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

EDP Norfolk - - FROM THE HEADMASTER’S OFFICE - Fred de Falbe, Head­mas­ter, Bee­ston Hall School This col­umn is spon­sored by Bee­ston Hall School, West Run­ton bee­ston­hall.co.uk

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

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