A REDDITCH school is carving itself an international reputation as a centre of excellence for its teaching.
Woodrow First School uses a technique known as ‘Mantle of Expert’ which takes the children on a journey of discovery using drama and dramatic enquiry to cover the National Curriculum.
By doing so it allows the children to tackle what might appear to be daunting subjects in a collaborative way, working together with the teacher.
An imaginary world is created in the classroom, the children are dubbed as ‘experts’ who are engaged to complete a project by a client which allows them to explore the curriculum and create cross-curriculum learning for the pupils.
It means the children are ‘doing’ the subject rather than just reading about it in a book.
“It really is like nothing else when you are teaching,” said headteacher Richard Kieran.
“It’s a completely different way of working, it means you are working with the children and the children in turn have a much stronger voice in the classroom and it is so much more creative,” he added.
“People fear a loss of control in the classroom, but on the contrary they work together and ensures the children get a much better deal from school because they are investigating and planning rather than just sitting there and being told.”
Such is the school’s burgeoning reputation that it has attracted the interest of teachers in Spain and Germany while it establishing firm links with schools in Palestine where teachers have been going on exchange visits.
Not only that but Woodrow First School attracts top educationalists from across the UK to its workshops and study days and recently enjoyed a glowing write up in the Times Education Supplement.
Meanwhile demand for places at the school have shot up, with rolls going from just over 200 pupils to 350.
Teacher Helen Bailey said: “The important thing is to look at things through the eyes of the children – you don’t have a dictatorship role. It’s a question of ‘us’ rather than ‘I’.”
And what do the children think? We talked to Year 4 pupils Grace, Brennan, Haseeb, Julia and Kiri:
“People come from all over to watch us do Mantle,” said Grace, who wants to be a journalist, “and I really like it when we went on the Severn Valley Railway to find out what it was like being evacuees during the War.”
“It’s not just for kids but for adults too,” said Brennan, a budding forensic scientist. “I told my mum and dad about Mantle and they were really interested.”
Haseeb, who wants to be a paleontologist or chemist, added: “You have to make a lot of agreements with each other so you also make a lot of friends too.”
“We did an Mantle on the Amazon and we learnt all about how to keep healthy and all the contamination that can take place,” said Julia, who wants to be a doctor.
Star singer Kiri added: “It’s good to know that every time you go to school you arre going to learn something new and make good friends.”