What are REAL Projects?
At Alverton, we endeavour to find out what interests the children and how they want to learn. We are very excited about our REAL Project approach to learning which we use to deliver a rich, broad and varied curriculum.
Each key stage follows a rolling programme of umbrella headings (such as World History) which ensures full and rigorous curriculum coverage in all year groups. Each term, the curriculum is then planned around a question or statement which drives the children’s learning and the teachers’ planning, ensuring an integrated, cross-curricular approach. Pupils and teachers are involved in the "tuning" of the project before a planning day. Projects have a clear timeline with milestones and mini-outcomes for pupils to achieve, all leading to a final outcome. The children’s learning is enhanced by visits / visitors and real-life tasks. Core subjects are integrated into the project and we plan and design learning opportunities that are relevant and engaging and have real-life outcomes.
The REAL Project approach contains certain key aspects:
Learning environments take on the appearance of a time, place or event being explored and are changed with every new project. Classrooms have a variety of flexible learning spaces, which can be adapted for different lessons and which allow children to make daily decisions about how they would like to learn.
Developing problem solving, independence and resilience in pupils is a central part of our teaching. Children are presented with challenges related to their project which require them to organise themselves, plan and carry out the task and choose how to present their learning. The staff act in a facilitating role, using questioning to support rather than direct. Challenges can be across all curriculum areas, can be used to introduce, embed or extend skills and provide pupils with an opportunity to take ownership of their learning.
Launch days are designed to spark the children’s interest in their new project. The days are carefully planned to incorporate a wide range of skills and activities both in the classroom and out. This leads to the children being fully immersed and engaged in their new project within a short space of time.
The final outcome of a project, which might be a product (such as a machine or artwork), a performance (such as a theatre piece or a debate), or a service (such as giving a lesson to younger students), creates a focus for the project that gives it a feeling of purpose from day one. Pupils are aware of the final outcome and the deadline from day one of the project. This gives their work a clear purpose and embeds the need for high quality outcomes.
It is important that the outcome of a project is something that the children (as well as other people) value. Ensuring that the audience for a final outcome extends beyond the school community, ultimately aiming to provide a service, increases the pupils’ motivation and engagement. So far at Alverton, outcomes have included exhibitions, magazines sold in a local shop, a website, art exhibitions at local galleries, an auction, a stall at the town’s farmers’ market, a charity fundraiser for the World Wildlife Fund, a pipeline challenge to twin our toilets and a Plastic Free Penzance awareness event. Parental involvement and interest has increased and the school has reached out into the wider community both nationally and globally.
Peer critique is the way in which children reflect upon and improve their learning through redrafting. Using exemplar pieces, to introduce a writing genre for example, and creating a rubric from this, provides children with a toolkit on which to base their learning. Where appropriate, children critique and then redraft their work so that it is ‘beautiful work’ of which they are extremely proud. Children have the opportunity to look at work from a range of peers, providing warm feedback and helpful suggestions and supporting each other in the development of their work.