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University Centre Doncaster pilot new scheme with local school XP

Posted: 13th February 2020

On Friday 31st January a CPD training event was held at our very own University Centre, for 15 Learning Support Mentors from XP School Doncaster. This day was a pilot run of an event by the HE Children’s Learning and Development team, to show local people working within the childcare or education sectors the amazing range of Foundation degrees, Top-up degrees, and Masters’ qualifications we have on offer. The day consisted of four workshops in which attendees learned about childhood attachment and how this impacts learning.

The first workshop was about attachment in general, covering what attachment is using the ‘Sabre Tooth Tiger and Teddy Bears’ concept by Suzanne Zeedyk (if you’re unfamiliar with this then I would recommend looking it up, for an interesting read). This workshop also encouraged the group to explore the differences between secure and insecure attachment, then link this and their previous knowledge to attachment within the classroom. They looked at various strategies that practitioners can use in practice to support and further children in their development and learning.

The second workshop was on ‘Adverse Childhood Experiences’, providing training as to what these experiences are and how they can impact a child’s development. An introduction to brain development was discussed and the effects on the body when the stress hormone is released both short and long term. Identification and prevention were a focal point to ensure children and young people are well-supported within education.

Workshop 3 looked at resilience in children within a school setting. There were many exercises done within the group to look at what the practitioners do on a daily basis and what they could look to do to support children within the learning environment.

The fourth and final workshop explored the term ‘effective’ when linked with interactions. The session was closely linked to the work of Susan Fisher which has a focus on supporting practitioners to promote positive, effective interactions which stretch and extend children`s thinking, and why interactions matter. There was an exploration of questioning and how to use appropriate questions to support meaningful interactions, and questions which can lead to practitioners interfering and possibly limiting learning. The group explored and reflected on a range of work- based strategies which are used, or could be used, to support children/young people who are reluctant to interact. There was also an exploration into how the environment can support or hinder effective interactions across a range of settings from primary schools through to secondary schools.

These workshops then linked back to what we offer here at Doncaster University Centre, with our qualifications being available both on campus and online. This session set the scene for more practitioners looking to develop their learning and qualifications, especially through our online learning as this can fit around daily life and work.

Hearing back from the HE Children’s Learning and Development team it was apparent that the day was a success, as those attending were engaged and motivated to learn more about strategies they could use to support children in their classes. This was reflected on their feedback forms as they commented on the “warm, friendly delivery”, “strong knowledge on the subject”, “passionate tutors”, and “great ideas and strategies to help in [their] own working environment”. They also commented that they “loved the sweets” and “loved the freebies” – which I’m sure helped set the day off on the right foot!

The day was a great success overall, so much so that a meeting has been set with the executive head of the XP MAT to discuss how we together can set out a range of opportunities for existing and new staff to XP MAT. Additionally, due to the day being such a hit, there are plans for further opportunities like this to be rolled out for TAs of more local schools, with a series of different events to book onto.