Planting the Seeds of Dalton

Independently taking homework from your School bag before entering the classroom in the morning.

Responsibly caring for your belongings so they don’t get lost.

Playing collaboratively with your friends in the playground.

Reflecting on whether a task is complete before handing it in.

Dalton is embedded into the curriculum right from the start at Ascham—even for our students in Hillingdon: Kindergarten, Years 1 and 2. While the pillars of Independence, Responsibility, Collaboration and Reflection might not be explicitly taught in these early years of School, they are actively encouraged throughout the day, in the lessons and activities in which the girls participate.

In Kindergarten, the first formal year of school, students start to become familiar with the idea of being independent and are expected to behave responsibly in the classroom. Simple ‘starting school’ activities such as unpacking and packing their school bag at the start and finish of each day, looking after their belongings such as hats, jumpers and lunchbox, as well as completing simple homework tasks (such as the reader) are building blocks for students from which independence and responsibility grow.

Moving into Year 1, our students build on these skills. In 2022, Year 1 has been focusing on the concept of Reflection.

‘We are teaching the girls to improve their learning by looking back,’ said Year 1 Co-ordinator Ms Alex Lamont. ‘Given the girls are aged six and seven, the use of a visual tool like our reflection wheel helps them to identify and explain what stage of learning they are at. They can identify if they: ‘don’t understand, are beginning to understand, or fully understand.’

This then opens up discussions about where they can improve. Ms Lamont said, ‘For example, the student might point to a part of the wheel which says: I am beginning to understand this topic. We can then discuss how they can increase their understanding. The teacher could encourage the student to check their work before they hand it in.’

A simple reflection exercise such as identifying themself on the wheel helps introduce the idea to a student that looking back can improve the quality of their work. It also introduces the idea to them that they can take responsibility for their work.

In Year 2, the focus on responsibility increases as students are introduced to the concept of a School Diary. Students are encouraged to plan their activities and homework every week in class. They also take on Year 2 Monitor roles and shed duties (keeping the playground storage shed tidy).

Year 2 teacher Ms Claire Dekany (with almost 28 years of Ascham service) explains how students are encouraged and rewarded: ‘Every week at assembly, the much-coveted merit cards are given out. As well as being given for academic achievement, these are often given for attitude to work and School life. For example, we often give cards for working well with a learning buddy (Collaboration) or looking after your belongings (Responsibility).’

This simple reward for behaviour that implicitly supports the pillars of Dalton goes a long way.

Across Hillingdon, from Kindergarten to Year 2, the concept of collaboration is a constant. While Collaboration is a Dalton pillar, it is also a concept that is highly valued across all primary school settings. Working with others is key to young children integrating and making the most out of school. Ms Dekany says that more and more emphasis is placed on teamwork and collaboration. Working with others is now embedded in the National Curriculum.

‘We often use the concept of “Pair, Share, Repair” to encourage the girls to check their work with a buddy,’ said Ms Dekany. ‘Many of the Science experiments are completed in carefully grouped teams. It is important that the girls get to experience working with a variety of fellow students in terms of ability and personality.’

Focusing on collaboration at such an early age undoubtably helps Ascham’s students in later years as the complexity of their learning increases.

It’s evident that Dalton is woven into all aspects of Hillingdon life—so that when our students move into Year 3 and Fiona, the ideas of Independence, Responsibility, Collaboration and Reflection are as natural to them as the transition into a bigger playground.

Skye Barry | Community Relations Manager

21 Jul 2022

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