Director John Salmon writes about Bright Heart’s recently held summer literacy and numeracy workshops.
Director John Salmon ran summer literacy and numeracy workshops, taught by Bright Heart experts. These were a great success.
Literacy and Numeracy Summer Workshops
This summer, we held a series of workshops to help primary students catch up with their literacy and numeracy.
The workshops took place over four days in August at a primary school in Wimbledon. The workshops were a great success (see parent feedback below). Workshops were especially beneficial for students with special educational needs (SEN).
The workshops were delivered in a very engaging, peaceful, autism friendly and safe environment. My son enjoyed spending the entire day with John and the subject teacher doing a lot of learning through fun activities. Thank you very much and we look forward to the next workshops.” – Parent survey on Literacy Workshops
My son enjoyed the workshop very much and consolidated everything he knew through fun activities and learnt [new] things, which helped him with his confidence. The reports we got from John regarding my son’s attainment, level and skills motivated us for a positive start of a new school year. Thank you and we look forward to the next workshops.” – Parent survey on Numeracy workshops
The Literacy and Numeracy Crisis
We were deeply concerned after seeing data from the Education Policy Institute, which showed that, by March 2021, primary pupils in England had an average 3.5 month learning delay in reading and an average 2.2 month learning delay in maths. This was no doubt exacerbated by lockdowns and the deficit in formal instruction. Additionally, we knew how much students had suffered in terms of their wellbeing and mental health due to a prolonged lack of social interaction with other children their age. With this idea in mind, we had the goal of helping children catch up in both literacy and numeracy and boosting their confidence while having fun with individual and group activities alike.
Dr Ryan Stevenson, Bright Heart’s Co-founder, writes about the literacy and numeracy crisis in an article published in the nasen Connect magazine in September.
Bringing our ethos to life
The cornerstone of our philosophy of education is the idea that every child should have the opportunity to show their true potential according to their own set of skills. They should be able to work at their own pace in a warm and nurturing environment that celebrates individual differences while at the same time promoting teamwork. We were determined to provide differentiated instruction for all participants. We decided to work with small groups for focussed attention (2 teachers for groups of 4-6 students). This allowed us to address every child’s unique learning style and needs in a bespoke manner. We could also provide adequate 1:1 support where required and pair students with peers with similar levels.
In the context of differentiated learning, we decided that the optimal way of maximising the potential of children with varied requirements, while making the experience fun and relaxed, was through project-based learning (PBL). Essentially, it entails active learning through an array of multiple, dynamic, hands-on activities under a common theme and goal.
With project-based learning, each child has a choice of activities and means at their disposal to respond to a specific problem or challenge. This allows each individual to take ownership of their learning by building on strengths and addressing areas of improvement with the aid of facilitators, who model these strengths or through peer support. As a result, each child feels that his or her contribution to the group challenges is valuable and this helps boost their confidence in their own distinct abilities.
Run by experts
The workshops were conducted by highly-qualified teachers with many years of experience working with a wide array of special educational needs, together with John Salmon, a Bright Heart director, who is a qualified teacher and former headteacher. Preliminary information was gathered about each student prior to the workshops. This meant that the instructors could coordinate strategies and best practices to provide adequate 1:1 support throughout the sessions and ensure that everyone’s needs were met. Children worked in short bursts, at their own pace, while responding to specific challenges. They were given plenty of breaks between one activity and the next.
Skills and confidence boosted
All activities addressed critical and basic aspects of literacy and numeracy that schools very frequently do not have a chance to review. More importantly, it was a chance for students to acquire a series of study skills and confidence in their own abilities to use at school and in their everyday life in the future. Students also learned to work collaboratively and become more assertive while respecting individual differences and boundaries. Activities took place indoors and outdoors and provided plenty of opportunities for visual, auditory, kinaesthetic or tactile learners. Children were provided with snacks and lunch, as well as all materials needed for the workshop. The content in each workshop was aligned with the national curriculum and activities were adapted to include different learning styles. Students were grouped according to age merely for practical purposes but each child was allowed to work at his or her own level.
The Y1-Y3 and Y4-Y6 numeracy workshops
These focussed on a series of challenges that addressed key areas in a practical manner. This was to replicate everyday situations that make maths more tangible and relevant, such as purchasing items in a shop, measuring things or telling time. It included place value, arithmetic skills, measurements, word problem solving, fractions, geometry, position and direction, time, statistics and graphs. Students participated in different activities, working against a timer to complete as many challenges as they could. Students worked individually and also collaboratively on solving mysteries that included clues based on maths concepts. It also included creative expression through artwork.
Y1-Y3 literacy workshop
This aimed to help students develop language and written and creative skills for describing themselves and others. It included vocabulary words connected with describing people, structure (paragraph writing using present tense), cross curricular activities based on the idea of connecting with others and understanding people and a series of integrated skills. Integrated skills included talk, discussion, reading, writing and drawing/painting, as well as a game of Guess Who?
Y4-Y6 literacy workshop
This focused on the environment and aimed to help students develop and practise: vocabulary words connected to the environment; structure in writing, using imperatives and present simple questions; curricular work to address environmental issues; integrated skills, such as listening, speaking, reading and writing. It included many interactive and hands-on activities as well as ample opportunities to consolidate knowledge through creative expression, using arts and crafts.
Celebration and personal recognition
We celebrated student achievement by gathering a portfolio with each child’s work, including their artwork, so that they could share it with their family at the end of the day. Each child also received a certificate of achievement at the end of the workshop. Families were provided with a report including an overview of the sessions as well as individual feedback about their child.
Our students had lots of fun, became more confident about themselves, and learned individual and team-building skills to help them become lifelong learners. They learned that individual differences make combined efforts all the better when facing common challenges.
We are very proud of their work and look forward to our next workshops!
If you would like to find more information about our workshops or are interested in having your child attend a future workshop, please get in touch. Alternatively, please read more information on our website here.
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