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British Primary Schools

1st Day of British School

1st Day of British School

We have been asked by many friends what it is like for our children to attend British Schools, so I have decided to write two posts about it. First our experience with primary schools, second our experience with High School. After we have had more experience with Wauryn attending nursery school, I will post of that experience as well.

Starting January 2016 our four oldest children started attending Aslacton Primary School. Aslacton is a small country school. At the time we started, there were just over 60 students in the school in three classes. The classes were divided into Owl Class which consisted of reception, Year 1 & 2 (Berlynn-rec), Kestrel Class which consisted of Year 3 & 4 (Landyn-yr 3), and Eagle Class which consisted of 5 & 6 (Addy-yr 6 and Payton-yr 5). It has grown a little and now has four classes, divided a little differently but it is still very small and intimate, we love it!

Payton's Birthday Assembly

Payton’s Birthday Assembly

Things that make the school wonderful include great teacher to student ratio, outdoor learning, forest school, religious studies, unit study, individualized learning, and much more.

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning

Outdoor Learning

Mainly the younger classes use the outdoor learning area. There is a door from their classroom that opens onto the outdoor space. It is open during the children’s center learning, so they can choose where they want to learn, indoor or outdoor. This is a year round learning space–rain, sun or snow. Berlynn loves it here. (as does Wauryn when we drop Berlynn off/pick-up)

Unit Study-Architecture

Unit Study-Architecture

All the classes use a unit based study approach. We LOVE this. One term the boys’ unit was on WWII. This means their reading, writing, history, art, cooking and trips were all focused around WWII. They learned so much about WWII. What life was like here in Norfolk during the war, what types of planes were flown, and much more. But most importantly they learned to love history! Another example is in the picture above, Berlynn’s class studied architecture and city planning. During this unit they designed a village, but in order to do that they first went on walking trips of the small village the school is in to learn about different architecture, they learned about blueprints, city planning, permits, and much more. They then show-cased their design to the community.

Forrest School

Forest School (not the best picture of the forest, but all I have)

Forest School is where the children are encouraged to learn through nature. One example, is hey have learned about the different local birds and the sounds they make. They are encouraged to try and spot different birds are record them when they are out exploring. To facilitate forest school, the school has wooded areas throughout the grounds, there is even an area that has a small pond. Berlynn says, “I like forest school we find things for the fairy hut, mole hut and the heart one too. And there is bird food places, that is the best place to put bird food. It is so much fun exploring the forest!”

IMG_3701

Collective Worship-Leaver’s Assembly (at the C of E church just down the road from the school)

Religious studies is part of the national curriculum. The children have learned so many things about the major world religions and more about their own in the process. This is one of our favorite aspects of the children’s experience. In the states different religions and view points are taught, but usually not from a Christian view point and Christianity is left out of as much as possible. Here they teach all religions, even Christianity! Yeah! Aside from religious studies, they also have collective worship, a school prayer and a meal prayer (all prayers are non denominational, almost more like a poem). And no this is not a Church of England school. It is a what we would call a public school. Also at Christmas they say Merry (or Happy) Christmas, have Father Christmas visit and perform the Nativity. Love this!!

Wise Man Landyn

Wise Man Landyn

Unlike most schools in the states, here the children are taught more on an individual level. Perhaps, it is simply the school they go to and not all British schools, but we love how if a child is succeeding in something they give them more challenging work, if they are struggling the teachers give them more individual attention. There is on average 3 teachers/assistants in each class which allows for this individual attention. Another aspect of the school we like is all the hands on learning. From cooking, to gardening, to maths the children learn through interaction.

For you Harry Potter fans out there, we discovered how the school is set up is not something out of J.K . Rowling’s imagination, it is very similar to how schools are set up here. The school is divided into different houses which consist of students of all ages. In our school, the houses gather to have what is called Children’s Voice where they do games, have questions, discuss current events and talk about how school is going.

Another thing found in both the books and in the schools are prefects. Our school has a few students who are chosen as prefects. The children must submit a letter stating why they would like to be a prefect and what influence they would have on the school while in this role. Last year Addy was a prefect and this year Payton is one. The job of a prefect is to be a good example, encourage good behavior, and help with the atmosphere of the school. They award points to different classes when they see good actions and deeds and many other things that help encourage the students to do well. We love seeing the leadership roles that our children are able to take part of in the school.

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