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Laying good foundations.

Byline: By Richard Porritt

So what do our children learn at school? 12 years on from the start of the National Curriculum, the Examiner went into the classroom to find out. In the first of a three-part series, Richard Porritt visited Stile Common Infant School.

School makes learning fun and rewarding

A child's first taste of learning is not what it used to be.

In days gone by, youngsters were herded into Victorian buildings and forced to learn their times tables and alphabet parrot fashion.

Now the laptop has replaced the blackboard and even playtime is an exercise in stretching the children's minds.

Dawn Horton, of Berry Brow, has been the head teacher at Stile Common Infant and Nursery School, in Plane Street, Newsome, for six years.

Even in that short period an average day in the life of the school has changed. She believes the many differences have given children more opportunities.

"Education is changing and it is changing for the better. I strongly believe the methods we use in schools today are giving our children the best chance to learn and move forward," she said.

But some things never change. Each morning the first thing the 150 children do is go to assembly. Then it is off to class for two of the core subjects - English and maths.

"We have one literacy and one numeracy hour each morning," said mother-of-three Mrs Horton.

"These lessons are structured but in a way which allows the teachers to use their own ability and skill to respond to the needs of the children on a group and individual level.

"The children will work as a class, as a member of a small group and on a more individual basis.

"Literacy is taught in a much different way today than it has been in the past but there is now once again a concentration on punctuation, grammar and spelling that did disappear for a time.

"We study phonics, which is the sounds letters make and the different sounds they make when placed together. This helps the children learn spelling and how to read."

Afternoons are dedicated to the so-called foundation subjects of history, geography, art, design and technology, PE, RE and music as well as the other two core subjects information and communication technology (ICT) and science.

Mrs Horton said: "If we can find a thread that we can run through all the subjects then we will. For example, if we have done something in science then we may read about it in a non-fiction book to improve reading skills.

"ICT is a very important part of learning today. Computers are everywhere in schools and we encourage the children to use them at every opportunity.

"They learn things like typing and how to use the internet as a research tool. I imagine one day every pupil will have a laptop to work on but I would think that is a long way off yet.

"Our role as the first point of formal education for children is very important. If we give them the right foundations upon which to build they will find primary education and even school through their teens far more rewarding."
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Title Annotation:Education
Publication:Huddersfield Daily Examiner (Huddersfield, England)
Date:Jul 14, 2004
Words:530
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