Adding life skills to the daily curriculum

Teacher Katie Lander (right) and classroom assistant Erica Barlow in the garden with (left to right) William Hadley (5), Holly Gray (6), Lauren Butcher (6), Owen Lane (5) and Daisy Davey (5) at Hart Plain Infant School in Cowplain.  Picture: Steve Reid (114184-680)
Teacher Katie Lander (right) and classroom assistant Erica Barlow in the garden with (left to right) William Hadley (5), Holly Gray (6), Lauren Butcher (6), Owen Lane (5) and Daisy Davey (5) at Hart Plain Infant School in Cowplain. Picture: Steve Reid (114184-680)
Dr John Steadman, archivist of Portsmouth History Centre based at Portsmouth Central Library     Picture:  Malcolm Wells

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Philosophy, cooking, filming and gardening are a part of everyday life for infants in Waterlooville who have just won recognition for their well-rounded education.

Four to seven-year-olds at Hart Plain Infants were awarded level three accreditation for the Open Futures national scheme, which means four essential life skills are officially part of their curriculum.

So while they are cooking, the boys and girls are doing their sums as they weigh up ingredients, they are studying about the history of foods and they are reading and writing recipes for literacy.

Once a fortnight they debate and brainstorm big issues like love and sadness, which gives them a great stimulus for their writing work.

Teachers sign up their classes for a whole week’s worth of gardening, which is used as a tool to teach numbers and words as well as providing a lot of fresh air and exercise.

And youngsters are encouraged to film role plays and other exercises in class to learn how to use technology and to give them a different point of view on what they are learning.

Daisy Davey, five, says: ‘I enjoy gardening best because I love to grow vegetables and apples and see how they go from small to big, when you can taste them.

‘It’s also fun when we talk about things like behaviour and respecting people. It helps us when we talk about our feelings.’

Holly Gray, six, says: ‘It was fun filming my friends. I have enjoyed watching my film on the website and seeing the comments other children have left.

‘I also like P4C (Philosophy for Children) because you get time to think about things. It’s good to talk about things and listen to other peoples ideas.’

Owen Lane, five, adds: ‘In cooking I use the bridge and claw when cutting to be careful and safe.

‘I even used these skills when I was chopping up the vegetables from the school garden.’

The Open Futures scheme has gradually grown at Hart Plain over the past six years, and recently the school invested in a dedicated kitchen for children to use at any time.

Naomi Anderson, a reception year teacher and Open Futures co-ordinator, says: ‘The scheme has been a massive achievement, and it is giving our children fantastic opportunities to develop skills for life and enrich their learning.’