Whole School Child Led Projects
Research based evidence shows that children who are engaged in project work show a better command of creative tools and instruments later in life. The impact of collaborative approaches on learning is consistently positive (Education Endowment Foundation). During project work children easily proceed from exploration to representation which has a positive impact on their development. Children’s vocabulary is expanded and contextualised whilst exposing children to new words which they might not come across in the curriculum. Project work is an innovative and well explored pedagogical method to learn about the world around them, widen their cultural capital and develop the way they express themselves. The entire system is designed to be connected and in relationship. Nothing is left to sit in isolation. Everything is alive and everything is connected.
There are a number of distinguishing features to our child led weekly project work. Learning takes a holistic approach where learning and creativity come together. Adults facilitate learning through a range of media. Children have the opportunity to explore and enquire about themes relevant to them. Furthermore it encourages multi-dimensional learning and multi-channel interactions with the environment.
Adults lead the children on the road of knowledge and exploration. It stems from a careful exploration of children’s interests carried out by adults. Learning is documented through the group’s big book. Adults pay particular attention to children’s ideas and reactions.
Above is an example of some enquiry based learning led by the KS1 Blood Project.
Enquiry is the most important element of self – learning, we encourage children to ask their own questions about the world. Children are free to raise their own questions that grab them and work through it. Adults are responsible creating a specific aim for the group to work through.
Developing personal, social and emotional skills is one of the key missions of the collaborative projects. Children work together and have collaborative discussions. Children learn to articulate similarities and differences between their approaches and respect each other and the adults. Every project ends with a shared representation of what has been learned.
The project phases
• Selecting the theme / topic – taking a group of children’s key interests as the baseline adults then create individualised project plans and instructions tailored to children’s needs.
• Preparation and exploration – Stimulus and provocations provoke curiosity and enquiry. Children explore opportunities through demonstration of unusual and unexpected approaches. Children then begin to lead the project and carry it forward based upon their enquiry.
• Representation - Children share and discuss their ideas which validate children’s self-esteem. Children represent their findings in various ways.
• Summarising – Adults evaluates results of the children’s explorations and accomplishments. Project work is seen as a spiralling process meaning the cycle can be repeated. The approach is aimed at raising children as creative thinkers and self-motivated explorers. Project work helps children to develop connections, ponder meaningful questions about the world and generate new ways to answer them.