Putting NRW webinar training into practice - St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Flint

Having attended our ‘Life on the River’ and ‘Wales Coast Path’ training webinars, Headteacher Paul Phillips explains how the teachers at St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Flint have been putting NRW’s training webinars into practice.

“The training was vital.  Having the recordings of the sessions was helpful for the teachers to refer to.  We also received documents with loads of links to further resources. This was extremely helpful and timesaving. The resources on the NRW website are excellent too and the children used these extensively. 

The planning for each topic was in four stages:

  1. Relating new learning to what had been done before and what we know should come next.
  2. Deciding what essential knowledge, we wanted the children to have.
  3. Identifying how this might fit with the statements of what matters for each AoLE and how we might incorporate some of the cross-cutting themes and integral skills.
  4. Choosing activities.” 

Year 3: Life by the River Dee 

“You can see the River Dee estuary from the front entrance of our school so we thought it was really important that children learn about its uses and how it has changed over time.  29 Year 3 pupils spent 9 weeks on their ‘Life by the River Dee’ topic.”

“After going on the ‘Life on the River’ webinar and receiving the follow up resources from NRW, we knew that there was absolutely loads that we could do relating to the river.  We had to think carefully about which aspects we wanted to focus on so that we could develop depth of knowledge and understanding rather than just breadth.  We decided on: Features of rivers (source, estuary, mouth, meander etc.); The strategic importance of the River Dee to local settlements e.g. Flint and Chester; Why the River Dee is important? - tourism and transport - this has changed over time; Rivers form habitats for lots of wildlife; some of our rivers are being polluted by our actions and we can reduce the pollution of our rivers.”

“We had already identified some key concepts in each AoLE that we wanted to run through the entire school curriculum.  We identified how Language, Literacy and Communication, Numeracy, Expressive Arts and Health and Well-being statements of what matters could be addressed but for this unit of work, we knew that the focus was mainly going to be on the Humanities and Science and Technology AoLEs, specifically the following concepts:

  • Hum 10. Cynefin - a sense of place and belonging
  • Hum 11. local landscapes and environments
  • Hum 14. Climate change and nature emergency
  • Hum 15. Interrelationships between humans and natural world
  • Hum 19: Our history affects our understanding of the present day and our identity
  • Hum 18. Physical processes
  • ST 12. Diversity of living things, evolution, and natural selection
  • ST 14: Humans’ impact on the natural world”

“After establishing that these were the key concepts for this unit of work, teachers looked at the descriptions of learning for Progression Step 2 of the Humanities AoLE to get a rough idea of where to pitch their study whilst still recognising that there was quite a wide range of prior attainment in that cohort so they would have to adapt scaffolding and challenge accordingly.”

“We split our study of the River Dee roughly into three sections: rivers as natural habitats; rivers as tourist destinations and how the River Dee has been important since humans have been here.” 

“After doing a KWL grid (to determine what they know, what they want to know, and at the end of the topic, what they have learnt) the children started their topic with a visit from Welsh Water in which they learnt about the importance of saving water.  They did map reading and learnt about the route of the River Dee from source to sea. They then looked at some of the wildlife species they'd find in the Dee and learnt about their life cycles before looking at the Dee in Chester as a tourist destination and investigating how people use the Dee for recreation.  When they went on their trip to see the River Dee in Chester, they found out about how the river was important for the Romans and how the Deva barracks, which Chester is based upon, was a strategic site, commanding access to the sea via the River Dee.  They finished off their unit of work by discussing their responsibility to help keep the River Dee healthy and unpolluted.”

“Completing this topic helped the children develop a greater appreciation of the importance of the river Dee to the people of our area. They learnt a lot about rivers in general and they were able to put this into context through their knowledge about the River Dee. The work that the children did over the term helped them develop in all four purposes of the Curriculum for Wales.

Year 5: Wales Coast Path (WCP)

“73 Year 5 and 6 pupils spent 9 weeks on their ‘Wales Coast Path’ topic.  We wanted the children to know about the entirety of the WCP but to know about our area of the path in greater detail.  We wanted the children to learn about the geography of the whole of Wales through studying the WCP.  Lastly, we wanted the children to know about the wildlife that might be found near the North Walian part of the WCP and how different groups of people use the path. The unit was split into two sections.  We included questions such as:

  • What is the point of the Wales Coast Path?
  • Where does the Wales Coast Path go?
  • Who uses the Wales Coast Path in Flintshire?
  • What wildlife would we see on the Wales Coast Path?”

“We identified how this might fit with the statements of what matters for each AoLE.  Like the Year 3 unit on the River Dee, all AoLEs were incorporated into the work but the unit of work was mainly based on the Humanities and Language, Literacy and Communication.  The children learnt about the route of the path and, through this, about the counties of Wales. The children learnt Welsh and English place names around the path and completed some maths tasks to do with the distances of the different sections of the Wales Coast Path. They worked out how far they would have to walk between two locations and how long it might take them to do each section. They also calculated costs of organising a trip to and from the WCP (Numeracy).”

“We had Nicky Humphries (pictured with the children), a local artist come into school to work with the children to creating artwork about the wildlife that can be seen from the Wales Coast Path which went on a display in Flint Library.”

“A walk along the Wales Coast Path was planned for the pupils so that they could complete some fieldwork.  We wanted to walk them from Bagillt to Flint along the path, ending at Flint Castle however, when planning the trip, we found out that disabled access was not great, and this was vital for our group. The children identified that the path managers have tried to make it as accessible as possible and that they are proud that there are large stretches which are accessible to all but wheelchair users and parents with prams can’t access every section. There was an issue about installing A-frames which are designed to prevent anti-social behaviour, but which prevent wheelchair users and prams getting through and can make it tricky for cyclists, which the children discussed. The children had a fascinating debate about this and demonstrated how they are becoming ethical, informed citizens of Wales through their discussion about the accessibility on the Wales Coast Path.  They made some valid and sensible points and eventually agreed that areas with lots of issues should have the A-frames but that they shouldn’t be placed on every section, so that wheelchair users etc. could access as much of the path as possible.”

In conclusion

“The training webinars we received from NRW were vital.  Having the recordings of the sessions was helpful for the teachers to refer to.  We also received documents with loads of links to further resources. This was extremely helpful and time-saving. The resources on the NRW website are excellent too and the children, particularly the Year 5s, used these extensively.”

“Humanities was the main ‘anchor’ AoLE for each of the units of work but all six of the AOLEs were addressed.  The children in all year groups did writing and PowerPoint presentations about their topic, which was part of the Language, Literacy and Communication AoLE.  This was the first time that we have done these units of work and the teachers have already thought about how they might improve the units next time they do them with children.  Year 3 will learn about the RNLI, which has a lifeboat station in Flint; the Year 5s will venture up to Talacre to find out about how the coast (and the WCP) is different to the coast in Flint. We'll keep improving the units as we go.”

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