Sunday, 19 July 2015

It's Great to be British

 This week my school ran a 'Great to be British' week in response to the Governments push on teaching children British values and the new geography national curriculums objectives on the United Kingdom. Being an avid geographer, planning this week was something I really wanted to take on and I wanted to ensure that the children had ample opportunities to learn about the UK creatively and inspire a sense of awe and wonder about the lands we live in. The week enabled the children to explore the concept of what it means to be British as well as showing team work, creativity and excellence in the work they produced linked the 4 countries of the UK. It was such an amazing week and the quality of work produced, you would have never thought it was the penultimate week of term! Teachers and children were amazing! 

So what did we do? 

Day 1 was focused on exploring the British values. The headteacher launched the day with an assembly and a quiz challenge about the UK for the classes to complete. Back in classes the children explored their own ideas about what 'Being British' means. The responses my children gave me were 'Tea, the Queen, Big Ben, roast dinners, fish and chips' to name but a few! I then introduce the 4 main British values:
1) Democracy
2) Law
3) Freedom
4) Respect and Tolerance
We discussed them through philosophy style questions such as 'Is it ever ok to break the law?' And again I was blown away by their sensible, mature and well thought through discussions. These discussions were going on throughout the school before years 3 and 5 focused on Law and years 4 and 6 Democracy. Years 3 and 5 wrote their own laws before staging mock court rooms. Year 4 and 6 were set the tricky task of making up their own political parties. They had to write their own manifestos, leaders speeches and create campaign posters. It was a tricky thing to do and needed a lot of background support however the Year 4s rose to the challenge and by the end of the day the year 6s had come down to vote for their political party. Next year I think year 4 would be better writing manifestos for ruling a school not a country as they did find it tricky. Each year group shared their learning across the week in designated sharing assemblies. 

So the rest of the week?

The rest of the week was dedicated to teaching the geography national curriculum objective: 

We decided that each year group would focus on the human, physical and cultural geography of each of the 4 countries of the United Kingdom:
Year 3- England
Year 4: Wales
Year 5: Scotland
Year 6: Northen Ireland
The key idea was that each year group would have a rotating system where one teacher would teach all the physical geography, one the human geography and one the cultural geography. The idea being that this would save time and resources and the children would rotate round over a few days ensuring all areas covered. The quality of teaching and learning was amazing! Here is a taster of the some of the activities:
Year 3 and England: Pop up tourist maps of places to visit in the UK, giant cardboard box models of key landmarks, country dancing...

Year 4 and Wales: 3D physical maps of Wales made from plasticine; researching Welsh mining and producing information books about Wales; speaking Welsh, making paper daffodil models and baking Wmelsh cakes..

Year 5 and Scotland: making models of Scottish key landmarks; designing their own kilts, researching St Andrew and the Loch Ness monster...

Year 6 and Northern Ireland: investigating how the Giants cause way was made and making plasticine models depicting this! 

At the end of the week the children shared their work in a sharing assembly. 

The final day of the week was our joint campus day with the nursery and infant school. The morning began with years 4 and 6 meeting Alan Mak, Mp for Hayling and Havang. They suitable grilled him with their questions and he spoke about life as a politician.  Then the children all took part in a 'Great British Bake off' making scones, Eton mess and trifles! They made British bunting which was hung all around field in preparation for a great British picnic in the afternoon. We were joined by a bagpipe player who played to all the children before years 3 and 6 shared their Country dancing and Irish dancing. 
 The atmosphere around the school all week was electric. The buzz of learning and creativity filled the corridors. The children learnt so much and produced fantastic pieces of work, all the hard work and planning was so worthwhile. The British values are embedded into our own school values but having weeks like this allow us to focus on them, readdress them and remember just how great it is to be British!! 

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