Towards a Whole-School ESR

20140408-015240-pm.jpg2 days of intense, focused activity from a small, committed team of educators has resulted in a model for schools to audit and evaluate their provision across the curriculum, co-curriculum and resource management.  What we achieved was a clearer definition of Education for Social Responsibility (ESR) and the real implications for school development planning.

Taking the 6 elements of ESR, we unpacked each of them to find the deeper meaning and to make their incorporation into schools more straightforward and coherent.  The table below is our first draft and subsequent iterations will refine the definitions and their applicability further.  The definitions are interrelated and linked and recognition of one will certainly lead to thinking in another area.  It is important that ESR is viewed as an over-arching narrative that joins together understanding about schools and their communities.  It is a recognition of the systems thinking and the ecological literacy that is essential in adapting education to meet the challenges of the rapidly changing world.

How to audit the curriculum

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At IAPS HQ the ESR resource development group share ideas on how to support schools in developing ESR.

Robin Davies, Head of Barfield School, Farnham, Surrey, shows how his staff have populated an audit of the curriculum. The content is the curriculum objectives for each subject, for each term and for each year group is placed in the framework. Then each of these has a reference across to each of the elements of the School’s sustainability/ESR curriculum.

As a process it is a superb model to follow. It enables engagement and ownership of the audit process. It motivates staff to contribute, analyse their own and other’s contributions critically and provides a visual representation for the whole community.

There’s more to Lego

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As I child, I enjoyed Lego as much as the next little person. But back in those days curved edges and intricate detail were seldom possible – at least in my modest collection. However, I do recall attempting to complete a roof, although not how far I got.

Nowadays, the plastics extrusion engineers of our favourite Danish export have opened up the world to all enthusiasts of this form of model engineering. And since one of these appears to be my son, his 5th birthday was marked with several sets of Lego’s Chima range of “toy”.

Watching him take on the challenge has been rather eye-opening. Notwithstanding the motivation of the end product, the clarity of instruction and his interest in following them, the logic of the steps to take and the opportunity to express and develop very fine motor skills have combined to make an engaging and enjoyable experience.

Witnessing, at close quarters, what Lego can unlock goes far beyond the definition of “toy”. Problem solving, process-lead activity, sequencing, perseverance and ultimately imaginative play are all ingredients of “playing” with Lego. And begs the question is it worthwhile because children develop a style of learning from the activity, or are only certain learners successful because they’re predisposed to engagement with the Lego?

I’ll keep an eye on his progress. Unless of course I’ve built them for him while he’s not around!