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Primary school PSHE: Personal safety

PSHE and intertactive whiteboard in primary classroom UK

The professional development angle

Teacher: Diane Rawlins (Deputy Headteacher)
School: Arbury Primary School, Cambridge, UK

I have been teaching for 13 years. Our school is in an urban setting, with 360 pupils aged 4 - 11. We have been using IWBs for the past 6 years.

Being involved with the project allowed me to evaluate my current use of the IWB, to experiment with new techniques and tools, and to assess the impact the IWB could have on teaching and learning through dialogue in my classroom. Additionally, a large part of my role involves evaluating and developing the way the curriculum is taught, and I soon realised that our definitions of what dialogic teaching is (developed together over many hours in our project workshops), could serve as guidance for our staff to illustrate our school teaching and learning policy. I reworked our table of definitions, using simplified terms and adding additional information to help staff evaluate how ‘dialogic’ their approach is and where they can move forward with this area of expertise. I realised that we should ensure that we spend our planning time thinking about how we could use the IWB to support dialogic teaching rather than simply making complex flipcharts which serve little purpose other than to act as visual lesson plans.

All of these materials can be accessed from our team’s Professional Development page on this site.

In the latter stages of the study, I focussed more closely on how I could support staff in evaluating, and possibly changing, the way they use the IWB in order to develop quality dialogic practice in their classrooms.  Teaching in our school is very good, and children make better than average progress, giving us a strong base to work from.  As a school in an inner city setting, we face many challenges in making learning accessible to all children, with over 30% of children on our special needs register, and 24% being bilingual learners.  Additional considerations when working out an action plan included the time/priority factor and teacher workload.

The resulting staff development plan begins with an audit, moves on to some focussed input on dialogic teaching, alongside examining how we presently use our IWBs and to what effect. Some additional support is available to extend our teachers’ bank of IWB strategies and technical skills.  My simplified table of dialogic teaching definitions allows teachers to examine the climate and conditions for learning in their classrooms, the different learning activities which go on there each day, and to consider the types of learning outcomes (eg directed, open, collaborative, cumulative) which can be observed. The staff development plan and a version of the dialogue table with added guidance for staff can again be accessed from our team’s Professional Development page on this site.

Given that our teachers are skilled, reflective and committed to providing the very best opportunities for learning that we can, I know that by spending some quality time together as a staff during a series of meetings, we can further develop our use of a dialogic approach to teaching and learning, whilst utilising the facilities of our IWBs to support us.

Diane conducted a series of 3 lessons on personal safety with her Year 6 class during the research study. Click here to download a zipped folder "DR-Lesson-materials" containing copies of Diane's lesson plans and materials, including her original and annotated ActivPrimary flipcharts.