North Harringay Primary School
The Senior Team at North Harringay Primary (NHPS), a diverse 2-form-entry primary school in North London, were looking for a more cohesive way of working across the school that would promote richer relationships between both children and staff. Rather than their Values being seen as a set of school rules, they wanted the children to have the ability to choose meaningful values to live by and confidently apply every day in all contexts. The school has been trialling The Big Think since October 2017.
‘I can’t think why any school wouldn’t want to do it.’
Paula Olurin, Pastoral Care Manager, North Harringay Primary School
Each lesson opens with a few minutes of Silent Sitting from one of our 15 tracks that promote relaxation as the children listen to a scenario gently unfolding to the sounds of calm background music. Our experience at NHPS showed that if we created our own tracks that linked to the lesson’s value, the children gained a deeper perspective. The response from Reception to Y6 has been phenomenal.
“Silent Sitting helps me to calm down as I can get annoyed easily.
It helps me to focus, especially in the afternoons when I’m sleepy.”
Pupil, Age 8
Values Inquiry, Value Dialogue and Values Roleplay
Back in their classrooms, through productive, age-related talk, the children are given the space to reflect upon and explore The Big Ideas generated during the Assemblies. We developed 3 engaging methods to be alternated across the lessons:
Values Inquiry: The Big Talk
Values Dialogue: The Big Circle
Values Roleplay: The Big Act
Values Inquiry: The Big Talk proved the most popular approach at NHPS as children took centre stage, progressively learning to express their ideas and try out new ones.
“I liked the different scenarios as it was fun to see that
everyone has different opinions.”
Pupil, Age 9
The process also gave teachers insights and a greater understanding of what drives children’s behaviour so they in turn could better meet their pupils’ needs more closely in other areas of learning.
“The fact that the children move around the classroom as they explore their opinions and feelings really helps to engage children who usually struggle in more formal discussions”
Paula Olurin, Pastoral Care Manager at NHPS
Values Dialogue: The Big Circle is similar to Circle Time but provides regular opportunities for the children to be reminded about their previously agreed Class Values, which they then put into practice, thereby gradually developing skills
such as listening without judgement.
The Big Story
Central to all learning are the 44 especially commissioned short stories for each age range. Every lesson includes a story with a real or familiar event that helps to address situations the children may feel uncertain about. The NHPS children seemed to be looking for a safe space to work through their common anxieties about their community and their understanding of the wider world.
“The stories often show us ways to handle something that I find hard”
Pupil, Age 11
The Big Sing
At NHPS, Y5 and Y6 children were very clear about the types of songs they preferred to sing. We commissioned a band to write and compose 5 Values songs, one for each of the programme’s core values of Truth, Love, Peace, Responsibility and Community. ‘The Big Thinkers’ have come up with songs that are fun to sing and also meaningful for all children.
Our End-Point surveys show that after just 1 term, children were becoming more conscious about how they relate to others and the world around them.
“I now know how other people think“
Pupil, Age 10
“I would like to take world issues more seriously“
Pupil, Age 8
Both teachers and children alike have reported that they feel calmer and more focussed during the day when they have done Silent Sitting.
NHPS are working to fully embed TBT in their weekly timetable and the wider school community is beginning to get more involved – starting with an inclusive Values Dialogue – an open discussion about Values in education – involving a mix of parents, children, governors and staff. Listen to this audio clip from the end of their session:
1. Y4 child. 2. Head Teacher. 3. Parent Governor. 4 Learning Support Assistant.
NHPS now plan to involve their School Council in leading the calls to social action that come as a result of The Big Change component in the classroom sessions.
Register for a FREE Sample Lesson Kit
There are 88 The Big Think Lesson Kits – 44 for Ages 4-7 and 44 for Ages 7-11.
Each kit comprises:
Silent Sitting track
The Big Song karaoke video
Lesson Plans and Screens
My Big Think Journal Page
The Big Story
Try out this free lesson for LOVE: Caring About Nature!