When Year 6 children spontaneously use the words ‘innovative’, ‘imaginative’ and ‘inspirational’ to talk about their learning, you know you’re onto a winner. That is exactly what was heard during a recent themed week at Pocklington Prep School. With Design and Technology as the focal point, the children were tasked with designing and building a miniature version of a living pod – a modular living space.
Engaging children in the learning process was at the top of the agenda for the Pocklington Prep teachers who, as subject specialists, were able to map out a week of exciting learning incorporating a whole range of subjects. Children investigated the consequences of global warming on housing and communities in geography, learnt about volume and surface area in maths, experimented with structures in science and imagined living in a range of different historical buildings. Our art specialist was also able to get involved in the learning as the children learnt how to paint life-like background scenery on which their finished pod would eventually stand.
One of the highlights of the week was an inspirational talk from marketing expert and OP Rachel Clark (née Sweeting 91–96). As PR & Brand Director at Wrapped (wrappedagency.co.uk), Rachel took the pupils through the process of marketing a product and discussing how best to approach branding. The pupils diligently took notes and asked an array of questions which in turn led to some superb marketing brochures – a fantastic way of applying pupils’ English skills.
Maintaining excellence in each individual subject whilst allowing children to make links between their learning can be a challenge. Themed learning allows children to be creative and, as we found, encourages adaptation and innovation. But the balance is a fine one and, as so often is the case, children’s learning can be inhibited by a ‘woolly’ focus and tenuous links between subjects. Our approach was to make the most of our specialist teacher expertise to ensure high quality learning in each subject whilst also collaborating and planning as a team under one theme.
The week resulted in the most incredible range of finished living pods all so individual and unique – just like the pupils themselves. Each pod was displayed alongside a concise design, earlier prototypes, a marketing brochure and a painted background. Standing next to the pods were a group of highly enthusiastic, knowledgeable pupils who were able to talk about their pods in such a way which left no doubt that far more had been learnt than what was on display.
With the recent news that studying subjects such as Design and Technology and Art to GCSE have been cut in almost half of schools across England, it seems more important than ever to allow children to experience learning across a rich range of subjects. This has been central to a Pocklington education for many years, and which will soon be supported by the new Art and Design Technology Centre which is currently being built on the senior school campus. As well as greatly enhancing pupils’ experience, the new Centre will enable the School to continue its strong tradition of teaching pupils to think creatively, problem solve and innovate.
Acknowledgement: Mrs C Sweeting (Pocklington Prep Assistant Head (Curriculum) and Year 6 Teacher)