Barrowford school tries out flexible lesson structure

Catherine Savage with pupils Jessica Austin and Jackson Deng

Catherine Savage with pupils Jessica Austin and Jackson Deng

First published in Pendle Lancashire Telegraph: Photograph of the Author by , Assistant picture editor

A primary school has broken the mould when it comes to the structure of the school day.

The bell at Barrowford School still rings at 9am and 3.30pm – but the organisation of the day is up to individual teachers.

Headteacher Rachel Tomlinson said the idea came from a staff meeting when then they were discussing how best to manage the time before and after breaks.

“Like most schools, we’d find we were either stopping children in mid-flow or just filling in time before lunch.

“We are very much a growing school and it was becoming increasingly difficult to manage the volume of children at lunch time.

“The structure is something we have developed ourselves because we felt we could break free from the traditional mould and constraints by changing the way lunch times and break times work.

“The approach is quite innovative and it works for us. It’s still in its infancy and will become even more fluid with time.

“The bell goes at 9am and 3.30pm. In between that time it is up to the teaching staff how they structure their day.

“As long as the children have 85 minutes across the day for lunch and break times they can decide what to do. It can be broken up as and when they choose.”

Mrs Tomlinson said pupil numbers at the Rushton Street school had increased from 250 to 320 in the last couple of years.

“Having 160 pupils eating at the same time in the hall was an unpleasant experience. Having this approach has enabled us to control how many children are in one place at the same time.

“We arranged with the school kitchen to have lunch available between 11.30am and 1.30pm and the staff can decide whether they want their class to go early or wait until 1pm.

“A lot of children now have their dinners in their classrooms in small groups because it’s more of a social experience.”

Mrs Tomlinson said this approach is more ‘realistic’ for the 11 classes at the school.

She said it has made the children calmer, have better attention spans and has helped learning.

“It’s already having an impact on the children and their learning.

“If we’re working really hard, it’s nice to be able to have a break early.”

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