Learning from learners
Some of our grown-ups could take a leaf out of the book of the school’s young people, says Fred de Falbe
There is much written at the moment about independent schools’ involvement in the wider community and much of this attached to large, round figures of investment and the sharing of facilities. This is nothing if not good news – which we could surely use at the moment! – but there is another angle to it, less widely described and equally important.
For many years, through the saintly Dave Upton, of the Cromer and Sheringham Schools’ Sports Partnership, Beeston regularly holds sporting events of different kinds, making use of the Beeston facilities. They are always great fun and usually blessed by north Norfolk weather wherein even the occasionally shower is brief – even if the wind can be quite nippy!
What is less well advertised, though, is the way in which these events sit at the heart of academic curriculum, for both participants and facilitators. For in the example of the most recent afternoon of multi-sports, the facilitators were our Year 8 students leading, in their pairs, each of the ten activities undertaken: netball, football, rugby, tennis, hockey, golf, stuckin-the-mud, throw and catch, target games and speed-stacking.
They were charged with organising, explaining and then demonstrating each of their activities and ensuring that each child had a chance to try, participate and compete. In so doing was the requirement to communicate effectively, make decisions and work with a group of strangers (albeit Year 3 and 4 strangers).
The Beeston children were in ‘teacher mode’, working with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, needing to be flexible as they were learning what worked and what did not work, how their presentations directly affected the outcomes. This was all about listening to each other, as well as to the crowds before them, and how the subtleties of this led to success.
These are the very skills that are so crucial in a world where being unafraid to try things for the first time is so important and encouraging young people to ‘give it a go’ so vital. Watching them succeed, as well as the variety of children in their groups, was a pleasure indeed and a clear indication of the key outcome – the development of confidence and enjoyment, as teachers, as well as learners.
Listening to each other is perhaps not role-modelled as well as it might be, at present, in the corridors of power, but my hat goes off to our listening teachers – not one of them more than 13 years old. Congratulations to them and our sincere thanks to the 170 children who were all part of that winding learning journey, from Beeston Hall, Antingham and Southrepps, St Mary’s, Holt, Sheringham, Mundesley and Cromer Junior. They all thoroughly enjoyed themselves, worked hard and deserved their biscuits!
ABOVE: Beeston’s young learners turn into teachers for a sports event