Specialisms' power to transform

22nd February 2008 at 00:00
Having just attended the Youth Sport Trust's national conference, I drove home thinking that surely sport is the only specialism to have real impact on the whole school and community. Speaker after speaker gave profound and sometimes moving accounts of how sport changes young people's lives.

Back home, I began to consider how different specialisms could have impact in the departmental or pastoral arena.

Our learning grid at Hinchingbrooke School takes five sporting excellences which students are judged against in their termly reports. Training on the field or in the gym becomes homework or independent study in the classroom; captaincy of a team becomes leadership in group work or representing your form in the student parliament. What skills and qualities are needed to develop other specialisms by middle leaders, I wondered, and how could these be made explicit to raise achievement?

In a foreign languages college, perhaps departments expound the importance of flexibility in learning and the importance of expressive and appropriate communication. In technology colleges, children would surely learn that innovation, planning and design are key to any task in any classroom. In expressive arts colleges, the nature of performance, its need for thorough rehearsal and the building of self-confidence would surely be found.

I think it would be a good exercise for middle leaders to analyse their own specialism and harness it to support transferable skills throughout the school. Calculating the area of a basketball court in maths lessons or tracing the history of football in humanities classes may well have its place, but how exciting to be able to use your specialism to develop emotional intelligence, or personalise learning, so that every child matters in your school.

Di Beddow, Deputy headteacher, Hinchingbrooke School, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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