Everyone matters

Sarah Swatridge is currently SENCO at the Colleton Primary School. She has written widely, both for children and teachers.

The Colleton Primary School is working hard at becoming a more 'citizenship' aware school. The school is devising a range of ways in which the pupils can become more involved in taking responsibility for themselves and for their school. In this way they are seeking to model a democracy.

Colleton Primary is trying to work out in practice the core values of the school. These include valuing each individual child and encouraging teamwork, co-operation, individual responsibility and independence. The teaching staff frequently question what is in the best interests of the child. They endeavour to create a safe and stimulating atmosphere in which children can learn together and participate in the life of their school. Team teaching and vertical teaching groups are sometimes used as creative alternatives to the norm.

These snapshots of the life at the school show how this works out in practice:

  • From Year 3 onwards, each child takes an active part in planning their own individual work using individual planners.
  • Everyone had a say in the design of one part of the school play area. This area is mainly used by the Older Team (years 5 and 6), so they had most of the input. Opinions were valued and influenced the end result. The pupils at the Colleton are very proud of 'their' school and love to show visitors the things for which they are responsible.
  • All members of the school community have a voice, everyone is listened to. This has been demonstrated recently in the search for a new Headteacher. Ideas were taken on board from parents, pupils, teachers and support staff, governors and leaders in the community. It was a proper consultation with real listening. The end result was an information pack for applicants containing descriptions of the school, a person specification and poems about the school and hopes for its future - all compiled by the pupils. The pack showed something of the unique nature of what has been achieved at the school and the pupils' genuine pride in it.

Colleton School has its fair share of pupils with special educational needs. All pupils are helped to recognise that each has gifts and talents, that these talents differ and that this is what makes them individuals and special to God.