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A different approach to Picture News by Jo Martin

I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Trinity St. Peter’s CE Primary School and Nursery, after they captured our attention through their use of Twitter.

On entering, I was immediately made to feel welcome, not only by the happy, friendly staff but also by the incredible and inspirational messages and display boards, clearly demonstrating the ethos created by the school.

As a school, they believe that every child is a star and that they should work in partnership with all members of the local and wider community to provide each child with the skills and values that they need to SHINE in the real world. They want all of their children to enjoy their learning journey, to achieve their full potential and to become caring global citizens of the world, with the motivation and confidence to be the best they can be.

I was keen and very excited to learn how they used Picture News within their school. I was able to spend time chatting to the teachers from Year 1 through to Year 6 and learned so much I wanted to share!

Each week, Trinity St. Peter’s uses Picture News as stimulus for a class based discussion. Every class takes part in this discussion with their teacher on a Wednesday. Each teacher puts their own ‘spin’ on the resource and the way it is delivered often varies week-to-week.

I asked each teacher to describe to me how they used Picture News within their classroom. It was just so wonderful to hear the way they spoke so enthusiastically and passionately about their school, their class and Picture News. Trinity St. Peter’s have taken ownership of the resource and used it to be more than just an assembly resource and more than just a way to cover British Values. It has been used as a tool to support children in developing confidence and respect, to motivate and inspire children to learn, to challenge their thinking, to be the best they can be and SHINE!

Some of the ways they delivered their sessions are listed below, you may find them useful!

  • Use iPads to allow children to independently access the information resources. They are then able to read independently and have their own thinking time before discussion.
  • Begin with a relevant stimulus or practical activity to promote the big question.
  • Ask children to answer yes or no before the discussion then after to show how they can influence one another’s ideas.
  • Ask children to apply creative thinking skills in order to respond from different perspectives.
  • Organise the classroom as a formal debate (as in parliament), assigning children specific roles.
  • Give the assembly resource first, ask children to guess the story and question from this.
  • Children create the British Value that best matches the question prompt.

So, what next? Once the session is complete, is that it? No! Every single week each class shares their response on Twitter. There is no recording, no display, no worksheets. At first, I was surprised. I have to say, I do like the big class scrapbooks of comments and work based on Picture News but after speaking to Deputy Head, Louisa, I realised everything that needed to be done, was being done. Twitter allowed them to share each classes response with one another, it showcased their thinking, the children and the school had a global platform, where they could influence and bring about change and it provided evidence for SLT monitoring.

There is still more! If a story happened to spark an interest or inspire their class, it wasn’t just forgotten about or lost once the session was over under the mountain of other ‘must complete, things to do’ that every teacher has, it was acted upon. The Year 1 class requested to visit an old people’s home after the story ‘Should we spend more time with people who are older than us?’. The visit was organised and, as it was so mutually beneficial, it became a weekly occurrence. The story ‘Can we learn to be happy?’ inspired the Year 6 class to work towards and apply for the ‘Wellbeing Award’, which I am excited to tell you, they achieved!

I asked the teachers to share the impact Picture News has had in their school. I have shared the responses below:

  • Open the children’s eyes to the world.
  • Bring the world into the classroom.
  • Spark interest.
  • Can assess SMSC.
  • Shows children it is okay to disagree with someone else.
  • Children have matured.
  • Learn to disagree civilly.
  • Improved social skills.
  • Transfer skills to become more independent thinkers.

I was so humbled to also hear that Picture News had played a part in achieving their Christian Aid Global Neighbours Gold Award and their Gold SMSC Quality Mark.

I was actually quite sad to leave the building. Everything I feel so strongly and passionately about in education was happening within this school. Children were given opportunities to be inspired and learn from the real world. Children knew that their opinion mattered, and they felt valued. Children felt excited and engaged and wanted to learn. Children were not afraid to express and talk about their emotions. Children were given opportunities to identify with news stories, allowing them to share worries, concerns and feelings such as loneliness or feeling different. Children learned that not everyone is the same or feels the same and this is something to be celebrated. Children, who have been encouraged and supported to develop confidence, resilience and independence and have learned to respect, tolerate and understand.

Thank you so much for having me Trinity St. Peter’s and keep doing what you do!