Session 94 – Starting with a blank piece of paper: Design the school of your dreams

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Session Summary

Due to the unique nature of the question, I have opted to collate the most popular material from the discussion into a description of our dream school, rather than a traditional summary of how the chat evolved.

Welcome to the #ukedchat ‘Dream School’

Dream School is open to all who wish to learn, young and old; owned and ran by the community. We are committed to helping every member of our community achieve their hopes and dreams. To achieve this, we place the learner at the centre of every decision that is made.

The curriculum we offer is as diverse as you can imagine, as it is designed by you. Through the innovative use of technology, space and design thinking we are able to tailor the curriculum to suit all learners’ needs. Our staff are lifelong learners, willing to engage in a wide variety of activities as is required. The curriculum at Dream School is not divided by subjects, but is built around interests and evolving needs. For children and teenagers where education is compulsory we offer a wide range of cross-curricular projects in which they will not only gain knowledge in areas that interest them, but where they will also develop the skills necessary to become lifelong learners. In school learning is also augmented though virtual courses and on-the-job placements within the local community for learners who wish to get first-hand experience. Moreover, Dream School is open from 9am until 9pm to allow flexibility within the curriculum. We also recognise that learning does not end when school does, however, homework is optional and we encourage it to take the form of fun, extracurricular activities. It is our contention that all learning is valuable.

Progress is measured in a number of ways, arranged to ensure that all learners make effective progress at their own pace. Work is assessed in a descriptive, formative manner, offering learners the chance to reflect and improve. This includes the development of practical peer and self-assessment strategies. Dream School staff support this approach through our implementation of 50% contact time, allowing staff the time to plan and assess work well. Significant time is given to developing learners ability to understand how they learn; to become reflective learners, taking ownership of their own education. We do not award grades to students, as we try to avoid extrinsic motivators. Instead we seek to foster a natural enjoyment for learning; through honesty, challenge, and by framing all learning within meaningful contexts. We do however, offer rewards for effort, application, and personal achievements. Additionally, we recognise and accredit learners for skills developed in school and outside of school. Any and all assessment occurs when it is agreed that the learner is ready.

Dream School is open to all. It is an inclusive environment with a friendly, helpful staff. Learners are supported in a number of ways, including specialist support for learners with specific learning difficulties, EAL and emotional, behavioural difficulties. A praise and reward system is in place. We also seek to help motivate learners through the setting of clear goals and by providing a range of role models for them to aspire too. This includes the staff, current and ex-students and members of the local community. All members of the school community works hard to ensure that Dream School is a clean, safe, and friendly environment in which to learn.

The Dream School campus has been purpose built to meet the demanding needs of our learners. The library is at the heart of the school and serves both students and the wider community. It is a modern learning space, with areas for quiet study as well as collaboration. There are no classrooms in the traditional space, instead wide open spaces can be rearranged to suit a wide range of activities. There are additional ‘break-out’ spaces for learners to use at their leisure. There is also considerable outdoor space, including a pond, allotment, and sports areas. The recreational areas in the school are well maintained and provide comfortable space for relaxation. Class sizes vary but are kept to a maximum number of 15. This is to ensure that all learners have the opportunity to get one-to-one support with their learning. No computer suites have been built at Dream School. Instead, there is industry standard wifi provided across the entire campus. Laptops and iPads are available for learners and staff to use in whichever space they choose. Moreover, we have a ‘Bring Your Own Device’ policy, allowing learner to use their own mobile tech to support their learning.

More than anything else, it is our intention at Dream School to provide a world class learning experience. Whether you are working through the stages of your compulsory education, entering into further education or returning to education as a mature student, Dream School can provide a curriculum that is enjoyable, challenging and will meet your personal needs.

NOTABLE TWEETS FROM THE SESSION:
@Spenceict I’ve been lucky enough to visit Hellerup school twice – very innovative design that influences the learning http://t.co/vyx3o4vs

@JOHNSAYERS not forced learning but by intrigue, hopes and dreams were explored not crushed by stereotype of because it’s not on spec!

@andywhiteway As far as international models go, Finnish model is one I most want to see reflected in new school thinking http://t.co/tygQIH4l

@ScrubyEnglish @jamesmichie @nohandsup all work should be assessed by students before presented to teacher. #AfL is key to independence

@eslweb I’d want a new role for OFSTED they have to hunt out outstanding practice and share it!

@tmeeky 8 year old says: sick of hearing about levels levels levels

@alexgingell @jamesmichie break down walls. Open plan learning. Autonomous learning units. http://t.co/gdH4mIrs This is a good e.g.

@mikeatedji: @jamesmichie School should become a focal point/hub of the community…a centre of excellence

@simonrockett dedicated time given to pupils and staff each week for reflection – and effective ways to record thoughts. Possibly iPads 😉

@jamesmichie: Rip up timetable and focus on individual students needs

@Educationchat Homework to involve playing out, climbing trees, making a den, making the perfect conker, making up a dance to current number one.

@damoward @jamesmichie Some space ideas here: http://t.co/kzxBReuy including Isis media activity pods and lecture steps

@raisechildrens @jamesmichie basically we all need to meet together and open a school- simples!

@nohandsup My dream school – lessons that children can book themselves into using online booking diary – either in a class or at home via web

@nohandsup Dream school in ord of importance – No 1Fantastic curriculum caters for all learners, flexible + offering valuable qualifications

TWEET OF THE WEEK:
@syded06 The dream school has the student at the centre of every decision made

ABOUT YOUR HOST:
James Michie is Leader for Media Studies and Key Stage 4 English at The Chalfonts Community College, located in Buckinghamshire, England. He has been teaching for nine years and is currently studying towards a Masters in Education. He writes a personal weblog (http://jamesmichie.com/blog) about Education, Technology and Productivity and is an active member of the educational Twitter community.

Archive Session 94http://www.scribd.com/embeds/90203521/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-1qkz5wyw3u3xibamu9g0

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