The appointment concerns the work of the first years. IMAGE: Richie Hopson
Submitted for publication in Dorking Advertiser
A Surrey school group, based in Ashtead, Epsom and Leatherhead, was shortlisted for a coveted education award for their work with Lego and the Institution of Engineering and Technology.
The Little Downsend team was recognized at the Independent Schools Association Awards 2021 and the submission was hailed by the judges as being of very high quality with evidence of outstanding practice within schools.
The award, titled “Excellence and Innovation in Early Childhood” focused specifically on the group’s work with FIRST LEGO League Discover and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, where small groups of students from each host class were guided through interactive, fun and hands-on sessions exploring a real world theme.
The kids worked through the process of designing an obstacle course for a local outdoor space that could be used by many different people to keep them healthy. Using Lego educational kits, they explored, designed, tested and built their obstacle course. They had time to build freely, learn by playing, record their notes and engage in many collaborative discussions.
The challenge ended with a celebratory event designed to celebrate children’s learning, giving them the opportunity to share what they had built and learned.
Vanessa Conlan, Director of Little Downsend and self-proclaimed Lego enthusiast, said: “We are both delighted and delighted to have been shortlisted by the ISA for this award. We’ve always had an innovative vision, but the pandemic has refined our thinking about how and what we teach our children.
“It is a pleasure and a privilege to see our little people enthusiastically engage in a real life challenge, debate and present ideas with passion, work together and be creative.
“It feels like this is just the tip of the iceberg for the kids at Little Downsend, we have plenty of ideas for what’s next.”
The strength of submission was based on evidence of the impact on children, parents and teachers. Built around early learning goals, aimed specifically at supporting the development of language and communication skills, problem solving and collaboration.
The school said it demonstrated that children’s academic performance was positively influenced by the initiative, with 97% of children meeting or exceeding the imaginative goal with number, shapes, space and measure, increasing by five percentage points from the previous year.
The ISA will announce the winner of the award at a ceremony in November 2021.
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