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Diary

In this blog we are posting news from around the network, reflections on general news items and other broad-ranging items of interest. Current contributors are Sightlines Initiative directors Robin Duckett, Liz Elders, Debi Keyte Hartland and Chris Merrick.
We have a Library View (see left column) to help you find past articles.

"Dreaming of a time where schools are able to measure the things that we value rather than value the things that we measure ..."

Well, the testing of five year-olds has been postponed - for a year - by the UK government. It has taken the force majeure of the virus epidemic to attain this - human words were not shifting them. For them, successful education still means intensive testing though, and they are keen to retrieve the situation and return to 'business as usual' - and for children to 'catch up' on their missed lessons. 

In the meantime, many educators are striving to point out that 'good education' does not comprise intensive testing and 'catching up.' Here is an extract from a notable recent letter to parents from the head teacher of Kirkoswald Primary School, Cumbria:

"This tree makes me think about: Billie the dog, think about the pigeons in their nest, swing on the branches like a monkey and smell the daffodils." Grace, 6, Kirkoswald 

"I would like to urge you to consider, not what children have missed out on but what they have gained from this situation. Some have learnt to follow a recipe and cook, to iron, to bake, to hoover, garden or identify wildflowers, trees and birds. Some have responded emotionally and creatively to the circumstances in the form of poetry and art. Education is not a linear experience, it encapsulates our entire lives and we learn forever. The children of this time, like the children who endured the Second World War, will have experienced something that will shape them for the rest of their lives. They may have learnt to be happy in their own skin, enjoy solitude, be self-reliant, resilient and resourceful. They may have benefited from the lack of structure and the cessation of the frantic pace of dashing from school to swimming lessons, gym classes and karate.

I have observed children doing things independently and learning to fill their time constructively, whether that be scootering to Lazonby or going for a bike ride with a friend. Too many of us, these days, are scheduled to death and don't know what to do with ourselves when we are given time. Let us hope that this time has gifted the children of this generation with an ability to take time out, reflect and be simply themselves. These are such precious gifts that will serve them well into the future.

What I am trying to say is that children do not need to catch up, they need to be allowed to recover from a set of circumstances that 6 months ago may have seemed inconceivable and that in the experiencing they have been equipped with new skills and attributes to support them through this.

The children of the 2020 cohort have missed national assessments and testing if they were in reception, Y1, Y2, Y4 and Y6 and this will have absolutely no impact upon their future achievements. ALL children have missed school and there will need to be flex and adaptation within the system, into the future, to allow for this. Maybe we could dream of a time where schools are able to measure the things that we value rather than value the things that we measure."

Greta Ellis: Head Teacher, Kirkoswald Primary School, Cumbria

(full text here)

Our government may have moderated its enacting on education but it has not changed its mind: educators and parents together still need to make the case for a humane foundation for education, on behalf of our children.

It looks as if we will need to be as forceful as a virus to have a lasting effect. 

Hats off to all who, like Ms. Ellis, are making a stand, and telling a different account of what is important. 

You too can make your voice known - join a campaign (e.g. 'Let's stop SATS in 2021') ; join Let Kids Be Kids; contact your M.P. - many cross-party M.P.s are for change in education ....

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Through The Window: 'Learning Together at Home' feature

painting by Jaweria Sethi, director of Edopia School, Pakistan, April 2020


Look out of your window: - Draw a picture of what you can see – either the whole view or something in particular that you like. Tell us about your drawing: what can you see? How does it make you feel?

This is the first subject  in our new  series of blogs and exchanges which will help support families and children learning together at home. Through these blogs we aim to provide an inspiring resource to families, so that home learning can be an exciting and joyful experience.

Even over the Easter weekend, we have had some lovely early responses to the suggested first focus 'Out of the Window'.

You and your children can join in through signing up HERE.

If your are an educator in a centre or school you may like to include this in your recommendations and support in your regular communications with your families too.

Shared by children & their parents ...Through the Window (slideview)

Through Window slideview

  • Garden Picture, Claudia
  • Sunshade, Edward
  • Edward,  by Ruth Clough
  • James RuthClough
  • James2 RuthClough
  • Thomas RuthClough
  • Thomas2 RuthClough
  • Image1hettie
  • FromCathGrace
  • Fromcath1
  • Arvid   Tractor
  • Yannick    Tractor
  • 20200424   Claudia Fairy Garden Page 1
  • 20200424   Sebby Dinosaur Page 1
  • Ruth3a Space
  • Ruth2 Space
  • Evelyn
  • Felicity
  • Martha
  • Ollie
  • Penny
  • Thomas
  • William
  • Isaac1
  • Era
  • Freddie
  • Harriett
  • Louay
  • Louis
  • Oliver
  • Riley
  • Scarlett
  • Sienna1
  • Sienna
  • Thomas 2
  • Thor
  • Imogen
  • This is my garden. It makes me feel happy. Claudia, Kirkoswald
  • “I like the shape of the top bit” (of the umbrella) “Feel safe, protects us from the rain and hot sun”. Edward, Kirkoswald
  • Edward
  • “Red letter box. Me like postman and red”. James (3), Kirkoswald
  • James
  • “There is a tree and mountains”. “I can see the tree well and I like it”. Thomas (5), Kirkoswald
  • Thomas
  • "This is a drawing of outside of my window. I can see lots of houses and I feel happy knowing there are lots of nice people living around me."

    Hettie (8)
  • Grace drawing outside
  • "This tree makes me think about: Billie the dog, think about the pigeons in their nest, swing on the branches like a monkey and smell the daffodils."

