This report was compiled by Richard Jenkin who works with Padstow School on behalf of the College of St Mark and St John.
Many parents have only limited expectations of their children, who in turn may develop low self-belief. In order to raise aspirations, eight primary staff and governors at Padstow School led by headteacher Phil Banks, undertook training in Investors In Excellence. This programme, which was founded by Lou Tice, a schoolteacher and educator, is designed to help people and the organisations for which they work grow and develop. It has three main characteristics. 1. It is intellectually sound, being based on cognitive psychology. 2. It offers a toolkit of easily applied techniques.
3. It harnesses emotions to help people to help themselves.
The training with the staff at Padstow, led by a facilitator, took place during two Inset days and a number of twilight sessions. As a tutor it was my role to engage staff in an exercise in critical reflection to focus on: 1. implementation of Investors in Excellence (IIE) in the classroom 2. impact of IIE on learning and teaching
3. their own professional development.
What did the staff gain from the IIE Training? 1. A deeper understanding of a philosophy which underpins the development of life skills and a range of techniques and strategies that: 2. help in planning and achieving goals both in school and personal life 3. challenge habits, ‘belief systems’ and ‘comfort zones’
4. promote feelings of being liberated and energised.
Implementation The staff then introduced IIE into teaching throughout the school using the following materials. 1. Foundation – ‘It belongs to me’. 2. KS1 – ‘It starts with me’. 3. KS2 – ‘It’s up to me’. 4. Personal vision and ‘success stories’ described by members of the local community, eg coxswain of the Padstow lifeboat. These provided the theme for school assemblies led by the head. Findings Staff, working with an HEI tutor, were then encouraged to reflect and write about the impact of this initiative during two meetings held after intervals of six and 12 months. Sources of evidence included: a) pupils’ comments, conversations, mind maps, work b) lesson observations c) parents’ comments
d) comments from lunchtime supervisors, teaching assistants and the CEO for Cornwall.
Conclusions about the difference that IIE has had upon the pupils can be arranged into the following five areas: 1. personal 2. interpersonal 3. pupil learning 4. teaching
5. wider community.
1. Personal 1. self belief changed – 2. ‘Pupil affirmations were very successful’ 3. ‘I used to think that I was no good at that ’ 4. ‘It’s just a habit you can change it’ 5. raised self esteem 6. increased motivation 7. greater self-awareness 8. verbalisation of thoughts and feelings from an early age 9. new vocabulary – children use new language ‘That was a scotoma Matthew’ 10. ‘Children are more willing to participate in class discussion, which is of a better quality’ 11. improved confidence l2. better understanding of own strengths
l3. wider vision and extended aspirations.
2. Interpersonal 1. value differences in others 2. improved behaviour throughout the school day – ‘The children feel more self- worth and there have been less disagreements with individuals in class’ 3. acceptance of personal responsibility for own actions 4. ability to reflect on ‘truth’ 5. solve own disputes. Less problems in the playground 6. own strengths discussed as children train parents in new skills.
3. Learning 1. enthusiastic and positive approach 2. ‘Children willing to take risks without fear of failure’ 3. ‘Children consider more difficult work to be a challenge rather than a chore’ 4. visualisation 5. problem solving embraced as an exciting challenge – ‘This is no longer a disliked task. They seem to crave more challenges where the answers are not always so apparent’ For example, Investigations in maths and science –‘The children are more willing to attempt challenges and support each other’ 6. flexible approach 7. willingness to ‘attack’ learning new skills with enthusiasm 8. more opportunities for pupils to think creatively
9. independent learners – ‘Children will take risks when attempting to solve problems and use scaffolding to think through possible solutions on their own’.
4. Teaching 1. more lessons encourage thinking skills as opposed to being ‘content based’ 2. IIE techniques integrated in lessons throughout the school curriculum 3. appeals to a wider variety of different learning styles 4. staff now willing to give children the chance to change their own behaviour.
5. IIE assists profiling in reception and foundation – ‘As part of ongoing assessment even very young children are making links between IIE values and other areas of school and home life resulting in greater self awareness’.
5. Wider community need to extend this very successful approach in developing ‘life skills’ to involve : 1. parents – children train parents in new skills 2. school support staff 3. pre-school staff and children 4. other primary schools within the cluster
5. local secondary school staff – in order to build upon current success and establish a consistent approach.
For further information on IIE contact [email protected]