Tre Uchaf Primary School

Using Interest Groups to develop Social Interaction.

Tre Uchaf Primary school is a primary school with nearly 200 children on the school roll. It is situated in the Loughor area of Swansea and aims to create a happy, stimulating atmosphere which positively encourages and supports learning.

The school has two Specialist Teaching Facilities with moderate or general delay learning difficulties. The school aims to integrate the children into the main stream classes whenever possible in a supportive and structured way.

The school wanted to put in place an initiative that would involve all the children within Key Stage Two taking further control of their own learning in areas which interested them. A key part of any actions undertaken was to ensure that the children from the Key Stage Two STF class could take an active part in the initiative and be fully integrated with the children in the main stream junior classes in line with the school’s strong inclusion ethos and policies.

The initiative as well as being based around the children’s desired learning objectives would have to make full use of the key skills identified by the school so that there were real life opportunities to develop and use the skills which had been taught and developed in more formal learning activities.

The school decided following discussions with the children to allocate a Monday afternoon session in the school timetable to an ‘interest groups’ based approach in which the children decide on a series of themed groups led by teachers which they sign up to on a half termly basis. The children sign up as they see fit into the groups which means that the groups contain children from a mixture of age groups and abilities from the junior classes.

Current interest groups include gardening, knitting, drama, art, cooking and photography sessions which the children attend each week and undertake activities led by the teacher to give a practical context to the key skills. The children from the Junior STF facility are fully integrated into these sessions and provisions are made to ensure that they are comfortable and able to access the sessions in an appropriate way.

The photography group has proved to be very popular with the children with twenty children in the current group which is led by Mr. Civil who ensures a strong ICT element to the work that the children undertake. The children use of a bank of digital cameras in capturing the photos to the use of software packages such as Revelation Sight and Sound or Microsoft Movie Maker to present the images.

The children have split into smaller mixed age groups within the ‘interest group’ itself with children with Additional Learning Needs along with the other children in the group choosing their partners.

The school has noticed a range of benefits for all the children within the juniors. The children are very positive about the interest groups especially the way that it has helped them work with other children who they normally may not get a chance to work with in a setting that they enjoy.

Within the photography group the children gained great confidence from the use of ICT to present their information and found the use of images and not words far less threatening and were able to focus on their ICT skills and not worry about their potential written communication difficulties. As a result, the ICT skills that the children have improved from the motivation that a learner directed activity such as this provides.

Mr. Civil commented that the children with speech and language difficulties had benefited immensely from working with children with better communication skills as they acted as positive language models. As a result the children in the groups enjoyed raised self esteem, a deeper understanding of the skill of group work and a supportive atmosphere in the learning area.

Mr. Civil and the other Key Stage Two staff are very positive about the impact that this has had on the social and key skills of the children along with the raised self esteem that such an inclusive approach brings for all.