    Grace, Kirkoswald
  • He drew a tractor in the field opposite their window. It has a red trailer on. He said he likes tractors and he likes to watch them when they are working in the field.

    Arvid (5), Kirkoswald
  • Yannicks picture shows a tractor with a trailer in front of a nearby barn and on the trailer is a quad bike and a smaller tractor. Yannick loves everything to do with farming and wants to be a farmer when he has grown up.

    "Then I can drive all the big machines"

    Yannick, Kirkoswald
  • My window is looking into a fairy garden. I can see rainbow grass, spinning flowers, a magic door and a fairy with special magic wings.

    Claudia, age 6, Kirkoswald
  • This window is looking onto dinoasur land. I can see a T.Rex with his cubs and a mummy T.Rex who looks like a banana.

    Sebby, aged 3, Kirkoswald
  • "I am looking out of a space ship. I would feel funny because I would be looking into out of space."

    Edward, 7, Penrith
  • "I am travelling in a space rocket. I can see the moon and an alien."

    Tom (5), Penrith
  • "I am travelling in a space rocket. I can see the moon and an alien."

    Tom (5), Penrith
  • "Through my window"

    Felicity, Woolenwick
  • "Through my window"

    Marrtha, Woolenwick
  • "Through my window"

    Ollie, Woolenwick
  • "Through my window"

    Penny, Woolenwick
  • It makes me happy.

    Thamas, Woolenwick
  • Through my window ...

    William, Woolenwick
  • Green grass, brown fence, blue sky, green tree, yellow sun, black birds. The garden makes me feel good and happy

    Isaac, Woolenwick
  • Era, Woolenwick

    I can see trees and a walking path with people walking through with their dogs happy.

  • Freddie, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Harriett, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Louay, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Louis, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Oliver, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Riley, Woolenwick

    I can see my big fence, my footballs, clouds and rain on my swing. I feel sad when I can’t play outside.

  • Scarlett, Woolenwick

    I can see trees and a farm field. Sometimes I see the tractor. Sometimes I see the sunset. I feel happy when I look out of my window.

  • Sienna, Woolenwick

    When I feel sad, I go on the swing to play. I can see my swimming pool. It makes me feel happy because I get to jump in it and make a gigantic SPLASH!

  • Sienna, Woolenwick

    When I feel sad, I go on the swing to play. I can see my swimming pool. It makes me feel happy because I get to jump in it and make a gigantic SPLASH!

  • Thomas, Woolenwick

    I can see my garden from my window. It makes me feel happy. I feel happy when I look after my sunflower.

  • Thor, Woolenwick

    Through my window

  • Imogen, Woolenwick

    I see… mud kitchen, fence, trees, sun, grass, birds. I feel happy.

  • Garden Picture, Claudia
  • Sunshade, Edward
  • Edward,  by Ruth Clough
  • James RuthClough
  • James2 RuthClough
  • Thomas RuthClough
  • Thomas2 RuthClough
  • Image1hettie
  • FromCathGrace
  • Fromcath1
  • Arvid   Tractor
  • Yannick    Tractor
  • 20200424   Claudia Fairy Garden Page 1
  • 20200424   Sebby Dinosaur Page 1
  • Ruth3a Space
  • Ruth2 Space
  • Evelyn
  • Felicity
  • Martha
  • Ollie
  • Penny
  • Thomas
  • William
  • Isaac1
  • Era
  • Freddie
  • Harriett
  • Louay
  • Louis
  • Oliver
  • Riley
  • Scarlett
  • Sienna1
  • Sienna
  • Thomas 2
  • Thor
  • Imogen

Thank you for all your lovely pictures: they showed children's eye for detail and capacity to interpret what they see and how it makes them feel. Sorry we had to turn some round.

Do send us more and we'll add them. 

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Learning Together at Home

from 'Traps & Tenderness': Viviana & Federico

Dear parents/ carers, and educators

We are beginning a  series of blogs and exchanges which will help support families and children learning together at home.

 Through these blogs we aim to provide an inspiring resource to families, so that home learning can be an exciting and joyful experience. The blogs will appear once a week on our website and on social media, and will include some ideas for you and your children to explore at home.We would like to share experiences of children and families in the blogs and invite you to participate by sending us your photographs, videos, notes from your family explorations. We'd be able to share some of your experiences on our blogs and on our social media pages – this will all help build a lively picture of parents and children around the country imaginatively exploring, learning and being together. We are in an enforced situation, but we can maximise the joy and playfulness and new perspectives which are hidden in our everydays. 

Some of the things we anticipate that the explorations will include are:

- working with different learning spaces at home (including the kitchen)

- materials and imagination

- story telling

- den building

- dressing up

- working with children's questions and ideas. 


Click HERE  to go to the page on our website where you can subscribe to our blogs post and also sign up to participate in sharing your s and your children's' experiences. 

Even over the Easter weekend, we have had some lovely early responses to the suggested first focus 'Out of the Window' and will be sharing these soon.


painting by Jaweria Sethi, director of Edopia School, Pakistan, April 2020

Out of the Window

Look out of your window: -  Draw a picture of what you can see – either the whole view or something in particular that you like. Tell us about your drawing: what can you see? How does it make you feel? 

We plan to share and develop this theme,, as the responses to this open invitation come in, and to offer - and to get - further suggestions. 

Traps & Tenderness

Here's an example of a mother and son exploring, reflecting and learning together: a holiday occasion brought  back and built upon at home, which gave everyone much  intrigue,  learning. and satisfaction.

You can read it on our website HERE.

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