- Developing the ‘Building Learning Powers’ programme in school and at home.
- Supporting the school’s ethos.
- Involving everyone; leaders, teachers, support staff and parents.
- Ensuring consistency in class and in every class.
- Parent engagement success.
About The Prince of Wales School
The Prince of Wales School is a primary school in Dorchester, Dorset. It delivers an outstanding education to its 158 pupils, committed to helping children grow into confident, enthusiastic and happy learners.
Underpinning the school’s curriculum is the ‘Building Learning Powers’ (BLP), which promotes positive attitudes to learning and the skills needed to develop lifelong learning success.
Instilling the BLP powers takes time and dedication. It’s not a quick fix. It’s about culture change, nurturing all the habits and practices that convey the school’s beliefs and values.
The heart of BLP surrounds the details of the environment that teachers create in their classrooms. What they do and say, what they notice and commend, and what they don’t. What kind of learner should pupils in their class strive to be. What matters is how teachers design and present activities so that pupils get an excellent all-around mental work-out over the course of a term or a year. All the learning bits of their brains are being stretched and strengthened, one by one, and all together.
As Ann Johnson, Deputy Head at The Prince of Wales School, explains: “The school wants to live and breathe BLP. As well as educating staff and children on its principles, practical challenges include embedding the dispositions of Resilience, Resourcefulness, Reciprocity and Reflectiveness (4 Rs), and their common language throughout the school, and helping teachers to be consistent in their lessons and consistent with each other.”
The school also wants to involve everyone in the programme, and especially parents, who play a vital role in formulating their children’s habits.
How we implemented BLP
Ann explains how the school creates a culture of learning: “Wanting BLP to be central to everything the school is about, we are implementing a mix of initiatives that support each other.
We created four wonderful BLP characters with the children to represent the learning skills: Resilient Tortoise, Resourceful Spider, Reflective Monkey and Reciprocal Bee. Doing this makes them more child-friendly and gives them a personality.
Each term, we focus on one animal, and in the summer term will consolidate all four. Besides discussing each animal’s character trait in lessons and assemblies, we made them into soft toys and hid them around the school. When found, the animal will be hidden again, each time reinforcing the qualities of that learning power.
We also have posters in each classroom and all around the school, emphasising the language for learning. For example, the Reflective Monkey posters show hints like ‘I notice how other people do things’ and ‘I know when to work with others and when to work by myself.’
We also use MarvellousMe to praise children and to engage parents in their children’s achievements. The children love being awarded MarvellousMe badges for their hard work and success, each time knowing their parents are being told the great news.
It was easy to tailor MarvellousMe to our programme, and we created four exciting animal badges. We ask teachers to use BLP terminology when explaining why each badge is awarded, seizing the opportunity to deepen the child’s understanding and bring parents into our learning language.
Together, the toys, posters, learning resources, and praise system are all aligned. Branding that helps BLP to become part of our fabric.”
Ensuring consistency in class, in every class and in common areas.
Building the BLP learning skills demands focus, structure, routine and consistency. The school has a strong plan and a dedicated BLP champion, and monitors delivery through class drop-ins and reviewing best practice in staff meetings.
As Anne continues: “The insights in MarvellousMe make it easy for staff to be consistent in their praise and spot any children who may need extra encouragement.
The insights also help the leaders to ensure that all the teachers follow guidelines and work in harmony. This is important as we want to ensure that children with siblings in the school, and their parents, have similar experiences.”
Including everyone and especially involving parents
“We want everyone in the school to drive our BLP programme. We provide regular professional development and include all the support staff as much as possible, as they play a pivotal role in the school’s culture.
The office team can award MarvellousMe badges to children too, if they spot them doing good things out of the classroom. It’s great for parents to see the admin team encouraging children.”
Ann explains: “We provide information about BLP on our website and in newsletters and speak about it at parent consultations.
MarvellousMe helps us here too, purposely built to give parents positive news about their children’s progress. Our parents are mainly busy working parents, so sending short and focused messages to their mobiles and making them smile is the perfect solution, inspiring them to have better conversations with their children about the day.”
“As a deputy head, I love that teachers can quickly use MarvellousMe on the go. In a couple of clicks, they can award a badge and send a positive comment home, meaning that we can regularly praise children to help each skill become a habit.
We are excited by the potential that MarvellousMe offers, and the next step is for us to use it to provide parents with more information and resources on how they can better support our BLP programme at home.
To do this, we are going to take advantage of MarvellousMe’s Quick Links feature, which will provide parents with a gateway to regularly updated information about our programme, with ideas and resources for them to underpin each learning power with their children at home. MarvellousMe is so much more than a communication and praise system.
Our BLP journey is well underway and we are always looking for new ways to accelerate the impact, fulfilling our vision that children leave the school with a sense of belonging to a tightly knit community, with the confidence and skills to make decisions, self-evaluate, make connections and become lifelong learners.”