Special Projects at The Orchard

The 6 R's

At The Orchard we teach these children life long learning skills:

We teach children what these skills mean in different situations. They know, for example, how to find the tools and other strategies to help themselves if they need to be resilient in design and making or they know how to be responsible if they see another child is upset. They are encouraged to reflect on their learning at the end of a lesson and use reasoning to solve a problem.

Teachers give stickers to reward these specific behaviours and each week certificates are given out to children in each class to reinforce their importance. We have special events such as our “6 R week” when we organise collaborative problem solving activities to really challenge the children’s thinking. Children worked together last year to design their own story nooks for their classroom and had a real purpose for using all of the 6 R’s.

Talk to Learn

At The Orchard we have developed many teaching practices which encourage children to initiate and be independent in their own learning, develop thinking skills and learn through collaboration with others. We always aim to motivate the children through practical and exciting learning, providing opportunities throughout the curriculum to extend these vital learning skills and to ensure the best possible progress for every child.

Recent Orchard initiatives have been the 6 R's, the UNICEF Rights Respecting Agenda, Philosophy for Children and the learning and oral re-telling of stories. Underpinning these initiatives has been an ongoing commitment to speaking and listening opportunities, the provision of a rich language environment and excellent relationships between adults and children which demonstrate and support effective language use in a social, moral context.

Since January 2012 we have been thinking about the most powerful tools we have in the classroom to make the most impact on children’s progress. What can we do as adults to enhance each child’s learning further? We have been working with our Educational Psychologist to plan, develop our learning and evaluate this aspect of our work.

Our hypothesis is that our interactions with children, our dialogue and theirs, are what make the most difference to children’s learning. The quality and type of interaction is crucial, so we have been identifying what the highest quality of interaction looks like so we can all do it better. We have also been investigating what activities or tasks stimulate the best kind of “Exploratory Talk”.

Research by John Hattie and the Sutton Trust identified effective feedback as one of the most significant influences on children’s learning. Neil Mercer’s work on “Exploratory Talk” has also influenced our developing practice and adults through the school are building on their use of Feedback, Questioning and Scaffolding to facilitate high quality exploratory talk and thinking.

Our Teachers, Teaching Assistants and Special Educational Needs Assistants are collecting information on the ways in which children use talk and how we as adults can promote exploratory talk and improve progress.

Our learning as a school is being shared throughout the staff to shape and develop our practice. It has also been shared with other schools, the Educational Psychology Service in Surrey and Ashridge Business School as part of their Action Research Training Programme.

Eco status

We are currently working towards becoming a “green flag” school through improving our sustainability and the children’s knowledge, understanding and involvement in this. Our main project at the moment is to make recycling successful throughout the school. We have had a special recycling day and a ground force day for all parents and children.

We provide collection points for ink cartridges, paper and card, textiles and old mobile phones. Children act as “recycling rangers” to put fruit peels in the composter and recycle the paper from their classrooms. Energy monitors are responsible for switching lights off. Our “Green team” is made up from staff, parents, children and governors and their future plans include the creation of a new nature area.