Galmpton Primary School is part of the Academy for Character and Excellence, and our curriculum is centred around rich, immersive learning experiences that foster a spirit of citizenship, community engagement and metacognitive development. We designed a learning experience for our children in the summer term, whereby we set out to investigate ‘How Can We Best Serve Our Community?’ In order to answer this question, we focussed on
the local history of our community, from the Victorian era up to the present. We investigated the notion of ‘Service’, by becoming involved in a range of schemes, such as a campaign to reduce the use of Palm Oil, research projects about protecting our local wildlife as well as working on opening up our garden as a community space. The ‘Big Lunch’ was therefore a perfect vehicle for deepening the relationships we had built over the course of this experience, as we wanted the children to really understand the relevance and importance of their learning.
How we planned our event
The children in each class identified people in our community that they would like to say a big thank you to, both for their work in school and for the opportunities they had provided to enrich our learning. One great example of this was the children in Year 4, who had been growing fruit and vegetables in the walled gardens of our local National Trust property, Greenway. The children had been working alongside the Greenway gardeners every week for the entire summer term, and had produced a wonderful glut of rhubarb. It seemed highly appropriate to make a giant rhubarb crumble, which they shared with the gardeners when they came in for our event! Our gates opened at 12pm, to queues of parents, visitors and residents. We held a giant ‘country dance’, unveiled our community garden and gave out community awards to people who had given their time to support the success of our school.
A lasting legacy
It was wonderful to see so many people getting to know more about each other. Whilst the children were incredibly excited about this event, nothing could have prepared them for the impact they had made on others. A number of local residents stopped by and wandered in, only to stay for the whole afternoon, having been welcomed by the children and offered a place to sit and delicious food to share. Others came bearing trays of quiche and cakes, as
they wanted to share in the event, having overheard the music and laughter from the playground. For us as teachers, we were delighted that the children had been given an opportunity to embed their learning in such a meaningful way. They were serving their community through friendship and empathy, and also saying thank you to others who had each served our community and our school through giving their time and care. Not only were the children able to share their knowledge of history, geography and science, but they had purpose, audience and masses of appreciation from their families, friends and wider community. The only question left unanswered was, ‘how could we possibly not do this next year?’