted the session to be as ‘hands on’ as possible for members of staff, but, unfortunately, prior issues with the school’s laptop trolley had not been resolved in time. Instead, teachers had to listen to me talking more than I would usually do and view slides projected onto the ‘big screen’ at the front of the room. I had previously selected around a dozen, up-to-date, trialled and tested web-links/resources, including blog posts about GLP-funded Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3 transition projects that I have coordinated over the past few years. I encouraged the teachers present to re-visit the ones most relevant to them and the children that they teach during their next PPA slot or at home. Individuals appeared to really appreciate the time that I had spent sourcing suitable material, the stories that I had to share with them from my time in the classroom and the opportunity to engage in further conversation with both myself and other colleagues. There was a real ‘buzz’ in the room, which was lovely to witness.
Towards the end of the session, teachers were given a sheet with two, large footprints printed in the centre. They were asked to contemplate their next steps once they left the room today and use the footprints to record their intentions, starting with the big toes and working outwards. It was added that each step could be as simple or complex as they like. Many managed to reach the little toes on both their right and left feet. When asked, professionals were very willing to share their ideas and thoughts. Hopefully, some of these will be integrated into future geography/humanities and whole school curriculum development plans.
A few of their footprints can be viewed below:
Finally, staff were required to pick up a blank postcard and sum up today’s workshop in five words/in a sentence or two (WWW/EBI). They could add their name and position if they wished, before posting their completed postcard in the box as they left the room. As you can see below, the concluding comments extracted from their postcards were very positive, making my journey down the M5 to Bristol truly worthwhile!
‘Increased enthusiasm for geography.’
‘It was very insightful into resources I can use to support me in my training and planning in the future.’
‘Thought-provoking; inspiring; practical; enthusiastic.’
‘Informative; great resource for resources; useful for PGCE training.’
‘Insightful; resourceful; broad; holistic; helpful!’
‘Useful; resources; informative; inspiring.’
‘I have gained some new ideas that I can use in my subject, as well as my class.’
‘This workshop was really great at showing how well geography links can be made in other curriculum areas, especially in writing!’
‘Wish you were here! Ideas; inspiring; helpful; global learning.’
‘Very exciting to find out that there are so many comprehensive resources out there. It would have been great to have clicked on some of the links during the session too.’
‘WWW: Some good resources viewed.
EBI: More discussion about what school does currently.’
‘WWW: Ideas to link geography with literacy.
EBI: We mapped out important days which were global.’
‘WWW: Lots of practical ideas to use in the classroom and a better understanding of global learning.
EBI: More hands-on (I know technology our end was an issue).’
‘Learned; knowledge (of curriculum); ideas; chocolate (thanks!).
EBI: More interactive – show us some of the website resources, please, and give us some time to consider how we could/would use them.’
‘Thank you very much for your twilight CPD event. It was very informative and inspiring to all staff. I very much appreciate your offer of further assistance/support. I will definitely be in touch again.’
I look forward to visiting the school again in the not too distant future, hopefully when the new build is completed and the area looks less like a building site!