This year we are developing the PLTS through a whole-school initiative which we call ‘Deep Learning Days’ (DLD). Every second Wednesday we abandon traditional lessons and focus on a new ‘deep learning’ experience. These days offer students the opportunity to learn with a focus on the PLTS, but away from usual timetabled subject lessons.

My first DLD with the “Nurture Group” focused on and around the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Enterprise Challenge, which aims to engage young people in the requirements of the enterprise curriculum, through the business model of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

We worked for the entire day on understanding the nature of the charity, by looking at funding and volunteers, vets and behavioural support. The students also watched a film about the organisation, and then focused specifically on the different jobs involved.

After a short break (in the classroom, as the students were keen to carry on) we continued, developing our own, new ‘Home’ for animals in our local area.

Some excellent discussions arose from this; particularly the ones about the overall building plans. The students on the autistic spectrum were excellent in visualising their designs and planning thoroughly. This was particularly fascinating for me and brought my mind back to Temple Grandin and ‘Thinking in Pictures’.

Finally, after working from 8:30am until 1:00pm, with only a short break for a well deserved lunch, we were ready for the grand finale! Emma on our support staff brought in her own dogs for the students to ask questions about and play with.

Our special guests

They loved this and it really brought to life the work we had done. Everyone learns better with real-life experiences, and this opportunity for ‘deep learning’ truly gave the students an opportunity to learn ‘in context’.

Our first DLD; 15 more to go! I think this is something exciting and fairly revolutionary for a whole-school initiative. Especially at a school where 75% of students gained 5 A*-C grades.

Mind you, however well received it was by the students, I was exhausted that evening – I got into bed at 9:30pm and, after almost 6 hours of ‘deep learning’ with the same students, I reckon I haven’t felt so tired since starting my teaching career 12 years ago. But maybe I’ll get used to it?