We were very pleased to award Hertingfordbury Cowper C of E Primary School a grant to bring a live animal, Ark Farm nativity event into their school.
One-off trips and events, whilst exciting and motivational, are very hard to get through our depth, breadth and longevity of learning criteria so Lorraine Gauld (Headteacher) had to really go into detail about the learning benefits of the visit.
Lorraine explained how the visit would tie into a wide range of learning across the school:
“The visit by Ark farm would link to the 'Understanding the World' for the Nursery and Reception children, whereby their would be able to make sense of their physical world as well as being able to explore, observe and find about about a range of different animals. Also to the KS1 Science curriculum for Year 1 being 'Animals' and our Year 1 class are studying a topic called 'All creatures Great and Small' and also for our Year 2 class who also have 'Animals' as part of their Science curriculum but also go on to learn about 'Living Things and their Habitats' to have a greater understanding of different animal groups, where they live and the food they eat in their topic unit called 'Staying Alive'.
Then in the afternoon, this experience will then turn to one with an RE focus for the whole school, we will be using the animals as part of a living nativity to learn and retell the Christmas story. This will be directly linked to the RE curriculum of the school as we link the different parts to Bible passages, prayers and songs. Children will also be using this experience back in class to develop their own narratives of the Christmas story (including a range of genre, prayer, poetry and recount) as well as greater depth levels of study further up in KS2 as they analyse the different accounts in the gospels of the Christmas Story. Again, not only will this be an innovative way for the children to access their RE curriculum, it will be a learning experience have a lasting impact on their memory of such a visit but will make the story come to life for the children. We will also be able to promote our music and drama curriculum through this living nativity with children acting out parts themselves and older children providing the music - giving them an opportunity to perform in front of an audience.”
Lorraine then went on to explain more reasons why the visit would enhance learning in these areas:
“Being able to have the animals in school, and for more than one class (which would usually be the case with a class trip) means the children will have hands-on experience with their learning, enhancing their learning in one of the most valuable ways as we learn best when we 'do'. All of the sessions will include 'question and answer sessions' giving the children opportunities to use their own enquiry skills to lead their own learning from the experience.
…A key focus of the current curriculum is 'knowing more and remembering more', these hands-on sessions will give that key to giving the children the real experience of learning about animals, their habitats, life-cycle, what they eat etc... in front of their eyes.”
As well as the visit being the focus and inspiration for so many areas of learning, the school are also going to film the nativity for parents to enjoy. This can also act as a lasting resource for future years and so helps tick our longevity of benefit box.
To further strengthen her bid, Lorrain also highlighted the wellbeing benefits of the visit:
“We feel not only will this benefit the outlined curriculum areas but will also go a long way to promoting positive well-being for both our children and staff in what would usually be a time of great celebrations, concerts and performances.”
I’ll leave Lorrain with the last word:
“What better way to enhance the progress of the children than being able to live their learning.”
"...just to let you know that our visit from Ark Farm went ahead as planned on Tuesday 15th December - thank you for the funding. The children enjoyed and learnt a great deal from the workshops in the morning and then our Living Nativity in the afternoon was truly magical. We have put together a little video of that on our school website and I had so many lovely emails from the parents giving their thanks for the memories this would have created for their children, for being able to feel part of a Nativity even though they couldn't be at school and also being able to think outside of the box to think of a way for our children to enjoy the Christmas celebrations. The children have already carried on with this learning experience, writing recounts, etc... this term."
There is a lovely highlights video of the nativity on Hertinfordbury Cowper's website.