A Programme of Experiences
We take too much for granted. When GCSE examiners ask pupils in the important English Language examination to write about 'going to the seaside' they are trying to be helpful. They think that everyone has been to the seaside so that this is a fair question.
Actually, for all sorts of reasons, not all children have been to the seaside.
This kind of thing happens in all the subjects we teach. We can assume that pupils know what we are talking about when we talk about long walks in the woods, mushrooms in fields, baking bread, stone circles and Iron Age forts. The truth is that not all the children know about all these things. And when they do know about them, sometimes it's because they have seen a film or a television programme, and not because they have first-hand experience.
We would like all the pupils at The Rosary to gain a broad range of first-hand experiences, not big, expensive things, simple, everyday important things. These experiences will help them to understand their learning better, to write more freely about things, and to understand better what they are reading. They will also help pupils feel better about themselves. Doing interesting things contributes to a child's well-being and that is an important part of their education.
The National Trust: 50 Things To Do Before You Are Eleven And Three Quarters
The National Trust has come up with a fabulous list of things they suggest primary school children should try and do. These are the kind of things you might do in National Trust properties such as Minchinhampton Common, Standish Wood or Newark Park.
This what they say about it: "We have 50 ultimate activities for you to enjoy, so get out in the fresh air and build a den, make your world spin by rolling down a hill or watch stars glitter in the night sky. You'll be a seasoned adventurer by the time you've managed to try out all 50 activities. And it doesn't end there. You can enjoy doing our '50 things' again and again, in all seasons."
At the Rosary we want to create opportunities for all pupils to complete this list. Which would be wonderful!
50 More Things!
The National Trust list is about being in the natural world.
At the Rosary, we want to complement that with fifty more things which help you work with one another. Fifty 'social' things.
They include activities like visiting a factory, speaking to an audience, writing and posting a letter to a friend of a relative and visiting a big shopping centre.
Every pupil will get a passport to help them record which activities they've done, either in school, perhaps on a school trip, or at home or in the holidays. Some teachers will keep the passports safe for the class, others will ask pupils to look after them themselves.
This is not a test!
Firstly, we are going to try and create opportunities for all pupils to do all one hundred things. But some of them they may have to try and do at home or in the holidays.
Secondly, this is not a test! Spending half an hour on Swift's Hill looking for fossils is a good way to spend half an hour, even if you don't find a fossil!
Thirdly, it's not a list of risks! No-one is being asked to do anything they do not want to do, or to take any chances. Some of us hate swimming in the sea, but others will love it. Watching people swim in the sea, with the spray in your face and the wind in your hair, can be just as memorable as actually getting cold, wet and shivery!
But if you do complete a task, you'll get a stamp on your passport and we are really hoping that you have nearly everything done before you leave The Rosary!