January 20

Educational Comment from the Senior Leadership Team - Mrs Gilfedder-Bonnar

“Teaching is only demonstrating that it is possible. Learning is making it possible for yourself.” 
Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage

We began our Spring Term with an Inset day and while you may think that this involves teachers catching up on Christmas news and drinking copious amounts of coffee, it is actually a day for learning. One of our academic aims this year is to continue to develop a coherent and clear approach to learning support that is communicated to pupils, parents and staff. To assist with our aim, we invited Nerys Hughes, Advanced Paediatric Occupational Therapist and Clinical Director of 'Whole Child Therapy,' to discuss the sensory, environmental and behavioural challenges that can make it difficult for pupils with learning needs to access learning.

She spoke with the teachers and teaching assistants on how to best cater for our pupils experiencing difficulties such as dyslexia, dyspraxia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. She explained how a recent ten year study showed that as many as 89% of pupils who have Special Educational Needs (SEN) are extremely bright and have great learning potential. We discussed not only the academic implications but also the pastoral implications and how to empathise with and promote wellbeing for pupils with SEN. It was a useful and informative session and Nerys left us with a wide range of new and existing practical tools to explore in the classroom.

We are very fortunate to have a dedicated and experienced team at Juniors and courses, such as this, allow us time to reflect on best practice, refresh our knowledge, and remain up-to-date with the latest educational research and pedagogy. Much of what was discussed linked with our ongoing work on Mindfulness and Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset. This relates to another of our academic aims which is to promote inspirational teaching which provides challenge, stimulates depth of learning and is based upon cultivating a growth mindset amongst pupils. Cultivating a growth mindset approach in our classrooms helps not only our SEN pupils, but all our pupils. In fact, the notion of growth mindset is as applicable to staff as it is to the pupils. We teach the children how to improve, not because they are not good enough, but because they can be even better. The same is true for us as teachers.

Mrs Gilfedder-Bonnar
Deputy Head, Junior School 

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