Embedding a deep understanding and passion for learning in a primary school is a tall order

Linda Dale's picture
Embedding a deep understanding and passion for learning in a primary school is a tall order, but at Amesbury Archer Primary School, one mile from Stonehenge, we think we have something special. Today it opened the doors of its brand new seven class extension welcoming in an additional 100 pupils from the rapidly expanding new surrounding estate.

I know all schools are unique in their make-up and ethos but Amesbury Archer is seriously unique. Just six years old, the building of the first half stage of the school was delayed by two years because of the discovery of the grave of a Neolithic man as the foundations were being dug. In the four thousand year old grave was discovered the oldest gold ever found in this country and over a hundred artefacts including copper knives and flint arrow heads. Analysis of his teeth revealed his origins to be in the region of the southern Alps. The story of this very important find was one to be savoured.

We crafted a learning ethos based on the life of this remarkable discovery. Named ‘The Amesbury Archer’ by the national media, he became our learning hero and his qualities have been shared with and embraced by the children in many varied and creative ways.

The children who have passed through the doors know that courage, persistence and ‘stickabilty’, focus, responsibility, support, co-operation and self- belief shaped the world of the Amesbury Archer and through stories, learning assemblies, and forums these seven words of learning formed the bedrock of how learning was tackled at the school.

I was always a fan of Guy Claxton and Alistair Smith, Shirley Clarke but knew there was an inherent problem in embedding belief in teachers and children that these models and theories of learning would survive the stage of a passing fad and become part of the long-term school ethos of the school. BLP [Building Learning Power] seemed so very complicated. Then I discovered Carol Dweck and the Theory of Mindset and her groundbreaking work has underpinned our simple model for learning.

I think, at Archer, we found something that would impact on the mindset of the youngsters that pass through the doors simply, effectively and extensively. Learning is not easy. It’s frustrating, annoying, and anger-inducing as well as rewarding and engaging and for most pupils it doesn’t happen without effort. Our words of learning acknowledged that and empowered the children with values, actions and language which enabled them to see, hear and feel these words in action on a daily basis. Only time will tell if we can go one better than Guy, Alistair and Shirley. For further information, click here.
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leonard james's picture
Sat, 08/09/2012 - 07:30

Isn't this inventing history to suit your own purposes? How do you know what the Amesbury Archers personality traits were?

Linda Dale's picture
Sun, 23/09/2012 - 09:37

The bones, the contents, the isotopic analysis and similar finds in the area are the evidence around which the status of the man has been constructed. Yes his personality traits are an invention but the find was of national and world interest and has given an historical footprint on which to build a foundation for learning and a strong sense of identity.

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