Thinking Like 21st Century Learners

To be Future Ready learners, children need to be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and understanding. If they have these then they are able to begin to apply what they have learned to, for example, solve simple problems. However, in order for them to deepen their learning, such that they can begin to analyse, evaluate or synthesise new learning, then greater mastery is required.

19 11 07 Canon EOS 5D Mark IV 13 45 24Part of the solution is the nurturing of positive learning attitudes and habits. We do so through constant focus, feedback and reflection time for our pupils to think about becoming more effective learners. By enabling them to be better listeners, develop resourcefulness, build resilience, stoke their curiosity... our pupils learn the attributes of an effective learner and what they need to do in order to be better. We use the psychology of habit formation to help pupils identify bad learning habits and replace them with better ones. They're learning how to be a learner...

However, the missing part of the solution lies in looking at how we think. There is little value in having the necessary knowledge, tools, understanding and attributes of a good learner if it is let down by poor thinking processes i.e. a tendency to panic / guess at a solution / give up / not check or test the solution etc. As a school, we have derived a model for thinking that enables young children to learn how to think more like an adult when making decisions and solving problems. This could be the 'thinking edge' that our children need to be fit for the future.

A Future Focussed Curriculum

Our curriculum has been designed to be like everything else at Blue Coat: bespoke to the needs of our children. With 'Future Readiness' firmly in focus, we have designed our curriculum around the Big Ideas that underpin this concept. For example, we believe that children should be equipped to come up with the answers to:

-How do I deal with failure effectively?

-How and why should I show respect for those who are different to me?

-Based on what I believe, when and how should I take action to do good?

These questions are brought to life through an enquiry-based curiculum that allows children to explore and reflect on the answers whilst trying to achieve something that they have a firm stake in. Whether this is setting up a successful business, adopting an endangered species, creating a political party with a pupil-voting majority... the children use the subjects of History, Computing, Art and more as a means to an end, giving them purpose and personal relevance.

These experiences are known as 'learning vehicles' as they drive the learning for our pupils. The vehicles are planned carefully to cover the requirements of the National Curriculum in England, whilst extending well beyond to provide children with the experiences and attributes required to be Future Ready. Curriculum enrichment is a key part of this. Regular visits and visitors are used to inspire and add value to the learning, enhancing each child's cultural capital whilst providing memorable experiences that they'll cherish for life.

The 'Extra' Curriculum

We recognise that learning is as broad as it is deep. Because of this, we offer a diverse 'extra curriculum' aimed at encouraging children to find their element i.e. what it is that they love and could excel in given opportunity. These experiences offer unique learning opportunities for the children that sit outside the requirements of the National Curriculum.

Blue Coat places high value on offering a wide range of after-school clubs. These range from: a School Newspaper to a dedicated Arts club; Fencing through to Judo; Cheerleading through to Gymnastics; Lego Robotics through to mature Debate. All of these contribute significantly to the children's academic, personal, social, emotional and spiritual development.

Our school has led Forest School practice for over 10 years. During each child's Reception year through to the end of Year 4, pupils take an active role in learning about the wonders of the outdoor environment through a child-initiated experience that takes place during the school day. Nature art, den-building, whittling, open fires, teamwork problem-solving only scratch the surface as to the fun that Forest School can offer young learners. In return, children develop leadership skills, appreciation for the natural world, gain spiritual experiences, harness their creativity - all of which underline the importance of learning in this unique way.

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