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Looking at School As mission statement it is clear that childrens holistic needs are a fundamental part of school life. The mission statement and ECM have similar aims of promoting a healthy lifestyle, making a positive contribution and enjoying and achieving both in and out of school.
This essay seeks to explore how successfully School A addresses every child's holistic needs in relation to the ECM outcomes making a positive contribution and enjoying and achieving, paying particular attention to how School A build's self esteem in children as this has been found to be "important in improving the life chances of children" (Cheminais 2010, p41), and has a direct impact on attainment.
In 2007 Unicef published a report detailing that out of the top twenty one most affluent countries in the world, the UK was the worst place to raise a child. Unicef followed up this report in 2011and found that such a poor result in child well-being was due to children wanting to spend more time with family and people close to them as well as having lots of stimulating things to do.
Through the home school liaison officer School A is able to reach out to parents in its efforts to support pupil development (Ofsted 2008). The school tries to actively involve parents in school life as they are recognised to be the "most powerful influence on any child's learning and progress" (Cheminais 2006, p.101). Parents and family members are invited to a free coffee morning every Friday, workshops, for example to teach phonics and the importance of cooking healthy meals.
Moyles and Robinson (2007, p.55) have reported that "when there is a partnership between school and home, there is a positive impact on children's learning and behaviour." This coupled with the findings from the Unicef report highlights that the school should make more time for parental involvement within school. For example each term parents could be invited to come in for a couple of hours to work with their child. A carousel of activities could be created to show how the national curriculum can be supported at home. For example using board games to enhance problem solving and speaking and listening skills. This would meet a child's holistic needs as it may give them some quality one-to-one time with their parents building self-esteem and confidence. It would also contribute towards the ECM aim of enjoying and achieving and provide breadth of knowledge and consolidation for that part of the curriculum.
Parents could also be invited to an assembly which their child's class produces to show what they have been learning in school. Children, if they know they will be able to show their work in an assembly for their parents are more likely to take greater pride in the work they are doing. This would also make parents feel more confident in asking school for any help that they or their child may need and in finding ways to promote the importance of school and their child's self-esteem (Mosely 1999, p.146).
An hour long celebration assembly, taken by one of the senior management team (SMT), is held every Friday to share any praise and awards given that week for both academic and extra-curricular activities. This is effective in meeting a child's need for self-esteem. The children can be of proud of what they themselves or other children are achieving and these children become positive role models amongst their peers. The school could further meet the holistic needs of children through all staff, including class teachers attending, as public awards seem more tangible (Cowley 2006, p.145). The award however, would be seen to hold even more meaning if the class teacher was there to explain exactly what the child had done to deserve this award before it being presented by a member of the SMT.
Daily worship is an integral part of school life at School A. Children are encouraged to pray communally at lunch time before they eat and before home time to keep them safe from harm. They also attend a half hour assembly four days a week where spiritual, moral, social and cultural aspects are addressed along with citizenship and PSHE. Knowles (2010, p.60) argues that this effectively meets children's needs by building confidence and emotional resilience, and therefore their capacity to learn. Adams (2012, p.239) also believes that this helps children to understand their role as a citizen in the classroom, school, community and globally.
The work done through daily worship carries on in to the class room at School A. Children are encouraged to talk about their feelings and a lot of time is used to create a welcoming inclusive environment for all children, as a fear of being wrong is a major inhibitor (Dowling 2005, p.6).
Creating and enforcing boundaries and routines is central to providing a sense of security. This is not only done in every lesson, it is also part of every transition period. Teachers make sure that all pupils and other adults in class (to provide consistency) are aware of what is happening, what is expected of them and what they are working towards. Pound (2006, p.79) recognises that creating a safe consistent environment is conducive to learning and attainment levels, if a child does not feel safe a fight or flight response kicks in and survival becomes the key objective. When a consistent, safe environment, is not evident, poor behaviour is more likely as children become confused and forgetful. Dowling (2005, p.65) likens this to being in a state of "turmoil".
Kyriacou (1997, p.109) has argued that children particularly benefit from a classroom built upon mutual respect between pupils and teachers who are prepared to listen to them and show that they care. In the classroom through PSHE, circle time, and the hidden curriculum, children learn qualities of respect, equality, honesty and truth, these qualities all appear in School A's mission statement. Hayes (2012a, p.52) has argued that emotional intelligence and respect in the classroom is important as it increases confidence and helps children take a more positive approach to learning as well as improving life chances, health and well-being; all of which are key aims mentioned in the White Paper (2010) The Importance of Teaching (Department for Education). Ofsted (2008) reported that it is the "children's exceptional progress in personal, social and emotional development at School A that gives them a flying start to their education."
