Written by Steph Ashton
I think most aspiring teachers consider or wonder what it would be like to teach at a primary school. For our SCITT cohort, this week was our opportunity to experience a day in the life of a primary school teacher over at Middleforth C of E Primary School.
We were warmly welcomed by Mrs Adams, the headteacher, who gave us an overview of the school and the day and introduced us to some of the children.
Our first session involved observing a phonics lesson with 6 students in Reception Class (aged 5) with Mrs Van Zyl. Phonics was something new to most of us and yet something that I think clearly works in helping to develop young readers and writers. This lesson was delivered in an engaging and active way for the students, involving a treasure hunt and challenge to jump over the (imaginary) river. Students then used what they had learned to spell the word ‘fox’ in the magic fairy dust. The response from the children was inspiring and it was clear that the use of phonics was helping them to develop their reading and writing skills.
Mrs Van Zyl then took us and her Year 1 class into the hall where we had to 'Kung Fu segment' some words and then run to the correct area of the hall for the words we were given. All of us trainees got involved and it was great to see how engaged students were and how they were all keen to explain to us how it worked and what the words were.
We were then placed in classes to observe lessons and talk to students about their learning. I was with year 4 and then year 5. I particularly enjoyed my time with year 5 who were using Harry Potter to develop their creative writing. Students had some brilliant ideas and were writing complex and detailed descriptions. My particular favourite was a young student who was trying to convince her parents to buy her a pig!
In the afternoon, we had a session with Mrs Adams who explained to us how the primary curriculum works and how phonics is used across all key stages. It was fascinating to see how much children are expected to learn before leaving primary school and how perhaps as secondary teachers, we underestimate students' ability. There is a lot more to primary schooling than playing out and colouring in! The energy, knowledge and creative planning done by primary teachers is immense. As a secondary teacher we need to know one subject (maybe two), but primary teachers have to know 12 and it ranges from Maths and English to History and PE! I am in awe of our primary colleagues and hope that in the future we can work even more collaboratively on students' transition from KS2 to KS3.
Thank you to all the staff and students at Middleforth Church of England Primary School for an informative, fun and memorable experience.