Tuesday, 21 May 2013


I visited a brilliant primary school on Guernsey yesterday morning. I had been invited by Cate Mason, the headteacher at St Martin's Primary School, to visit the school on one of my trips to the island and it was wonderful to meet Cate and some of her team and see what they are doing to release the magic!

The school has a real family and learning community feel despite being a large primary school and, walking around the school with Cate, there was a real sense of children being engaged in passionate learning; from the early years through the wonderful little nurture group to Year 6 talking confidently about how they could develop their persuasive writing through the powerful use of adjectives, adverbs and connectives. The team at St Martin's Primary School are using enquiry-based or enquiry-led learning which gives the children the chance to 'learn through doing'. Enquiry-based learning is a process in which the children have authority over the aim, scope or topic of their learning. This draws on their research skills and also their ability to generalise from situations that they are already familiar with. Colleagues at the school feel that this develops creativity skills and allows the children to have more ownership over their work.

Schools are amazing places full of talent and potential and again visiting St Martin's Primary School reminded me about the characteristics of brilliant learning places and what is needed to release the magic.
  • Cate's focused, intelligent and passionate leadership;
  • an inclusive learning culture within a highly focused and consistent system;
  • a strong, effective and hard working teaching and learning team;
  • clear values and beliefs driving all the work of the school;
  • a focus on excellence, high standards and positive behaviour;
  • an attractive and stimulating learning environment;
  • high expectations of everyone; and 
  • lots of hard work!
This is a brilliant school. Cate Mason and her learning team are doing a great job and have built something really wonderful at St Martin's Primary School .

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