School A is a relatively new school, and has been able to purchase new resources every year since it opened, rather than spend their budget on maintaining and repairing old ones. This along with money received via the pupil premium means that children are able to use cutting edge technology, such as iPads, in the classroom, and have access to specialist teachers for intervention. Dowling (2005) argues that it is only children who have a rich and active sensory experience who will start to make sense of written numbers and letters. Evans (2007, p.54) however has argued that "it is the out of school activities that offer the richest opportunities for developing as learners and as social beings." In light of this School A may see a greater impact on attainment if more money was spent on educational visits. However the Sutton Trust (2011, [online]) has found the best use of the pupil premium to be effective feedback.
Through observations that took place in School A, Charlotte a pupil in a year four class was identified. Charlotte has been recognised as needing extra help in both literacy and numeracy, in order for her to meet government guidelines and the school to achieve its targets for pupil progress. Charlotte however, does not want to attend the interventions as she thinks they are boring and wants that other children to see her as normal, not thick. In being sent to these various interventions although being able to better realise her potential in numeracy and literacy she often has to miss foundation subjects to take part, and therefore is not receiving the broad curriculum she is entitled to Alexander (2009).
It is also during the foundation subjects that mixed ability groupings are used, Charlotte would benefit from this type of grouping as she would be able to interact with children on a social level, and practice the attributes learnt in the classroom through the hidden curriculum and PSHE. She would also be less likely to be labelled as thick. As Hayes (2012a, p.61) has stated:
"A good education does not only consist of high attainment in measurable areas of learning but encompasses (for instance) the ability to relate well to others, act with integrity and make sensible decisions and appropriate choices, none of which can be identified through a specific grade or mark."
Webb (2006, p.35) has also noted that the pressure for schools to meet their targets is having a "considerable negative impact on the school experience of children." Charlotte would agree that intervention does affect her enjoyment and achievement as she often misses out on what she regards the fun lessons/activities such as design and technology and art, which is where her real passion lays.
Perhaps money from School A's budget would be better spent on employing teaching assistants to help children, like Charlotte that are struggling in core subjects such as literacy. They could deliver a separate curriculum, focusing on small group of children's needs, in order to fill in any gaps and reinforce learning once a week or more, dependent on the level of need. This should also be done during the time they should be receiving literacy so that foundation subjects do not get neglected and children do not feel they are going from one literacy lesson to the next. This would be viable at School A, in terms of space within school, as each year group of two classes has its own group room.
Another pupil from the same class, Ben, was also observed. Ben has complicated social and emotional needs and goes to a twice weekly intervention, circle time. The school has also spoken to Ben's parents on the importance of encouraging and building self-esteem. Since attending this intervention, along with his parents working hard at home, the class teacher has seen a reduction in low level disruptions such as calling out whilst another person is talking and increased concentration, as he is becoming more confident in his ability.
School A have implemented a 'pupil welfare file' which aims to meet every child's holistic needs as it records information the school has gathered about a pupil about their particular needs or circumstances.
This helps everyone that comes into contact with Ben, such as teachers, teaching assistants and lunch-time staff, as they are well informed about issues relating to him. This enables teachers to personalise Ben's learning, Hayes (2012b, p. 128) has stated that this is effective in enhancing "self-esteem, motivation and academic success." However, this is dependent on how accurate and up-to-date the pupil welfare file is kept on Ben and how frequently the information is accessed.
Ben may make further achievements in school through brain breaks, as he struggles concentrating for the periods of time expected of him in key stage two. REFERENCE? The school also need to continue to work alongside Ben's family in order to further develop his self-esteem.
Through this study it has been found that School A by effectively teaching qualities such as respect, equality and honesty, and increasing a child's self-esteem through high quality PSHE sessions School A has been able to meet some children's holistic needs. However, due to constraints placed on schools, in having to meet targets, budgets, the number of children teachers are responsible for, and teaching the whole curriculum in a limited amount of time, it is unfortunately impossible to address every child's holistic needs. Due to this it is important that schools have a good relationship with parents in order to further the work done in schools as this will have a positive impact on attainment and child well-being.
I believe these findings will impact on my future teaching style.