Teachers ‘should model risky behaviour for pupils’

Head cites example of 'adventurous learning' at a private school where all staff can learn an instrument with pupils

Martin George


Teachers who want pupils to take risks should lead by example, a private school leader has said.

Mike Buchanan, who will become the executive director of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC) in November, told a conference that adults have to demonstrate the behaviours they want children to show.

Speaking at Friday’s Teaching and Learning Conference at Hampshire Collegiate School, he said: “The point is that taking risks and challenging yourself is something that we want young people to do, and the best way of doing that is giving them models.

“Adults in the school have got to demonstrate the same behaviours that you are trying to get the youngsters to do.

“If you want them to be curious, you’ve got to show curiosity yourself – demonstrably show curiosity. If you want them to be adventurous, then you have got to be adventurous yourself.”

Mr Buchanan gave an example of "adventurous learning" at Ashford School, an independent school in Kent that he has led since 2005.

All members of staff are offered the chance to learn a musical instrument or to sing, are taught alongside pupils, and give a performance.

He said: “It became very obvious, very quickly, that that was changing the culture in the school because the adults remembered or learned that learning is not this nice linear thing.

"It hunts around, and if you’re lucky it goes upwards, but you have to work for it, and it’s bloody hard.

“They remembered that, and it gave them a different perspective on their pupils.”

Teachers at the event were asked to write down ideas of risk-taking for schools to consider. Those that emerged included:

  • Teachers should plan and teach another subject lesson each term
  • Pupil apprentices in lessons
  • Cookery classes for all – run by students?
  • Student-led clubs for teachers
  • Weekly ‘children as teachers’ – children teach the teachers about a topic where they have a lot of knowledge, eg dinosaurs
  • Joint car wash (everyone mucking in)
  • Start a business together
  • Learning British Sign Language
  • Wellbeing activities: fitness, nature, stargazing
  • Fitness bootcamp
  • Fundraising events
  • Staff choir
  • Training to be a sports coach
  • Ceramics and glass design
  • Camping/survival course
  • Coasteering
  • Staff work together to decorate an area of the school
  • Give the children a weekly update about what you have learned that week and encouraging them to share

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Martin George

Martin George

Martin George is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @geomr

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