Teaching & Learning: Expect The Unexpected

On Monday I was in and out of the changing rooms whilst on duty and I spotted a gaggle of Year 4 pupils huddled around the bricked garden area in the central zone. Initially, I was thinking ‘…oh here we go; they are up to no good …’ and so I took a wander past, subtly seeing what was going on.
In true Henry Moore/Andy Goldsmith style the children had independently created this ‘cherry tree’ on a ‘grassy hill’ during their playtime. This was entitled something like, ‘upon a hill it blossoms…’

I was expecting the children to be up to mischief and I found the unexpected.

During the next break time I watched Year 1’s (who had been watching Year 4 at previous break time) approach the ‘cherry tree on a grassy hill’ and start to copy it to make their own creation. See the photo below of Oliver and Olivia’s jungle – they were very pleased with it!

On Tuesday I went on one of my Teaching and Learning walkabouts and I found myself heading towards the Early Years Abram Block. I was going to see the variety of writing opportunities on offer for the Nursery and Reception children. I had seen an agenda and minutes from a meeting held the previous week about what was available to the children and wanted to see for myself our writing provision during these vital stepping stones of a child’s journey.

I was expecting to see the younger pupils using a clenched fist, fiercely grabbing hold of a wax crayon or paintbrush; tongue sticking out in concentration! This we call ‘mark making’ and the pupils complete this on an ever growing and ever more challenging range of materials. I certainly did see this and even more opportunities to write than I could list here, but I also saw the unexpected … a small group of pupils working closely without adult support and producing the most beautiful formal handwriting with an understanding and knowledge of lead in and out lines to encourage cursive writing. An amazing thing to achieve when you are four or five years old.

On Wednesday, I popped back to the same Reception classroom at about 9:25 am. I was expecting to see the children ‘playing’ and learning. Instead, I found some of the pupils choosing to have their snacks early in the day. Most unexpected.

‘What a perfect start to the day!’ I said, and then asked ‘What happens if you get hungry later in the day?’
They smiled at me and informed me that they were keeping some of their food items back for ‘later on’.
‘Oh yes,’ I say ‘good decision making’!

I was expecting to see four and five year old children needing lots of help and support from their teachers and instead, I found the unexpected – totally independent children working in different ways accessing a curriculum that was REALLY challenging. Making decisions and respecting each others decisions.

When you are a teacher – you plan your day. And by this I do not mean you map it out roughly or make an approximation about your day, you really spend much of your time planning thoroughly.

  • Planning out what you are going to do.
  • Planning out when you are going to do it.
  • Planning out why you are going to do it.
  • Planning out how you are going to do it.
  • Planning out benefits for certain children.
  • Planning out support for others.
  • Planning out the stretch and extension.
  • Planning out the challenge and next step.
  • Planning out when and how you will mark and feedback on completed work.
  • Planning out fun. Innovation. Critical thinking. Computing Opportunities. Outdoor learning opportunities.

The list could go on and on.

With a mock inspection taking place throughout Thursday and Friday our planning had hit top gear. We as a staff team are learning more about the inspection process – really understanding how we demonstrate the pupils huge outcomes that we see here at St. Peter’s.

Due to this monitoring taking place throughout the week I thought it might be timely to share with readers how we internally monitor the educational quality that the children receive here at St Peter’s. One of our tools of monitoring is identifying what is known as the A’s and P’s – in other words, the children’s Academic and other achievements and the children’s Personal Development.

We are expecting the educational quality within this mock inspection to come out shiny and bright, but you just never know … you should never become complacent … the unexpected might be lurking!

If I know anything about working with children, I know that anything could actually happen over the next few days – expect the unexpected I say.

Whichever way – we keep parents informed on successes and developments.

As ever, if parents have any questions with regard to any aspects of their child’s education then we are all here with OPEN doors ready to talk them through queries.

Please see below for the A’s and P’s:

The A’s – Pupils’ academic and other achievementsThe P’s – Pupils’ personal development.
Exam Results and change in attainment over time.
Knowledge, Skills and Understanding (KSU)
Decision Making
Spiritual Understanding
Moral Understanding and responsibility for own behaviour
Social development and collaboration
Study Skills
Contribution to others, the school and the community
Academic and other achievements
Respecting diversity and cultural understanding
Staying safe and keeping healthy


Deputy Head, Teaching and Learning.

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