The school direct course offers a week in a primary school to better understand the academic and pastoral transition between the ‘big year 6’ students suddenly becoming the ‘little year 7s’. It is a good opportunity to observe the level of work that the students can complete and what they have learnt in depth. My placement was during the remembrance celebrations for the anniversary of WW1.
As soon as I entered my primary school, I was shocked by how small and intimate it was. Compared to a high school housing several subjects in different buildings my primary school has one classroom for each year with a shared area between two years. Being a secondary trainee, I’m used to having a bell ring at the end of every hour; however in a primary school, the timetable was hard to keep up with. There was no hustle and bustle to get to another class, and each subject seemed to merge into the next. The whole class worked together constantly, and if there was any fall outs (especially between the girls) it affected the whole group – there was no downtime.
Whilst on my placement, I got to work with a few focus groups. Since I am a maths specialist I worked with a group of students who needed a confidence boost in their mathematic ability. Working with this little group of students allowed me to practice new teaching methods on the topic; trying out more visual methods and altering my explanations for them. I also had a focus group for reading, which pushed me out of my comfort zone and highlighted how the primary school teacher has to be skilled in many subjects.
Observing the classroom teacher, I got a glimpse into how much work a primary school teacher has to do. Whilst they only have 30 children to teach, they need to be highly organised to ensure the learning of a mixture of cross-curricular subjects whilst maintaining a high level of pastoral care for every member of their class. You can clearly see the relationships that are formed between the classroom teacher and the pupil.
I loved the whole-school assembly at the end of the week, where members of each class displayed the pieces of work they had worked hard on during the week. There was a ‘theme’ to the week (which was WW1 at the time of my placement) so there was a variety of work to celebrate the anniversary of the war. There were pieces of poetry (from the lovely year 6s I was working with), paintings and even poppy wreaths! I felt a great sense of pride from each person in the school and it was lovely to be a part of it. The older pupils in the school even got the opportunity to take a trip to the cenotaph at Royton Park just before the 11 o’clock silence.
Over the week, I realised that the level of work that the year 6s are completing is of high challenge. I was working with quite a creative bunch of students and was really impressed by their creative writing ability in particular. This was highlighted in the war poetry pieces they were writing (some were quite emotional!). The week in the primary school has left me motivated to implement a more creative outlook to my lessons to ensure that my current (and future!) year 7s creativeness is not lost due to the amount they have to juggle after the transition to secondary. I also learnt that I’d underestimated the academic challenge at primary. This was invaluable experience to inform my secondary planning of year 7 lessons.